Sometimes you get the sense that your team is one nice piece away from contending for a championship.
Maybe the Cowboys are that team.
There are some big free agents on the market this year who fit glaring needs for the Cowboys.
Will Jerry Jones spend the money to get them?
Being over the cap doesn’t make things easy, but it’s possible that Jerry could free up enough cap space to make a big move without handcuffing the organization too badly.
What are the odds he’ll do that?
Odds: 20/1 (4.8 percent)
It’s little more than a pipe dream that Henry Melton becomes a Cowboy.
That’s just the truth.
Yes, he fits the Tampa 2 scheme and has a relationship with Rod Marinelli. However, the Cowboys are $20-plus million over the cap, and Henry would command quite the price tag.
Defensive tackles that receive the franchise tag are going to receive $7.9 million this year, so you have to figure that Melton would look for a deal with an annual salary close to or above that number.
The Cowboys have a ton of needs, and defensive line is very deep in this draft. It’s hard for the team to justify a contract that would be close to five years, $50 million on a free-agent defensive tackle.
Melton is talented, but he isn’t what the Cowboys can afford at this point.
Odds: 10/1 (10 percent)
Andre Smith is a potentially dominant offensive tackle that hasn’t quite reached his full potential.
Don’t misconstrue what I’m saying though; he’s still very good.
The Cowboys need to look at the right tackle position after an awful season by Doug Free.
Smith is a guy who could come in at a relatively cheap price and make an impact immediately. The Cowboys may be interested in releasing Free for cap purposes, and there will be a hole to fill on the right side of the offensive line.
One big factor against Smith is that he has a history of getting in trouble with the law, and there are concerns about how he will perform after receiving a decent contract.
Not a risk I think the Cowboys are willing to take without some insurance.
Odds: 9/2 (22 percent)
It’s no secret that Andy Levitre is one of my favorite free agents this offseason. His style of play and position suit the Cowboys perfectly.
The Cowboys are ailing at the offensive guard position. After Nate Livings and Mackenzy Bernadeau proved to be less than adequate on the interior line, the Cowboys have to make the guard position a priority.
Levitre is a strong, athletic guard who has proved to be one of the best in the league. He would instantly upgrade the position, and the offensive line as a whole, with his mean style of play.
Based on the recent free-agent guard contracts in the past few years, you would expect that Levitre is looking for a contract in the five-year, $32 million range.
Really not an expensive price for what could be a huge asset on the offensive line.
Odds: 3/1 (33 percent)
Donald Thomas is an underrated free agent that many teams are not paying close attention to.
Being out of the spotlight may be bad for Thomas, but it’s very good for the Cowboys.
Thomas promises to come cheap for a position that needs attention, and he would be an instant upgrade over Mackenzy Bernadeau. Thomas is a strong run-blocker who has also shown improvement in his pass-blocking.
In New England, he was the swing guard and saw time as a starter when injuries arose. In that time, he was fantastic. He can play both guard positions and is only entering his sixth season.
Thomas is a cheap option that the Cowboys must consider. No, he’s not as talented as Andy Levitre, but he’s capable and has untapped potential.
This would be a smart move for a team that needs to be fiscally responsible.
Odds: 2/1 (50 percent)
Spencer was arguably the Cowboys best defender last season and showed great improvement as a pass-rusher.
For the first time, Spencer gave the Cowboys reason to believe he was worth the first-round grade he received.
Unfortunately, Spencer did so in a contract year. The Cowboys are going to have to make their dollars stretch, and Spencer will command a lot of them.
The question here becomes how much does Spencer mean to the franchise?
With a young core on defense that is going to learn a new scheme, the team could use a veteran like Spencer who will be around for the next five years. Spencer displayed a solid potential to not only be among the league's best defensive players, but also to be a strong leader for a defense.
The point is that the Cowboys can’t replace Spencer’s production and leadership. Even if he moves to defensive end in the Tampa 2 scheme, Spencer is still going to be a force as a run-stopper and, at the very least, a seven-sack player.
It seems most likely that Spencer gets retained in Dallas on a cap-friendly deal that offers a lot of guaranteed money.