The Dallas Cowboys are never at a loss for interesting storylines, and they have plenty of them heading into free agency this year.
Obviously, the defense must find a way to improve, because failing to stop the run consistently was an issue last season.
At the same time, Tony Romo still needs better pass protection, and another reliable receiving target wouldn't be a bad idea either.
To that end, let's check out what's going on in Big D with the new NFL year on the horizon.
Victor Butler Gone?
The Daily News has learned that the Jets are targeting Cowboys outside linebacker Victor Butler to fill one of those needs.
Gang Green released outside linebacker Calvin Pace a few weeks ago and unrestricted free agent Bryan Thomas isn’t expected to re-sign with the team.
This would be a tough loss for the Cowboys' front seven, because Butler has impressed when getting opportunities. Along with forcing three fumbles last season, Butler defended three passes and recorded just as many sacks.
With the tenacity to impact despite a confined role, it would not be easy for Dallas to find reliable depth should Butler move on.
What Josh Cribbs Provides
Cribbs would be a solid get for Dallas. His versatility supplies the option of the Wildcat as well as dependability in the slot. Factor in Cribbs' impact on special teams, and the field-position battle will favor Dallas quite well.
Although he's not a prototypical receiver, the dynamics of Cribbs as a triple-threat—rushing, receiving, returning—will significantly widen the playbook and game plan.
Israel Idonije Would Be Solid Fit
The Cowboys gave up 4.5 yards per rush in 2012, so a tough interior defensive lineman is needed. And although he's 32 years old, Idonije still managed to record 7.5 sacks and 48 tackles last season.
What should Dallas' No. 1 priority be in free agency?
Include the presence of DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer on the outside, and Idonije would benefit immediately. On the flip side, Dallas would benefit with clogged running lanes and inside pressure that completes the Cowboys' need for an all-encompassed pass rush.
Contracts to Be Restructured
The Cowboys have more contracts to restructure and paperwork to file when they return to the office Monday.
The club’s has nearly $7 million it must carve off its payroll before the salary cap for the 2013 season takes effect Tuesday afternoon. The Cowboys had dipped under the figure, but its decision to place the franchise tag on Anthony Spencer means more financial maneuvering must take place.
With free agency on the horizon, the Cowboys attempting to restructure does provide the potential to make some noise before the 2013 NFL draft. Fortunately, Dallas already possesses the offensive talent to push the pace and score consistently.
Tony Romo definitely needs more reliable pass protection, but expect the Cowboys to address defense beforehand. There's enough talent and depth along the offensive line in the draft to land a strong prospect in the middle rounds.