Dallas Cowboys: Marcus Spears


IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys' search for a possible replacement for Sean Lee has led them to Rolando McClain.

In 2010, the Oakland Raiders made McClain the eighth pick of the NFL draft. It never worked out for him with the Raiders for a variety of reasons, including some of his misdeeds. It never worked out for him in two short stints with the Baltimore Ravens that led to him retiring twice.

But he doesn't turn 25 until July 14.

The Cowboys are looking at a low-risk chance for a high-ceiling talent.

“He sounds as excited about football as I've ever heard him,” said McClain's agent, Pat Dye.

McClain
If that holds up, then the Cowboys might have found the guy to man the middle linebacker spot that opened when Lee tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in May. The Cowboys mostly worked veteran Justin Durant at Lee's spot in the organized team activities and minicamp, but dabbled with rookie Anthony Hitchens and second-year linebacker DeVonte Holloman at the spot.

Durant is an outside linebacker masking as a middle linebacker even if the coaches believe he can play all three linebacker positions. Holloman started two games at middle linebacker last year as a rookie out of desperation. Hitchens, a fourth-round pick, has a lot to learn.

McClain comes with a better resume than any of them, but his off-field issues -- a number of arrests since being drafted -- are a concern. The fact that he retired twice is a concern, but Dye's words offer encouragement that McClain, who ended Jason Witten's preseason in 2012 with a hit in a exhibition game that led to a lacerated spleen, knows this might be his last chance.

“I see, and Rolando sees, the Dallas situation as a great opportunity given Sean's injury, and you're talking about a great franchise and a great organization,” Dye said. “I've described to any of the clients we've had through the years there -- Emmitt Smith, Dexter Coakley, DeMarcus Ware, Marcus Spears, Keith Brooking, DeMarco Murray -- that playing for the Cowboys in football is kind of like playing for the Yankees in baseball. Just an iconic franchise. With kind of what he's done going back to his time with the Raiders, I think that all of this has led him to a point where he feels like the game is too important to him to give up. He's just 24 years old. He's very talented. He's very bright. Tough. Competitive. There's a reason he was a top-10 pick at a position that is almost impossible to be a top-10 pick. Hopefully this situation will go smoothly.”

Patience will be required. McClain has not played in a game since November 2012, after he was suspended for two games for conduct detrimental to the team. He has not taken part in a full offseason program. He will have to learn a new defense and a new team.

The Cowboys have taken these sorts of chances on former high draft picks before. In 2005, they signed Marc Colombo, who was the Chicago Bears' first-round pick in 2002, after he suffered a serious knee injury. In 2006, Colombo became the Cowboys' starting right tackle and held the spot through 2010.

Asking that of McClain is too much. He's on just a one-year deal and the Cowboys believe Lee will be 100 percent in 2015, but this is a chance worth taking.

And it falls in line with how the Cowboys have conducted their offseason business, spending wisely if not exorbitantly on guys such as Henry Melton, Terrell McClain, Jeremy Mincey, Anthony Spencer and Amobi Okoye.

Cowboys pick Ken Bishop in 7th

May, 10, 2014
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IRVING, Texas -- The pick: Ken Bishop, defensive tackle, Northern Illinois

My take: The Cowboys took their third defensive linemen of the draft in Bishop, who is 6 feet, 306 pounds. He fits as a run defender for a unit that struggled to stop the run too often in 2013. The Cowboys signed Terrell McClain as a free agent and have Nick Hayden, a starter last year, but Bishop had 70 tackles last season and was named a first-team All-MAC selection. He had 16.5 tackles for loss in two seasons with 3.5 sacks.

Notable: Bishop was among the national visitors the Cowboys hosted at Valley Ranch prior to the draft ... The last time the Cowboys took three defensive linemen in one draft was in 2005 when they took Marcus Spears, Chris Canty and Jay Ratliff.

Cowboys' 1991 draft earns high marks

April, 9, 2014
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IRVING, Texas -- There was a time when the way the Dallas Cowboys ran their draft room was the envy of the league.

One of those years was back in 1991 and Mike Tanier of Sports on Earth ranked the Cowboys selecting Russell Maryland and Alvin Harper that year as ninth best on the all-time list of teams with two first-round picks.

The Cowboys actually had three first-round picks that year thanks to a deal with the Washington Redskins, but traded Kelvin Pritchett to the Detroit Lions for picks in the second, third and fourth rounds.

