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Cowboys 2015 Offseason: Ranking The Priorities Of Signing Their Own Free Agents

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The Dallas Cowboys saw their season come to a painful end in a close loss to the Green Bay Packers. While we're getting past the loss, the Cowboys need to be focused on some tough decisions that need to be made.

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Before we get into anything, let's take a look at the following list of players:

  • Dez Bryant- WR
  • DeMarco Murray- RB
  • Jermy Parnell- RT
  • Doug Free- RT*
  • Bruce Carter- OLB
  • Justin Durant- OLB
  • Anthony Spencer- DE
  • Rolando McClain- ILB
  • George Selvie- DE
  • Nick Hayden- DT
  • Dwayne Harris- WR/KR
  • Sterling Moore- CB
  • Tyler Clutts- FB
  • C.J. Spillman- S
  • Tony Hills- LT
  • Cameron Lawrence - LB
*Free has two voidable years left on his contract which will void sometime before free agency opens.

Each and every one of those players is an unrestricted free agent, and as you probably know, many of them played a pretty big role for the Dallas Cowboys during the 2014 season. So, what's it all mean? Well, to sum it up as simply as possible, the Cowboys are going to have quite the offseason and a whole lot of work to do.

Can the Cowboys re-sign each of these players? Not a chance. It's a rough spot to be in, but Jerry Jones has some tough decisions to make. While bringing back every player won't be possible, I'm instead going to take a look at which players the Cowboys should focus on retaining for 2015, while ranking them from 1-8.

8. C.J. Spillman

I really think that we need to just pause and give Spillman a bit of love for a minute. He was mainly a special teams player, but he was absolutely stellar down the home stretch of the season. Spillman was consistently the first player down the field for the special teams units, and to top it off, Jerry won't have to break the bank to bring Spillman back more than likely. Added depth at the safety position won't hurt either, and I see no reason why they shouldn't get a deal done with the 28-year-old.

7. George Selvie

It's likely going to be either Selvie or Anthony Spencer. While Spencer showed flashes late in the season, I think that Selvie gets the edge. He's younger (27 compared to 30), and he's been more consistent in terms of his ability to remain on the field. Selvie played 16 games in each of the last two seasons, and while 2014 wasn't as productive as 2013 for the defensive end, we know about his potential. He had 45 total tackles, eight tackles for loss, seven sacks, a forced fumble and a pass deflection in 2013. I won't say that he's a "must re-sign" player for the Cowboys this offseason, but they need to make sure they have an answer at the left defensive end spot.

6. Jermy Parnell

Yes, I'm choosing Parnell over Free. I have absolutely nothing but respect for what Free has done for the Cowboys, but this would simply be a business decision. For starters, Parnell is two years younger than Free, and he would likely be less expensive. Parnell was asked to fill in while Free was injured down the home stretch and did a great job in the role. I think he's only going to get better from here, and the reason why he's sixth on this list is due to the fact that I believe there's a chance that the Cowboys could actually draft another (yes, another) offensive linemen early in the 2015 NFL Draft.

5. Sterling Moore

Let's not just ignore the fact that the Cowboys aren't exactly loaded in terms of their current defensive backs. Yes, the entire defense, including the secondary, was much improved in 2014, but all of their problems aren't solved. I absolutely love Moore's game, and I think he's a tough, talented cornerback. In my opinion, Moore truly has the potential to become a consistent No. 3 in this league.

4. Bruce Carter

It's official, the 2011 second-round pick has wrapped up his coming out party. While he had more tackles in 2013 (96 total compared to 68 this year), he played two more games last season. Oh, and Carter also hauled in five interceptions this year, while tacking on eight pass deflections, four tackles for loss, a sack and a touchdown. Carter was asked to do more in coverage in 2014, and if the Cowboys can manage to get both McClain and Carter back to pair up with Sean Lee and Anthony Hitchens in 2015, then they'll be sitting very pretty at linebacker.

3. DeMarco Murray

Yes, Murray is third on this list. Before you yell at me, just hear me out. Murray is a complete stud, and he has the ability to do everything. He's powerful, fast, makes great reads and he's an excellent teammate. I could go on, but that would just make this even tougher to say. I truly hope that the Cowboys re-sign Murray, but he's not going to get a massive contract from the 'Boys unfortunately. The fact that he's likely to get a bigger offer from another team is what keeps him from being second on the list, because there's no chance that both Murray and Bryant get big, long-term deals.

With Joseph Randle and Lance Dunbar behind him, I think the only way that Dallas ends up re-signing Murray is if he accepts one of the more "team friendly" running back contracts, which is pretty unlikely. Ryan Williams could also be a name to watch if things don't work out with Murray as well. We all want to see Murray continue his career with a star on his helmet, but the salary cap just may not allow Dallas to compete with other teams who will be vying for his services. Time will tell, and there is an outside chance that he won't get a massive contract offer since running back deals have seen such a decline in recent seasons. Let's keep our fingers crossed.

2. Rolando McClain

McClain is only 25 years old, and if he can continue this high level of play, he's going to be an incredible asset. While he had some injury issues over the final few games of the 2014 season, we saw exactly what he's capable of. McClain came to Dallas in a low-risk, high-reward trade, and it's safe to say that the deal paid off massively for the Cowboys. McClain played in 13 games, but racked up an impressive 81 total tackles, 10 tackles for loss, two interceptions, a sack and a forced fumble.

McClain has a bright future, especially if he can stay focused on football, which I believe he can. While Carter had a big year and showed his overall worth, I think McClain would be the linebacker to go with if you had to pick between the two.

1. Dez Bryant

Make no mistake, the Cowboys are going to re-sign Bryant. He's not going anywhere. It may not happen immediately, and there's an off chance that they may even need to franchise tag him, but he's going to remain a Cowboy for a very, very long time. Bryant is the man that the Cowboys cannot let leave town, and fortunately, he has no interest in leaving. Over the last three seasons, Bryant has hauled in at least 88 receptions in each year, has topped at least 1,233 yards and has scored 41 total touchdowns, including 16 of them in 2014. Throw up the X.

Things To Note

It's worth pointing out that while bringing back both McClain and Carter would be nice, there's a good chance that it won't happen, especially with the emergence of Hitchens in the second half of the season. The thing to remember is that there is a good chance that McClain won't get a big contract, and could end up being very affordable for the Cowboys.

Another player who the Cowboys will hopefully look to re-sign who is not listed above is Dwayne Harris. The talented return man shouldn't cost a whole lot either, but the Cowboys are going to have to make some tough calls, and letting him go could be one of them. Just another name to make sure that you watch for.