With the end of the NFL season here for the Dallas Cowboys, and remarks of big changes coming to Big D from owner and general manager Jerry Jones, speculation will be flying around Valley Ranch like feces in a chimp cage.
So what will the Cowboys do to try and rectify their subpar 8-8 season? You can bet the farm Jones is going to everything he can to make sure the 2013 Cowboys are better equipped for the long haul. Will it work is a completely different issue.
When I say the Cowboys are moving on and moving up I am strictly talking about offseason moves. I haven’t been able to consistently predict what Jones and Co. will be doing in the offseason from year-to-year, but one thing’s for sure, players on this roster will be moving on and the Cowboys will be moving up in the draft to secure another top-tier talent.
First off is the moving on part. It’s hard to say exactly who will be on their way out outside of the obvious two everyone has been talking about- Felix Jones and Mike Jenkins. Someone out there will pay those two too much money and/or they will succeed elsewhere. It seems like only a small percentage of high-round draft picks ever pan out in Dallas. Outside of the obvious there will be two main players that will most likely be set on their way with pink slip in hand.
Jay Ratliff has been a force at times during his career in Dallas. There were moments when he was unblockable, but sadly it looks like those days have passed. If you thought an undersized nose tackle in a 3-4 system would work for the long haul in the NFL you’re missing a few screws. Guards and centers in the league are getting bigger, faster, stronger and all around harder to maneuver around. I, like a lot of others, have been calling for Ratliff’s move to the outside for some time now. Unfortunately those wishes failed to be granted and now Ratliff, and his contract, will be wearing another uniform next season. If you don’t believe me try and count how many people that have crossed Jerry Jones are anywhere near the Cowboys. Can’t think of anyone? Me neither.
The second player that will be wearing different colors next season is our good buddy Doug Free. This one may not be as much of a surprise to some of you, but he has been on a phase-out plan for most of the second half of the season. When you have a player that costs as much as he does, and only plays half of the snaps during the course of the game, that player’s time is limited. Considering how much Jason Garrett like Jeremy Parnell, and how inexpensive he is, look for the Cowboys to cut ties with Free to “free” up some cap space, draft a young tackle in the first four rounds and move Parnell to the starting right tackle spot.
Finally what in the world could I be thinking when I say the Cowboys will move up in the draft to get a top-tier talent. It’s rather simple really. Think of what Jones and Co. have done the last few drafts. Last season they moved up to the number six spot to get Morris Claiborne. In the 2010 draft they moved up to the 24th spot to get Dez Bryant. If you go back to 2007 draft the Cowboys made a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles to get Anthony Spencer in the first round. Jerry Jones loves to swing a deal and I don’t see any reason why he wouldn’t want to do the same thing again.