June 11, 2013; Irving, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys guard Ronald Leary (65) center Travis Frederick (70) and guard David Arkin (62) during minicamp at Dallas Cowboys Headquarters. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys to Start Ron Leary?


The Dallas Cowboys biggest weakness in recent years has been the play of the offensive line.  As a team that organizationally never drafts offensive linemen in Round 1 of the NFL Draft, they have now gone against this philosophy twice in the last three drafts.  With the selections of Tyron Smith in 2011 and now Travis Frederick in 2013, the team has basically admitted at how poor the line has become by trying to address it early in the draft.  Fans and critics alike still wonder why they didn’t continue to address it in Round 2 in the 2013 draft when the team instead opted to take another TE in Gavin Escobar. Hopefully for Cowboy fans, Escobar proves to be a stud and shuts everyone up.

The tackle positions on the team are set with Smith and Free, but the interior of the line is where the team is trying to decide which combination of players works best.  With Frederick locked into one of the spots (most likely center), the left guard position is considered the weakest link with Nate Livings as last year’s starter and incumbent for the job currently.  The team signed Ron Leary after the 2012 draft as an undrafted free agent.  Leary had a mid-round grade predraft, but slipped due to a degenerative knee condition.  While Leary missed the first week of camp due to injury, Leary has returned this week and reportedly has looked very good in camp.

If Leary can beat out Livings in camp, Leary (24) would be another youthful piece on this rebuilding offensive line the team could plug in.  Another benefit would be that the Cowboys could follow that move up with the release of Livings (31) and continue to clean up their salary cap after giving him a 5 yr/$18.75 million contract in the spring of 2012.  Livings guaranteed money is $6.2 million, of which included a $3.5 million signing bonus.  Livings base salaries going forward are $1.7 (2013), $3.4 (2014), $4.4 (2015), $4.75 (2016).  It looks as if the team would just take a hit on the $1.7 million that is left guaranteed, and only half of that would go on the 2014 salary cap calculation.

Leary signed a 3yr/$1.45 million contract in 2012 that he is now entering year 2. Leary can be the piece going forward until a better option presents itself, possibly in the 2014 draft.  Clearing Livings money from the cap can free money the team will need to resign Sean Lee and Dez Bryant who both will soon be commanding big money extensions.  This will be an interesting situation to keep an eye on for the next 30 days.

Follow Craig Cortemeglia on Twitter at @ccortemegliaTLH

Tags: Dallas Cowboys Offensive Line Ron Leary

  • MarkRP

    the o-line will once again be the team’s achilles heel thanks to JJ’s failure to address the weakness of the guards.

    • KOWBOYKRAZY

      MARKRP,

      BORING! WHO WOULD YOU HAVE DRAFTED THIS YEAR?

      • MarkRP

        I’m sure there was an o-lineman available in the fourth, fifth, and sixth rounds we could have taken or at least one decent FA we could have signed. We needed o-lineman more than a backup CB and another LB.
        Do you really think this o-line will be better than last year? The starters will be Free, warm body, Fredricks, warm body, Smith.

        • lostar2009

          Larry Warford was there… But I guess Dallas envsion there line shaping up as it is now…plus they probably wanted to give Arkin a final chance.

          • MarkRP

            that’s the JJ line: trust us!
            We were supposed to trust in the “young uglies” two years ago.
            We were supposed to trust in coach callahan and livings and bernardenau last year.
            We’re supposed to trust in Leary and Arkin this year.

        • KOWBOYKRAZY

          STILL BORING!

          So your answer to our o-line woes is a 4th, 5th, or 6th round selection. Pls tell me what player would you have taken?

          What free agent OG would you have signed and for how much?
          BTW, Warford was not even on our draft board.
          It is much easier to complain than to come up with a viable alternative to what the FO did, isn’t it?
          The same old JJ rant gets really old, really fast.

  • JoeDaBeast

    It would have been good to express why Leary would be a better option than Livings, maybe some college info and why he was a mid-round pre-draft selection. Slightly lacking.

  • disqus_kLJwdEdnOL

    It amazes me how fans get excited over the skill positions not realizing the games are won in the trenches. The main problem with the Cowboys is that the general manager thinks the same way. .