Marcus Spears, Sensabaugh to test FA

Updated: February 28, 2011, 12:28 PM ET
By Calvin Watkins | ESPNDallas.com

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Dallas Cowboys will let defensive end Marcus Spears and safety Gerald Sensabaugh test the free agent marketplace before offering those players new deals, if at all, a source close to the team said Monday.

The Cowboys have interviewed several defensive ends and safeties at the Senior Bowl and national scouting combine as possible replacements.

Spears, who was drafted 20th overall in the 2005 draft, proved to be a productive player for the Cowboys yet was replaced in the starting lineup by Stephen Bowen after suffering a left calf strain. Spears, who has eight sacks and 16 tackles for loss in his career, was placed on injured reserve Nov. 10.

Spears was irked before the start of the 2010 season, when the team tendered him at original draft pick level ($1.226 million) for the 2010 season. That offer was lower than backups Jason Hatcher and Bowen received via second-round tender deals.

Spears said during the season he wants to return, but he's seeking a long-term contract and was willing to test free agency.

Sensabaugh signed with the Cowboys in 2009 after spending four seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He started 14 games in 2009 and had only one interception but 10 pass breakups.

In 2010, Sensabaugh tied for the team lead with five interceptions, but the secondary struggled as the Cowboys allowed 57 plays of 20 or more yards. The Cowboys want to lower these numbers and believe a better pass rush and improved play overall at the safety and cornerback positions can help.

The Cowboys may go the free-agent route to address needs at the safety spot. Danieal Manning, O.J. Atogwe and Abram Elam could be possible fits.

Manning is expected to be a restricted free agent. If that's the case, the Cowboys would have to offer some compensation to the Chicago Bears. But Manning, a native of from Corsicana, Texas, has a desire to play for the Cowboys. Elam played for the Cowboys in 2006.

New Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan coached Elam last season in Cleveland.

Calvin Watkins covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com.

Calvin Watkins joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He's covered the Cowboys since 2006 and also has covered colleges, boxing and high school sports.