The Dallas Cowboys have done their homework to get ready to make the right free-agent acquisitions. On Tuesday, the Cowboys restructured the contracts of Doug Free and Orlando Scandrick. Also, they cut Terence Newman and David Buehler.
Those moves saved them $15.76 million, offsetting the potential damage of the salary-cap penalties from the NFL for front-loading contracts in the uncapped 2010 salary year.
Now, they are ready to make free-agent acquisitions.
The Cowboys are already in talks with Brandon Carr. An interesting possibility that's emerging now is Kyle Orton, who had done replacement duty for the Kansas City Chiefs last season. Previously, Orton had started for the Chicago Bears and Denver Broncos.
Carr and Orton could be huge signings for the Cowboys, who need to retool the secondary and find a new backup quarterback. They would be two of the most important signings the Cowboys could make.
Other important signings are also acquisitions, while a couple would be retained players.
Follow along to see predictions on the most important signings the Cowboys will make this offseason.
Laurent Robinson may entertain offers from at least a few teams, but he'll certainly end up back in Dallas.
Robinson broke out in 2011 for the Cowboys.
He was second on the Cowboys in catches (54) and receiving yards (856), while leading the team in receiving touchdowns (11).
He had two 100-yard receiving games, while no other Cowboys pass-catcher had any.
The Cowboys can firm up their receiving corps four-deep—including Jason Witten along with Robinson, Miles Austin and Dez Bryant.
On Tuesday, Robinson reiterated his hopes of staying with the Cowboys. He told the Dallas Morning News, "I love it in Dallas, and I had great success here last year."
Robinson will visit with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs and a few other teams.
Some of those teams—particularly the Jaguars—could place him higher on their depth chart than the Cowboys, but the Cowboys would be more likely the show Robinson the love in monetary form.
That's likely the deciding factor.
Face it—the Cowboys won't be able to pay up for Carl Nicks or Jason Jones.
Both could command in excess of $7 million per year, which is stupid money to pay a guy to keep an opponent in front of him.
Trai Essex is a good consolation prize.
Essex is a huge guard (6'4" and 324 pounds). He's a reliable blocker, having played 44 games and started 24 in the last three seasons. He does just what coaches ask him to do, keeping his opponent back and sealing off the backfield.
Essex, 29, could give the Cowboys a couple of good years. He'd be a good value signing that clogs more space in the box than he does on the payroll.
That's what the Cowboys need in a guard.
Kyle Orton seemed poised to go somewhere where he could start again.
After all, Orton, who figures to be a top-15 passer, was better than both the quarterbacks for the Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos.
Orton has a far better arm than Tim Tebow, but, alas, the Broncos decided to send Orton out of town.
The Chiefs did likewise, and now Orton might be headed to a future as a backup. Orton is on the radar of the Cowboys and Washington Redskins.
According to the Washington Post, the Redskins plan to go after Orton. He could steady the transition to Robert Griffin III.
The Cowboys are expected to meet with Orton, according to ESPNDallas/Fort Worth. When the Broncos waived Orton, the Cowboys put in an unsuccessful claim for him.
Orton has started 69 of 71 games in his career. He's thrown for 14,532 yards, 80 touchdowns and 59 interceptions in his career. In 2010, Orton threw for 3,653 yards (10th in the NFL), while averaging 280 yards per game (fourth).
That's the guy Broncos fans ran out of town.
Surely Cowboys fans would embrace Orton far more than Broncos fans did.
The Cowboys are trying to show fullback Tony Fiammetta they want to keep him around for at least the next couple of years.
According to ESPNDallas/Fort Worth, the Cowboys are offering Fiammetta a multi-year deal.
Fiammetta doesn't put up numbers—he posted four yards rushing and 39 yards receiving in 2011—but he makes things happen with his lead blocking.
The difference between the Cowboys' running game with Fiammetta and without him was night and day.
In the 10 games Fiammetta played, the Cowboys averaged 130.6 yards per game and 5.6 yards per rush. In the six games he missed, the Cowboys rushed 83.8 yards per game and 3.3 yards per rush.
The Cowboys recognize how important the 25-year-old is to their running game. Thus, they're working quickly to retain him.
Since Fiammetta is a restricted free agent, the Cowboys can match any offer for him.
Surely the Cowboys would match any offer for him, since he's such a valuable piece of their offense.
The Cowboys have been serious about going after Brandon Carr.
In early March, Pro Football Weekly reported that the Cowboys were deeply interested in Carr.
On Tuesday, the Cowboys met with Carr in Dallas, according to ESPNDallas/Fort Worth.
This could be the start of a quick acquisition for the Cowboys.
According to NFL.com, the Cowboys made an offer to Carr on Tuesday. A quick offer may signal just how much the Cowboys want to sign Carr.
Also, this may show how much the Cowboys want to make the 25-year-old cornerback the centerpiece of what they hope to be a revamped secondary.
Carr had a solid season with the Chiefs in 2011. He had four interceptions, 15 pass deflections and 30 solo tackles. He had 23 pass deflections and one interception in 2010.
Carr, who has started all 64 games since entering the league, has eight career interceptions.
Adding Carr would boost a Cowboys coverage unit that was anything but stellar last year.