As usual, I'm ambivalent.
On the one hand, I am hopeful that Jason Garrett can usher in a new era of talent acquisition wisdom. After all, in his first year, he got rid of a LOT of deadwood and brought in a load of talent (DeMarco Murray, Tyron Smith, Dan Bailey, Bruce Carter (I hope), Laurent Robinson, Tony Fiammetta) and solid development projects (Nagy, Arkin, Radway, Andre Holmes, Philip Tanner, Kowalski). A few years like that, and the Cowboys will become an elite team again.
On the other hand, I hear the clock ticking on Romo, Ware, Witten and Ratlif. It already struck midnight on Newman. This core four don't have that many years left to be elite. Witten, in fact, may already be on the downside. 30 is just not a good age for NFL players. It's when injuries occur more often, when guys lose a step, when recovery takes longer.
It's not as bad with guys who play OLB, TE, NT, and QB as it is with receivers, running backs, and secondary guys. But, still, all of these guys can't be part of a four year plan. And then the ever-reliable OCC wrote this thought-provoking post on the dollars Dallas could have available for free agents and the possibility that many NFL teams might not use their cap space this year.
More after the break.Having suffered through 15 years of futility and frustration, I'm kind of hoping Jerry goes all in. Cut Newman, restructure contracts, and get way, way under that cap. With the right moves, the Cowboys are in the game.
When I say that the Cowboys could be back in the game, I'm not delusional. I know they have a LOT of holes. But from what I've read, the Cowboys have a lot of potential dollars they could free up with contract restructuring. That's what I mean by going all in. Let' deal with the cap issues later. Let's rebuild later. But let's win now.
Carl Nicks. Sign him and the offensive line becomes a strength, not a weakness. Murray and Jones will run wild. Romo will have more time and, with the running game, more room to throw the ball. It's hard to imagine Dallas not being one of the top offenses in football next year. Yes, two of Nagy, Kawalski, Arkin and Costa have to step up and so maybe you still get a center or resign Holland for one year. I defer to Garrett on that one.
Laurent Robinson. Unless he wants crazy money (and it's not my money anyway), you have to resign Robinson. Yes, Radway and Holmes have potential but I'd rather they force their way into the lineup or display that potential as a result of injury. Robinson as a number three makes the Cowboys very hard to deal with. Robinson has a connection with Romo that could only get better.
Mario Williams. We simply have to get someone else to rush the passer. I'd set him right beside Spencer. With him on one side and Ware on the other, QBs would get pancaked next season. The run defense would be more stout and the secondary would improve. Grab someone like Alameda Ta'amu in the draft in round two or three, and you could maybe move Ratlif to DE, where he belongs. But somehow, someway, we have to get more push from our DE positions. They have bring pressure consistently or it's always going to be Ware or a blitz. And I don't think this is about Anthony Spencer. He's not asked to rush the passer that often and when he does, he has a reasonable level of production.
Brandon Carr. Now the secondary just got a lot better. Not only do you have more pass rush, you have a legit corner to replace Newman.
With those free agent signings, the Cowboys could stick with BPA in the draft. OK, I know it's fantasy football, but I don't see how the Cowboys compete for a Super Bowl next year without taking major steps now. And if they are not going to go all in, then why not trade Romo, Witten, Ware, and Ratlif while they still have value?