It's been a while since the Cowboys have been as busy in free agency as they've been this year. In many ways, this feels like the most methodical, process-driven and determined approach to free agency we've seen from Jerry Jones, and it's not a stretch to think that the growing influence of both Stephen Jones and Jason Garrett is behind this.
Borrowing the idea of a Cowboys shopping list published by Charean Williams of the Star-Telegram this morning, here are the positions of need the Cowboys have addressed so far:
- Starting cornerback. Check.
- Starting free safety: Check
- Starting Fullback. Check.
- Backup quarterback. Check.
- Offensive line depth: Check
But the Cowboys aren't done yet, and it looks like the salary cap is not going to be an impediment as the Cowboys doggedly cross off one need after another, at least according to Stephen Jones:
Jones wouldn't say how much room is under the cap.
"'Room' always makes me chuckle," Jones said. "That's irrelevant. What we have on a given day really doesn't relate to what you're ultimately going to have and how you're going to manage. All I can tell you is we can make the moves that we need to make, hopefully to get prepared for the draft, to make us the type of football team we need to be."
After the break, a quick look at who might be next on the Cowboys' shopping list.
The Cowboys are currently visiting with at least two more free agents, linebacker Dan Connor and offensive guard Nate Livings. Jason Garrett is already raving about Dan Connor, who was Sean Lee's teammate at Penn State:
"We're excited to have Dan Connor in, a Penn State guy, drafted by Carolina. He right kind of guy, a very productive player for them, a very productive player in college," Garrett said. "We've had a good visit with him so far and we'll get the chance to visit with him more today and just see where we are and where he is and continue along with this process."
For this not so well versed in the subtext of Jason Garrett's public announcements: When Garrett calls somebody a 'Right Kind Of Guy' he's not so subtly telling Stephen Jones to sign the guy already. Connor will allow the Cowboys to check the 'Backup ILB' box.
Nate Livings is also visting. Livings is a 6-5, 332 pounds guard who started 47 over the last four seasons for the Bengals. Livings allows to the Cowboys to check the 'veteran interior lineman' box, and Garrett is excited about him as well:
"He played at LSU," Garrett said. "He's someone we've spoken to, and we're going to have a chance to visit with him today. [offensive line] coach [Bill] Callahan and Wes Phillips have met with him already this morning, took him to a nice breakfast. We'll get a chance to see where he is, see where we are in relation to him. We're excited about that."
The Cowboys have come up empty so far in their search for a second tight end. It's not immediately clear whether there are any other positions still open on the Cowboys shopping list, but one thing the Cowboys approach to 2012 free agency has clearly accomplished is it has set up the Cowboys to select the best player available when it comes time to draft new players for the Cowboys in April.