In Maryland, the top overall pick, the Cowboys got a vital piece to their vastly underrated defensive line. In Harper, the No. 12 pick, they got a complement to Michael Irvin who Norv Turner knew how to maximize.

In trading Pritchett, who had a solid career, the Cowboys got linebacker Dixon Edwards, guard James Richards and defensive end Tony Hill. Edwards was a starter, but Hill lasted two seasons and Richards didn’t make the team.

The Cowboys had two first-round picks in 1992, 2005 and 2008 as well.

In 1992, they took cornerback Kevin Smith (No. 17) and linebacker Robert Jones (No. 24), who became starters on Super Bowl teams. In 2005, they took outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware (No. 11) and defensive tackle Marcus Spears (No. 20). Ware became the franchise’s all-time leader in sacks. In 2008, the Cowboys selected running back Felix Jones (No. 22) and cornerback Mike Jenkins (No. 25). Neither signed a second contract, although Jenkins had a Pro Bowl season.

Status has its privileges

April, 8, 2014
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IRVING, Texas – Back in the day American Express made famous the slogan, “Membership has its privileges.”

It was that iconic ad that popped into my head when I saw the picture of Tony Romo and Jason Witten in Jerry Jones’ suite at AT&T Stadium Monday night at the NCAA men’s basketball final with Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Running back DeMarco Murray was also in the suite, but not in the much-circulated photo.

I tweaked the ad some: status has its privileges.

New SEC Network hire and former Dallas Cowboys defensive end Marcus Spears sparked debate on Twitter Monday and it continued on Tuesday. Spears wondered if teammates of Romo and Witten would be upset to see them hanging with the presidents and celebrities.

Spears has a point, but if Cam Lawrence or Ronald Leary were upset Romo, Witten and Murray were in the suite, oh well. Should I be upset Chris Berman gets to play in the Pebble Beach Pro-Am every year and I don't? Oh well.

Status has its privileges in any line of work. Those three have status, especially Witten and Romo, and we don’t know who else was invited to sit in the power suite to see Connecticut beat Kentucky but unable to attend for whatever reason.

Witten and Romo have been with the Cowboys since 2003. Witten has been to the Pro Bowl nine times. He was named the NFL’s Man of the Year in 2012. Romo owns most of the Cowboys’ passing records and has been to three Pro Bowls. Jones has showed his faith in the quarterback by signing him to two big-time contract extensions. Murray is coming off his first Pro Bowl season.

As teams go, not all players are created equally. Jimmy Johnson didn’t treat Troy Aikman the same as he treated a third-string safety. Bill Parcells treated “his guys” differently than the other guys.

Too many people believe professional sports are entirely different than an office you or I may work in. There is office politics everywhere.

You like some people. You’re OK with some people. You distance yourself from some people. You loathe some people. But you do your job for the common good, be it winning football games or producing widgets.

It can be safely assumed Witten, Romo and Murray were invited by Jones to the suite. He’s the boss. He’s the guy who signs the checks. You have a chance to talk with Presidents Bush and Clinton and some other celebrity folks, would you say no to your boss because the guy in the next cubicle didn’t get invited?

Of course you wouldn’t.

To me, the question is should Jones have put those three guys in position to be perceived as above their teammates in a public way? I doubt the question even crossed Jones’ mind and I’m not sure it even needed to cross it. He was simply making a kind gesture to three of his top players -- and maybe more -- and they took him up on the offer.

If there are players that are upset, then, well, they’ll just have to get over it. But they should also realize Witten, Romo, who is also rehabbing from back surgery, and Murray have been working out at Valley Ranch well before the official start of the offseason program on April 21.

That’s what should matter most to them.

Like just about everything with the Cowboys, perception overrules reality. The perception of the photo might tell one story, but it doesn’t mean it’s the whole story.
Former Cowboys defensive end and new SEC Network football analyst Marcus Spears had an interesting comment Monday night on Twitter that sparked debate on the social media site. It also prompted a written piece by Spears on the Dallas Morning News' website in which he questioned the perception of the relationship between Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett and quarterback Tony Romo.



During the NCAA men's basketball national championship game, Romo, Garrett, Jason Witten and DeMarco Murray were seen in Jerry Jones' suite watching UConn-Kentucky along with former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

Spears brought up the visit of Garrett and Romo to the Duke campus for a men's game in March. The former Cowboys defender's question about whether the relationship sends a bad message to the rest of the team: Are Romo and Garrett too close?

A quarterback should have a close relationship with the head coach. There are many examples of that being a successful union with other NFL franchises. But we've also discovered close relationships can fall apart, which was the case with Robert Griffin III and Mike Shanahan in Washington.

