Nov 28, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Ware (94) walks on the field during a NFL football game on Thanksgiving against the Oakland Raiders at AT&T Stadium. Dallas beat Oakland 31-24. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
With free agency set to start and the draft just a few weeks away there is a bunch of buzz about what the Dallas Cowboys need to do to become a serious contender when September rolls around. Even though the funds are limited at The Ranch, there are several issues to find solutions for and, of course, yours truly has some suggestions for Mr. Jones and company to ponder.
First of all, there is the problem of dead money that always raises its ugly head around this time of year. The Cowboys have developed a pattern of impulsively offering huge contracts to players after they show flashes of being more valuable than they turn out to be…Miles Austin ring any bells? Luckily, in the case of the aforementioned injury prone receiver, Dallas can two-step its way out of some of the salary cap hit he will cost by releasing him by the June 1 cut. Other players with hefty price tags, Sean Lee and Orlando Scandrick, have already had their contracts restructured to ease the strain on this year’s cap. Tony Romo also had his deal redone to convert some of his mondo contract to signing bonuses. Yes, folks, if there’s one thing our owner knows how to do it’s wheel and deal.
Another concern for the Cowboys are three of their top defensive players…namely DeMarcus Ware, Anthony Spencer and Jason Hatcher. Ware, who is now 31 years old, had six sacks in 13 games in the 2013 season, the lowest total for his nine year NFL career. As for Spencer and Hatcher, the Cowboys could conceivably re-sign one of them if they choose to cut ties with Ware. However, they might be just as well served to shop the free agent market and hope for a bargain. It would be a shame for Ware not to finish his career in Big D and for sentimental reasons I find myself hoping that the Cowboys figure out a way to keep him around.
The most obvious needs for Dallas when draft day rolls around are on the defensive side of the ball. The defensive line needs revamping no matter when happens with the trio mentioned above. As as been the case for the past several seasons, the secondary for the Cowboys is in massive need of help. Luckily for Dallas, there are several good defensive backs in this year’s draft class, including Darqueze Dennard from Michigan State, Kyle Fuller of Virgina Tech and Justin Gilbert from Oklahoma State, not to mention safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix from the Alabama Crimson Tide. Dix would likely provide an instant kick-start the the Cowboys secondary and he doesn’t shy away from contact.
In my humble opinion, it is of the utmost importance that the Cowboys avoid the temptation to try to pull off some crazy deal to land the accident waiting to happen that is Johnny Football. While it would probably not be a bad idea to try and pick up another backup quarterback in free agency or the draft,Tony Romo in only the second year of his ginormous contract and his back apparently on the mend. The antics that Dez Bryant provides are more then enough drama in the Cowboys locker room.
It is unlikely that any of my suggestions will find their way to the ears of Jerry and Company. I will wait out the off-season with a bottle of Tums and sweaty palms, and pray that whatever moves the Cowboys make will help them find their way to a successful 2014.