2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Cowboys won't be as busy as 2012 in free agency

By SCHUYLER DIXON - AP Sports Writer
    2013-03-10 19:33

IRVING, Texas (AP) - One thing is certain with the Dallas Cowboys in free agency: They won't be nearly as busy as they were a year ago.

That's not to say there aren't immediate needs for a team with consecutive 8-8 finishes, three straight seasons without a playoff trip and a .500 record going back 16 years. The Cowboys need more defensive linemen for a switch to the 4-3, and they are thin at safety after releasing Gerald Sensabaugh to clear room under the salary cap.

The biggest question for the Cowboys entering free agency, which starts Tuesday, was whether to keep one of their own. They've already answered it by putting the franchise tag on Anthony Spencer for the second straight year, making it unlikely he will sign elsewhere.

Last year, Dallas signed seven free agents, highlighted by four starters in cornerback Brandon Carr, fullback Lawrence Vickers, offensive linemen Mackenzy Bernadeau and Nate Livings. Linebacker Dan Connor ended up starting most of the season after Sean Lee and Bruce Carter were lost to season-ending injuries.

This year, the Cowboys have been restructuring contracts to get under the salary cap and still have work to do to make room for Spencer and anyone else they want to add. Dallas is operating with a $5 million cap penalty for the second straight year over the NFL's interpretation of a contract for receiver Miles Austin that was signed during the year without a cap.

``We've had years when we've played free agency and some years when we don't sign anyone because of the cap situation,'' executive vice president Stephen Jones said in an interview for the team's website. ``But obviously last year we went hard. If you have a salary cap, you can't do that every year.''

If Spencer doesn't agree to a long-term deal, he will make $10.6 million, or 120 percent of the $8.8 million he earned under the franchise tag last season. His salary is based in part on the average of the top five salaries at linebacker even though he's likely to switch to defensive end with the Cowboys abandoning the 3-4 after eight years.

Dallas owner Jerry Jones hinted at the NFL scouting combine that the team couldn't afford to keep Spencer. But he was a defensive end in the 4-3 at Purdue, and Dallas needs all the options it can get as it makes the transition.

Additionally, coach Jason Garrett couldn't say enough good things during the season about Spencer, who led the Cowboys with the first double-digit sack total of his career (11).

``He's just a good football player,'' coach Jason Garrett said at the combine. ``He showed us that this year and the last four or five years that he can do a lot of different things.''

Garrett said the Cowboys were ``absolutely'' planning to keep defensive tackle Jay Ratliff, who was arrested for drunken driving just a few weeks after teammate Josh Brent was jailed on intoxication manslaughter charges in an accident that killed practice squad linebacker Jerry Brown. Brent would have been a factor in the switch to the 4-3, but his career is on hold while his case is in the courts.

Jason Hatcher, Marcus Spears and Sean Lissemore are among the veterans likely to land on the interior of the defensive front. But the Cowboys don't have any natural pass-rushing ends beyond DeMarcus Ware and Spencer.

``When you go from a 3-4 style of defense, you talk about what you want from the three defensive linemen and what you want from the linebackers and you go through it,'' Garrett said. ``You just have to kind of rework those and say, `OK, now we're talking about a defensive end in a 4-3 defense and you go through those parameters. We're in the process of doing that right now, and that will certainly help our evaluation of these players (in the draft) and the free agents that might be available to us.''

If the Cowboys add other free agents, the cap room is likely to come from an extension for Tony Romo, who is entering the final year of his contract. Jerry Jones and his son have been clear that they want a new deal for Romo, who turns 33 next month.

Any additions by Dallas are likely to be inexpensive, although that could be a fit at safety, with several veterans getting released for cap relief. The list got longer in recent days with Jacksonville dumping Dawan Landry and Arizona getting rid of Adrian Wilson after 12 seasons with the Cardinals.

---

Online: http://pro32.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

---

Follow Schuyler Dixon on Twitter at https://twitter.com/lschuylerd

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Trent RichardsonJan 27 10:43a

Indianapolis Colts RB Trent Richardson's one-game suspension for conduct detrimental to the team voided the guarantee of a $3,184,062 salary in 2015.

Josh GordonJan 26 02:13p

Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon is in Stage Three of an alcohol program, which requires him to be tested for alcohol for a minimum of two years. His failed [ More ]

Rob GronkowskiJan 26 02:03p

New England Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski could cause a problem for the Seattle Seahawks during Super Bowl XLIX, because the Seahawks defense allowed 11 touchdowns to tight ends this [ More ]

Earl ThomasJan 26 02:03p

Seattle Seahawks FS Earl Thomas (shoulder) said he won't miss the Super Bowl against the New England Patriots with a dislocated shoulder, but he also admitted that it won't [ More ]

Odell Beckham Jr.Jan 26 01:52p

New York Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. (hamstring) said he'll need to shut himself down this offseason in order to enter 2015 fully healthy and in great shape. He [ More ]

Josh GordonJan 26 12:33p

Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon tested positive for alcohol, according to sources, and his failed test will subject him to a possible one-year suspension. Gordon caught 24 passes for [ More ]

Vontaze BurfictJan 26 12:23p

Cincinnati Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict (knee) is recovering from microfracture surgery on his left knee, and the surgeon who operated on him is hoping that he will be at [ More ]

Odell Beckham Jr.Jan 26 11:22a

New York Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. (hamstring) said he played this season with two tears in his right hamstring, which never fully healed.

