Now that the the season is over, I'm already looking forward to the offseason and seeing how Jason Garrett (hopefully w/ very little Jerry) continues to mold this team into his version of the 90's Boys. The Cowboys have to get better at several key positions; secondary, interior offensive line, and opposite DWare, probably being the most important. Somewhere along the way, it wouldn't hurt to address the D line, and depth at ILB, and QB. So with an entire offseason what follows is my hope/prayer of how things are taken care.
** Names may be changed, but general philosophy is what I'm hoping for **
First, I'll start with the coaches, Rob Ryan stays and gets ammo for his D. I think Sparano comes back as O Line coach/OC. Peete is kept as RB coach. Dave Campo is finally, and thankfully sent packing. Not sure on if DeCamillis makes it either. I don't have any suggestions on replacements for Campo and/or DeCamillis, but I'm sure you guys might have a few.
I went looking for a list of Dallas Cowboy free agents came up with these names:
Alan Ball, CB, Martellus Bennett, TE, Keith Brooking, LB, Derrick Dockery, LG, Abram Elam, S, Montrae Holland, LG , Jon Kitna, QB, Daniel Loper, LG, Mat McBriar, P, Sammy Morris,RB, Laurent Robinson, WR, Anthony Spencer, LB, Frank Walker, CB, Bradie James, LB
You can probably add TNew and Kosier in the mix, because I see them getting cut before the free agency period begins. Out of those names, I only see 2 clear locks that I would bring back, Laurent Robinson and Tony Fiammetta. The 3 Exclusive Rights free agents can be signed and brought into training camp, but none are true factors. Ogletree can take his maybe 3rd or 4th round tender or leave. Let Spencer and Elam test the market, and if it's a good number for us bring them back as an insurance policy.
Looking at the pending Free Agent List, two things jump out at me. 1) There are going to be some big names out there, not everybody is going to get franchised, and 2) We only need one and he might get overshadowed. I'm not a capologist, but I figure the front office can move around enough money to spend a little something on contracts.
In free agency, I make Calais Campbell the top priority. If he hasn't resigned with the Cards, I would be at his door at 12:01 opening day. Then I wait and pick up Aubrayo Franklin to plug in the middle, he hasn't had much impact with the Saints in a 4 man front, but I still think he can be an asset as an NT. Sign Shaun Hill to back up Romo.
Going into the draft that leaves with priority holes at OLB and CB, with secondary holes at SS, and OG. Back ups at ILB, and TE are needed. A shifty WR would be nice and you'd like to see a young QB get drafted at sometime. You have solidified the DLine with a starting trio of Campbell, Franklin, and Ratliff, and a backup rotation of Hatcher, Lissemore, Spears, and Price. I actually like the interior lineman we have coming back and think that a year in the offseason program will do them well. That said I go defense heavy with the first couple of picks in this year's draft:
1) OLB -- Melvin Ingram / Courtney Upshaw... Whichever one is available and/or the best proven through workouts. At this point I don't know enough to choose a personal favorite, but I do know both are an improvement over Spencer. ** If Dre Kirkpatrick somehow slips, he's a lock at #14 **
2) CB -- Coryell Judie / Jamell Fleming... One of these guys or someone similar gets snatched up. It's supposed to be a good crop of CB's this year so we won't be getting far from1st round talent in the 2nd.
3) OG -- Kevin Zeitler / Lucas Nix... One of these nasty, athletic guards in the 3rd would be healthy competition for Nagy, Arkin, and Kowalski. The 2 winners take their spots with the Yuglies.
4) CB -- Casey Heyward / Omar Bolden... One more quality CB, we're going to need a 4th with Ball gone(Thank the Lord)
5) ILB -- Jerry Franklin / Chris Galippo... Need someone to backup Carter and Lee. Lemon is a start, one of these two would be a nice finish.
In rounds 6 and 7, I would probably look for some combination of: a TE to replace Marty B, a developmental QB, shifty WR, or Strong Safety project.
Follow this plan and you have a contender next year and a solid team for years.