Each relationship should be judged on its own merit. Garrett-Romo is a good one.

The reality of the relationship is this: Garrett, entering the final year of his contract, needs Romo to buy into the program more than ever. And Romo, who has more say than any Cowboys quarterback since Troy Aikman, is doing whatever he needs to build his relationship with the head coach.

The career paths of Romo and Garrett are similar so far, that of undrafted players who fought for everything they got on the field.

Garrett seems to gravitate to players with similar backgrounds.

When wide receiver Miles Austin was dealing with his hamstring issues last season and reporters began to question his commitment, Garrett defended him. Garrett mentioned Austin being an undrafted player from Monmouth University and how, despite all the money he's made, knows his place on the team.

There's nothing wrong with having a good relationship with the head coach. I believe Garrett-Romo is genuine.

However, things can go bad quickly.

If the Cowboys don't make the postseason, Garrett is most likely gone as head coach. It wouldn't make sense to keep a man who has failed to reach the postseason four consecutive seasons in charge. If Jones was about to fire Garrett, would Romo step in and say something?

Garrett and Romo hanging in the luxury suite of the owner with Witten and Murray doesn't send a bad message. You just wonder, where was Dez Bryant? Where was Henry Melton? Orlando Scandrick? Travis Frederick? Doug Free?

You can't put 51 guys in there. Well, maybe in Jerry's suite you can, but solidarity is an important aspect for NFL teams.

You'd hate to think that something like coach and owner personal relationships with players would lead to hard feelings among a team.

The Cowboys' brass needs to make sure it never comes to that.

Cowboys are getting younger

March, 12, 2014
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IRVING, Texas -- These are not your father's Dallas Cowboys, so to speak.

Once a team stocked with enough players to field a softball team in an over-30 league, the Cowboys are getting young.

With the releases of DeMarcus Ware and Miles Austin, the Cowboys have three starters over 30 years old in Tony Romo, who turns 34 next month, Jason Witten, who turns 32 in May and Doug Free, who turned 30 in January.

The only other thirty-somethings on the roster are backup quarterback Kyle Orton, who is 31, and long-snapper L.P. Ladouceur, who turns 33 on Thursday.

Not included on the list are free agents Anthony Spencer (30) and Jason Hatcher (31).

Ware turns 32 in July and Austin turns 30 in June.

The Cowboys have refused to use the word "rebuild" over the last three seasons but they have re-tooled their roster moving away from Leonard Davis, Kyle Kosier, Andre Gurode and Marc Colombo on the offensive line and Ware, Jay Ratliff, Marcus Spears and Kenyon Coleman on the defensive line.

They have made the decision to not restructure the contracts of Witten and Brandon Carr, who turns 28 in May, unless absolutely necessary so they do not push more money into the salary cap in future years.

For years people have called the NFL a young man's game. The Cowboys are moving to a younger man's team.

Ware will be more motivated than ever

March, 11, 2014
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IRVING, Texas -- It should not surprise anybody if DeMarcus Ware has a Pro Bowl season in 2014 -- wherever he ends up.

[+] EnlargeDeMarcus Ware
AP Photo/James D. SmithDeMarcus Ware, impacted by injuries in 2013, still has a passion to play and let his "actions speak" for themselves -- it'll just have to be with another team.
He turns 32 in July, is coming off elbow surgery and a career-low six sacks in 2013, but he will have a motivation to prove the Dallas Cowboys and the rest of the naysayers wrong.

It will be hard for the Cowboys to stomach because there will be noise from here, there and everywhere if Ware has a 15-sack season and is as dominant as ever, but it would not necessarily mean they made the wrong move in letting their all-time leader in sacks go. If anything, the Cowboys decided to make a move a year too early rather than a year too late by releasing Ware.

"I want to be quiet," Ware said almost a month ago before undergoing elbow surgery. "I just want to let my actions speak for themself. But I do chuckle a little bit because I know there’s a tornado coming."

When he arrived from Troy in 2005, there were some doubts that he could not only make the jump from that level of football to the NFL but from defensive end to outside linebacker. Bill Parcells did not have many doubts, even if he wanted Marcus Spears with the No. 11 pick. Parcells quickly mentioned Lawrence Taylor after the Cowboys took Ware, so I wouldn’t say he didn’t want Ware.

He had seven straight seasons with at least 11 sacks. He had seasons of 20 and 19.5 sacks.

