Dallas Cowboys: Filling The Gaps

Greg EvansCorrespondent IMay 20, 2009

DALLAS - DECEMBER 16:  Wide receiver Kevin Curtis #80 of the Philadelphia Eagles picks up a first down against cornerback Anthony Henry #42 and safety Patrick Watkins #25 of the Dallas Cowboys at Texas Stadium December 16, 2007 in Dallas, Texas.  The Eagles won 10-6.  (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

Seeing a silver and blue clad player chasing an opponent in a different colored jersey has been a common sight for Dallas fans for the past few seasons. These players attempting to catch up were commonly found in the secondary, and the Cowboys have done little to improve this glaring weakness.

This offseason Dallas management released Roy Williams, Mr. Blown Coverage, but little else has been done to improve the struggling secondary.

Many fans hoped that Dallas would use early draft picks to help the secondary, but with Dallas not having a single pick on the first day, Cowboy fans can only hope for a hidden gem in DeAngelo Smith, Stephen Hodge, or Mike Mickens.

Is there any hope in a free agent signing?

This season's defensive free agent pool is a little thin, but the Cowboys could look to CB Ty Law or SS Lawyer Milloy to upgrade the ailing secondary.

The position battles at CB and SS will be especially interesting during summer camp.

Outside of the secondary, look for battles along the defensive line to replace Chris Canty and Tank Johnson. Dallas did acquire two defensive ends in the fourth round of the draft, but replacing Canty will be a difficult task. Whether or not these young players can make an impact will be a deciding factor in the effectiveness of the Dallas D-Line.

On the other side of the ball, the departure of Terrell Owens will, obviously, impact the wide receiving corps for the Cowboys.

With their last pick, Dallas acquired Oklahoma WR Manuel Johnson. His production was consistent in his last season at OU, but it is hard to imagine him challenging for a starting role over the likes of Roy Williams, Patrick Crayton, and Sam Hurd.

Every receiver on the Cowboy roster will be challenged this offseason to become the go-to guy for the Dallas offense.

The production of each receiver will, likely, be put under a microscope next season. Whether or not they can still produce, despite the loss of T.O. will be a point of contention for the Dallas Cowboys.

If free agency is an option, there are a number of quality receivers who are eligible this offseason.

Plaxico Burress could make an immediate impact, but the Cowboys just cut loose a major distraction. They don't need another one.

Amani Toomer is another Giant who could fill T.O.'s shoes. This would be unlikely due to the Giants being in the same division.

Marvin Harrison could be a great fit in Dallas. He has been one of the league's best receivers (when healthy) for the past decade. While his career is likely on the decline, he could be brought in, not only to be a consistent weapon, but also as a mentor for the young receivers on the roster.

Each of these receivers, however, comes with a hefty price tag, which will be the deciding factor on whether on not they could in up in Big D.

The limited number of picks in the past draft doesn't lend itself to many "emerging stars" on this year's roster, however, past acquisitions will be expected to step up and make an impact this season.

The success, or failure, of the Dallas Cowboys' season hinges on whether or not these players are able to take the next step.


(With the help of DallasCowboys.com, NFL.com, and Yahoo.com)