By the time this article is published, we will be exactly 24 hours into the 2013 NFL free agent frenzy. Barring any unforeseen changes, our Dallas Cowboys will still have only just under $180,000 to spend on potential free agents by that time tomorrow. In other words, don’t expect a “Brandon Carr-like” signing from now until then.
Rather, our Cowboys will merely be spectators for the initial wave of free agent frenzy this year, which will be a far cry from last offseason in which we signed seven unrestricted free agents in the first week or so of the free agent madness. With less than $180,000 of cap space available, our Cowboys can only hope to sign maybe a very cheap veteran or two close to the league minimum with the way our cap situation stands right now.
However, just like two weeks ago when we were over the cap by over 20 million; until we restructured Witten, Ware, Carr, Austin, Cook, Scandrick, Ratliff, and Bernadeau; our available cap space could change drastically by signing both Tony Romo and Anthony Spencer to 2013 cap friendly long-term contracts. Romo is looking for something in the ballpark of $16-18 million per season, though I believe, when it’s all said and done, he will more than likely get something closer to $12-13 million per season which will still be a sizeable contract.
Spencer on the other hand can expect to get somewhere around $9-11 per season if he is signed long-term and therefore does not play out the 2013 season under his current $10.6 million dollar franchise tag, though at this point, I can see either happening. Either get one more year to evaluate him as a 4-3 defensive end and see if he is capable of matching his 2012 production (106 tackles and 11.0 sacks) or get him locked up before mid-July for the next 4-5 years therefore lowering his cap number for 2013.
Either way, without the long-term extensions of Romo and Spencer (which combined could open up as much as $10-15 million in cap space), the Cowboys will simply not be capable of even signing their own 2013 draft class, much less acquiring some much needed talent via free agency.
Gone will be RB Felix Jones, CB Mike Jenkins, WR Kevin Olgetree, LB Victor Butler, LB Ernie Sims (though it’s possible he could still return at the right price) DE Kenyon Coleman, TE John Phillips (Chargers), S Gerald Sensabaugh (Waived), LB Dan Connor (Waived; visiting with Steelers), and who knows about players still under contract like DE Marcus Spears and OT Doug Free.
You get the point; the roster turnover in 2013 will be quite noticeable. Adding new players will determine just how much of a hurry our front office is in locking up Spencer and Romo.
As we all know, the three biggest areas of need are offensive line, defensive line and safety. Not too far behind those are back-up running back, potential SAM linebacker, blocking tight end, and even a burner on the outside at WR with maybe some kick-off return skills.
Let’s go ahead and already dispel any notion of signing anybody from the following list:
Free agent guard?
You can forget about big names like Buffalo’s Andy Levitre (Titans) or Phil Loadholt (Re-signed with Vikings).
Free agent tackle?
It won’t be Miami’s Jake Long, Cincinnati’s Andre Smith, or New England’s Sebastian Vollmer.
If you are thinking San Francisco’s Dashon Goldson, Green Bay’s Charles Woodson, Baltimore’s Ed Reed, Arizona’s Adrian Wilson, New York’s Kenny Phillips or even Houston’s Glover Quin…think again.
No, it will not be Miami’s Reggie Bush, St. Louis’ Steven Jackson, Pittsburgh’s Rashard Mendenhall or New York’s Ahmad Bradshaw.
No Dwight Freeney (Colts). No Cliff Avril (Lions). No Michael Bennett (Tampa Bay). No Osi Umenyiora (Giants). No John Abraham (Falcons). No Richard Seymour (Oakland).