The 6 Best and Worst Moves of the Dallas Cowboys' 2013 Offseason
The Dallas Cowboys have had a rather interesting offseason so far, as they prepare for the 2013 season. While fresh off back-to-back 8-8 campaigns, it was hard to gauge what exactly the Cowboys would do or what they would be able to do in improving their team.
Despite facing many questions and tough decisions, it was ultimately the salary cap that proved to be a thorn in their side of any offseason plans. So, as a result, many contracts were tweaked and adjusted, and one player even got a Brinks truck full of cash dumped right in his lap.
Yes, the offseason brings so much enjoyment, agony and unanswered questions all in one neat little bundle. As fast as everybody was happy with the spending spree on Brandon Carr, it's almost a forgotten event, as the fans starve for improvement.
So, Jerry Jones went back to the drawing board and made moves he felt were in the best interests of the team and were necessary for success. Will they work? It's anybody's guess, but one thing is for certain, and that is Jones' ability to grab the spotlight just when you think it's slipping away.
Ultimately, some of the 2013 offseason moves could turn out to be the elixir this team needs, or they could turn out to be the downfall for this franchise.
Let's examine the Cowboys' best and worst moves of the 2013 offseason.
Best Move: Coaching Staff Shake Up
After finishing the 2012 season at 8-8, much of the immediate speculation swirled around the ouster of Jason Garrett. Not only did that fail to happen, but some of Garrett's coaches came to terms with the wrath of the Cowboys GM.
Did you think Jerry Jones would fire himself for failing to address the team's depth issues? If it weren't for the pro personnel department, this team was teetering on going 5-11. So, Jones decided that Rob Ryan, Skip Peete, Brian Baker and a few other coaches were not the right fit for this team.
This could prove to be the best offseason move of 2013. You can't blame Rob Ryan for everything, especially the injury situation. But what I saw over his short tenure in Dallas was way too much out-of-the-box schematics and not enough emphasis on fundamentals.
His defense still gave up big play after big play, they looked confused, they were out of position and communication was poor. It simply just wasn't enough.
Enter Monte Kiffin, Rod Marinelli, Gary Brown and Rich Bisaccia—this all adds up to a huge upgrade.
Worst Move: Failure to Reach a Long-Term Agreement with Anthony Spencer
Anthony Spencer finally became the player we were waiting to see in 2012. He was a menace to opposing quarterbacks, stout against the run, durable, and at times, was the Cowboys' best defensive player on the field.
But the Cowboys were facing an interesting crossroads as to Spencer's future. As an unrestricted free agent, would they lock him up? Play tag? Or let him walk?
The Cowboys elected to franchise tag Spencer, thus guaranteeing him $10.6 million for the 2013 season. Not only did this decision solidify his future for at least one more season, but he will also be moved to the defensive end position.
So, a one-year deal with huge salary-cap implications on a player who is making a position change? For now, this is what the Cowboys will go with, but failure to reach a long-term deal definitely impeded their offseason list of things this franchise needed to do.
The Cowboys can still strike a deal at any time, but a big part of this still does not make any sense. I feel that bringing back Spencer should have been more black or white. Either bring him back long-term or let him walk. This situation is now somewhere in the middle.
Best Move: Extending Tony Romo's Contract
Tony Romo will always be at the epicenter of all debates concerning the Dallas Cowboys. That's just the way it's become, and it's the way it will be until this team achieves any postseason success during his tenure. On top of all that pressure is a newly minted nine-figure contract with $55 million in guarantees.
What's a little more pressure, right?
Call it what you may, but the Cowboys made the right move in bringing him back, even at a hefty price. It's called market value, and when you look at the quarterback position pre-Romo, it was an utter debacle.
The issue here is the failure of the Cowboys to develop quarterbacks and their unwillingness to do what teams like the Packers do in viewing young quarterbacks. The Cowboys could've had Tyler Wilson, Matt Barkley, Mike Glennon or Tyler Bray in this year's draft, but they elected to pass on them.
The Cowboys took this approach in 2009 with the selection of Stephen McGee, but they failed to develop him, and he has since departed. For this reason alone, this is how the Cowboys have to operate. Jerry Jones simply does not view investing in a prime position to be any type of priority.
Eventually, maybe as soon as next year, the Cowboys will have to think about a future without Tony Romo. But for the time being, he gives the Cowboys their best chance at winning.
Worst Move: Addressing Needs
With Jerry Jones, you have to expect the unexpected. In the business world, his level of success certainly ranks him among the best, but he continues to give his fan base cardiac arrest every now and then. The Cowboys, like any team, are always looking to improve their team and create a competitive environment.
But sometimes, what goes on behind the scenes has more do with the success that you hope for on the field. I'm talking about a plan, vision and focus of how to be successful. Jones will always look at the money he threw around to the 2012 free agents and boast about how he spends the most.
But is that always the answer? Can you buy chemistry? Heart? And determination?
The Cowboys have always had an interesting way of valuing what they have. They wait too long to insert younger players and have a history of over-paying average players. When it came to addressing needs this offseason, the consensus was that there were plenty of them.
Offensive line, defensive line, safety, linebacker and running back were right at the top of the list. Well, they were crippled in free agency until Will Allen and Justin Durant signed, and they took quite an offensive approach in the draft.
Did they address all their needs? I don't think so. The defensive line still needs depth and more punch, the offensive line could use another veteran (Eric Winston) and it would've been nice to see Michael Huff arrive in Dallas versus Allen.
It's hard to address every need in every season, but their needs to be an awareness of reality. This offseason was not the case.
Best Move: Commitment to Youth
The saying that football is a young man's game could not be more true. The Cowboys roster is starting to take the shape of the vision that Jason Garrett had for this team when he took over the head coaching job.
The Cowboys have improved their depth in many areas with younger players, and that certainly continued with the way they drafted. Travis Frederick, Gavin Escobar, Terrance Williams and Joseph Randle will all have prominent roles in 2013, and they will be counted on for immediate contributions.
Going forward, that trend will have to continue in the years to come, and the defensive line is probably next in line for going young.
But the commitment to youth is not just who was recently drafted. It's also discovering and finding about the young players currently on this roster—players like Rob Callaway, Sean Lissemore, Matt Johnson, Kyle Wilber, Barry Church, David Arkin, Kevin Kowalski and Ronald Leary.
It's something that has taken awhile to happen in Dallas, but the time has finally arrived. By committing to youth, keeping the influx plentiful and developing good, young players, the Cowboys will be able to setup their future roster-wise and financially as well.
Worst Move: The Doug Free Situation
Doug Free finally agreed to his anticipated pay cut, but what the heck took so long to iron out an agreement with this man? Based upon his performance last season, I feel this should have been addressed before the start of free agency.
Getting him to accept the same deal earlier would have allowed the Cowboys some much needed flexibility to add more talent. That did not happen, and now, the hope is that Free can pick up his game and be a force on the offensive line.
Will that happen? Will this experience motivate him in any way? All logical questions that only time will answer. On the surface, the situation concerning Free completely lacked any urgency, and the ultimate resolution and timing did not coincide when the Cowboys should have benefited more.
What's done is done as to Free's 2013 status, but not addressing it sooner could come back to bite the Cowboys and what could've been.