Courtesy of Dallas Cowboy Fans United Staff Writer / Analyst Bobbie Brewskie
Let's start with the room that Dallas has and will potentially have under the cap, depending on certain actions...
Current cap space: 24.35 million
If/When Bledsoe is cut: 24.35 + 7.5 = 31.85
Rivera = 4.5 (estimate) + 31.85 = 36.35
Singleton = 1-2 million (estimate) + 36.35 million = 37.35-38.35 million.
So Dallas potentially has about 40 million dollars of cap space to work with.
What about the cap hit, Bobbie?
Well, my friends....Jerry Jones, as much as he may bother some of you, has established a very good system with his "Signing Bonuses."
What is this "Signing Bonus System" that you speak of, Bobbie?
Quite simply, Jerry Jones doesn't like to take cap hits, so he simply loads the majority of the signing bonus onto the front of the contract (Note: Terrell Owens' contract, although a bit different, is a prime example of what Jerry Jones does. He gave TO a 5 million dollar signing bonus and TO received that 5 million upfront).
So, with that being said, the "cap hit" that we would normally receive from these players has basically been paid off in the earlier years of their contracts.
Let's get into the "Needs" of The Dallas Cowboys...
Acquired in 2005 from Green Bay, Dallas expected Marco Rivera to do big things. After a major back injury (and surgery), Green Bay was not up to paying the 32 year old RG the money that was due to him. Dallas, on the other hand, with major problems along the OL, was willing to take the chance on Rivera, hoping that he could return to pre-injury form. After two years in Dallas and not quite living up to the high expectations, I am definitely hoping for a younger, more talented player to take his place. There are multiple options in Free Agency, including Cincinnati's Eric Steinbach.
Steinbach ranks among the best of the OGs in the NFL, but is also paid like one. Cincinnati has a fair amount of money invested in their offensive line, paying big-time T's Levi Jones and Willie Anderson, and will most likely be forced to part ways with Eric Steinbach, who is by far the best OG available in FA. Paying the man shouldn't be much of a problem for Dallas, given their definite $24.35 million and potential $40 million of cap space. The interior struggled in pass protection and straight forward run blocking and Steinbach would definitely solve this problem. Did I mention that he can play all 5 positions on the OL?
Another potential candidate who could "help" solve the problem along the interior line is San Diego's Kris Dielman. Dielman is the second best OG in this year's FA pool. He is also quite a bit cheaper. The "ideal situation" for the Cowboys would be to get both Dielman and Steinbach, but with Kosier just receiving his contract and playing quite well (in space at least), acquiring one of these 2 studs seems to be a bit more "realistic." I haven't watched too much of Dielman other than maybe the 6 or 7 games (playoffs included) that I saw of SD this year on TV, and even then I wasn't following him much. But, I do know that he blocked for LT and is seen by most as the 2nd best OG to become a potential FA this year.
How about drafting a OG who could start now and be there in the future?
The best OG in the draft is Justin Blaylock and according to the "experts," Guards dont usually get drafted too early (mid 20s is when they start going usually). So Justin Blaylock falling to us is very realistic. He is quite experienced for a rookie, starting 50 games at UT. He is a big, strong drive blocker with good footwork and agility. OG isnt exactly a very "sexy" pick, but given Blaylock's experience, it wouldn't be surprising if he edges Kosier out for the starting spot . . . or at least gives him a run for his money. Not only does he have potential to start for us, but we could definitely trade down and still snag him along with another, later round, pick.
Potential fall backs: Gandy, Womack, Dockery.
Later round favorites:
Ben Grubbs - Pretty much the opposite of blaylock...great athleticism, quickness, and range...a little small and not overly poweful, a second round prospect.
Josh Beekman - A version of Blaylock with less athleticism and some footwork problems. Another second round prospect
Marshal Yanda - Very good technique and mobility, not overly powerful, played LT at Iowa, but translates to guard. Needs to add weight and get stronger. 3rd rounder.
WR is another fairly big need for the Cowboys.
It may not seem so, but Terrell Owens (34) and Terry Glenn (33) aren't exactly young. The two of them are regarded as one of the best WR duos in the NFL...right up alongside Marvin Harrison & Reggie Wayne, Anquan Boldin & Larry Fitzgerald, and Chad Johnson & TJ Houshmanzadeh. But, what is behind them? What is there for the future? Patrick Crayton, Sam Hurd and Jamaica Rectorhave all proven to be reliable #3-#5 options, but not much more. Crayton looks to be the most consistent, while Hurd seems to have the most potential. But personally, I dont feel comfortable with a 7th round pick and 2 UDFAs as our only "WR's of the future."
