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The VRR: CBA's "Final League Year" Could Help the Dallas Cowboys

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For every NFL team, the offseason is all about change. Some teams, like the Redskins and Browns began their offseasons while the '09 season was still being played. Others, such as the Superbowl participanting Colts and Saints, are reaping the rewards of their successful '09 offseasons. 

For a team like the Cowboys, ultimate success was just a few games away. They know what strengths they can build upon and what weaknesses they need to address.

With the majority of the coaching staff returning, management can focus their efforts on personnel. Being Senior Bowl week, draft prospects are at the forefront of many NFL minds. With the Pro Bowl practices concurrently taking place, those all-star veterans expected to be free agents may be drawing the peripheral eye of Coach Phillips and staff.

A little personnel tweaking at a few key positions could be all this Dallas team needs next season to get where the Colts and Saints are today. Fortunately, the Collective Bargaining Agreement's "Final League Year" seems to have come at a perfect time for the Cowboys.

Any salary cap casualties this offseason? Huh? What salary cap?

Last year, it was Terrell Owens and Adam "Pacman" Jones. This season, the Cowboys could have another big name or two on the waiver wire. If it is an uncapped year, as expected, teams won’t be charged prorated bonus money when they cut a player.

Terence Newman, Ken Hamlin, Marion Barber and Flozell Adams all have big-money contracts the Cowboys could get rid of without penalty. The question is: Who would replace them?

More VRR after the jump.

Tim MacMahon says that moving on from Marion Barber "makes sense".

This isn't about bashing Barber, whose production has dropped drastically since he signed a seven-year, $45 million deal and became the Cowboys' starter. If it was, we'd point out that he's injury prone and disturbingly ineffective in short-yardage situations for a back whose game is based on power.

The Cowboys would be foolish not to make Felix Jones the lead horse in 2010. Choice is more than capable of serving as a complementary back, and unlike Barber, he'd fill that role at a reasonable price. The Cowboys can draft another back in the middle rounds to play special teams and back up Jones and Choice.

MacMahon also thinks that Ken Hamlin is another guy the Cowboys can replace.

Is it worth $4.5 million to keep Hamlin on the team? Hamlin hasn’t been bad the last two seasons, but he certainly hasn’t been an impact player. He has one interception since getting his big contract. Owner/general manager Jerry Jones cited the lack of plays made by the safeties as one of his primary concerns in the middle of the season.

There were some within the organization that wanted Ball to keep the starting job after Hamlin recovered from a high ankle sprain. However, it’s not Wade Phillips’ style to take a veteran’s job away after an injury, plus Phillips values Hamlin’s communication ability. With the way the defense peaked at the end of the season, you can’t criticize Phillips’ decision to start Hamlin.

Jerry Jones indicated that Doug Free could be a starter next year.

"I wouldn't want to buy into the way you said it," Jones told a reporter. "But I would say he's shown me enough to know that he can be a starter in the NFL. That's the best way to say it as opposed to taking somebody's (spot)."

(Flozell) Adams has four years remaining on a six-year $43 million extension signed before the 2008 season, while Colombo has three years left on a four-year, $22 million deal. As for whether Free projects better as a right or left tackle?

"Either one," Jones said.

In the past, Tom Ciskowski and the Cowboys have had success finding "hidden gems" at the Senior Bowl.

This will be Tom Ciskowski's third draft as scouting director. His late-rounds production has been good and could get better.

In two years, the Cowboys have pulled three serviceable players out of the Senior Bowl: Choice, pushing for more time at running back; Phillips, who could replace Martellus Bennett as the No. 2 tight end next season; and safety Michael Hamlin. Choice was the highest pick, in the fourth round.

The Senior Bowl serves as a talent laboratory. Ciskowski and his staff returned to the Cowboys complex in December and submitted grades on draft-worthy players. Performances in the Senior Bowl practices and game offer can confirm or knock down those grades.

Dolphins QB coach, David Lee, has been working with Tim Tebow at the Senior Bowl. As an assistant with the Cowboys, Lee was instrumental in teaching Tony Romo how to improve his mechanics.