But injuries knocked him down in 2012 and ’13. The Cowboys did not view this from only a 2013 prism only. Even though Ware had 11.5 sacks in 2012, they felt the decline had started.

The move to the 4-3 might have quickened the fall, but there are images of Ware I can’t get out of my head.

It is of Ware in Oxnard, Calif., in training camp. Day after day he repeatedly beat Tyron Smith. He did it in one-on-one pass-rush drills. He did it in team drills. He was the best player in training camp almost every day. Better than Dez Bryant. Better than Sean Lee. Better than Jason Witten. Better than Smith.

He had four sacks in his first three games but then the injuries piled up. Ware's practice time became limited and his production sank.

There is good football left in Ware. He showed it last summer against one of the best left tackles in football.

The Cowboys will only see it if the next team he signs with his is on their schedule or if they pay attention to the highlights.

Cowboys' dead money on salary cap

February, 12, 2014
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IRVING, Texas – A couple of weeks ago, Calvin Watkins gave you the top-10 salary-cap figures on the Dallas Cowboys. Last week, I gave you some salary-cap bargains.

Today we bring you the dead money that will be accounted for on the Cowboys’ 2014 salary cap.

They will have roughly $11.8 million in dead money, led by Jay Ratliff’s $6.928 million.

Two teams will have more dead money than the Cowboys (Carolina Panthers at $17.8 million, Buffalo Bills at $12.07 million). The Arizona Cardinals will have about $10 million in dead money.

The top-five “dead money” players remaining on the books for 2014 after Ratliff are: Nate Livings ($2.1 million), Marcus Spears ($1.4 million), Sean Lissemore ($1.2 million) and David Arkin ($113,400).

By the time the Cowboys have to get under the cap in March, there will be more dead money added after players are released. If the Cowboys cut DeMarcus Ware, they would have $8.5 million in dead money dedicated to Ware, but the move would save them nearly $7.4 million in cap space.

If they designate wide receiver Miles Austin as a June 1 cut, then the Cowboys would carry $2.749 million in dead money and Austin would count $5.1 million against the cap in 2015.
IRVING, Texas -- Since the Seattle Seahawks have won the Super Bowl, every team now has to copy what they did to win a title.

I’m guilty of making those comparisons the past few days. ESPN Dallas columnist Jean-Jacques Taylor made one today, repeating the “defense wins championships” phrase.

In order for the Dallas Cowboys to get back to Super Bowl respectability, Jerry Jones has to make defense a priority, according to my guy JJT.

I’d make the argument the Cowboys owner and general manager has made defense a priority. The investments just haven’t paid off.

In 2012, the Cowboys traded up to the sixth overall pick in the draft to take cornerback Morris Claiborne. That came a month after they gave cornerback Brandon Carr a five-year, $50 million contract. The Cowboys’ top three picks that year were defensive players.

In 2011, they drafted Bruce Carter in the second round and their only free-agent pickup that year was starting defensive end Kenyon Coleman. In 2010 they drafted Sean Lee in the second round. Last August they committed a $42 million contract to Lee.

In 2009, an ill-fated draft for sure, the Cowboys’ top pick was a linebacker. In 2008, they drafted cornerback Mike Jenkins in the first round and that came after they gave Terence Newman a $50 million contract.

In 2007, they drafted outside linebacker/defensive end Anthony Spencer in the first round. In 2012 and ’13, they used the franchise tag on Spencer, spending nearly $19 million on him. In 2006, four of their first six selections were on defensive players. In 2005, they used both first-round selections on defensive players (DeMarcus Ware, Marcus Spears) and four of their first five picks were used on defenders. Jay Ratliff was a seventh-round pick that year and the Cowboys signed him to two big-time contracts. The second was a colossal flop and he was released last October.

Ware received a $91 million extension in 2009. That same year they signed three defensive starters in free agency: Keith Brooking, Igor Olshansky and Gerald Sensabaugh.

Defense has been a priority. They just haven’t got the return on their investments.

Win or lose, jobs at stake Sunday vs. Eagles

December, 23, 2013
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IRVING, Texas -- As thrilling as Sunday’s 24-23 win against the Washington Redskins was, it might have only delayed the inevitable for the Dallas Cowboys.

Ware
Ware
With a loss this week against the Philadelphia Eagles in a third straight NFC East championship game, there will be change. Actually, win or lose there will be changes, because that is just the nature of the NFL. How grand and how widespread are the questions.

