Oct 28, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys nose tackle Jay Ratliff (90) points skyward after the offense scored a touchdown against the New York Giants at Cowboys Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas Cowboys: 2013 NFL Free Agency Primer

You can tell that the NFL Free Agency period is looming as teams across the league begin to restructure their players’ salaries along with their rosters in preparation. And the Dallas Cowboys are no different. A number of the Cowboys’ players restructured their contracts late last month, including Miles Austin, Jason Witten and Brandon Carr, all to get their franchise under the salary cap. With more moves expected soon, let’s preview the team’s roster needs going into the free agency period that starts on March 12th.

Defensive Tackle (DT) – The Cowboys had a need at defensive tackle prior to the season ending due to the unfortunate events involving Josh Brent and the recurring injuries to All-Pro Jay Ratliff and Sean Lissemore. With the new addition of defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin and his 4-3 defense, the defensive tackle position is an even bigger need. And despite there being a number of great defensive prospects in the upcoming NFL Draft, I’d expect Dallas to pursue a veteran player to fill this need as well.

Safety (SS) – The emergence of Barry Church at free safety last season was supposed to solve many of the Cowboys defensive backfield problems. Instead, their problems intensified when Church was injured for the season in only the third game of the year. With Church returning to a brand new defensive scheme, it is unclear if his progress will continue. The other starting safety, Gerald Sensabaugh, continued to be unspectacular in the position and was finally released last week. This move makes the safety position one of the most critical going into next season. Regardless of what happens in the draft, a veteran presence is really needed here.

Offensive Guard (OG) – Last year, at this time, the Cowboys revamped their offensive line with the signing of veteran offensive guards Nate Livings and Mackenzy Bernadeau. Both players underwhelmed in their first year with the team and a need in this position remains. Again, I’d expect the Cowboys to address this need in the earlier rounds of the upcoming draft, but a veteran player is always preferred in a position that protects your franchise quarterback.

Running Back (RB) – Back up running back Felix Jones has most likely played his last game as a Cowboy. That leaves DeMarco Murray without any viable relief. Half backs Phillip Tanner and Lance Dunbar remain on the roster but injury concerns and inconsistent play will have both struggling to even make the active roster this season. With great veteran names like Reggie Bush, Ahmad Bradshaw, and Peyton Hillis available for the taking, the only question will be: Is the price right for the cap stricken Cowboys? Personally, I’d like to see Dallas take a chance on the injured Marcus Lattimore out of South Carolina in the later rounds of the draft as well.

Offensive Tackle (OT) – Cowboy’s starting right tackle, Doug Free, was the most penalized offensive lineman in the NFL last season. His release is expected soon, but some rumors have him remaining on the team this season. If Dallas does release the veteran lineman, the need for an veteran offensive tackle will intensify. Although his back-up, Jermey Parnell, played well in spot duty last season, I’d expect Dallas to address this possible opening during Free Agency.

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