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What are Dallas Free Agency Needs? Part Five, Skill Position Players

The Cowboys have made no secret of their desire to obtain a playmaker on offense, particularly at the receiver position. The problem facing Dallas this offseason is one of opportunity; there has to be a match at a reasonable price.

Right now, the receiver position does not appear to provide what the Cowboys need. That need is for a large, speed receiver who can stretch defenses and give Keyshawn Johnson and Jason Witten room to operate underneath. The Cowboys entered 2004 with only Terry Glenn as a speed option and once he was lost to injury, teams moved their safeties closer to the line. The Cowboys passing game was choked off as a result.

The talent pool for speedy receiver is thin. The best options are Plaxico Burress of Pittsburgh and Derrick Mason of Tennessee. Burress will likely command a top contract, though there is much uncertainly about his consistency. Mason is productive, but he will also draw a lot of suitors. The Cowboys would likely have to overpay for someone who is already past 30. Since Johnson and Glenn are both over 30, Dallas' best option may be the draft. Look for Dallas to give South Carolina WR Troy Williamson a long look if he is on the board when the 11th pick rolls around.

Tight End

This position does not get a lot of attention, but don't be surprised if Dallas makes a run at a backup blocking tight end. Bill Parcells was grousing that he did not have enough tight ends before Dan Campbell was lost to a serious foot injury in the first Redskins win. Once Campbell was gone, Dallas two tight end set, which worked so effectively, was mothballed. Dallas tried several replacements, but none could approach Campbell's level of effectiveness. If a cheap option presents itself, look for Jerry Jones to open his wallet. As good as he was in '04, Julius Jones will be even more effective if he gets better blocking on the perimeter.

Running Back

Parcells has made his desire to get a backup for Jones well known. With Richie Anderson facing neck surgery, the odds of obtaining a quality second back are that much more certain. With Dallas looking at so many other needs in free agency, I expect the team to fill this need in the draft, which offers a deep running backs pool.

-- Rafael Vela

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