The question: How to fix the 4-12 Dallas Cowboys for the 2016 season? The answer is something we've all been talking about since the season ended, and there is no consensus answer. Everybody has an idea on how to make 2015 a distant memory, an aberration on the road to the Cowboys returning to Super Bowl contention and fulfilling the promise of the 12-4 2014 season. Bill Barnwell outlined five moves the Cowboys should make this offseason and Todd Archer followed up with his take. Instead of commenting on theirs, I'll go ahead and present my five-step plan.
1. Do not draft a QB at #4.
Admittedly, I've gone back and forth on this issue, as many fans have this offseason. It's very tempting for the Cowboys to use a high-draft pick on their hopeful QB of the future, but if they want to win now, this isn't going to help. The window is closing on Tony Romo, a quarterback who can most definitely win a Super Bowl if provided with the right help and if he stays healthy. Dallas should draft a quarterback somewhere along the way if they see one who's worth a shot, but not at the #4 pick.
2. Cut Brandon Carr, but must bring in two replacements.
The Cowboys need to dump Carr as a post-June 1 cut. But if they do that they must sign a mid-level replacement veteran from free agency (Brandon Boykin, Patrick Robinson for example) and target a corner in the early rounds of the draft. Orlando Scandrick will be back, but they'll need a vet who can start, and they'll need a high-level rookie to rotate in as the third corner, or the rookie will start if he's that good. Jalen Ramsey would be an example. The Cowboys shouldn't get into a bidding war for a top-line corner in free agency, they'll need to save their money for point number four.
3. Do not sign a top-name free agent running back.
Dallas needs another running back to complement Darren McFadden, but it shouldn't be Lamar Miller or Doug Martin or Alfred Morris or even DeMarco Murray. Buy cheap in the draft in rounds two through four. Big-name free agents come with inflated prices and the odds of running backs getting hurt are too high nowadays. Stock up through the draft and with low-cost free agent options.
4. Sign one or two pass rush specialists.
Dallas has to improve its pass rush. They are likely moving on from Greg Hardy. They need to spend their money here. Guys like Olivier Vernon, Jason Pierre-Paul, Malik Jackson, Robert Ayers or Bruce Irvin should all be in consideration. The draft may also be a place to get help, but the Cowboys need to spend their big free agent money on the defensive line. This is the single most-important piece of the offseason, they have to create more pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
5. Yes, find a backup QB.
Take one later in the draft, sign one in free agency. Something must be done. It's likely that a couple of starters, part-time starters or former starters will end up being let go from their respective teams. As long as it's not Manziel, the Cowboys need to go shopping.
Summary: Concentrate your draft picks on corners, running backs, and defensive line. Sign some mid-level help at corner and backup quarterback. Throw most of your money at pass rush specialists.
That's my take. Agree or disagree? Have your own plan? Hit up the comments.