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Cowboys News: Plenty Of Roster Decisions Looming As Cowboys Approach Free Agency

What will the Cowboys be doing in free agency? Will they spend money or will they sit back and wait for the draft? Will they unload Tony Romo? All these questions are floating around in CowboyLand.

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Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Three Free Agent Pass Rushers That Could Help Improve The Cowboys Defense In 2017 - DannyPhantom, Blogging The Boys
The draft is loaded with talent at the defensive end position, but that doesn’t mean the Cowboys should turn away from free agency, especially with three of the top 15 performers hitting the market.

Recently, Pro Football Focus published an article listing their top 15 edge rushers for the 2016 season. What you will find on their top 15 list is three really good free agents - Melvin Ingram, Chandler Jones, and Jason Pierre-Paul.

These three players have separated themselves from the rest of the pack and are the free agent pass rushers that teams will covet the most next month. Will Dallas be one of the teams vying for their services?

32 NFL players who need a change of scenery, Jay Cutler, Morris Claiborne - Todd Archer, ESPN
Can Chicago make a clean break from Jay Cutler? Will the Cowboys move on from CB Morris Claiborne? NFL Nation reporters pick a player who needs a change of scenery for all 32 NFL teams.

Both sides tried to make it work, but Claiborne's health prevented him from being the player the Cowboys hoped he could be when they moved up to No. 6 in the 2012 draft to take him. He missed nine games in 2016 because of a groin injury after the best start of his career. He was flashing the ability many thought he had coming out of LSU. He was the Cowboys' best cornerback. But then he got hurt. While there is an admiration for the loyalty he has shown the Cowboys and that they have shown him, it's better to make a clean break and see what else is out there on both ends.

Dallas Cowboys Guide to the 2017 Free-Agent Market - Marcus Mosher, Bleacher Report
Over the past few years, the Cowboys have taken a much different approach towards free agency. In the late 2000s, the team was consistently one of the league's biggest spenders in free agency.

With that said, the Cowboys have their work cut out for them in this free-agent market. The team has 22 pending free agents, 12 of which started at some point in 2016. But to make matters worse, the Cowboys are currently $11 million dollars over the salary cap before free agency even begins. Surely, the team will need to deal with Tony Romo's contract, but that will only save them a few million. Cuts and restructuring of contracts will come, but it will leave very little space for the team to make moves in free agency.

Cowboys free agents most likely to return: With Romo likely gone, here's the easiest backup QB solution - David Moore, SportsDay
Free agency begins on March 9. Fans often focus on players from other teams the Cowboys should or intend to pursue. That's the wrong way to look at.

Given that cap charge and the fact Prescott is young and durable, the Cowboys won't be pouring much money into this position. Moore has the complete faith of offensive coordinator Scott Linehan. He knows how this offense works and there's a belief in the organization he can keep things running if Prescott was forced to miss a game here or there with injury.

Ed Werder: Why I just don't see Cowboys putting big premium on re-signing WR Terrance Williams -  SportsDay
ESPN's Ed Werder recently joined Jean-Jacques Taylor and Will Chambers on J Dub City on KESN-FM 103.3 to talk all things Dallas Cowboys.

I mean, what has he done? He gets single covered almost all the time and he hasn't been that highly productive of a player, in my opinion. Like if you look at the Atlanta Falcons he's not the equivalent of a Mohamed Sanu in my mind. I think you can do as well or better and save yourself a considerable amount of money.

Free Agent Overview: McFadden Still Productive, Versatile Option - Dallas Cowboys
Over the next two weeks, staff writers will break down each free agent, analyzing their strengths and weaknesses and the possibilities of a return in 2017. Today, we’ll look at running back Darren McFadden.

Argument to Keep: Two years ago, he came to the Cowboys relatively cheap and it’s unlikely he would demand high dollars now as he nears the age of 30. But he’s a versatile back that can carry the load as a starter if needed. He blocks, catches the ball out of the backfield and can play special teams.

No Surprises Picking Top Individual Performers Of 2016 Season - Nick Eatman, Dallas Cowboys
Throughout the season, we highlighted three stars for each month. But with the 2016 season complete, let’s take a final look back to last year with a trio of standouts. Here are the 3 Stars of the Year, as voted on by the staff and presented by Benrus.

Sean LeeWhile the Cowboys offense put up some big numbers in 2016, the defense was rather stout throughout the season as well. Leading the charge was Lee, who was healthy for the entire year, although he didn’t start the final game because the Cowboys held out many key starters for the playoffs. Still, Lee earned First Team All-Pro honors for the first time in his career and made his second straight Pro Bowl. Lee led the Cowboys with a career-high 174 tackles, marking the third time he’s finished a season as the club’s leading tackler. Lee was credited with 120 solo tackles, the second most in franchise history behind Eugene Lockhart’s 154 in 1989.

The Reasons The Cowboys Have Not Improved Their Defense Are Not What You Think - Tom Ryle, Blogging The Boys
Results are lacking, but it is not due to a lack of investment.

Over the past five years, the Cowboys have used 25 of their 40 draft picks for defense, or 62.5% of their total picks. And that includes five defensive ends. While they have been a bit heavy on offense in the first round (three of the last five picks), the team has still been investing the bulk of their draft capital on the defensive side of the ball .

Only minor quibbles with Bill Barnwell's Cowboys' to-do list - Todd Archer, ESPN
After coming off his second straight offseason of shoulder surgery, now might not be the time to restructure Tyrone Crawford's contract.

I went on record with this one last week, but I wouldn’t restructure the contract of Crawford. He is coming off his second straight offseason of shoulder surgery. If you restructure, you are adding $1.5 million (or so) to his salary-cap figures in 2018-20. Crawford fits the type of player you would want to restructure. He doesn’t turn 28 until November, but Maliek Collins looks to be the three technique of the present and future. Crawford needs to produce more, which is something he would say, and perhaps settling in at one spot will help him in 2017.

Jerry Jones craves finding ‘war daddy’ for Cowboys’ defense; how about Jaylon Smith? - Vince Langford, The Star-Telegram
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones doubts you can obtain a "war daddy" who demands double-team blocking. He is high on the return of linebacker Jaylon Smith, who appears ready to play this spring.

Jones was enthusiastic about Smith’s potential impact.

“We have, in Jaylon Smith, a real improvement to our defense. He can play now if he starts now and has the kind of spring that you’d expect him to have.

“He can play, in my view, where he is. But I do expect him to improve with his nerve and even be more comfortable, but in my mind, he’s capable of playing right now.

“He’s a dramatic difference on the field. He’s not necessarily your designated pass rusher, but I don’t know that he can’t be an outstanding pass rusher. He’s outstanding everyplace else. Now this guy is healthy, a No. 1 pick. So, right there we’ve got a chance to add a new face that makes a difference for us.”

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