This year's draft is loaded with WR talent (containing a potential 5 first round picks - 6 before Samarjiza dropped out). Calvin Johnson is probably one of the top athletes in this draft. He is a big physical WR (6'5 235 lbs.) who still poses a threat downfield. Sadly, he is a top-3 prospect and will be long gone by the time the Cowboys pick. Next, you have another physical yet speedy prospect in Dewayne Jarrett, who is also going to be long gone by the time the Cowboys pick (He is regarded as a top-10 pick). Following Jarrett is speed-demon, Ted Ginn Jr., who is probably the fastest WR in this draft, along with the best return specialist (This of course, makes his value sky-rocket and he will also most likely be gone by the time the Cowboys pick).
Now for the "more likely candidates"...Sidney Rice isn't exactly a "speedster" like the former, but he makes up for it with great hands and being physical. Robert Meachem is the fan favorite, edging out Sidney Rice. Meachem looks like a balanced WR, displaying good hands with decent speed.
Later round potentials:
Dwayne Bowe - Big Physical WR, not great timed speed. Has dropped ball trouble. Has tons of upside but is pretty raw.
Johnie Lee Higgins - Small, but extremely fast...won't beat the jam and is an injury risk. If he gets a free release, he might be the best deep threat in the draft.
Chansi Stuckey - Another speedster and probably the 2nd best Returner in the draft. Doesn't have great size, but is tough...still new to the position and still raw. A converted QB, so would be an asset on trick plays.
Anthony Gonzales - Not great size, but good speed. Great hands...will turn into a solid pro, but nothing more than a #2 receiver.
Craig Davis - Everything you want in a WR except toughness. Don't expect him to take contact to make a catch.
Jason Hill - Decent size and speed but seems to lack concentration. Physical and runs good routes. Needs to show he can get separation from pro corners
Paul Williams - Terrific Athlete, needs to realize his potential...could be the biggest sleeper in the draft if he works hard in the NFL.
Free Agency is depleted this year, when it comes to WRs. Andre Johnson's name comes up on the UFA list, but he will surely be re-signed by Houston. After Johnson, there aren't exactly any WRs capable of being "#1s", but there are a number of solid #3 options, including: Tyrone Calico, Kelly Washington and Keenan McCardell.
With Aaron Glenn aging a bit and Anthony Henry having injury problems and being picked-on all of last year, the Cowboys are probably thinking about a CB change/addition. Free Agency looks great this year, with big-time prospects in Buffalo star Nate Clements and New England's Asante Samuel. Samuel seems to be the "fan-favorite" and would compliment Newman nicely. He is what some call a "risk-taking" CB, and QBs will be forced to throw to him (much like they did to Henry this year). Samuel's 10 INTs speak for themselves. When the ball goes his way, he will pick it off, and with Newman opposite of him, he will surely be seeing a good # of passes come his way. Some NB prospects include: Randle Gay and Jordan Babineaux.
My top draft prospects are Aaron Ross and Daymeion Hughes. Both are big and physical (much like Henry), so we will not lose much in that aspect. Aaron Ross is capable of playing the NB spot given his speed, while Daymeion Hughes would be better suited for press coverage in the cover-2 or manned up. IF Samuels and Clements are both off of the market, I would like to see either of these players drafted by us to replace an aging Aaron Glenn and eventually (or even now, if they earn it) take over for Anthony Henry. Marcus McCauley would be a nice pick as well, but I think he is gone by the time we pick and I think CB should be solved in the 2nd or 3rd round, if not by FA.
Flozell Adams didn't look great at LT, but you have to remember that he was coming back from a major injury (ACL Tear). He definitely came around by the end of the season and looked to be returning to form (but was still not 100%). He has a good 2-3 years left in him and is still in the top 1/2 of the league's best tackles. i would like to see us pick up a guy like Aaron Sears, Levi Brown or Tony Ugoh, but LT isn't a position I'd like to use a first round pick on (at least not this year). It would be nice to eye some later-round prospects, such as: Ryan Harris who looks to be a 3rd-4th round pick.
No FA is really good enough if you ask me. No one really better than Flo and I'd rather see us draft a franchise LT in one of the next 2 or 3 years.
