Let’s be honest with ourselves. Does anyone really expect the Dallas Cowboys to go deep into the playoffs? The offense has been one of the most efficient in the league, relying heavily on a run game that is putting up record-setting numbers. The defense has played competent ball, and even looked (dare I say) good at times. Injuries aside though the quintessential problem in Dallas is the management of the cap, it has been for years now.
I’m going to go way back for a minute, possibly taking some of you youngsters to school. The original owner of the Cowboys was Tex Schramm (I know, ironic). Tex was the guy who hired Tom Landry, who built “America’s Team”, and who eventually sold the team to current owner Jerry Jones. Back when Tex was around there was no salary cap, but he kept his costs nice and low. The way Tex did this was by underpaying his star players and using that in his negotiations with current or new players. “Well you know Tom Lily only makes X.” Now, I’m not saying the current Cowboys can or should try this (as everyone knows what everyone makes these days), but the current administration could learn a thing or two from old Tex.
Currently I believe the Cowboys are overpaying for a lot of players on their roster, leaving little to no money for filling in gaps. Sean Lee is a guy that I felt like the team really overdid it on. Sure, when he’s playing he’s an amazing talent, but he missed all of this season and has yet to put in a full season of work. Sadly, I don’t think the trend will be bucked with Dez Bryant and DeMarco Murray both being free agents at the end of the year, and I feel like both will demand (and to some degree rightfully so) a big paycheck to match their big numbers from on the field.
With the Cowboys overspending everywhere they need to go and find some diamonds in the rough (Rolando McClain for example) through the draft and in the cast offs from other teams. The Cowboys may even be forced to take players with gigantic red flags (think Titanic sized) in order have talent and depth needed to compete for a Super Bowl. There are a few less-than-desirable players the Cowboys could consider in the offseason. Please note that I do not condone what any of these players did, or may do, and that if I had my way none of them would be playing football next year. With that said, here is the list.
Ray Rice: Sure, why not start big. Murray is going to want an insane amount of money (given the rushing title and the workload he put down this year). If the Cowboys re-sign him I still think Rice would be a good acquisition. A year away may have put fuel in the tank, and Rice is an excellent pass catcher and blocker out of the backfield. He would be a great compliment to Murray. If Murray leaves even more reason to sign a back who has proven he can be the guy, and I’m sure Rice wouldn’t mind running behind one of the best lines in football.
Ray McDonald: The defense for the Cowboys has been good, but McDonald would bring in some beef and power off the edge (something that is severely lacking right now). After his release from the 49ers, I’m sure Ray would love to get with a winning team, and Dallas might be the best place for him. He’d be under a ton of media scrutiny with a team that is used to handling it.
Greg Hardy: This is one of the few players that wasn’t cut by his team. Hardy is still under his rookie contract for another two years. It would actually almost cost the Carolina Panthers more to cut him than it would be for them to keep him. So how about a trade? Dallas could use the help on the defensive side of the ball, and could easily give up a third-rounder for the trouble. Considering Hardy was drafted in the sixth round this wouldn’t be a bad move for the Panthers, and it would almost constitute a smart PR move on the part of Carolina.
Josh Gordon: Another young player where the team hasn’t cut the ties. Let’s face it, the Browns need some playmakers, and Gordon is about the only guy they have. The Cowboys could use a threat opposite Dez, and while Terrance Williams has been good, Gordon would be an upgrade. I could see a deal that swaps Williams for Gordon straight up. The Browns get a player that will for sure play for you all of next year, and the Cowboys get a guy that demands a double team as well, opening things up for Dez and the running game.
Robert Mathis: This is likely not to happen, but I’ll throw it out there anyway. Mathis is a phenomenal pass rusher, and the Cowboys could use his talents. The real issue here is that the Indianapolis Colts still have Mathis under a large contract, and really he doesn’t fit the scheme the boys like to play. He’d be situational at best. If the Colts somehow cut him and the Cowboys can pick him up on the cheap then go for it, but he’d likely draw enough interest league-wide to not sign at bargain basement prices.