With the season over for the Cowboys, it is now time to speculate about the coming offseason. Where do we go from here? How can we get better as a team? Those are two questions we have to ask ourselves at the end of every season. Ultimately we want a Super Bowl, so what do we need to get there?
Without a doubt, defensive line is our biggest hole. For years the Cowboys front office neglected the position. In the last seven drafts, the Cowboys only drafted two defensive linemen: Tyrone Crawford and Sean Lissemore. This season it really showed. On paper our defensive line looked solid on paper with Ware, Spencer, Ratliff, and Hatcher. Ratliff and Spencer never played a down this season, while Ware was dealing with injuries for the majority of the season. Surprisingly, the defensive line still managed to play decently.
The credit all goes to Rod Marinelli, who managed to make the most out of very little. Our defensive line had very little depth, but Marinelli managed to get some production out of our no name backups such as Nick Hayden, Everette Brown, and George Selvie. Unfortunately, Marinelli’s future in Dallas is up in the air. It looks like the Buccaneers will try to make Marinelli their defensive coordinator; however Dallas has a chance to retain him if they promote him. If Marinelli leaves, the depleted defensive line will get worse.
In addition to the possibility of Marinelli leaving, Jason Hatcher and Anthony Spencer will most likely be going to free agency. Spencer hasn’t played a down as a defensive end, but in 2012 he was a fearsome pass rusher. Hatcher was arguably our best player on defense this year. He constantly got pressure from the interior and was decent in the run game. It would be nice to keep both of these players, but Dallas cannot afford to re-sign them with their current salary cap problem. Because of the salary cap issue, there have been talks about releasing Ware to free up space. Ware has been hindered by injuries and did not look like the same player when he was on the field. A lot of fans believe he’s not worth his contract anymore, but who else do we have? In his prime, Ware is a one of a kind player. I still think he has it in him. In week 17 against the Eagles, he looked like his younger self. His price tag may be hefty, but I don’t think we can find a better option in free agency or the draft. The defensive line is already a mess, having Ware on it won’t make it any worst.
Everyone knows that Dallas needs to work on their defensive line this offseason. The Cowboys have ignored the position in the draft for years and it came back to haunt them. With the departure of Hatcher, Spencer, and possibly Marinelli and Ware, the Cowboys are in a predicament. The already weak group can get weaker and it is now up to Jason Garrett and the front office to fix up this mess.