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Finally, the Rock has come back. Oh wait I have my sports mixed up. Finally the deal has been made! Thats what it felt like minutes after the breaking news hit the air waves, a dramatic anticipation of the details of the deal.
We can dance around the numbers but it is what it is, Romo will be asked to lead this team for at least another 3 years after his 6 yr $55 million guaranteed extension. The deal has created $5 million is cap space for the Cowboys to devote in free agency and to sign draft picks. I suggest they invest on protecting their 55 million dollar man, in both.
When looking at the recent moves made in Free agency combined with the Romo deal, it only makes more and more sense to attack our most attacked unit.
Will Allen- The Allen signing to me is no more than solid insurance. Thats not to undermine the move because I think it was a very smart signing. Allen provides verteran leadership, familiarity of the system and a steady hand at either spot if needed to start for a number of games. Not to mention he also plays ST very well.
I come away from this signing with Matt Johnson in mind. Bringing Allen aboard doesnt mean he will start, but push who ever the safety JG wants to start and I think its Johnson. This isnt to say a safety cant or wont be drafted between rounds 1-3 but having Allen behind gives them insurance to take either route.
Justin Durant- I could get real rosy here but to me bottom line Durant is here to start at the SAM backer spot. He has an abundance of starts under his belt and coming off a very solid 103 tackle season where he was stout against the run. Something Kiffin and co will primarily ask of him. This allows Sims to be a veteran backup to either spot and keeps Albright in his back up role as well.
The wildcard here is Wilber. I dont believe the organization is comfortable with either Albright or Wilber because they were tweeners to begin with. Wilber is whispered to be thought of being looked at as a DE. Signing Durant to start now give them more time to decide what they want to do with Wilber.
With those potions of need addressed fairly cheap, and respectably. Dallas has to now turn its attention to the most important need, Offensive Line. Extending Romo with big money only more screams O LINE help for him. Theres no way you can trot our 55 million dollar man out there behind that line no way no how. Therefore it needs to be addressed rather harshly.
Through Free Agency:
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RT Eric Winston- Surprisingly Winston is still on the market. He has been one of the most consistent RT in the league over the last 5 season. The struggles of our RT Doug Free are well documented, especially in the passing game. Winston has happened to rank in the top 7 of RT 3 of the last 4 seasons in pass protection. If he is signed Free can be designated as a June 1st cut freeing up $7 million in cap money to sign draft picks.
Through the Draft:
Cooper/ Warmack/ Fluker- Winston would surely solidify the RT position of the line, but I would not stop there. Again we have to protect our $55 million dollar man, it also helps to have some holes open up for Murray from time to time.
There is a growing concern one of the top lineman will not fall to 18 in the draft. But history suggest it will with only 1 time in the last 15 years 2 guards going before the 18th pick. Thats not to say it wont happen, just shows there will most likely be an interior lineman worthy of the 18th pick at 18.
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The obvious choices are Warmack and Cooper, but lets say they are gone by 18. In that case I would take Fluker in a heart beat. Fluker is a RT you say? You signed Winston you say? Both true, but I would move the 6'5 330+ lb behemoth to Guard. Call me crazy but I think Fluker can be a stud, especially being coached up correctly. Fluker is more known to be a road grader in the run game a sight Murray would welcome in a heart beat.
With those additions your looking at a starting line of Smith, Livings, Costa/Killer K, Fluker, Winston. Id feel alot better heading into the season with that line, or any combination of Cooper or Warmack. Point being the O line needs to be the main priority, and addressed as such.
These series of moves still allow the team to take a Safety or DT in the 2nd-3rd rounds without sacrificing the main priority of building the line to keep the 55 million dollar man upright. Slowly but surely the once quiet off season is putting itself together piece, by piece.