Fixing the Cowboys offensive line has been a dominant theme of the 2013 offseason. Now, not everyone agrees on the best way to do it. Our own rabblerousr made the case earlier that it could come from the same five guys, just a year further along in continuity and hopefully without injury in training camp/preseason. The other side says at least one or two changes need to be made. It looks pretty settled that Tyron Smith, Nate Livings and Phil Costa will start at their respective positions. Doug Free with is high salary and spotty play has been one target for change. The other has to be Mackenzy Bernadeau.
Bernadeau was inconsistent in his play, having horrible games early but improving as the season went along. He battled injury last offseason, and he's doing so again. Jason Garrett recently acknowledged his injury issues.
Bernadeau has undergone three surgeries since his arrival in Dallas, including one this offseason on his shoulder.
"It's disappointing that Mackenzy has been hurt as much as he's been," coach Jason Garrett said this week from the NFL owners meetings in Phoenix. "Since he got here, he was hurt all through the off-season last year, April, May, June, July, into August. He did a good job overcoming all of that and coming into a new system of football and becoming a contributing player for us."
If the Cowboys were so inclined to replace Bernadeau at right guard, where could they turn?
The unlikeliest of places is internally. Ron Leary would seem to be the only player capable of even challenging from within. Leary has been marked with a ton of potential, the Cowboys even moved him to the active roster from the practice squad when they saw he was going to be poached by another team. That says something, but is it enough? I'd say unlikely. Here's what Garrett has to say about Leary and David Arkin.
"We do have some young players we’d like to make sure we give them a chance to contribute and compete." Garrett said. "We drafted Arkin a couple years ago, he did a really good job of being a jack of all trades through training camp last year. (He) never played center before and did play a lot of that during camp and pre-season. We feel like this is a really important year for him to step up and be someone who contributes to our football team. Ron Leary made great strides during the season as well. We feel good about a couple of young guys who might possibly come in and compete for those spots along with the veteran players we do have."
The second place Dallas could look is free agency. We all know they are strapped for cash, but they could free some up soon if they can get a couple of contracts done. So in free agency, the guy they seem to be targeting is Brandon Moore. It looks like he will be coming for a visit.
OL Brandon Moore is scheduled to visit Lions +Cowboys. He left Miami without a deal w/Dolphins. All indications are it was good visit. #nyj— Manish Mehta(@MMehtaNYDN) March 22, 2013
And finally, they could go for a replacement in the draft. Chance Warmack and Jonathan Cooper have been repeatedly mentioned as possible picks at #18. In fact, it seems like almost every day it happens, like recently at ESPN:
Steve's take: "Dallas taking Alabama G Chance Warmack or North Carolina G Jonathan Cooper with the 18th overall pick makes sense from both a value and need standpoint... But don't be surprised to see the Cowboys go in another direction and take a different Tar Heel at No. 18. They need talent and depth at defensive tackle to make a successful transition to a base four-man front, and North Carolina DT Sylvester Williams can provide both with his quick feet and hands, agility and range."
[Graziano's] take: By now I'm kind of all-in on this. I think not coming out of the first round with a new starter on the offensive line would be franchise negligence by the Cowboys. And the way their offseason has gone so far, with pretty much all of their available resources committed to franchising defensive end Anthony Spencer, only strengthens that belief.
So BTB, the question is: Will Mackenzy Bernadeau be a starter in 2013, and if not, who will replace him? Hit it up in the comments.