Owner and general manager Jerry Jones is in the process of restructuring the contracts of numerous players, most notably DeMarcus Ware, Jason Witten, L.P. Ladouceur, Brandon Carr with others still coming or being completed as of today. These new deals are certainly directed at creating room under the NFL's anticipated salary cap of around $126 million. Heading into today, Dallas was around $20 million over, which has obviously changed.
Making much less news than the recent contracts re-worked will be a number of Dallas free agents that will simply drift off into time and space—or simply to another team at some point during the offseason.
I will not address former linebacker Anthony Spencer as I recently spoke out about my thoughts on him. A good player for the Cowboys that really doesn't get the credit he deserves, Spencer does not seem like a very good fit moving forward in defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin's new 4-3 alignment being shaped right now.
At the same time, Jones recently met with Spencer and his agent at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis and it appears there is some interest in retaining the six-veteran—for what I don't know but I expect it could be a linebacker spot.
As the situation with Spencer plays out, here is a look at five players that Dallas should shake hands with and simply bid farewell.
You have a small window of time to make it or break it in the NFL and these guys have had their time. To keep these players means wasted money and likely another drag of a regular season that probably falls short of postseason play yet again.
Victor Butler was selected by the Cowboys in the 4th Round of the 2009 NFL Draft, and he really didn't disappoint. His first three sacks came within his first few games as a rookie but Dallas could never find much reason to play him more often.
Granted, the Dallas 3-4 alignment became a certified joke after former head coach Bill Parcells decided to retire following the 2006 postseason. Butler seemed to make plays here and there but without the playing time he just couldn't make much impact.
In other words, he was never going to surpass Anthony Spencer or Ware for a starting job and for this reason I never could understand why he was selected as high as he was.
Like Spencer, I can't see exactly how Butler fits into the future in Kiffin's scheme. Butler was a defensive end in college but certainly doesn't look the part of a right defensive end in the NFL, the main reason he was converted to linebacker in the pros—a classic 'tweener'.
Too small to play end.
Likely a bit large for linebacker.
I can't see more money spent on a decent pass rusher that just hasn't shown enough to stick around Dallas with a long-term deal.
In a word, Phil Costa stinks.
The undrafted center out of of Maryland has never shown to be the anchor of a Dallas offensive line that has been sub-par for years.
Injuries and a lack of consistency make his return a question mark even despite his status as a restricted free agent.
Costa has had back issues and other injuries that have kept him off the field for too long over the last couple of seasons. These certainly are not his fault, but they do fall into the equation of a position that is not manned by a blue-chip talent.
As Dallas moves forward with more obvious changes to the defensive side of the ball, I look for the Cowboys to quietly find another option during the offseason. Last year's free-agent 'prize' Mackenzey Bernadeau seemed to man the center position pretty well in Costa's absence.
The moves the Cowboys make on the offensive line over the next few months will determine Costa's fate.
Again, he might very well be with the Cowboys next season during his contract year but I would be really surprised if he is around in 2014.
Defensive end Kenyon Coleman has been a solid player for the Cowboys on a defensive line that was almost always at a disadvantage with Jay Ratliff, also an end in the 3-4 scheme, playing nose guard.
But having been drafted out of UCLA in 2002, time, injuries and too many different defensive schemes have caught up with the 11-year veteran.
If you believe that a guy with this many miles would be an ideal addition as an interior defensive tackle in Kiffin's 4-3 front then you might change your mind when you consider the cost of retaining Coleman.
I certainly don't see Dallas counting on him as an end at this point, so I believe the project is over.
If Coleman stays, he'll only be depth—and expensive depth at that.
If you forgot about that, it's probably because you seldom heard the name Ogletree ever mentioned again—and this is a tough name to miss, right?
Ogletree was intended to fill the shoes of 2011 surprise wideout Laurent Robinson, whose 11 touchdown catches following no training camp that summer made him an instant millionaire thanks to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The 2009 NFL Draft was among the very worst for the Cowboys, thanks mostly to Jones´decision to drop $50 million and a 1st Round pick in 2008 for a rapidly declining and overrated Roy E. Williams.
But Ogletree went undrafted in 2009 and still couldn't offer the Cowboys anything more than an occasionally effective receiver that never found a way to bring it week in and week out.
I hated this pick the minute it was announced as this backup running back from Arkansas was chosen with the No. 22 in the 1st Round of the 2008 NFL Draft. Tempering things was the fact that cornerback Mike Jenkins was selected just three picks later and it was safe to say that there was at least one starter coming from the first round.
Jones touched the ball for the first time against the Browns at Cleveland to open the regular season of ´08. That carry went for an 11-yard touchdown—and there has been a meager 14 total touchdowns since.
Jones was selected at a time when Jerry Jones felt that the Cowboys were so good that simply selecting luxury players early in the draft would build a Super Bowl contender right away. After all, Dallas went 13-3 in 2007 despite failing to win a playoff game that following postseason.
Well, Jones has proven to be brittle, inconsistent and simply not worth keeping.
Make no mistake, all of the cap room being created by the Dallas front office and some very cooperative players is not aimed at a former 1st Round pick that only once (2010) passed 1,000 yards of total offense and absolutely never did it rushing.
Felix, thanks for the memories.
Never, ever draft a backup of any kind in the first round, period.
Had Jones not attended Arkansas, GM Jones would have never made that selection.