The fourth version of my ideal Cowboys offseason.
Current Roster Mods
By now, everyone has heard of the numerous contract restructures Dallas has made with players, which left them at about 5 million under the cap. The resigning of Phil Costa to a two year deal leaves that hanging around 3.5 million, with more cuts and restructures on the way. Assuming the Cowboys already are 3.5 million under the cap, these are the movies Dallas should make upon their current crop of players.
1) Extend Tony Romo: This continues to be a priority until it happens. Romo signing an extension will give Dallas a lot more wiggle room to work with in free agency by saving Dallas 8 million dollars.
2) Restructure Doug Free: Doug Free being cut will solve less problems than restructuring his contract instead. By restructuring, Dallas will actually have more financial flexibility as he will increase the cap by 5.3 million.
4) Cut Dan Connor and Marcus Spears: Both will be pricey backups, and in the new scheme which calls for fast defenders, they do not have a place. Spears is also getting old and slow. Combined they will save 5 million.
After all of these moves, Dallas will have 25.6 million dollars heading into free agency.
1) Sign G Andy Levitre: The Bills officially placed the franchise tag on safety Jairus Byrd, which means Andy Levitre will be hitting the market. Levitre is one of the best guards in the league and Dallas has a sore need at offensive line. This will allow Romo to be comfortable and will make the offensive line much better by himself. He will likely demand Carl Nicks type money, which means he will cost between 6-7 million. Cost: 7 million
2) Sign DE Cliff Avril: Avril is one of the best defensive end pass rushers, and with Anthony Spencer almost 30 and on the market, Avril will be a hot commodity. He will require lots of money to sign, but a duo of Ware and Avril will be very frightening for opposing offenses. Cost: 7 million
3) Sign T Andre Smith: Andy Levitre will make the offensive line pretty strong, but what if Dallas adds another star tackle right next to him? Dallas could instantly turn offensive line from a worry to a team strength by adding two of the best offensive linemen available. Micheal Johnson was given the franchise tag, so Smith will be available. With the money Dallas has, this should be an easy signing. Cost: 6.5 million
4) Sign Danny Woodhead: Dallas needs another running back and Danny Woodhead is a great free agent option because he is shifty and versatile. He is good enough to take 35 percent of the carries and provide a receiving threat out of the backfield. He also has the ability to line up in the slot. Cost: 1.5 million
After these moves, Dallas will fill some holes while leaving 3.1 million to sign their rookies.
The Cowboys have the following picks:
Unlike my other blueprints, there will be no pick trading for Dallas this time around.
18. Kawaan Short, DT: Short is a very disruptive defensive presence, and while Dallas will have two great ends, will need to put someone next to Jay Ratiff to truly have the defensive line they need. Short can rack up sacks and easily get into the backfield. His stock is rising and Dallas likely will not be able to get him in the second round.
47. Sylvester Williams, DT: While Short can be the disruptive QB chaser from the 3-tech, Dallas will need another big man to play the 1-tech, which they do not currently have. Williams can be that big anchor Dallas needs. He will allow Jay Ratliff to become part of a defensive end/tackle rotation and put less stress upon his aging body late in games. This will also allow Ware, Avril, and Short to get more chances to collapse the backfield. With two young defensive tackles, Dallas can have an interior defensive line duo that can be very threatening for 7-8 years to come. With these first two picks plus Avril and Ware, Dallas could have a very dangerous defensive line.
80. Phillip Thomas, S: Dallas will still need a safety to be able to play the Tampa 2, and in the third round, Thomas will present the best value. Thomas is a playmaking safety who can take away the deep pass and play the ball very well. He is a hard hitter who excels in zone coverage, and will be the ballhawk Dallas has needed. He can instantly start and is one of the best fit safeties for Dallas in this draft class.
111. Khaled Holmes, C: The Cowboys may have resigned Phil Costa, but he is more of a stopgag than a true franchise player. Holmes will not mend an offensive line by himself, but with the additions of Levitre and Smith, Dallas doesn't need a star center, just a good one. Holmes is a good center who can take the starting job from Costa and make him a backup, while truly solidifying this offensive line to give Romo and Murray great time ans space to work with and make this offense very efficient.
144. Onterio McCalebb, RB: McCalebb is a pretty unknown prospect, and in the fifth round, teams may only look at his speed. Which is exactly what I'm doing. He will not challenge Woodhead or Murray for reps, but can come in on a few plays as a shifty, blazing fast burner type of change of pace guy. But even then, his carries will be very limited. His true value for Dallas lies in his return ability. With his speed, vision, and ability to follow blockers, McCalebb can be a reliable and game changing kick returner for Dallas, adding some spark to the special teams.
175. Zach Boren, FB: The Cowboys have a reliable fullback in Lawrence Vickers, but with the other additions, Dallas can go anywhere they want with their 6th round pick. Vickers will cost 1.2 million this year, and if Boren can do enough to warrant himself as the starter, Lawrence can be expendable and save money. Boren is a good lead blocker and is he takes over as the Dallas fullback, the Cowboys will be able to save money.
If Dallas makes the moves they do above, this will be the projected starting roster:
QB: Tony Romo
LT: Tyron Smith
LG: Nate Livings
C: Khaled Holmes
RG: Andy Levitre
RT: Andre Smith
FB: Zach Boren
RB1: DeMarco Murray
RB2: Danny Woodhead
WR1: Dez Bryant
WR2: Miles Austin
WR3: Dwayne Harris
TE1: Jason Witten
TE2: James Hanna
DE: DeMarcus Ware
DT(1-tech): Sylvester Williams
DT(3-tech): Kawaan Short
DE: Cliff Avril
ROLB: Bruce Carter
MLB: Sean Lee
LOLB: Alex Albright
CB: Morris Claiborne
CB: Brandon Carr
S: Phillip Thomas
K: Dan Bailey
P: Brad Wing
LS: L.P. Ladoucer
KR: Onterio McCalebb
PR: Dwayne Harris
Other Key Players: These are other players who won't have starting spots, but will be valuable players/rotational players: