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Dallas has 7 unrestricted free agents

The Dallas Cowboys have seven unrestricted free agents - they also have eight restricted and five exclusive rights free agents. There are some important names on the unrestricted list, including two of our starting offensive linemen.

Here's the list.

Unrestricted Free Agents (7)
OT Marc Colombo
C Andre Gurode
K Martin Gramatica
S Tony Parrish
LB Al Singleton
DE Kenyon Coleman
C Al Johnson

Here's my quick take on what we need to do concerning each. But everything changes quickly over the offseason, so don't be surprised down the line if I write something contradicting these early observations, because there are so many variables at this point. All starting with Bill Parcells and his decision. He affects everything because he likes certain players over others, and we also face the decision of keeping the 3-4 if he's not here. Equally important is a player's own views on how much money he thinks he's worth and whether he thinks he's a starter or content with being a backup.

Marc Colombo - The Cowboys have to make every effort to retain Marc Colombo. He went from high-risk to high-production over the course of the season. Dallas finally found someone to stabilize the right tackle position. It's no time to go looking for another.

Andre Gurode - Elevated to starter status at center this season, Gurode handled the role very capably. Consistent and effective for most of the year, the Cowboys should bring him back into the fold. Signing Colombo and Gurode will return consistency to a Dallas line and keeps in place the most effective linemen they had this year.

Martin Gramatica - Why not? The guy was pretty much money this year when it counted, hitting big kicks in the Giants game and another clutch one against Atlanta. In the playoff game, he nailed a no-doubt 50-yard FG. Sure his kickoffs are a little short - as is he - but if the money is right, bring him back.

Tony Parrish - I really didn't see enough of him to get a worthwhile evaluation. But from his lack of playing time and the investment and belief in Pat Watkins growth, it would be hard to see him back if he's asking for any kind of real money. With Keith Davis and Abe Elam contributing to the special teams, and the need for a true ball-hawking FS if Watkins doesn't come through, it's hard to see where Parrish fits.

Al Singleton - I've admired his consistency and professionalism, but his days here are probably over. Bobby Carpenter is the future, Greg Ellis is still a question, but Singleton just doesn't make enough big plays to warrant throwing money at him. Dallas will need to decide where they are with Greg Ellis, but would probably go after a free agent or draft a young player if Ellis isn't returning.

Kenyon Coleman - I wouldn't mind seeing the Cowboys bring back Coleman for the right money. Down the stretch he was outplaying Marcus Spears and is more capable of getting into the backfield. While not a particularly fast player, he plays with strength and is able to get off blocks. Unless Dallas can find a dynamic 3-4 DE elsewhere, I would like to see him compete over the summer for the starting position.

Al Johnson - It all depends on the money. Gurode should be brought back as the starting center, so Johnson would likely be a backup and would have to take backup money. If negotiations don't work out with Gurode, then the situation changes. But I'm not sure that Johnson is truly starting material if the Cowboys want to build a better line.

The Cowboys are in pretty good shape against the salary cap. Right now, it's projected that we are $25 million under the cap.

I'll follow up with a later post on the restricted and exclusive rights free agents.

Don Banks writes that Parcells won't fight hard to keep Mike Zimmer.

Cowboys defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer reportedly is being sought for the same post by new Falcons head coach Bobby Petrino, and it's not likely that Parcells would fight to keep him. With a 4-3 background, he may not be the guy to lead the Cowboys' 3-4 front, and the team's dismal defensive showing in the final month might have sealed his fate.

It's time for Dallas and Zimmer to part ways.

Hat tip to DerekSTheRed for the link to the Banks' article.

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