Josh GordonJan 25 09:12p

Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon will be under contract through the 2016 season, and he will only be a restricted free agent after that year due to his looming [ More ]

Josh GordonJan 25 04:12p

Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon has reportedly failed another drug test and will be subject to a one-year banishment, according to multiple league sources.

Earl ThomasJan 23 09:02p

Seattle Seahawks FS Earl Thomas (shoulder) will play in the Super Bowl, head coach Pete Carroll said Friday, Jan. 23.

Dennis PittaJan 23 04:22p

Baltimore Ravens TE Dennis Pitta (hip) met with some specialists last week, but the team is not expected to have an update on his status for a few weeks, [ More ]

Johnny ManzielJan 23 01:12p

Cleveland Browns QB Johnny Manziel had a big proponent last year in owner Jimmy Haslam, but Haslam now thinks the team needs a quarterback in order to get their [ More ]

Jimmy GrahamJan 23 10:32a

New Orleans Saints TE Jimmy Graham (shoulder) said he'll rehabilitate his shoulder injury after the Pro Bowl, but he hasn't made a final decision on surgery. 'It's something we [ More ]

Mark IngramJan 22 06:42p

New Orleans Saints RB Mark Ingram, who will be eligible for free agency this offseason, wants to return to the team next year, and he thinks the interest is [ More ]

Vernon DavisJan 22 06:22p

San Francisco 49ers TE Vernon Davis had just two touchdowns in 2014, and they both came in Week 1. He also wasn't targeted at all in the red zone [ More ]

Geno SmithJan 22 05:32p

New York Jets QB Geno Smith has a lot of talent and promise, according to new head coach Todd Bowles. At the same time, Bowles acknowledged that the quarterback [ More ]

Brian HoyerJan 22 04:52p

Cleveland Browns QB Brian Hoyer could be re-signed this offseason, according to his agent. Hoyer is expected to meet with general manager Ray Farmer and offensive coordinator John DeFilippo in the near future.

Johnny ManzielJan 22 02:43p

Cleveland Browns QB Johnny Manziel will be working with a new offensive coordinator this year in John DeFilippo, but DeFilippo is unsure if the team's quarterback next year is [ More ]

Joe FlaccoJan 22 12:52p

Baltimore Ravens QB Joe Flacco will have his fourth difference offensive coordinator in as many years in offensive coordinator Marc Trestman. However, head coach John Harbaugh is confident Flacco [ More ]

Tom BradyJan 22 10:12a

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady is now scheduled to speak to the media Thursday, Jan. 22, and he could come under fire due to the report of deflated [ More ]

Vontaze BurfictJan 21 09:03p

Cincinnati Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict (knee) has had knee surgery, head coach Marvin Lewis confirmed Wednesday, Jan. 21. While there has been concern Burfict might have to begin the [ More ]

Mike WallaceJan 21 09:03p

Miami Dolphins WR Mike Wallace's future with the team is unclear. General manager Dennis Hickey would not say Wednesday, Jan. 21, whether Wallace will be back or if his [ More ]

Johnny ManzielJan 21 04:43p

Cleveland Browns QB Johnny Manziel could benefit from new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, according to Oakland Raiders QB Derek Carr. Carr said DeFilippo will do great with Manziel, adding [ More ]

Richard ShermanJan 21 04:23p

Seattle Seahawks CB Richard Sherman (elbow) said he will practice in a brace, but should not have any limitations on gameday.

Marc TrestmanJan 21 03:53p

Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Marc Trestman said he wants to learn the specificities of the team's offense instead of changing it. Head coach John Harbaugh said Trestman's familiarity and [ More ]

Blake BortlesJan 21 03:43p

Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blake Bortles should be able to develop under new offensive coordinator Greg Olson, according to general manager Dave Caldwell. Caldwell said Olson has the ability to [ More ]

Blake BortlesJan 21 03:13p

Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blake Bortles developed bad habits and may need to start over, in the opinion of NFL Films guru Greg Cosell.

Latavius MurrayJan 21 12:53p

Oakland Raiders RB Latavius Murray is likely to be the team's lead back in 2015, and new offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave plans tailor his system to Murray's talents. Musgrave [ More ]

Peyton ManningJan 21 11:03a

Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning plans to return in 2015, pending the results of his annual physical, according to three sources The Denver Post's Woody Paige trusts. The test [ More ]

Rashad JenningsJan 21 10:23a

New York Giants RB Rashad Jennings could have a veteran running back to complement or compete with him next season. The team could possibly add a change-of-pace back and [ More ]

Trent RichardsonJan 21 09:13a

Indianapolis Colts RB Trent Richardson was suspended and deactivated for the AFC Championship Game Sunday, Jan. 18.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2015 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group