Running Back is a bigger need than some feel. Julius Jones and Marion Barber III make a great one-two punch, but it never hurts to have 3 backs to do some damage. Tyson Thompson is on the bubble, although he was a great returner (He and Miles Austin should make a great duo), but at RB, he just didn't do all too much (not that there was much room). I wouldn't be surprised if we brought in a RB who could play a limited role, maybe as a spell back. 4 RBs never hurt a team, even if one is inactive occasionally.
Free Agency is out of question if you ask me. I don't see anybody that is worth going for, besides Michael Turner, who might just end up with the Jets or Browns (those are my predictions) or somewhere, where he has a good chance at the starting role.
Now, the draft has a few sleepers who might look good...namely Lorenzo Booker who should be going in the 4th-5th round. It would be nice to pick up a guy who has a lot of upside and could fill a role and get rid of "depth issues." Yes, the Cowboys have 2 capable RBs, but I don't think that either is capable of carrying the load all by themselves. So if one goes down, our running game suffers more than most think. Booker is a player with a lot of potential and ability. Drafting him in the 4th or 5th round might just make him a steal.
You are asking...What about Tyson Thompson? Thompson was a good return man, with some potential (mainly because of his speed) at RB. But Booker looks like he could be a pretty good split-time back and will compete big-time with Thompson for that #3 spot. I still foresee them both making the roster. One might be inactive for a bit, but you never know when a guy is gonna break an ankle, putting you back down to 2 RBs. Jones has just played his first 16 game season and Tyson Thompson suffered a huge ankle injury. Booker solves that problem.
Back-up QB is another concern, especially with Bledsoe leaving. A rookie here would just be dumb. Backups need experience when it comes to QB. You want them to win you a few games when your starter has to miss 2 or 3 weeks. You are never gonna rely on a backup QB to take you to the playoffs and beyond. If your starter goes down, your season goes down (unless you are the Falcons...then it might go somewhere :-D). Anyways, Damon Huard looks like the best candidate for this spot. He proved that he is a damned good backup (maybe even a capable starter). The chiefs are gonna get rid of somebody, so why not bring him in? He might cost us a 2nd day pick, but I think that's the worst case scenario.
A pass-rush specialist might be nice to snag, but Adalius Thomas will be given a huge contract from somebody. Snagging him would be wishful thinking and would put Bobby Carpenter out of place (he came around in that Seattle playoff game). Carpenter might just be perfectly capable of being that "pass-rusher" that we need on the opposite side of Ware (now that Greg Ellis is done and even that said, Carpenter would win out as the starter). Jason Hatcher, Jay Ratliff and Kenyon Coleman have all shown that they are solid pass rushers in the Nickel. Spears and Canty are definitely capable of being good pass rushers, but they have yet to show that. Hopefully they can become the DEs that we hoped and expected them to become. Jason Ferguson and the 2 DEs have had a hard time collapsing the pocket and applying pressure from the inside, allowing QBs to step up in the pocket and buy time. Hopefully that changes with the addition of a pure pass rushing NT (Tardell Sands has been mentioned, but he probably isn't much better of a pass-rusher than Ferguson). It also wouldn't hurt for our DEs to step it up and learn what rushing the passer means (BTW, Dwight Freeney is not happening, he will be quite expensive and doesn't fit the 3-4 too well). A lot of this is wishful thinking, but our pass-rush really did look pretty good before Ellis went down. So if Carpenter can step up, that's one thing, but if our defensive line can, it takes this D even further.
This article comes to THN courtesy of Bobbie Brewskie, Dallas Cowboy Fans United Staff Writer/Analyst. He asked us to also thank the following:
Bowlby (DCFU Draft Guru) - Provided the majority of the draft info (a lot of the "smaller" prospects and their information came from him).
1Shark aka "The Shark" (DCFU Staff/Draft Special Analyst) - Another draft guru...great stuff that he gave me, including some good input and of course, "The Free Agents List".
Azriel (DCFU Moderator/Janitor) - Did the staff/member resource coordination and editing, and of course allowed me stay up past 9pm to write it (haha).
ChampsX5 (DCFU Staff Writer) - Provided his "2 cents" and told me to not worry and "make it my own".
Schmitty199 (DCFU Moderator/Analyst) - Provided even more input on the draft.
Everybody else who helped out...all of DCFU...Thanks everybody! If I forgot you, I'll be sure to include you in the updates/final.