Before we indulge in a brief euphoria of free agent possibilities, I have to hit you with some realism. The Cowboys have virtually no money and if they are able to gain some, spending it would come at the expense of re-signing players like Sean Lee and Dez Bryant.
OK. Sorry if I depressed you but that’s the truth.
Now, there are ways for the Cowboys to free up some cap money. Whether it’s through restructuring contracts, cutting players or asking players to take pay cuts, the options are there.
So now I invite you to the world of the hypothetical. Here we assume that the Cowboys are going to shift salaries around and look for smart deals that won’t put them in tough situation in 2014.
It’s likely that the Cowboys will be able to sign one player to a big deal as long as the contract is team-friendly.
Let's take a look at potential, realistic splashes the Cowboys could make in 2013.
Many believe that Miles Austin has become expendable in Dallas. That may be due to his lack of toughness and durability or his unfriendly team contract.
If they do move Austin the Cowboys will have to come up with a contingency plan. The case could be made for Dwayne Harris, who has seen exceptional development, but he projects as a solid slot guy in the future.
Greg Jennings is a player who has been highly productive and is the odd man out in a deep receiving group. Jennings is 29 years old at the start of the season and should come relatively cheap.
Jennings has been a key to the success of Aaron Rodgers and has been a touchdown machine in the process. An explosive outside receiver like Jennings would allow the Cowboys to keep the complement to Bryant while still freeing themselves the burden of Austin.
It’s no secret that the Cowboys have concern at guard. While I believe that Ronald Leary is still a viable option coming into the future, the Cowboys will still look for help.
Andy Levitre is a promising young guard who has become one of the best young lineman in the game. He has started every game of his short four-year career and has proven to be a tough, reliable player.
Levitre is a big strong guard who excels in both run- and pass-blocking. He’s athletic and can get to the next level quite easily. Levitre would be a smart signing because you know you’re getting an elite caliber guard.
If you’re happy with Doug Free at right tackle then you’re insane. If you think the Cowboys are going to nab a true starter at right tackle in this draft, you’re just flat wrong.
Andre Smith had a rough start to his career but he’s shaped up to be a very good, every affordable young tackle. This season featured Smith being in the best shape of his life. He looked strong, fast and displayed improved technique.
Smith isn’t the best tackle on the market and he’s likely never going to reach the elite level. However, for the price he can be had it’s worth it. I’d expect Smith to yield a substantial return on the Cowboys investment. He could turn out to be a very solid lineman and sure up a very real question mark at right tackle.
Look, Umenyiora has been a very good lineman for the New York Giants over the last 10 years. Unfortunately, his time on the Giants has come to an end.
I don’t think that Umenyiora has used all the gas in his tank. He still remains a very dangerous pass rusher, especially in a 4-3 scheme.
It is believed that Umenyiora could be had cheap. There is also a belief that he wouldn’t offer the Cowboys anything that DeMarcus Ware doesn’t already.
Can you really have enough pass rushers though?
I’d welcome Umenyiora as a rotational pass rusher in this line. He would provide an explosive pair of fresh legs that could be a dangerous X-factor for this team.
If you’re freeing up money in this franchise, you need to consider spending it on Anthony Spencer. Period.
Spencer projects as a solid strong defensive end in the 4-3 scheme. He is fast off the line and can be a valuable run stopper. The fact that he can rush the passer is a plus.
If Spencer returns than the Cowboys defensive line instantly becomes a top-10 unit. With Spencer, Ware, Jay Ratliff, and Sean Lissemore (maybe Sharrif Floyd) the Cowboys will be dangerous in a Tampa 2 defense that relies heavily on line pressure. Also, his addition would make depth less of a concern with Tyrone Crawford and Jason Hatcher sitting as rotation players.
Spencer would be welcomed back in Big D by fans after a dominating season. There still remains a serious question about if Spencer can perform at this level again. Spencer would come with a high price tag to play a position he hasn’t played since college. The Cowboys will have to decide if it’s worth the risk.