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Cowboys Options: Nate Burleson, Wide Receivers, Free Agency & The Draft

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The Cowboys likely need a new receiver this season, but how do they acquire one.

Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Whenever I see a player that's been released by another team, and that player has made somewhat of a name for himself in the game, I think: Do I want him in Dallas? It's just an impulse reaction. So when the Lions recently released wide receiver Nate Burleson I immediately started to weigh the options. Todd Archer was thinking along the same lines in this article. So let's take a brief look at Burleson, but really as just a gateway to a philosophical question.

Burleson has been a productive player in Detroit, where Calvin Johnson gobbles up most of the attention on the receivers. He's worked under Scott Linehan in Detroit so would already know the offense inside and out.

Dallas needs a new receiver if you assume that Miles Austin will be released. Cole Beasley and Dwayne Harris are specialty guys, probably not a guy you go with on every down if Dez Bryant or Terrance Williams were injured. Beasely is a third-reciever slot specialists, Harris is really there for special teams.

Now, Burleson was supposed to get $5.5 million this coming season and the Cowboys are up against it on the salary cap. They'll free up some money to pursue a few guys, but I'm not sure if they'll spend in Burleson's range.

Here's the thing about wide receivers though, every year there seems to be a glut of veteran, somewhat-competent receivers on the market. If you wait long enough, you can usually pick one up fairly cheap. If you need him for a few weeks or as a third/fourth receiver, he could be useful. But, he'll also be a stop-gap, a player with no real upside and the odds of hitting on another Laurent Robinson are fairly slim.

Or you can make a run at acquiring one in the draft. Here, you have a better chance at hitting on a bigger upside, and they would come cheaper. I'm not really thinking about using first or second round choices on one, but maybe using one or two mid-to-late round picks. The problem with that is receivers are usually slow to develop, and there's a greater chance of completely hitting on a bust, instead of kind of knowing what you'll get with a veteran.

So what do you say? If Dallas has some free agent money to spend, would you go after a veteran wide receiver or would you prefer to take your chances in the draft? (Of course they could do both, but which one is your preference?)