I think we can all agree 8-8 is unacceptable for this franchise. Furthermore, I think we can all agree that Jerry and company would grade out at about a D+ or C- in the last 5 drafts. So first things first, who sucked last year and needs to be cut?
Cuts: T. Newman, A. Ball, A. Elam, F. Walker, A. Spencer, B. James, K. Brooking, J. Brent, K. Coleman
Anyone disagree? No? Didn't think so, we were all watching the same games. Moving on.
Trade Targets: Jason Worilds, Jasper Brinkley, Arthur Moats
Here's my thinking. We need LBs and if I recall, in '09 Jerry thought it would be wise to forego Shady McCoy to trade down for Jason Williams. Yes I realize we hit on Sean Lee and would have taken Novarro Bowman if the opportunity was there but the fact is we have zero depth and if any of these players (Worilds more than the others) could be had by trading a mid to late pick this year and next, it's worth looking at and pulling the trigger. Ok, moving on...
Free Agents: LaRon Landry, Tracy Porter, Brandon Carr, Kamerion Wimbley, Calais Campbell, Antwan Barnes, Jason Jones, Terrell Thomas
OK, forget about Mario Williams. If we switched back the the 4-3, it'd make sense, but I hate him as an OLB in a 3-4 and frankly, we don't have the cap room to sign him if we are gonna make any other moves. Jason Jones really interests me. He is big enough to play the 5 technique and has a good motor. Would be a nice upgrade on the line. Calais Campbell is a beast, but will probably be re-singed by the Cardinals for a large sum of cash. Porter or Thomas would be a huge upgrade in the secondary and free us up to make some moves on draft day if need be. I could go on but if we can simply hit on one free agent on this side of the ball if would help dramatically.
Draft Prospects: Dre Kirkpatrick, Whitney Mercilus, Dontari Poe, Alfonso Dennard, Jayron Hosely, Chase Minnifield, Vontaze Burfict, Mark Barron, Markelle Martin, Vinny Curry, Bruce Irvin, Courtney Upshaw, Kwame Geathers (if he comes out early), Stephon Gilmore, Robert Lester, Josh Chapman, Devon Still, Nick Perry, Melvin Ingram, Aaron Henry
These are all round 1-3 guys. Every year someone jumps out at the Senior Bowl and Combine, so this list will certainly be expanded in the coming months.
Ok, time for the offense. The general consensus is the interior line is the biggest spot of need. While I agree, we need to recognize that the tackle spot is shaky and has zero depth. So let's look at how we could re-tool this offense in the off season...
Cuts: D. Dockery, M. Bennett, M. Holland, J. Holley, J. Kitna (retire)
Yeah yeah yeah, I know, Costa sucks. But we don't have many draft picks and his contract is cheap. So if push comes to shove, he's a back up with experience and I like him better as a guard anyway. I think the rest are self explanatory.
Trade Targets: John Skelton, Jared Cook Jr., Jacoby Ford, Taiwan Jones
Don't give me the Skelton sucks line...he's young, the right size, and has a cannon. For the right price, I'm happy with him as backup moving forward. Jared Cook is finally coming out of his shell and is a total beast. Witten isn't getting younger and I'd even go so far as to suggest his trade value is as high as it's ever going to be moving forward. I cringe at the idea of trading him but if you can swap Witten for Cook and some picks, it's worth a look. Ford and Taiwan Jones would provide some additional spark to the offense and special teams and if you don't know about Taiwan Jones, look up his highlight videos on YouTube, the kid's a ninja.
Free Agents: Carl Nicks, Ben Gubbs
Assuming both aren't resigned by their current teams (it's hard to think the Saints will be able to afford Nicks and Jahri Evans), either of these two would be a HUGE pickup for the Cowboys. Nicks is the best guard in football, period. He plays on the left side and assuming Doug Free stays at LT, would be a big help to him on that side of the line. That said, I think Free sucks and should be moved to RT or traded/cut but we don't have that luxury at the moment given his contract. Grubbs plays on the right side and the same thought applies.
Draft Prospects: Jeff Fuller, AJ Jenkins, Ben Jones, David DeCastro, Cordy Glenn, Peter Konz, Case Keenum, Alshon Jeffrey, Jonathan Martin, Kelichi Osemele, Nick Foles, Josh Oglesby, Dwayne Allen , Riley Reiff, Kevin Zeitler, Brandon Washington, Mike Brewster, Phillip Blake, Zebrie Sanders, Andrew Datko, Jeff Allen, Dwight Jones
I'm personally not in favor of taking DeCastro round 1. I know he's a stud, but there's plenty of draftable guards to be had day two and three. Backup QB, WR, and TE could be looked at but I really think this draft needs to be focused on finding starters on the defensive side of the ball. More so, I think this draft needs to be 5 or 6 defensive players and one or two offense but only if there's great value in the pick (like DeMarco last year).
So, how does this look when we put it all together?
Cuts: All of the above. Should leave around $20M in cap to play with.
Trade: Jason Worilds in exchange for Felix, this years 4th and next years 3rd. Or Jared Cook Jr. and the Titans 2nd and 3rd round pick this year for Witten. (Trades are hard to pin down value wise, don't grille me over this.)
Free Agents: Carl Nicks (5 years/43M), Jason Jones (4 years/26M), Tracy Porter (5 years/35M)
Round 1: Dre Kirkpatrick
Round 2: Kwame Geathers/Dontari Poe (whichever is available. If unavailable, Markelle Martin)
Round 3: Peter Konz
Round 4: Aaron Henry
Round 5: Jeff Fuller/Dwight Jones
QB: Romo, McGee
HB: DeMarco Murray, Philip Tanner,
FB: Tony Fiametta
WR: Miles Austin, Dez Bryant, Laurent Robinson, Dwayne Harris, Jeff Fuller/Dwight Jones
TE: Witten or Cook, John Phillips
LT: Tyron Smith, Jeremy Parnell
LG: Carl Nicks, David Arkin
C: Peter Konz, Bill Nagy
RG: Kyle Kosier
RT: Doug Free (this needs to happen)
DE: Jason Jones, Marcus Spears
NT: Dontari Poe/Kwame Geathers, Sean Lissemore
DE: Jay Ratliff, Clifton Geathers
LOLB: Jason Worilds (Felix trade), Victor Butler
WILB: Sean Lee
SILB: Bruce Carter
ROLB: DeMarcus Ware,
CB: Tracy Porter, Dre Kirkpatrick
CB: Mike Jenkins, Orlando Scandrick
SS: Gerald Sensabaugh (blah), Barry Church
FS: Markelle Martin or Aaron Henry, Danny McCray
Quite a few ifs but if it looks anything like this next year, we have a fighting chance....