Dallas Cowboys Talk: Fact or Fiction with the Latest News Ahead of Free Agency
Even with free agency over a week away, there's always news and rumors surrounding the Dallas Cowboys. From possibly releasing one of their best players to drafting a wide receiver in the first round, there are all kinds of scenarios flying around in Big D.
Let's take a look at some of the top recent news and rumors coming out of Dallas, determining if they're fact or fiction.
The Cowboys Could Cut DE DeMarcus Ware
Last week, owner Jerry Jones implied on ESPN's SportsCenter (via The Dallas Morning News) that the Cowboys could cut veteran defensive end DeMarcus Ware. Said Jones:
He's had a tough time getting on the practice field because of various injuries. All of that we have to weigh with how much of that has impacted him for the future as well as where he is in his career and with his age.
Those are the ingredients in the stew. Now we've got to stir it up and see where we're going. It will be a very difficult call for us because of how much salary cap he uses.
If Ware refuses to take a pay cut, the truth is that Dallas will have almost no choice but to release him. But Ware and his agent know that, and they know that he has little chance of staying in Dallas without redoing his contract. The two sides can work things out so it benefits both parties.
The fact that Jones has been so public about the Cowboys' willingness to cut Ware suggests the team doesn't really want to do it but wants to flex its strength here. The Cowboys have all the leverage in this situation, and if they were really going to cut Ware without trying to restructure his deal, Jones probably wouldn't be talking.
The Cowboys want the best deal possible, so they're talking as if they could let go of Ware so that he's willing to take a pay reduction. He'll be out of Dallas if he doesn't, but he knows that, so chances are he'll be playing for the Cowboys in 2014.
The Cowboys Could Consider a Wide Receiver in the First Round
Responding to a fan question, ESPN's Todd Archer recently suggested that the Cowboys could draft a wide receiver in the first round of this year's draft. Said Archer:
I wouldn't discount taking a wide receiver at No. 16. There could be a really good one there, like Evans. I can't tell you what the Cowboys think of him just yet because it's too early in the process, but clearly he was productive at A&M, and he ran pretty well for a big guy at the combine. Dez Bryant is going into the last year of his deal. I don't believe he will be going anywhere, but there is nothing wrong with protecting yourself at the position for the future.
It's not a popular idea, but the Cowboys could very well consider a wide receiver early in this draft. Even if you ignore the trouble they'd be in if Bryant were to get injured, why not bring in another receiver simply to upgrade the other receiver spots?
With Miles Austin likely out of Dallas this year, according to Archer, Cole Beasley is set to take over as the third option. That's all well and good if the league begins rewarding points for receptions under five yards, but what if it stubbornly keeps current scoring rules in place, forcing the Cowboys to reach the end zone in order to score touchdowns?
Bringing in a wide receiver like Texas A&M's Mike Evans not only acts as a hedge against a Bryant injury, but also upgrades both the No. 2 and No. 3 spots, with Terrance Williams moving inside to man the slot.
The Cowboys Could Explore a CB Morris Claiborne Trade
Calvin Watkins of ESPN Dallas recently proposed that the Cowboys might consider trading cornerback Morris Claiborne if they could get a third-round pick in exchange:
It's easy to focus on Claiborne and say he's come up short of expectations and you would be fair in saying that. Trading him could be an option for the Cowboys if they believe someone is willing to give them a third-round pick.
Although there are concerns about Claiborne's ability to stay healthy, the bigger issue is his size. The Cowboys traded up in the first round to select a 5'11", 190-pound cornerback. That's a big problem.
Still, it's highly unlikely that Dallas would so quickly give up on the No. 6 overall pick from just two seasons ago. Unless they can get a second-round pick, which they won't, it's doubtful the Cowboys would move Claiborne—because really, who wants to see B.W. Webb playing as the nickel again?
Pitt DT Aaron Donald Is Cowboys' Most Likely Option
In a recent mock-draft roundup at DallasCowboys.com, Pitt defensive tackle Aaron Donald was the most popular choice for Dallas. He's been linked to Dallas quite often, including by Bleacher Report's Matt Miller.
The truth is that Donald is a great fit for Dallas; he was a pass-rushing beast at Pitt, totaling 27.5 sacks and 63 tackles for loss over the past three years. That's elite production and fits well with what Dallas needs in a defensive tackle.
The problem is that, after lighting up the combine, Donald probably won't fall to Dallas at No. 16 overall. You don't find too many 285-pound players with 4.68 speed, per NFL.com, especially those who were dominant in college.
WR Nate Burleson Could Be Player to Watch in Free Agency
Jon Machota of The Dallas Morning News recently labeled wide receiver Nate Burleson as a player to watch for Dallas:
I think it's likely that Austin is gone so adding another wide receiver would be critical. They obviously don't have much room to work with in free agency but Nate Burleson could be a player to watch. The veteran worked with Linehan in Detroit and probably won't get too much money on the open market.
Call me crazy, but I don't think that even the Cowboys would be foolish enough to sign a 32-year-old receiver who weighs 198 pounds and has a career-high of 1,006 yards. Burleson has played 15 combined games in the past two seasons and has scored all of six touchdowns over the past three years.
With so many talented receivers in this year's draft, it seems highly unlikely Dallas would sign a player who should be out of the league.