One Man's Gang: Advising The Dallas Cowboys On Their 2012 Offseason

I'd like to offer my assistance...

How would I attempt to fix the Dallas Cowboys?

Isn't that the question that we all pretty much have in our heads as we discuss the 2012 offseason? We all have varying levels of expertise and knowledge on certain subjects. Whether real or perceived, our hubris as people combined with our familiarity and passion for the team lead us all to believe we have some semblance of a fix for what ails this franchise. Mostly, this comes out in our comments in bit pieces and fragments, as certain subjects are discussed. I figured, with the onset of the new league year less than four weeks away, I might as well get a jump on sharing my views on the topic in their totality.

I'm no subject matter expert, and I realize that there will be some different opinions as equal, or more valid, than my own. This is simply my view; the moves that if the Cowboys front office made them, I'd sit back and say "that's exactly how I would've done it, let's get to September!"

The first order of business would be deciding which of our own in-house talent needs to stay, and which need to be shown the door. You have to handle your own business first, because you pretty much know what you have in those chess pieces. Especially how they fit into your specific strategy.

For now, here's how I'd handle our internal free agents. I'm waving goodbye to several players for various reasons. Terence Newman is obviously gone in my book. The other two main names here will be TE Martellus Bennett and OLB Anthony Spencer. Too much promise, not enough production for my tastes. I don't think there's any way I would pay Spencer what he can get on the open market, but if Bennett realizes his value as a blocking tight end only, there may be a two-year contract available for him at the end of this exercise.

Also gone would be QB Chris Griesen, P Mat McBriar (can't wait to find out your status), WR Kevin Ogletree, RB Sammy Morris, CB's Alan Ball and Frank Walker, and ILB's Keith Brooking and Bradie James. McB and Bradie are the most sentimental releases, but this is a business, folks.

Follow the jump for much more...

Here's a look at all of the in-house free agents and how they would be handled in KD's Cowboys Kingdom.

Player Position Sign? Guestimate '12 Cap Hit (in millions) Salary Notes
Ball, Alan CB no --
Bennett, Martellus TE no --
Brooking, Keith ILB no --
Dockery, Derrick OG no --
Elam, Abe S yes $2.50 Elam in '11 ($2.5m)
Fiammetta, Tony FB yes $0.67 It seems Fia can decide to be unrestricted if he chooses, due to waiver rules
Greisen, Chris QB no --
Holland, Montrae OG yes $1.00 made $.5m after being resigned in 2011
James, Bradie ILB no --
McBriar, Mat P no --
Morris, Sammy RB no --
Newman, Terence CB release --
Ogletree, Kevin WR no --
Robinson, Laurent WR yes $3.20 Give him four years, $7m signing bonus, $1.5m base salary for 2012
Spencer, Anthony OLB no --
Walker, Frank CB no --

-- If I'm reading the waiver rules correctly, even though they released him, because Dallas claimed Fiammetta prior to '11 with two years remaining,he can return at the above salary. Basically, he's a UFA with a framework. I penciled him in at this cap hit level though, as I don't think he did anything deserving of a raise.

-- I think Elam would jump at the chance to get his 2011 salary back, and I actually feel a little gracious giving him that much.

-- I like what Holland did once he returned to the team and before his injury. Based on how I'm attacking the other facets of the offseason, I want him back on the team in 2012 and think he'd resign for his pre-released 2012 expected salary, adding a second year.

-- Laurent Robinson is the big fish here. After a great twitter debate on how much he can command, I settled on this being a good figure to retain him. The signing bonus gives him 'now' money, and it gives him the security to get to his eighth year in the league; after playing for four teams in four years. By the way, did you know that Stephen Jones creative contract has Miles Austin down for only a $1.15 salary in '12, and a cap hit not much bigger? Amazing.

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So that takes us to about $7.4 million of our projected $20 million worth of cap space to play with this year. On to other team's free agents which will help augment this team before the draft.

C Chris Myers, Texans, 30 yo, 6'5", 300 lbs

Myers is dominant in run blocking and average at pass protection. He has two inches on last year's starter Phil Costa. However, his arm length is 32 3/8"and while I don't have Costa's on record, we know it is not an acceptable measure. Word from Valley Ranch is that center is a bigger concern than guard, and I'd tend to believe them.

2012 Cap Hit: $5 million. Currently ninth best paid center in NFL. Center's 3-5 on list make $5.8m, $4.6m and $4.5m in 2012. Four years, $10 million signing bonus, escalating base starting at $2.5m.

