Dallas Cowboys: The Biggest Offseason Priorities for the Cowboys
The Super Bowl is over and just like that we’re already fixating ourselves to the next league year.
The excitement really is endless if you want it to be.
The NFL Combine looms in a few weeks followed by free agency, the NFL Draft, Organized Team Activities...and before you know it we’re back into training camp!
While there doesn’t seem to be much time left the Cowboys still have a lot of work to do. No second can be wasted on preparing a talented team to become a legitimate contender and meet the expectations they face annually.
Whether fair or not, the Dallas Cowboys are expected to win. They’ve been built on a legacy of triumph, dynasties and world-class caliber players. No one cares if they haven’t won since 1995.
For the Cowboys to get back, it will take all the right moves. Lets take a look at the biggest priorities for the offseason.
Get a 3-Technique Defensive Tackle
I understand that this is a redundant argument but the Cowboys have a deep need for an athletic defensive tackle that can bring this team into the future.
The Cowboys thought they had some key personnel at the position between Jay Ratliff and Josh Brent but their insurance was canceled a lot quicker than they wanted.
Now, the Cowboys are faced with implementing a Tampa 2 defensive scheme that relies on the defensive lineman to get upfield and attack quarterbacks. It’s a steep challenge to make this defense work without a reliable interior lineman.
There will be plenty of options in the 2013 NFL Draft. In fact, the 3-technique is one of the deepest positions available and the Cowboys could grab a starter and a rotational guy with relative ease.
Some of the names to watch out for will be Shariff Floyd, Sheldon Richardson, Kawann Short, Sylvester Williams and Jordan Hill.
While there will be some free agents available—most tempting Henry Melton—the Cowboys have limited money to spend and will be best served to solidify this position in the draft.
Figure out the Offensive Line
The Cowboys have quite the conundrum regarding the offensive line positions. They have signed Doug Free, Mackenzy Bernadeau and Nate Livings to sizable contracts and not one of them deserves one.
Tony Romo took a beating last season and if the Cowboys are realistic about getting to the postseason offensive line has to be a huge priority.
Most notably the biggest issues with the offensive line is on the right side. The Cowboys need to upgrade the right guard position immediately and need to figure out if Jermey Parnell is a future option at right tackle.
There will be plenty of prospects at both positions in this draft if the Cowboys chose to go this way.
Players like D.J. Fluker, Chance Warmack, Larry Warford, Jonathan Cooper and Eric Fisher will be leading the Cowboys’ big board.
If you prefer the free-agency route I believe there is one player the Cowboys need to target: Andy Levitre. Levitre is one of the best offensive guards in the game. He has proven to be durable and reliable in Buffalo and will prove to be worth the high price he’ll command.
Manage the Cap
The Cowboys remain over $20 million over the cap and have a lack of starter talent in some position and depth in others.
If the Cowboys really want to get back to winning, they need to remedy this quickly.
There are options for the Cowboys that include restructuring the contracts of Doug Free and Brandon Carr, releasing Jay Ratliff and possibly Miles Austin and lastly, extending Tony Romo.
Jerry Jones has proven that he can be crafty when it comes to finances and he’ll have to prove his magic once again. The Cowboys might not look to make big splashes this offseason, but with the contracts of Sean Lee and Dez Bryant on the horizon the team needs to get it fixed sooner than later.
Find "Value" Players
We’re all familiar with the sports cliché “low risk, high reward.”
That’s exactly what the Cowboys are looking for.
The Cowboys are essentially looking for Ramen noodles this year. By that I mean that they are searching for cheap additions that are very good.
What you’re hoping for is that the Cowboys can find role players who emerge or develop into something more.
Essentially, this year's Laurent Robinson.
The Cowboys have some young guys in waiting now in Ronald Leary and Danny Coale that they are hoping can become solid professionals.
Whether it be through current inexperienced players or cheap player acquisition through free agency, the Cowboys have to find low-risk, high-reward players that best fit their schemes and best help them achieve their goal of NFL dominance.
I’m a firm believer that if every player isn’t forced to compete you will never get the best out of him. A lethargic superstar is no more valuable then a hard-working practice squad player.
Players are great because of a desire to win, not an entitlement to play.
If Jason Garrett wants to get the most out of this team he’ll have to do it the old-fashioned way. That means that no player is safe on this team; everybody has a legitimate chance to compete and no one is comfortable.
So that may mean bringing in competition for Tony Romo or DeMarcus Ware. It may not be popular and it might seem mundane, but it’ll force them to regain that edge in their game.
Everyone is motivated by competition; why wouldn’t professional athletes be?
The Cowboys have the talent but not the execution. Making players accountable for their performance might change that.