The Dallas Cowboys have tipped their hand. They had an agreement in place with veteran guard Brandon Moore earlier this week, but Moore abruptly retired instead. Now, we all know they're looking to upgrade or at least add bodies to the interior offensive line, which isn't surprising when you consider that Nate Livings and Mackenzy Bernadeau have struggled to stay healthy.
Even with Livings and Bernadeau starting the majority of the 2012 campaign, Dallas averaged only 3.6 yards per carry and gave up more pressure than all but four other offensive lines, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
After being spurned by Moore, Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones made no secret of the fact the team is still looking for help. From ESPN Dallas:
Obviously, that’s why we were looking and we’re not through looking. We obviously have options but we also have parameters and we got to work within our cap situation. We don’t have an unlimited situation here, but we have guys we're looking at and we will continue to look. But there’s more than one way to acquire a player. Get him through free agency, you can trade for him, you can wait and see if he becomes available. We're looking.
The 'Boys obviously can't afford to spend a lot of cash. They have about $10 million in cap space, per ESPN Dallas, but they have to deal with expiring contracts belonging to guys like Sean Lee, Bruce Carter and Dez Bryant and would certainly like to have some spare cash entering 2014.
Still, anyone lingering on the open market this late is bound to come cheap. The problem is that the options aren't very enticing.
He started two games for the Cowboys last season, but it's not a good sign that they chased Moore before attempting to bring Dockery back.
He's about to turn 36, but at least he performed at a half-decent level while starting all 16 games last year with the Raiders.
In fact, he hasn't missed a start since 2008 and has 133 of them in 13 seasons. The question is, how much gas is left in his tank?
Which free-agent guard should Dallas sign?
Again, there's no shortage of experience in this pool.
Davis was with the 'Boys between 2007 and 2010 and has 155 starts in 12 seasons. However, he took only 131 snaps with San Francisco last year and hasn't started a game since his last year in Dallas.
Forget it. He's played for five teams in four years and has earned only three starts since 2010. He's only 32, but he took only 120 snaps in San Diego last year, and those came at right tackle.
A seven-year veteran with 80 career starts under his belt, Lutui spent the 2012 campaign in Tennessee but wasn't re-signed. Not only did he struggle with the Titans last year, but Lutui has also been hit with a four-game suspension.
The Cowboys have better options.
He's about to turn 37 and is coming off a poor season in Baltimore. I'm not sure he'd provide much of an upgrade.
Moore was clearly the best candidate, which is a shame. The 33-year-old was rated by PFF as the fourth-best guard in football last season. Now, their options are extremely limited in-house and on the open market.
There's a good chance this line won't be saved by an outsider. They'll have to hope, instead, that home-grown guys such as Ronald Leary, David Arkin or Kevin Kowalski can emerge.