QB Kyle Orton, Chiefs, 31 yo, 6'4" 223 lbs

The Cowboys wanted to get Orton when they knew that Kitna was pretty much done for the year, but were beaten by a claim by the Chiefs. I think Orton might want to be a starter, but if there are no offers out there for him, Dallas backup money is a great scenario. I could easily see Orton performing well with all of the weapons Dallas has on offense, which would be the best set he's seen his entire pro career.

2012 Cap Hit: $3 million. Maybe a two-year deal.

ILB Channing Crowder, Unsigned, 28 yo, 6'2" 245 lbs

I spoke of Crowder's expected return to the NFL earlier in the month, and the more I think about it, the more I want him on this team. Crowder does three things for me. He comes as a cheap,experienced third man in the rotation, he provides pass rush from the ILB position, and he has a serious attitude if I remember correctly. I need more players like that on my defense.

2012 Cap Hit: $1.4 million. Incentive-laden deal.

P Steve Weatherford, NY Giants, 29 yo, who cares how tall a punter is?

The Giants have serious salary issues this year, and if it happens that they let Weatherford walk, the Cowboys should snap him up to replace McBriar in a heartbeat. He was killer in the playoffs, especially the Super Bowl, consistently pinning opponents deep with kicks to the sidelines. Improve yourself, hurt the team you're chasing. Win win.

2012 Cap Hit: $2 million. Four years.

Total cap hit of other team's free agents? $11.4 million. Combined with signing their own free agents, Dallas has now spent around $18.8 million over eight players. Might even be some room left for Marty B if he finds the market doesn't like him. I know not a lot of people are not going to be on board with the Crowder signing, and I'm cool with that. There are still some holes remaining to be filled, so we move along to this coming April's draft.

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No. 14: CB Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama.

-- 6'2" 192 lbs, sure-tackling cornerback. After the charges were dropped earlier this month, I lost any and all reservation in selecting the kid. He has a clean record, he plays at a position of high need and he would be , arguably, the best player available if he sat there when Dallas was on the clock. (Alternate picks: CB Janoris Jenkins, OG Dave DeCastro)

No 45: DE Jared Crick, Nebraska.

-- 6'4" 285 lbs, tore his pectoral muscle and was lost for the year in October. I loved this guy heading into the year and think adding him to our DE rotation and four-man lines will wreak havoc on opposing offenses. (Alternate pick: Vinny Curry, OLB Marshall, CB Chase Minnefield)

No. 82: OLB Jonathan Massaquoi, Troy.

-- 6'2" 250 lbs, from Demarcus Ware's alma mater. Very quick with pass rushing abilities and experience dropping back into coverage. Would compete with Victor Butler to start from early in the season. (Alternative pick: DE Kendell Reyes, UConn, CB Josh Norman)

Rounds 4-7: Obviously this is where projecting a player's availability becomes a little silly, especially pre-combine. For what it's worth, I would round out my roster with a mix of experiments. I'm intrigued by OT Matt McCants, UAB as a replacement for Jeremy Parnell. McCants had a good week of Senior Bowl practice and has that down-the-line promise. He did everything to drop completely off draft boards, but I want to take a fifth-round flyer on CB Cliff Harris out of Oregon. In the sixth, give me Michigan State QB Kirk Cousins to take on Stephen McGee in camp. There were good reports out of Mobile on him as well. To round it off, give me bulldozing, 240 lb RB Terence Ganaway of Baylor in the seventh round to be our goal line back.

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Obviously, many things will change over the coming months, starting with the Scouting Combine that kicks off February 22nd. For now though, I'd be pretty pleased to see Dallas enter September with the following 53 man roster.

Position Players Head Count
QB Romo, Orton, Cousins 3
RB Murray, Jones, Fiammetta, Ganaway (Tanner)
4
WR Bryant, Austin, Robinson, Harris, Holley 5
TE Witten, Phillips, UDFA(Bennett?) 3
OL Smith, Holland, Myers, Kosier, Free, McCants, Nagy, Arkin, Kowalski, Costa 10
DL Lissemore, Ratliff, Crick, Spears, Brent, Geathers, Hatcher, Callaway 8
LB Ware, Lee, Carter, Massaquoi, Crowder, Albright, V. Butler, Lemon 8
CB Jenkins, Kirkpatrick, Scandrick, Harris, M. Butler
5
S Sensabaugh, Elam, Church, Taplin-Ross 4
ST Bailey, Weatherford, LaDoucer 3
PS Bra.Carter, A.Holmes, R.Radway, Loper, +4 spots
53 + PS

[Update]Cleared up the PS issue and opened up another CB slot. [/Update] New starters are highlighted. I'm a little heavy in the trenches, but don't mind that at this point.

So what do you all think? Does this roster get Dallas any closer to where you want to see them? What would you change?

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