We start out with our own Dave Halprin's summation of the signing of Ronald Leary and Darrion Weems, both to the minimum deals they had to accept as exclusive rights free agents. They also freed up a little more cap money with another move.
Todd Archer reports that the team also re-worked the deal of linebacker Dekoda Watson. He was slated to make $1.25 million but took a pay-cut down to $745,000.
While the team is making the initial moves to structure the roster for the offseason, they face the problem of having to operate without knowing exactly how much cap space they have to work with.
Given the importance of those decisions, it's easy to lose focus on some basic truths. For instance, as team executive vice president Stephen Jones quickly pointed out on Tuesday - the Cowboys don't even yet know how much money they have to work with this offseason. With three weeks still to wait until the start of free agency, the NFL has yet to announce a hard salary cap.
The window is open for teams to use the franchise tag on one player. The Cowboys of course have two prime candidates for the tag in Dez Bryant and DeMarco Murray, and according to executive vice president Stephen Jones there is no hurry to make a decision.
"We're still working through everything," he said. "Usually, we'll probably use the full amount of time before we decide to do whatever things we want to do with the tag. We'll probably wait until the midnight hour to make that decision."
The deadline to use the tag is March 2, which gives the Cowboys another two weeks to decide what to do. If they were to make that call today, Jones said it'd likely be used on Bryant, who is seeking to become one of the league's highest-paid receivers.
Bryant was not happy to hear this, initiating a bit of a back and forth on Twitter.
Dez Bryant (@DezBryant) February 17, 2015
Stephen Jones on Dez's tweet: We feel strongly about him, we've worked hard to get a longterm deal with him and we'll continue to work hard.— David Helman (@HelmanDC) February 17, 2015
Stephen Jones: We still got weeks to go here before we make that decision. A lot can happen. I'll say this, we sure think the world of Dez.— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) February 17, 2015
Responding to Dez Bryant's tweet on perceived lack of commitment from Cowboys, Stephen Jones said, "He's not feeling the right vibes then."— Rainer Sabin (@RainerSabinDMN) February 17, 2015
If franchise tagged, Dez Bryant wouldd get $13M instead of $30-40M guaranteed. Told he would probably not participate offseason if happens— Ed Werder (@Edwerderespn) February 17, 2015
The team still has its eyes on what to do with the Offensive Player of the Year.
"It's difficult," Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said. "He's a great player. He's, in my opinion, a better man off the field in terms of the way he goes about his business, and so all of those things are difficult. As we all know running backs are a difficult position in terms of how [they] are valued. So there's a lot of things we'll have to evaluate as we make the ultimate decision as to what our number can be with DeMarco verses (sic) what somebody else's number may be."
A pretty fair running back from the Cowboys' history feels, not surprisingly, that the team should try harder.
Smith told a crowd before meeting with the media that he would pay to keep Murray, as well as wide receiver Dez Bryant, if he were in Jerry Jones' shoes going into free agency.
But, as he quickly reminded the crowd on hand Tuesday morning at a PenFed Credit Union charity event benefiting Home for Our Troops and Toys for Tots, he's not Jerry Jones.
I'm not saying that I included this name just for the inimitable OCC, who has a mild distaste for running backs in the first round. But I did.
Todd Gurley, RB Georgia:
Would be a Top 10 player in this draft regardless of position if he were healthy. Will not be able to work out for the scouts at the Combine but news will travel fast in Indianapolis of how far along his injured knee has come since November. Will have the knee checked out again in April before the draft. Is one of those players that you would consider taking a chance on if you get the okay from the medical staff.
I could mention Gurley again here, but that would be overkill. However, he is hardly the only name of interest to Dallas.
DE/OLB Bud Dupree, Kentucky
Similar to (Vic) Beasley, Dupree started at tight end before moving to defense, using his athleticism to launch off the line of scrimmage to penetrate the backfield. And similar to Beasley, he should turn heads in every drill for a 265-pounder.
Just a reminder of how tenuous life is for marginal players in the NFL.
The Cowboys added him to their practice squad in December and later signed him to a future/reserve contract in January.
Along with their own free agents, Dallas fans have been speculating on what players from other teams the Cowboys may be able to go after. Jason Pierre-Paul has been one name mentioned, but it looks like we can forget about that idea. Well, if you trust the source, anyway.
Whether or not discussions pick up at the NFL Scouting Combine this week, the Giants have no intention of losing their top defensive player to free agency. That leaves Pierre-Paul as a strong candidate for the franchise tag, per Rapoport.
The Cowboys will be represented during the staff interviews.
Wednesday, February 18
4:15 P.M.: Jason Garrett, Dallas Cowboys Head Coach
Notably, there was no sign of Jerry Jones. There has been no mention of him being at the combine. But of course, he has never needed a scheduled time to talk to a microphone or camera.