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Cowboys News & Notes: Losing Free Agent Battles, Looking Towards Draft

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It was another day without any signings at Valley Ranch.

Is Jerry losing his magic touch at signing people?
Is Jerry losing his magic touch at signing people?
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Once again, things were quiet for the Dallas Cowboys in free agency. Not only did they make no progress in filling the remaining roster holes, they saw a couple of players they were interested slip away. They continue to look for more answers, and meanwhile they still have the draft to prepare for.

Cowboys May Fall Short On Two Free Agency Bids " CBS Dallas / Fort Worth

This turned out to be sadly prophetic, as the two prospective signees both returned to their old teams.

In fact, at this moment, a pair of Dallas' interviewees, QB Matt Moore and cornerback Nolan Carroll, seem to be considering returning to their former teams.

Meanwhile, there is more bad news on a player Dallas was interested in.

Free Agent Roundup: CB Hall’s Name Surfaces For An Expected Free Agent Visit | Dallas Cowboys

Cornerback Leon Hall is scheduled to visit the Cowboys today.

Hall, 31, has started 105 games since being drafted in the first round by the Cincinnati Bengals in 2007. He has 470 career tackles and 26 career interceptions over his nine-year career with the Bengals, including six in 2009 when he made second-team All-Pro.

Bengals 2016 free agent profile: Leon Hall - Cincy Jungle

With the Cowboys' interest in him, this is a useful profile from our sister Bengals SBN site.

Leon Hall is still a very technically sound player with a good football IQ. He's been reduced to a nickel CB, but that role still sees about 60 percent of the total snaps, and he's still one of the best nickel corners in the league. He's physical, presses well and offenses should never throw wide receiver screens in his direction. Hall is still one of the best tackling corners in the NFL today. Hall has also rotated into safety for some packages and has practiced there in training camp. I think he could extend his career a few years as a safety and nickel CB.

Dallas Cowboys show they will go only so far at positions of need - Dallas Cowboys Blog- ESPN

The plan is irritating to many, but it is obvious that Dallas is sticking to their established strategy of not overpaying, as they see it, in free agency.

You can debate the wisdom but the Cowboys have followed their plan.

It's clear, though, the Cowboys do not want to pay for age in free agency, and if they do it will be on their terms.

Grading every NFL team after free agency's first wave: NFC East | Pro Football Weekly

These grades place a lot of weight on spending. Dallas gets a C, lowest in the division.

Dallas Cowboys: No free agent visits for Cowboys DE Greg Hardy, but he has been going to class | SportsDay

It looks like Greg Hardy may be making plans for life after football, just in case.

Sources said the Cowboys defensive end has returned to Ole Miss this semester to enroll in school. Hugh Freeze is the head coach at the University of Mississippi and was Hardy's high school coach. Freeze said in an interview last summer that Hardy was nine hours short of a bachelor's degree in graphic design at Ole Miss.

Report: Dallas Adding Lionel Vital To The Front Office - Blogging The Boys

Our own Joey Ickes reported this, and it has since been learned that Vital will report to Will McClay in the organizational structure.

Vital brings 25 years of personnel experience to the Cowboys working with the likes of Belichick Ozzie Newsome, Scott Pioli, Thomas Demitroff and others, and will likely pair with Will McClay at the top of the organizations personnel and scouting departments.

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Meanwhile, some draft stuff of interest.

Dallas Cowboys: Bob Sturm's draft profile series: How RB Derrick Henry could help Cowboys' power run game return with vengeance | SportsDay

Ezekiel Elliott has become as a first round pick for Dallas, at least for some, but that may be too pricey, or they just may like someone (cough) Jalen Ramsey (cough) better. Derrick Henry may be in the mix for their second round pick.

The Cowboys actually have one of the better chances to replicate the Alabama situation with a big offensive line that can give a RB a chance to get up to speed with opportunities. Once Henry steps into the secondary, it is over.  Defenders do not want to get in front of him and you can imagine Dallas would be very interested in this at the top of Round 2 if he falls to them.

He is not Elliott. But, he is the second-best runner in this draft according to most and the price drop from Elliott to Henry suggests that while Zeke might be too pricey, Henry might appeal to them quite a bit.

Dallas Cowboys: Draft analyst Dane Brugler on Joey Bosa being best fit for Cowboys; QBs, RBs to watch for in middle rounds | SportsDay

Brugler is a widely respected draftnik who actually makes a living doing this stuff. He is one of many who are thinking this way about who the Cowboys should take at four.

Which player would be the best case scenario for the Cowboys at No. 4 overall?

Brugler: "Joey Bosa. I think he's one of the top four players in this draft. There are some questions in the secondary, but adding another pass rusher, especially with Randy Gregory's question marks, will have a ripple effect and help everyone on defense. A plug-and-play player like Joey Bosa, who is only 20 years old and can play left or right defensive end, can really help along with DeMarcus Lawrence, I think that makes an instant impact. Get a guy the Cowboys can build around going forward."

Mock Draft Roundup: Ohio State Prospect Is Front-Runner For No. 4 Pick | Dallas Cowboys

This wrapup from David Helman found that Bosa is becoming a trendy pick for Dallas. That may be realistic, or reflect an emphasis on need among mockers.

Judging by their mid-March mocks, draft analysts certainly recognize that the Cowboys could use some help with their pass rush. Of the 12 mock drafts below, nine of them have Dallas selecting a pass rusher at No. 4 overall, and seven of those nine have their sights set on one high-profile target in particular

Dallas Cowboys: Cowboys reportedly have visits set up with DE Joey Bosa, RB Derrick Henry | SportsDay

Looks like the Bosa and Henry talk may be relevant. In recent years, visits to Valley Ranch have been a good indicator of the team's interest in prospects.

Tony Pauline of draftinsider.net recently wrote that Bosa has official visits setup with the Tennessee Titans (who have the No. 1 pick in the draft), the Cleveland Browns (No. 2), the Cowboys (No. 4) and Jacksonville Jaguars (No. 5).

Henry told USA Today writer Tom Pelissero that he has visits scheduled with the Carolina Panthers and the Cowboys in April.

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Finally, a couple of followups to items from yesterday's news.

NFL not walking back confirmation that football, CTE are connected | Pro Football Weekly

It made headlines when Jeff Miler stated that the NFL did see a link between playing football and CTE. There was some speculation that the NFL might try to disavow that, but the league is standing by what he said.

On Tuesday, the NFL didn't walk back Miller's comments, as spokesperson Brian McCarthy told the Washington Post they were accurate.

"The comments made by Jeff Miller yesterday accurately reflect the view of the NFL," McCarthy said in a statement to the Washington Post.

This is a breakthrough acknowledgment from the NFL, which in recent years has seen former stars including Junior Seau and Dave Duerson take their lives before it was later revealed they were suffering from CTE. The NFL had refrained from admitting the game's role in their brain injuries.

Dallas Cowboys: Sale of Cowboys CB Morris Claiborne's SEC championship ring from LSU taken down; jewelry not up for bids | SportsDay

It was an odd story to begin with. It looks like Morris Claiborne needs to be a little more careful who he has over to his place, as he claims that someone took it without his knowledge and tried to make some money off it.

"I would never sell any of my LSU memorabilia as the time I spent on the LSU campus are some of my most special memories," Claiborne said.

Follow me @TomRyleBTB