Next Tuesday marks the start of the free agency period in the NFL. And the Dallas Cowboys are a team with many holes to fill and a limited amount of cap space to use. Last season, the Cowboys were more than happy to sit on their hands during the expedited free agency period and they paid for it with an 8-8 season. Will this year be any different? It seems doubtful.
Apparently, last year’s front office plan was to sit the sidelines until all the big free agents had been signed. The Cowboys then swooped in and picked over what was left by the more cap friendly teams. The only exception being the pursuit of Nnamdi Asomugha which seemed more like a smoke screen used by agents to get the cornerback more money.
To free up cap space, Dallas restructured the contracts of both DeMarcus Ware and Miles Austin. They also released veteran players Marion Barber, Roy Williams, Leonard Davis, Audre Gurode, Igor Olshansky and Marc Colombo.
In 2011, Dallas signed free agents Abram Elam and Kenyon Coleman. Both of whom were former Cleveland Brown players that had played under Rob Ryan previously. They were both hired on as insurance due to the combination of a strike shorten off-season and the implementation of a new defense scheme.
The Cowboys also re-signed Doug Free, Kyle Kosier, Jason Hatcher, and Marcus Spears. All of whom had lack-luster seasons for the Boys, with the possible exception of Hatcher. Free’s season was so bad that he has now lost his left tackle position to a rookie. That rookie is Tyron Smith, the Cowboys first round pick last year.
Although Jerry Jones has promised to be more active in free agency this season, the numbers show otherwise. For a full breakdown of the Cowboy’s free agency budget, check out this excellent article by Brad Austin called Who Can the Cowboys Truly Afford? Check the Salary Cap Funds Ledger. The basic problem is there are just too many holes to fill.
Here is a list of positions the Cowboys will need to fill in free agency or in the upcoming draft: