Bleacher Report says the Cowboys are headed for 'salary cap hell' in 2013. While this might be a slight exaggeration to get clicks from annoyed Cowboy fans, it's certainly true if Dallas keeps restructuring contracts like those of Brandon Carr, Demarcus Ware, Miles Austin and other current stars forward. In that case, this team could find itself almost as crippled in adding talent (minus trading away two first rounders for Joey Galloway) as Dave Campo's doomed 2000-2002 teams.
With that said, my position should be clear: re-signing Anthony Spencer would be a mistake when looking at the long term prospects of this team. So would, IMO, keeping Doug Free. It's time to see whether Jeremy Parnell can hack it as a starter in this league or is best kept for a reasonable salary as a swing tackle and nothing more.
Bringing in a big money free agent to play right guard or tackle makes little sense to me, unless this team plans to let a big time free agent like Tyron Smith, Dez Bryant, Sean Lee or Mo Claiborne walk when their rookie deals expire. Keeping all of our top draft picks of recent years for this team's Super Bowl run in 2014 or 2015 (when Romo might want to go out on top like Elway, or the Boys find a more mobile passer in the RG3/Kaepernick mold as a successor) requires not getting stuck on the urgent needs of 2013. And BTB seems to have a clear consensus on what the top positions of need are, aside from maybe the guard positions: right tackle, pass rusher, running back and safety.
Clearly by putting safety last I'm counting on Matt Johnson or former New England Patriot Sterling Moore to step up and claim if not one of the starting positions than the critical 3rd safety job in 4-2 packages. Since this is such a deep safety class I think a guy like Clemson's Rashard Hall (whose physical stats resemble a Sensabaugh clone) or even Kansas' Bradley McDougald in the 6th round could come in and be a solid addition to our rotation, with Eric Frampton beating out Danny McCray for the final special teams gunner safety spot.
Is there any way to clear enough room to resign Spencer? If we could, or Spencer takes a very team friendly deal in order to remain the bookend with Ware, this team will be much more competitive in 2013, because we'll be able to address tackle, nose tackle, running back and safety (not necessarily in that order) even with just 6 picks on draft day. (Personally I think Brian Price and Rob Callaway are going to surprise people, giving us a lot more 'beef' up front to run the 4-3 than folks think we have in house). We would also be able to draft a guy like Quanterus Smith (or another small school project) in the 6th, have Alex Albright hold down the fort as our third 4-3DE/backup SAM LB, and hope Quanterus will be ready to see some quality snaps by the end of the 2013 season after coming back from ACL surgery.
With that all said, I think it's crucial for the Cowboys to address guard and center -- not necessarily with high draft picks, but through free agency both before and after the draft (I have my eye on Louisville center Mario Benavides, who could go undrafted due to reported knee problems like our own Ronald Leary, and Cornell tackle/likely center conversion project J.C. Tretter).
Given that the Cowboys have already demonstrated they'll pick up players from the CFL's Hamilton Tiger Cats, I only think it's fair that they aggressively move to sign TigerCats OG Peter Dyakowski. The former LSU star has competed on 'Canada's Smartest Person' show and will be 29 this spring. Dyakowski could replace Cook in the game day C/G role while freeing Kevin Kowalski to focus only on replacing Costa at center, with David Arkin as the third string center (I don't see Bernie being moved to center unless he has a whole offseason to practice the position).
But where I'm confused is over how much cap room the Cowboys can clear out even prior to the CFL signing period in early February, right after the Super Bowl. What do you think BTBers? Can we cut Doug Free and designate him a June 1st cut and restructure enough contracts this month to make it happen?