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Cowboys News & Notes: Combine Under Way While Cowboys Work Their Own Free Agents

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The Underwear Olympics start today. Prepare to be inundated with more numbers than you can likely stand.

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Dallas Cowboys will be busy during NFL scouting combine week - ESPN

Of course the Dallas Cowboys are going to be studying the prospects intently, and also doing a little quiet, unofficial talking with agents who represent free agents from other teams. But this is also a time when they will be working hard on their own free agents.

One of the reasons why the Cowboys bring their bus is to conduct business during the day. They will have meetings with a number of agents during the week to set groundwork for what they will and won't be able to do in free agency. Some talks might actually heat up this week, but don't look for the big deals to come down with Dez Bryant or DeMarco Murray. The smaller deals, however, could get into focus.

Sabin: Why workouts are far from most important part of NFL combine | Dallas Morning News

The various physical drills get the most coverage, but as been mentioned here before, the interviews that happen off camera may be the most important thing the prospects do.

But one of the combine's participants, running back Ameer Abdullah of Nebraska, is quick to remind, "The interviews are the most important [part]."

In this day and age, when the behavior of players is scrutinized more than ever, and the league's image has been tainted by off-the-field incidents involving its stars, it makes sense that these meet-and-greet opportunities carry more weight.

Tony Romo's hand size; DeMarco Murray's 40; how Cowboys fared at NFL Combine | Dallas Morning News

An interesting look back at how some of the current team leaders did at the combine. These might be good benchmarks to check on when you start looking at prospect numbers.

Countdown to Combine: Dallas Cowboys DEs - Dallas Cowboys Blog - ESPN

This lists three defensive end candidates that the Cowboys could target.

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Meanwhile, the Cowboys still have a lot of decisions to make about their own players.

Roster Rundown: Position Flex, Versatility Should Open Doors For Wilber in 2015 | Dallas Cowboys

Kyle Wilber is perceived by many to be an expendable player, but that overlooks how valuable he became late in the season when injuries thinned out the linebacking corps.

Where He Fits: With all the questions at linebacker going into the 2015 season and the possibility of guys like Bruce Carter and Justin Durant leaving due to free agency, Kyle Wilber will once again to be looked at to provide depth at both outside linebacker positions and continue his work on special teams. I believe these coaches have found a spot for him just playing as a linebacker and are willing to just leave him there. For his benefit, that is the right direction to go. Wilber might not ever be the answer as a long-term starter in this defense but what he is able to do for those one or two games he does - it would be hard to find one better.

Cowboys free-agent debate: Justin Durant - Dallas Cowboys Blog - ESPN

Justin Durant was performing better than any other linebacker when he was injured.

What he could do: He would give the Cowboys some cover at the linebacker position for the next couple of years so they would not be in a position to absolutely need to draft a linebacker in the spring. He has shown the ability to play all three linebacker spots, which is a major plus. His teammates voted him a captain at the start of the season, so there is a level of respect there. With questions about Rolando McClain and Bruce Carter, Durant could be a cheaper option.

Cowboys free-agent debate: Doug Free - Dallas Cowboys Blog - ESPN

The last two years of his contract have voided, so there will have to be a new deal if Doug Free, now the old man of the offensive line, is to return.

What he could do: He turned 31 in January, but tackles have the ability to play longer. He has been a player that has relied more on athleticism and feel than strength so the ability to adapt to the effects of a longer career should be fine. His impact in the offensive line room should not be underrated. The younger players look to him for guidance in situations on and off the field.

Doug Free or Jermey Parnell could help the Buffalo Bills in 2015 - Buffalo Rumblings

Meanwhile, there is some interest (at least in one fan base) for whichever tackle the Cowboys don't bring back. But Free is favored over Jermey Parnell.

Free offers steady play that has always been at its best when he remains on the right side, which is perfect for Buffalo. More importantly to such a ragged unit as Buffalo's right now is what Free offers off the field. His experience and leadership would be a great asset to an offensive line unit that needs it now more than ever.

Franchise, transition tag window opens Monday | ProFootballTalk

By the time you read this, it will already be day two of the period teams can place tags on players.

It's President's Day for the USA. For the NFL, it's the first day that guys can receive offers to be paid a hell of a lot more than any USA president ever made.

And this is important to the Cowboys because . . .

Cowboys, Dez, The Tag: How Close? How Far? - Dallas - Scout

It is rather sad to see how close things came to closing a deal with Dez Bryant. But now the team is looking at possibly having to use the franchise tag to buy more time to get to a long term deal.

It was the last week of October. The Cowboys were rolling on the field ... and rolling towards a "Cowboy For Life'' contract with Dez Bryant, sources tell CowboysHQ.com. How close? the Cowboys were so near a new agreement with Bryant and then-agent Eugene Parker that we're told some of the ancillary paperwork was being drawn up inside of Valley Ranch. 

Now? Parker no longer represents Bryant. Now? There is the appearance of "far away,'' as Monday marks the opening of a two-week window on which to place the franchise tag on Dallas' star receiver. Now? Unlike last October we've arrived at the first of a series of "deadlines,'' or "signposts,'' as the team and Bryant's new reps, led by CAA agent Tom Condon, start rolling up their sleeves.

Could franchise tag be more than one-year option for Dez Bryant? - ESPN

It's just speculation, but the article does lay out how the team can afford a second and even a third year of using the tag on Bryant. It just fails to explain exactly why this would be necessary.

Darren Woodson Talks Haley’s Hall Of Fame Nod, Shares His Desire To Join Ring Of Honor | Dallas Cowboys

With Charles Haley finally in the Hall Of Fame, there is a pretty wide consensus that Darren Woodson should be the next Cowboy in. He points out that he and Haley were just two players who have been overlooked to some degree.

Despite their defensive prowess, Woodson said Haley's election gives the spotlight to a unit that was often overshadowed by the Cowboys' high-powered offense, which featured Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin.

"We've never been recognized that way. I think it's an injustice and a slap in the face to the guys who played in the '90s," he said. "Guys like Ken Norton that was a great leader for us in '92. And Charles Haley, Tony Tolbert, Russell Maryland, the list goes on and on about the great football players on the defensive side of the ball that never got that recognition."

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