In 2003, Lee encountered an undrafted rookie from Eastern Illinois with uncanny footwork, but a highly questionable delivery. Bill Parcells took one look at Tony Romo's delivery and informed Lee, an offensive assistant at the time, that all of his passes would be batted down.

Lee was hesitant to completely overhaul a three-quarter delivery that had served Romo well since middle school, but the young quarterback begged him to make the changes. Lee helped Romo change his release point, making it much higher.

In the summer of '03, Romo would call Lee's house at 9 p.m. and ask the coach to meet him up at the practice facility to play catch. Those sessions helped form the foundation for Romo's shocking rise to fame in 2006.

Dat Nguyen spoke about why he opted out of signing a contract extension with the Cowboys. Whether he returns to Texas A&M remains to be determined.

"I want to grow as a coach," Nguyen told the San Antonio Express-News. "I want to be more hands-on, and be more accountable to players. "I didn't think I'd have the chance to grow like I had envisioned as a young coach. They offered me an extension. I just didn't see where staying with the Cowboys was going to help me accomplish what I want to accomplish."

Coming back to his old school might do just that.

"I definitely want to be in coaching; it's a part of my life," Nguyen said. "I want to make differences in kids' lives."

Matt Mosely's All-Beast Team is full of Cowboys. One surprising pick is Dallas left guard Kyle Kosier.

Here's my upset special. I realize that Leonard Davis is headed to the Pro Bowl, but the scouts I've talked to said that Kosier had the better season. He did a really nice job pulling and working in space. He didn't hold up well against the Williams Wall, but you can say that about a lot of players.

DC.com goes back in time to describe how the Dallas Cowboys franchise came to life 50 years ago.

Everson Walls holds the Pro Bowl record for career interceptions in the all-star game. With Mike Jenkins just beginning what looks to be a promising career, perhaps he will start chipping away at that record. Here is the list of all the Pro Bowl records.

After the Pro Bowl, DeMarcus Ware will have surgery to shave down a bone spur on his left foot.

Ware is competing against Drew Brees and Mark Sanchez in the Pepsi Refresh Project. The winner receives a $100,000 grant towards the charity of his choice.

Ware will compete for Jonathan's Place, a Dallas emergency shelter for abused, abandoned and neglected children.

"I want to help provide a safe environment for abused, abandoned and neglected children by supporting Jonathan's Place," Ware said in a statement. "With your help we can improve their lives with better medical care, counseling, clothing, food and shelter."

View Ware's video and vote for him here on NFL.com's Pepsi Refresh Project page.

The final report from the National Institute of Standards and Technology on the Cowboys practice facility collapse was released.

The NIST reported the structure collapsed under wind loads significantly less than those required under applicable design standards. The group recommended that other fabric-covered frame structures be evaluated for safety.

The Blue Star Blog has a cool slideshow of The Season That Was.

Free Reign released their debut album. Rock on!

"Five songs, and it's pretty heavy," Colombo says, putting it mildly. "There are a couple of lighter songs too, but the album is named after one of our harder songs 'Tragedy,' and that's going to be our second single. That's kind of our song that we spent the most time on in the studio, because we felt it had the most chance to get radio play, and it's done pretty well so far. We have a song on there called 'Rise Up,' which is kind of an anthem-type song, and it's been played at the stadium when we're stretching and stuff before games."

Colombo and Cory Procter are getting around in the world of rock. Both players are featured here in this Drowning Pool music video.

The "Manster", Randy White, talks Cowboys with Fox Sports Southwest in this video interview.

Jim Jeffcoat's son, Jackson, has made his decision. He will play for the University of Texas. Woohoo!

The 6'5", 225-pound defensive end rated as the second-best prospect by ESPNU. As a senior, he made 68 and a half tackles, eight and a half sacks and had two interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown.

For his efforts, he was named his district's defensive player of the year and was named to the Class 5A All-State first team.

The University of Houston hired former Dallas defensive coordinator Brian Stewart to take over its defense.

Stadiumjourney.com released its rankings of the NFL's best stadiums for 2009. Guess I could've given Cowboys Stadium another half point or so. Darn it!

Below, Jerry Jones discusses what he's learned from this past season, looks forward to events at Cowboys Stadium, and debates a bit about whether Manny Pacquiao would be a better fit as a slot receiver or safety.