DON’T MEET YOUR NEW DALLAS COWBOY: Veteran LB Will Herring brings special teams leadership and depth to defense | Professional Scouting Report | NFL Free Agency 2014 | UPDATED
UPDATE: HERRING AND COWBOYS DEAL IS NOW OFF THE TABLE
IRVING, Texas – The deal between the Dallas Cowboys and former Saints linebacker Will Herring is now off.
Herring had announced the agreement with the Cowboys on Thursday on Twitter, stating that he’s “blessed to be playing in Big D this year and to be a part of the Cowboys’ organization,” but the deal fell apart by Friday before Herring had signed.
It was a mutual parting of the ways that had to do with the language of the contract.
The move would have been the third signing for the Dallas Cowboys in free agency, after inking deals with defensive end Jeremy Mincey and defensive tackle Terrell McClain.
Herring’s signing would have also put into question the future of Danny McCray, the Cowboys’ special teams star who’s now an unrestricted free agent. Herring finished second on the Saints with seven special teams tackles last season.
EDITORS NOTE: If you’re a regular reader, you already know The Boys Are Back website goes to extraordinary lengths to make sure information is ‘official’ and “accurate” before it’s posted here. This site is not a rumor mill. We wait for official confirmations and verify stories via multiple inside sources before anything is posted here. Our apologies. The team and Herring’s agent had a verbal agreement that broke down this afternoon regarding language in the contract. Deals off.
INITIAL REPORT FROM THE OFFICIAL DALLAS COWBOYS RESOURCE:
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys have now signed a third player in free agency, adding veteran linebacker Will Herring.
The seven-year pro first announced the move on Twitter, saying “blessed to be playing in Big D this year and to be a part of the Cowboys’ organization”
Herring, a fifth-round pick of Auburn in 2007, spent four years in Seattle and the last three in New Orleans, where he played all 16 games each of the last two seasons, registering 13 tackles in each year.
Herring spent the last three seasons with the New Orleans Saints, playing mostly special teams and backup linebacker. He was the Saints’ special teams captain in 2013.
In his three years with the Saints, Herring started three games and had 35 tackles, two interceptions and forced one fumble. He joined the Saints after a four-year run with the Seattle Seahawks. He had three tackles on defense and two on special teams in New Orleans’ win against the Cowboys last season.
This move could signal the end of free agent Danny McCray’s time with the Cowboys. The team’s most productive coverage player since 2010, McCray is an unrestricted free agent.
Editors note: Herring was signed to a one year contract. The financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed by the team at this time.
Scouting Report: Herring Stands Out On Special Teams
Will Herring | Linebacker, Auburn | Height/Weight: 6-3/235
Drafted: Fifth round, No. 161 overall, 2007 Draft by Seattle
Games Studied: 2013 preseason vs. Kansas City, Oakland, Houston; regular season vs. Dallas
Herring was mainly used as a special teams player during his three seasons with the New Orleans Saints — my look at him as a linebacker was from preseason film. He’s 6-3, 235 pounds and can play all three positions, but he’s most likely better suited to play as a weak side linebacker in this scheme (Editors note: That would put him in as Bruce Carter’s backup if the positions remain the same as 2013).
In Rob Ryan’s 3-4 scheme, Herring played as a weak inside linebacker for the Saints last season. He has a nose for the ball, and an easy flow and drop in coverage. He’s aware of the back out of the backfield and assignment to pick up — able to see the ball, than drive on it to make a wrap up tackle.
In the preseason tape against the Chiefs, he was a little too aggressive when it came to their waggle packages and defending them. He went hard after the fakes but while reading was reacting in a hurry. Herring isn’t the biggest player weight-wise, so he has to keep himself active to avoid blocks. Works with his hands and feet to keep himself free. Herring is aware to take his hands, jam the blocker, then move to the ball — you see him do this in his special teams as well.
He plays on the edge of the blocker more than square, but he’s effective in the way he does this. When he sees the ball, he will go get it. There were several times where he beat the blockers to the spot and was able to either make the tackle or be near the ball.
If he has an issue as a tackler, it’s not the physical side of wrapping up, but he will over-shoot the ball carrier with his angle because of his aggressive play. There were a couple of snaps where he freed himself but just overran the play. He moves well in coverage and appears to have an understanding of where he needs to be — whether that is in zone or man. He’s aware of crossers in zone and doesn’t labor in his movements — plays with a burst. Judging from the tape, he knows how to work through the traffic, doesn’t get hung up or slowed down.
All of that said, where Herring makes his living is as a special teamer. He plays as the center in the kickoff return, punt return blocker, L3, L4, L5 on the kick off team. He’s the left guard on punt team and field goal rush. On special teams, he showed the same traits he had on defensive snaps — nose for the ball, the use of hands and the wrap up tackle.
He runs well on the cover teams and keeps his eyes open and aware of blockers. Has a plan when he covers. I’d like for him to better a little better on his sustain as a blocker when he becomes engaged. He hustled down the field on the kickoff coverage. In the Dallas game, he was able to control James Hanna at the point, then make the tackle inside the 20 on Dwayne Harris.
With the Cowboys, he will be asked here to be a backup linebacker most likely as a Will but more importantly as a core special teamer in all phases of the kicking game. There are plenty more positives to his game than negatives.
Special Thanks: Bryan Broaddus | Football Analyst/Professional Scout