So far, all is quiet in Dallas on the 2013 NFL free agency front.
The Dallas Cowboys have made minor moves on the restructuring front and released several players to try and free up cap space for impending signings, but so far the only thing coming to Dallas is the paperwork for releasing guys like linebacker Dan Connor, safety Gerald Sensabaugh and defensive end Marcus Spears.
Dallas has considerable needs on the defensive side of the ball, where the loss of those three players has left the 'Boys thin at key positions based on any franchise's evaluation of the situation—even more dire circumstances if you include the switch to the 4-3 defense under Monte Kiffin and the question marks that are Josh Brent and Jay Ratliff (legal issues).
That being said, cap issues continue to plague the Cowboys. As reported by CBS Sports, cutting Spears saved the team about $2 million going forward, but that number is going to have to be much higher for the Cowboys to do anything over the next few days.
Tony Romo continues to work on a long-term deal with Dallas that would allocate his over $16 million salary to later seasons, opening up cap room in the process, while the Cowboys continue to mull over other options on the chopping block.
Heading into Day 3 of NFL free agency, here's the latest on some players that Dallas has been reportedly linked to—if you can believe those rumors at all.
LB Brian Urlacher
Mike Mulligan of the Chicago Tribune reported on Wednesday that there was trouble in paradise between the Chicago Bears and Urlacher, and insinuated that the Minnesota Vikings might be interested in adding him to their lineup in the near future.
Mulligan then threw in the Cowboys and Arizona Cardinals as potential fits for the veteran LB.
Although some Dallas fans might be slobbering over Urlacher when hearing he might be a fit in the middle of the defense, don't forget about one of the best young LBs in the NFL, Sean Lee.
Mike Fisher of CBS Sports quickly dispelled what turned out to be one of the early rumors on Urlacher's next spot in his free agency piece, noting that Lee is a big reason why Dallas has no interest in a new middle LB—along with the switch to the 4-3:
Another fantasy: Bears middle linebacker icon Brian Urlacher, who was connected to Dallas by one report – again, with no consideration of finance (or the fact the Cowboys already employ Sean Lee at his position).
Urlacher is a nice fantasy, as Fisher notes, but the reality of his arrival in Dallas is very slim indeed. The Cowboys are in the market for an outside backer to complete the trio of Bruce Carter, Lee and whomever is signed, but it won't be Urlacher.
WR Laurent Robinson
Miles Austin is still on the team (for now), Dez Bryant has emerged as a true No. 1 threat and Dwayne Harris has taken over the No. 3 WR job after a strong close to the 2012 season, but will those factors stop Dallas from bringing back an old Romo friend?
Jacksonville released the former big-time free-agent signee on Wednesday, losing $14 million in guaranteed money but ensuring that Robinson wouldn't count against the cap anymore after injuries kept him out of the lineup for most of 2012. Cecil Shorts and Justin Blackmon made the decision easier to let Robinson go.
Robinson, who scored 11 touchdowns with the Cowboys in 2011, could be a target of Dallas in free agency—at the right price, of course.
Calvin Watkins of ESPN Dallas provided us with the scoop:
Do you sign him to the veteran minimum? The Cowboys will have to make roster moves just to be able to sign a free agent. Is it worth cutting a player to make room for Robinson?...[Dwayne Harris] is poised to become the Cowboys' No. 3 wide receiver in 2013. Why slow down his development for Robinson, who is coming off one of his worst seasons as a pro?
While Watkins doesn't paint a positive picture of Dallas wanting to bring Robinson back, that could all change if Dallas rids itself of Austin or decides depth at WR is too thin. Pay attention to Robinson's movement—if he's down for a smaller contract, of course.
TE Kellen Davis
The Cowboys lost John Phillips to San Diego and now feature only Jason Witten and James Hanna at the tight end position—two guys not exactly noted for their blocking skills.
However, help might be on the way in the form of Kellen Davis, who was released by the Bears on Wednesday and, as ESPN's Tim McMahon reported, Dallas tried to sign Davis last offseason before grabbing Hanna in the draft:
Tim MacMahon @espn_macmahon
Cowboys tried to sign Davis last year RT @ProFootballTalk: Martellus Bennett in means Kellen Davis out for Chicago http://t.co/HJIjuUUBK23/13/2013, 2:08:43 PM
Davis was plagued by drops and inconsistent play in the passing game, something Chicago addressed by adding former Dallas TE Martellus Bennett on Tuesday. As he looks for a new home, the reported interest from Dallas might allow him to wait out the market and see what kind of offer presents itself.
Other News, Notes and Speculation
Just because Dallas isn't in the market for Urlacher, doesn't mean it won't try and grab a new linebacker.
As reported by Watkins on ESPN.com, the Cowboys reportedly have interest in former New York Giants linebacker Chase Blackburn and another old friend—Miami Dolphins LB Kevin Burnett. Both guys are fits at OLB in the 4-3 scheme (although Blackburn played more middle LB in New York) and are looking for a new home.
As far as cap cuts goes, Fisher is also reporting that the Cowboys are close to making a decision on two guys that would give them close to $10 million in cap space:
At some point, a similar designation could come on tackle Doug Free, creating $7 million of room. The Cowboys are also considering shaving fullback Lawrence Vickers from their cap.
Just because Dallas hasn't started dealing yet doesn't mean it won't. Jerry Jones has never been afraid to throw money at a problem—he just doesn't have any to throw right now.
Once the restructured deals, a long-term contract for Anthony Spencer is worked out and the market thins out a little bit, Dallas can make solid (if unspectacular) moves to help improve on last year's 8-8 mark and inability to make the playoffs yet again.
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