Duane Burleson/Associated Press
The Cowboys have major needs across the board. Let's take a look at the most pressing.
Even if the Cowboys were to re-sign Hatcher, they're still currently in a position to start Nick Hayden alongside him. That could change if the 'Boys use Tyrone Crawford inside, which makes sense, or if they address the position early in the 2014 NFL draft.
It will be interesting to see what the Cowboys do, because the projected first-round defensive tackle who makes the most sense for Dallas, Pitt's Aaron Donald, lit up the NFL Scouting Combine and might not be available for them at No. 16 overall. Either way, defensive tackle is probably Dallas' largest need.
Will the Cowboys release Ware? They need him to take a pay cut or restructure his deal, which seems likely, but there's no guarantee he'll be back in Dallas in 2014. Even if he returns, the Cowboys aren't set for the future with he and George Selvie on the outside.
One of the problems with signing a free-agent pass-rusher is that they usually cost a lot of money. It's improbable Dallas will be able to afford a starting-caliber defensive end to start immediately, meaning the draft is its most likely source for a difference-making end.
The free safety position might benefit most from an upgrade along the defensive line; J.J. Wilcox, Jeff Heath, and Matt Johnson are hardly inevitable future stars, but whomever plays free safety will benefit immensely from an improved pass rush.
Others will disagree with listing wide receiver as a need, and it's certainly not as important as finding a quality defensive tackle, but the Cowboys' offense could benefit quite a bit from upgrading at wide receiver. Terrance Williams is a nice player, but finding a legitimate No. 1-caliber receiver to complement Dez Bryant would actually upgrade two spots; the Cowboys would have an upgrade over Williams, but Williams would also be an immense upgrade over Cole Beasley as the No. 3 wide receiver, assuming Austin gets cut.
Plus, a big, physical receiver could give the Cowboys an even more potent red-zone attack; as it stands right now, Bryant is the only player we know is long-term dominant in the red zone.
According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), right tackle Doug Free allowed 34 pressures and six sacks, both of which were the most on the team. After yielding four total pressures in the first five games (0.80 pressures per game), he allowed 30 in the final 11 games (2.72 per game). If he maintained the latter pace for 16 games, Free would have allowed the third-most pressures in the NFL in 2013.