The Dallas Cowboys will be a busy team this week, all the way through Sunday night. They have some immediate plans that include an all-star game and an all-star game. The Pro Bowl and the Senior Bowl.
The Pro Bowl will be filled with Cowboys. The recent addition of Tony Romo and Mike Jenkins puts nine Cowboys in the game, although Andre Gurode has pulled out because he's getting arthroscopic knee surgery soon.
Cowboys in the Pro Bowl: Tony Romo, Mike Jenkins, Terence Newman, Miles Austin, DeMarcus Ware, Andre Gurode, Jason Witten, Leonard Davis, and Jay Ratliff.
In addition, the Cowboys coaching staff will be handling the honors for the NFC team.
Meanwhile, Jerry Jones and Co. is in Mobile for the Senior Bowl. Aaron gave a nice breakdown of early Senior Bowl events and previews, here.
The DMN reports that Jerry wants to stay in the first-round of the draft, and that they could be going offense this year. Too bad the article doesn't give the exact quotes of what Jerry said.
Dallas Cowboys free-agent status:
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENT
OG Montrae Holland
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
WR Miles Austin
S Gerald Sensabaugh
DE Marcus Spears
DE Stephen Bowen
DE Jason Hatcher
WR Sam Hurd
S Pat Watkins
OT Pat McQuistan
C Cory Procter
NT Junior Siavii
CB Cletis Gordon
C Duke Preston
K Shaun Suisham
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENT
CB Alan Ball
LB Steve Octavien
We have no issues with UFA's, who cares about Holland.
It's the RFA's the Cowboys need to deal with, and they've got quite a few important ones. None bigger then breakout star Miles Austin. We all know Jerry and Stephen do not let guys get away that they really want to keep, and you know they really want to keep Austin. This deal will get done at some point. Harder to determine are guys like Marcus Spears, Gerald Sensabaugh, Stephen Bowen, Jason Hatcher, Sam Hurd and Pat Watkins. Spears and Sensabaugh are starters, out of the two Sensabaugh makes more sense as a priority. The Cowboys safety play was greatly improved this season, thanks to Sensabaugh. Dallas might want to find more safety help in the offseason (Pat Watkins is a special teamer, we don't know about Michael Hamlin yet), but would like to bring Sensabaugh back as security. Spears, Stephen Bowen and Jason Hatcher all nominally play the same position. Spears is basically a run-stopper who gives way to Bowen when Dallas goes with 4-down on the defensive line. Out of those three, it may be Bowen who is the higher priority, and Dallas could look to develop new, young talent along the line through the draft. The rest of the batch, Hurd, Siavii, Watkins etc. are all simple economics, if you like them and you can get them at reasonable rates, you keep them; if you can't, you replace them.
Speaking of replacements, the Cowboys have a whole crop of possible replacement players already in house. Let's look back at the 2009 draft.
Jason Williams, Robert Brewster, Stephen McGee, Victor Butler, Brandon Williams, DeAngelo Smith, Michael Hamlin, David Buehler, Stephen Hodge, John Phillips, Mike Mickens, Manuel Johnson
Contributions so far: Victor Butler showed flashes of pass-rush ability in limited playing time. He could work his way into more time giving Ware and Spencer rest. David Buehler contributed the most out of this class so far, giving the Cowboys a weapon on kickoffs - can he kick FGs? John Phillips came on at the end providing the Cowboys with solid blocking and some skill in the passing game.
Gone: DeAngelo Smith, Mike Mickens and
Manuel Johnson - (corrected, not gone, on PS, my bad).
Future outlook: Jason Williams may be productive at ILB, we just don't know. Robert Brewster is another question mark that could help solve the Cowboys offensive line problems down the road, but can he at least be a competent backup in 2010? Stephen McGee will continue his lessons learning the QB position in the NFL. Brandon Williams was thought of as potential force in the pass-rush (ahead of Butler in the training camp), but injury has left us unable to read his play. Michael Hamlin is still an unknown. Stephen Hodge might be the cover ILB we've been looking for on third-down, or maybe he isn't. He'll get the chance to challenge for that role.
The Cowboys offseason is off and running.