In the final installment of my “offseason plan” series, after more extensive looks at the Cowboys’ needs on both sides of the ball, I developed a list of offseason “must-haves.” At the time, I noted that Dallas’ limited resources didn’t seem capable of accomplishing all of these so, with heavy heart, I eliminated the needs that, because they were less dire, would have to wait. Although I would
like love for them to happen, I felt that finding a cheap veteran receiver and ponying up for Doug Free’s replacement aren’t absolute necessities and would have to wait. With those needs put on hold, here is the 2013 “offseason checklist”:
1. Draft a defensive lineman in rounds one or two
2. Draft a running back in rounds 3-4
3. Get a UDFA FB after the draft
4. Sign a blocking tight end in free agency
5. Draft a promising offensive guard in the draft’s first three rounds
6. Franchise Anthony Spencer OR sign a younger, cheaper FA D-lineman
7. Sign an ex-Bears defensive lineman or defensive back
8. Find a starting “Sam” linebacker
9. Sign a free agent safety to a one-year, low-impact deal
From the above, the items that would be checked off in free agency are numbers 4, 6, 7, 8 and 9. Thus far, the cap-strapped Cowboys have been able to afford only two moves: franchising Anthony Spencer and re-upping LB Ernie Sims. But these both target line items on the list: Spencer’s re-up satisfies line item number six, and the Sims signing could conceivably check off number eight on the list. That said, I think the folks at Valley Ranch consider Sims a backup, not a starter.
This suspicion is confirmed by reports that the team, as Archie reported yesterday, is bringing in former Lions OLB Justin Durant in for a visit. On Sunday, Bryan Broaddus tweeted the following:
Names the Cowboys are actually bringing in for UFA visits Will Allen S and Justin Durant LB. Will visit Valley Ranch on Monday.
— Bryan Broaddus (@BryanBroaddus) March 24, 2013
Durant and Allen’s presence at the Ranch on Monday (other reports say former Raider Michael Huff will be there as well) suggests that the Cowboys feel that they will soon have money available to sign them. That is an important development; as several writers have recently opined, both Romo and Spencer are believed to be verrrry close to signing extensions. If either does sign, it will free up enough cap space for the Cowboys to be limited players in the 2013 free agency market.
Indeed, in a recent look at the “flat cap,” I wrote that, whenever Romo agrees to an extension, we’ll see some more some veterans signed to fill thin positions, so that the team can follow a “BPA” strategy in the draft. With scheduled visits by Durant and Allen, it looks like this is about to come true.