I believe the Cowboys
most need to improve their strength in the trenches if they want to be Super Bowl contenders again. Given the amount of money they have to spend -- upwards of $20 million -- and the ability to push some cap money out of this season, I think the Cowboys could be very agressive in free agency.
With that in mind, these would be my targets.
1. Mario Williams.
Williams will command a lot of money, but he's likely worth it, as he could give us a powerful rusher opposite DeMarcus Ware
. His sack totals were declining at DE, but he got 5 in 5 games at OLB under Wade's scheme. This is a better move than re-signing Anthony Spencer
2. Carl Nicks
. What Williams would mean to the defense, Carl Nicks could mean to the offense. We desperately need to shore up the interior of the offensive line, and Nicks is the best out there.
3. Chris Myers
. Nicks alone cannot fix our o-line interior. We need a savvy veteran center who is still young enough to give us a few years. Myers could be that guy.
4. Laurent Robinson
. We have our own free agents to consider, and Robinson is at the top of the list. He had instant rapport with Tony Romo
, was able to stand in for Miles Austin
or Dez Bryant
, gives us a deep threat, and scores TDs. Plus, he really wants to stay in Dallas.
These 4 I put in the high priority bin
. Then there are some others of lesser importance, but still free agents we need to consider signing.
5. Tony Fiammetta.
We saw this year what happened to our run game when Fiammetta was hurt. A quality fullback should thus be considered a necessity, not an afterthought. My only reluctance here is the mysterious ailment Fiammetta came down with during the season. He's worth keeping if he can stay healthy. If not, we might consider looking elsewhere.
6. Martellus Bennett
. We've all been underwhelmed by Martellus Bennett. But I believe he's worth keeping because: a) he's our best blocking TE, b) he knows the system and catches a reasonable number of balls given our other offensive options, and c) to replace him would cost us either more free agent money or a draft pick we need to spend elsewhere.
7. A safety.
I don't have a name to insert here. Had LaRon Landry gotten surgery, I would have pushed to sign him to a make-do contract. But I don't trust his ability to stay healthy based on rest alone, since I read where the Drs. recommended surgery to eliminate what was irritating his Achilles. Without great options in the draft, I think safety is one of the areas we have to consider signing a free agent. We could always re-sign Abe Elam if we had no better options.
8. A backup QB.
We saw the importance of this position when Chicago lost Cutler and Houston lost Straub. We also know that we cannot rely on McGee. He doesn't make decisions quickly enough, and therefore is unable to look and throw downfield. I would trade him while we still might get a draft pick, before his contract needs renewing. There aren't great options out there for backups. Despite his horrible turnover ratios, the best option might be Rex Grossman
. Garrett got Jon Kitna
to take care of the ball. He might be able to do the same for Rex, if we need him. (One reason to invest so much in the O-line is to keep Tony Romo healthy.)
There will be other signings, but these strike me as the key. Notice that if we were so lucky to sign all of these guys, we would be very well positioned for the draft.
In the draft, our targets would still be the offensive and defensive lines and cornerback for the first three rounds. By signing high-impact free agents to shore up both lines, it would enable us to go in any number of directions based on who was available. We might still take David DeCastro
to build a DOMINANT O-line. Our O-line was a huge reason why the Triplets had HOF careers, and amassed 3 Super Bowl wins. We might also take a defensive lineman, if, say, Quentin Coples
somehow fell to #14. Not likely, but if he was there, he'd be worth considering. Or we could take a CB if he was the highest rated available player.
My own preference would be to go for DeCastro unless a potentially dominant rusher like Coples were still on the board. I would go after a CB in the second round.
Build from the inside out. Protect Tony Romo and open running lanes for our dominant RBs, and on the other side, get to the QB. That would be my preference.
You may say it would cost too much money to sign Williams, Nicks, Myers, and Robinson, plus the other guys we need to sign. My response is that it's very possible to sign new free agents because they don't count much against the cap in their first year, and in later years, the Cowboys should be free of any dead money.
That's my wish list. I think it's very doable.
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