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Going Forward to 2011: House Cleaning, Free Agency, Draft Prospects

 

Jason Garrett and the underachieving 2010 Dallas Cowboys will be putting the past eight weeks of futility behind them while going forward and  focusing on being great day in and day out each and every day. Their aim is to stack each great day on top of the previous ones so the team can ultimately see their efforts translate into improved play during the second half of the season. Regardless of the result, the roster of the 2010 Dallas Cowboys will not return 20/22 starters in 2011 like they did between 2009 and this season. The offensive line, the front seven, and the secondary need an extreme makeover.

After the jump I will share my thoughts on who this team should pursue in free agency as well as providing you with some of my preferred draft choices for the first and second round.

House Cleaning:

The following players must be released or traded from this team, with their replacements being promoted from within the ranks, through free agency, or the draft.

1) Marion Barber

This season is statistically his worst season since being drafted by the club in 2005. Interestingly enough, there have been signs that MBIII is in decline since the 2008 season. In Barber's first three seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, he scored 43 Touch Downs: 2005 (5), 2006 (16), 2007 (12). Since then, Barber has failed to score 10 TDs in a season in both 2008 and 2009; additionally, unless the running game transforms into the 2000 Ravens, 2010 will be the third consecutive season that Marion Barber will fail to score 10 TDs. He scored 9 in 2008, 7 last season, and through eight games this year he only has 2 scores. Moreover, since averaging 4.8 yards per carry in back to back seasons (2006 and 2007), Barber has only eclipsed the 4.0 avg once (last year, 4.4). His decline has been due to both his own inability to stay injury free, and because of the steady decline of the offensive line. Still, he's being paid more on reputation than production at this point, and he really needs to go. He's nothing more than a progress stopper for Felix Jones and Tashard Choice.

Recommendation: Barber should be released, or traded to a team dumb enough to take on his salary cap hit, so this team can finally spend a season or two evaluating Felix and Tash for possible contract extensions once their rookie deals come off the books. The club should involve Jones and Choice in a 50-50 rotation, as well as promote Lonyae Miller from the practice squad to take over the short yardage/goal line duties. One of the common traits the previous Super Bowl Champs of the past decade all have in common, a revolving door at the running back position. Before this team entertains the thought of drafting another RB, they must properly evaluate the three younger backs that are being paid by Jerry Jones.

2) Anthony Spencer

It's been well documented that he's been very inconsistent in his ability to generate sacks opposite DeMarcus Ware, which was the primary reason Wade Phillips had him selected in the first round in 2007. Although he came on strong at the end of last season recording 6 sacks, and being consistent force in stopping the run, this season he's regressed. This season through eight games, he only has 3 sacks, and even worse, his ability to tackle the running the back behind the LOS has dissipated; teams are now running right at him since he's cheating to try and get a sack. They say you can't properly evaluate a prospect until three seasons after he's been drafted, well, I've seen enough of "Almost" Anonthy to know he's never going to be a consistent producer for us. In 52 career games (counting 8 this season), Spencer has only recorded 13.5 sacks. I think it's safe to say he's a bust.

Recommendation: I'd look to shop around the league before possibly cutting him. I'd target a team like the Denver Broncos who have been really cavalier with their draft picks under Josh McDaniels and judging by the fact their defense is near the bottom of the league in QB sacks, they could possibly be willing to deal a third or fourth round pick our way to see if they can tap into Spencer's "potential."

3) Leonard Davis: Release

4) Marc Colombo: Release

5) Keith Brooking: Release

Free Agent and Draft Targets

1) Offensive Line

a) Logan Mankins (6'4'', 310, will be 29 in March 2011)

He just ended his hold out just so he was able to get the one year credit on his free agency clock. However, since the Patriots traded away Randy Moss, they will have more flexibility in getting a deal done with Mankins since they'll have one less free agent to sign. On the other hand, Mankins could walk at the end of the season and sign with a different team in free agency given how the Patriots operate when their own players become free agents.

b) Carl Nicks (6'5'', 343, will be 26 in May 2011)

The Saints made Jahri Evans the NFL's highest paid guard. I seriously doubt that they would be willing to have a good chunk of their cap room tied up with two guards. Nicks has improved his play each season. Additionally, he's still considered a notch below Evans, so his price tag, while it could be expensive for the Saints, might be reasonable for Jerry.

2) Outside Linebacker

Here, there's only one choice. LaMarr Woodely (6'2'', 265, will be 27 in November 2011)

He was a second round pick of the Steelers in 2007 (the same draft class as Anthony Spencer). In 52 career games with the Black and Gold, he's registered 35 sacks (6 this season). The Steelers are notorious for letting highly productive players walk when they become expensive, and replacing them in the draft. In 2010, the Steelers spent a second round pick on outside linebacker, Jason Worilds who turns 23 in March 2011; he's from VT which is known for turning out solid defensive players. He's also built like Woodley, listed at  6'2'' 262.  I see the Steelers making an attempt to bring back their productive veteran, however, should a bidding war ensue, it's more than foreseeable that the Rooneys would let Woodley walk since Worilds would be the next man up. Woodley would give us a consistent pass rusher opposite Ware, and since he's a Steeler, he can provide this team some much needed championship pedigree. This signing would be akin to what Jimmy did in 1992 when he traded for Charles Haley from the 49ers.

Signing Mankins, Nicks, and Woodley would give the Cowboys plenty of flexibility to work the draft without having to draft a tackle, guard, or pass rusher in the first two rounds. Instead, we can address our holes in the secondary or at inside linebacker by taking a combination of these guys in the first two rounds:

a) CB Prince Amukamara (http://insider.espn.go.com/nfl/draft/player/_/id/26071/prince-amukamara),

b) S Rahim Moore (http://insider.espn.go.com/nfl/draft/player/_/id/27016/rahim-moore),

c) LB Travis Lewis (http://insider.espn.go.com/nfl/draft/player/_/id/26086/travis-lewis) or

d) CB Aaron Williams (http://insider.espn.go.com/nfl/draft/player/_/id/27022/aaron-williams)

 

By the way, for those of you who need a reminder, the Cowboys face off against Justin Tuck and the rest of the New York Giants, this Sunday, 4:15pm EST, at the Meadowlands.

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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