As we have seen in this first week of free agency nothing is free. It costs a lot of money in free agency and team across the league are playing decent/role players a boat load of money. Most fans are saying why aren’t the Cowboys signing this guy and signing that guy.
We have seen what our NFC East foe the New York Giants and our I-45 neighbors the Houston Texans have done by opening up the vault. We have gone down that route before but it kept us in salary cap jail for many years.
We chose to sign our own key players this week like linebacker Rolando McClain, defensive back Mo Claiborne, tight end James Hanna just to name a few. WE must spend wisely and keep that cap space for the draft. As that is where you build your team for many years to come.
So let’s try to make sense of the Cowboys’ hesitancy to get into a bidding war with the Giants for defensive end Olivier Vernon or Houston for running back Lamar Miller or the Eagles for quarterback Chase Daniel.
The Dallas Cowboys aren’t just one defensive end or one running back or one backup quarterback (well maybe) away from reclaiming the NFC East. The Cowboys aren’t like the Giants who entered free agency with $56.6 million of cap space available and that ranked fifth most among the 32 teams.
The Cowboys basically entered free agency with roughly around 10 to 14 million dollars of cap space to spend. That would be a lot of money compared to other years. That would register as a lot for them in comparison to recent years when they had to continue pushing money into the future just to get under the salary cap let alone go speculating. If we speak logically that’s not a lot of cap space.
We will need around 6 to 8 million dollar this year for their draft and a little more than usual because of owning the fourth pick. They usually budget around $1 million for the practice squad players. They routinely budget about $2 million for injury settlements and having to replace injured reserve guys on the 53-man roster.
The Cowboys did push money over the length of defensive tackle Tyrone Crawford’s contract but not a lot, handing him a $5.5 million bonus to reduce this year’s $6.75 million base salary to just $1.25 million thus spreading that bonus money over the five years remaining on his deal.
So really only adding like $1.1 million to each year. Lets look what dire needs the Cowboys need to address whether via free agency or in the draft to get all these guys signed.
Since Greg Hardy, Jeremy Mincey, and Jack Crawford are free agents plus Randy Gregory is suspended for the first four games of the season. Last year’s team sack leader DeMarcus Lawrence is coming off microdiscectomy surgery to repair a herniated back disk.
(Discectomy is surgery to remove lumbar (low back) herniated disc material that is pressing on a nerve root or the spinal cord. It tends to be done as microdiscectomy, which uses a special microscope to view the disc and nerves.) Source: WedMD.com
So we must add a defensive end in free agency or in the draft ASAP.
Nick Hayden is a decent role player and currently an UFA but we will need to upgrade his spot and who knows what we might get out of Terrell McClain after he spent all but two weeks of last season on injured reserve. We will probably need at least two defensive tackles and that is why the Cowboys wasted no time in signing free agent Cedric Thornton.
Thornton started the past 45 consecutive games for the Eagles. He has a quick first step and is great at stopping the run. He will be a 4-3 1-technique tackle who has some versatility to play the 3 technique also. It was reported that he signed a four-year $18 million deal, but that’s the absolute most. In reality, it’s a two-year $9 million dollar deal with a $5 million signing bonus and a guaranteed $1 million base salary in 2016 and a $3 million guaranteed base in 2017 if on the roster in March.
Currently we have Darren McFadden, Rod Smith, and Ben Malena under contract. McFadden was a pleasant surprise last year rushing for over a 1,000 yards and three touchdown but will he be able to carry the load without getting injured again?
This is why the Cowboys must invest in the running back position in the draft.
Since the only players under contract are Tony Romo who just had shoulder surgery to reduce the length of his left collarbone. Kellen Moore, who has now played in all of three NFL games in four years and we have Jameill Showers who is currently on the Cowboys practice squad. Even if they draft one the Cowboys will probably need a moderately-priced veteran to challenge Moore for the backup job.
The Cowboys did resign tight end James Hanna last week and Gavin Escobar is still recovering from injury. We also have Geoff Swaim tight end from Texas but he is raw and still unproven. We might need to draft a tight end in the draft for a backup for the aging Jason Witten.
Morris Claiborne was resigned last week. It looks like Brandon Carr might be offered the same deal to remain. Say what you want about Carr he was the most healthiest of the Cowboys’ corners for the past few years. Depending what happens in the draft or free agency they might move Byron Jones to safety.
If we count Byron Jones here and starting safety Barry Church is returning from a broken arm in the final year of his contract. J.J. Wilcox still hasn’t arrived entering the final year of his contract who constantly takes bad tackling angles.
Then you have Danny McCray even if re-signed as a free agent is mostly a special teams player and Jeff Heath is a minimum-tendered restricted free agent.
Most fans should be applauding the Cowboys as they only have 901,000 thousand dollars in dead money. That must be a all time low in this day and age but fear not Cowboys fans we will be fine in the draft and we will add some decent cheap free agents and make a run the NFC East title and the playoffs.