7 Free Agents Dallas Cowboys Must Target in 2013

Derek GerberichCorrespondent IJanuary 23, 2013

7 Free Agents Dallas Cowboys Must Target in 2013

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    When examining free-agent targets of the Dallas Cowboys headed into 2013, it all boils down to one thing: The Cowboys don't have any room.

    Seriously.

    Already over the $121 million cap by about $20 million, the Cowboys have to figure out how to get under the cap before they can even think about any free-agent targets.

    Extending Tony Romo's deal, and reworking Brandon Carr's contract can save the Cowboys the $20 million they'd need to get back to even.

    Then, releasing or reworking the deals of players like Miles Austin, Jay Ratliff and Doug Free could give the Cowboys a sliver of breathing room in free agency.

    So with that in mind, let's take a look at a handful of possible targets.

7. La'Rod Stephens-Howling (RB)

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    With the Cardinals apparently in no mood to give Stephens-Howling an extension, the 5'7" running back/return man will be testing the free-agent waters this spring.

    Here's why the Cowboys should take interest: He's not likely to draw much of a price tag, he provides a change of pace, running back with the speed that Felix Jones used to have, and he'd be able to complement Dwayne Harris in the return game.  All are little things that the Cowboys could use.

    Sure, the move wouldn't make headlines, but it would be a small signing worth pursuing.

6. Louis Vasquez (OG)

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    Whether it comes via the draft or free agency, it's no secret that the Cowboys need to make substantial fixes to their offensive line in the offseason.

    A solution could be Louis Vasquez.

    The 26-year-old was a four-year starter for the Chargers and also excels in pass-blocking—something the Cowboys desperately crave.

    However, Vasquez certainly isn't the top guard on the market, meaning he shouldn't come at a ridiculous price.

5. Jerome Simpson (WR)

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    With Miles Austin's status with the team seemingly not finalized, and with Kevin Ogletree set to be a free agent, the Cowboys should be in the market for a complimentary wide receiver this spring.

    Enter Jerome Simpson.

    I mean, we all saw him do this. 

    But he also averaged more than 10 yards per catch this season with Christian Ponder throwing to him.

    Just imagine what he could do with Tony Romo as his quarterback instead.

    And the best part is, it wouldn't cost the Cowboys too much to find out.

4. Ryan Harris (OT)

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    (Insert generic comment about the inadequacy of Doug Free.)

    And say hello to Ryan Harris.

    The 28-year-old from Notre Dame was off to a successful start to his career until a back injury hampered his progress.

    He was given a shot to prove himself this season, thanks to injuries on the Houston Texans' front line, and provided them with solid production from the right tackle position.

    This spring, Harris could emerge as a bargain option to shore up the Cowboys' offensive line, and heck, you can't get much worse than what Free provided in 2012.

3. Josh Cribbs (WR)

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    Remember the discussion about the Cowboys looking for a complimentary wide receiver?

    Let's throw Josh Cribbs into that mix while we're at it.

    According to Michael Smith of NBC's Pro Football Talk, Cribbs is reportedly unhappy in Cleveland.

    Cribbs has shown game-changing speed throughout his career and would certainly be a welcome addition to the receiving and return corps in Dallas.

    Can you imagine Dwayne Harris and Josh Cribbs returning kicks together?

    Fear the dreads.

2. Cliff Avril (DE)

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    With the Cowboys switching to a 4-3 look on the defensive side of the ball, adding an extra defensive end in free agency would be a welcome upgrade.

    Although Cliff Avril might be out of the Cowboys' current price range, the 26-year-old is an explosive defensive end who has registered 20.5 sacks over the past two seasons.

    He has to at least be on the Cowboys' radar this spring.

1. Phil Loadholt (OT)

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    Remember how great Adrian Peterson was this season?

    Don't think Phil Loadholt wasn't a big reason why.

    The standout tackle didn't allow a sack after Week 9 and even has Adrian Peterson clamoring for his return.

    If the Vikings don't lock up the 27-year-old to a long-term contract this spring, the Cowboys should be one of the biggest bidders on the market.

    DeMarco Murray and Tony Romo would surely appreciate it.