The cones and stopwatches have barely been put away from the NFL meat market, better known as the Scouting Combine and it is time to shift the focus to the start of the league year. With twelve days left until 2013 officially begins in the world of the National Football League, Dallas is already getting their ducks in a row. Since Dallas is approximately over the $123 million salary cap by $20 million and change, they have restructured the contracts of six players.
Franchise pillars DeMarcus Ware and Jason Witten both adjusted their deals, saving the Cowboys almost $8 million towards the 2013 cap. Ware’s reworked deal converts $5 million of this season’s base salary into a signing bonus, saving the Cowboys $4 million against the cap. Meanwhile, Witten converted $4.56 million of his $5.5 million base salary into a signing bonus. Other players that had their deals tweaked include Miles Austin, Brandon Carr, Ryan Cook and Nate Livings. With other players such as Jay Ratliff and Orlando Scandrick next up for this refinancing and the almost certain new deal for Tony Romo, the Cowboys should be able to dabble in the free agent market to improve the roster.
Back to the combine, here are a few random leftovers to mull over…
– The Cowboys may have a very interesting to decision to make with the 18th pick in the draft. Consensus pre-combine top five talent Star Lotulelei failed his physical due to a heart abnormality and was not allowed to participate in any drills. Could he fall all the way down to Dallas? Should the Cowboys roll the dice or stay away? The draft is all about tough decisions. Inevitably, some of those will be made for Dallas when their spot comes up. The talent of Lotulelei though, may certainly be worth the risk if the opportunity presents itself.
– Tyrann Mathieu showed exactly what I projected he would. Posting a sub 4.5-40 and showing off his customarily solid ball skills, I cannot see him lasting past the third round. Could the Cowboys use the 80th pick in the draft to snag the LSU star safety? I have been on record as saying that Mathieu’s play making ability would be a huge boost to the defense. He should be their but most certainly will not be by the time the Cowboys pick again with the 17th pick in round 4.
– This draft will be extremely deep at the Cowboys biggest position of need, offensive line. If Dallas chooses to either use their first round pick on a defensive option or trade down and acquire more picks, there should be plenty of good options in round two. Combine freak Terron Armstead at tackle, top guard options Kyle Long and Larry Warford as well as all possible centers would be available. Regardless of Jerry Jones’ asertion that the line is not as bad off as many think, they cannot miss the chance to upgrade in such a deep pool of talent.
– Later rounds should be able to produce a replacement for Felix Jones. Kenjon Barner, Marcus Lattimore, Cierre Wood and Spencer Ware all project to be available in or after round four. This could certainly be a direction Dallas decides to go in, especially if the free agent market does not pan out.
– Lastly, Cowboys fans can only hope that news of the team interviewing Manti Te’o during the combine was a simple kicking of the tires and not any sort of true interest. Even if the Cowboys lose Anthony Spencer in free agency, Te’o does not fit the Sam or Will linebacking spots in a 4-3 scheme. This is all before mentioning the horrible showing in the national title game against an elite team and the controversy that surrounded him after.