Speculation abounds about Jason Garrett’s future. Twice in the past two weeks Garrett said he is focused on doing his job to the best of his ability. There is nothing else he really can say. Would Jerry Jones have the patience to bring Garrett back for a fourth season after three crushing Week 17 losses?

After last season’s loss to the Washington Redskins, Jones promised an uncomfortable season for everyone in the organization ... not named Jones.

Would it have made a difference if the Cowboys beat the Redskins last season? Would Jones have stayed with the status quo? They didn’t win, so changes were made.

Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan was fired. So was running backs coach Skip Peete. Special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis was allowed to leave for the Chicago Bears. Garrett’s brother, John, was allowed to leave for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Wide receivers coach Jimmy Robinson was named “senior coaching consultant,” however, he has not been seen at one practice the entire season.

Ryan’s replacement, Monte Kiffin, would appear to be on thin ice after this historically bad season as the Cowboys switched to the 4-3. He has consistently said retirement is not in his plans, but at 73 years old that could change quickly.

Players, like Gerald Sensabaugh, Marcus Spears, Lawrence Vickers and Dan Connor, were cut in the offseason. Doug Free had his base salary cut in half. Players like DeMarcus Ware and Miles Austin could be in the crosshairs this year win or lose to the Eagles.

A lot is at stake against the Eagles, and for some people it could be more than just a playoff spot.

Cowboys get $2 million in cap space

June, 2, 2013
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Remember when the Dallas Cowboys released defensive end Marcus Spears? Of course you do.

PODCAST
Ed Werder joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss the leaked Dallas Cowboys' draft board, Dez Bryant's relationship with Michael Jordan and if Jason Garrett's job will be safe if the Cowboys make the playoffs in 2013.

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Spears was designated as a post-June 1 cut, giving the Cowboys $2 million in salary cap space.

Well, the team gets that extra money now, and, added up the savings with the pay cut tackle Doug Free accepted, the team picked up $5.5 million in savings.

The Cowboys can use this extra cap space to take care of middle linebacker Sean Lee, who is entering the final year of his contract, and maybe even outside linebacker Bruce Carter. The team can also make moves to secure the services of wide receiver Dez Bryant or grab another free agent.

It's doubtful the Cowboys extend Bryant and Carter right now considering each has two years left on their deals.

But Lee seems to be a logical choice and talks could happen during training camp and continue through the season.
ARLINGTON, Texas -- While the main discussions on Wednesday surrounded right tackle Doug Free's status, defensive tackle Jason Hatcher talked about his own contract status.

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Fitzsimmons & Durrett discuss the latest Cowboys news, including DeMarco Murray's running style, Miles Austin's new exercise routine and Jason Hatcher's confidence in the defensive line.

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Hatcher, who will be paid $2 million in 2013, is in the final year of his contract. No contract talks have started between the sides.

"I'm sure I want to be back," Hatcher said after winning a charity home run derby event at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. "You can't make guys want you. You got to go out and perform. Sometimes it's a numbers thing, sometimes it's a money thing. Hopefully I will be back."

The Cowboys have let some homegrown defensive linemen leave in the past, from Chris Canty to Stephen Bowen.

Former first-round pick Marcus Spears was tendered twice and eventually received a second contract from the Cowboys, before getting released after the 2012 season. Spears signed with the Baltimore Ravens this offseason.

Hatcher has become a dependable member of the Cowboys defensive line and will change positions, moving from end to tackle, in 2013. The Cowboys had a chance to draft a defensive tackle in the NFL draft last week but declined.

"I love the state I’m in," Hatcher said. "I love the organizaton. I love my teammates. I'm going to go out here and play my butt off; that's what they pay me to do. I'm not going to worry about a contract at all."

Can Cowboys afford to sign a tackle?

May, 1, 2013
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I get the sense that Dallas Cowboys fans would feel better about the team if it signed one of these free-agent offensive tackles. Tyson Clabo and Eric Winston are the names you're hearing, and it's pretty obvious either would be an upgrade over Doug Free. Neither has yet signed elsewhere, so there's no real reason to panic. But with all of the salary cap problems the Cowboys have had this offseason it's understandable to worry whether they can afford to sign one of these guys.

Calvin Watkins reports, however, that the Cowboys have more than $5 million in cap room at the present time, not counting the $2 million they'll get in June when the release of Marcus Spears takes effect and not counting the $7 million (post-June 1) they could save by cutting Free. This would seem to indicate that they can sign someone like Clabo and still sign their draft picks (especially since their first-rounder ended up being No. 31 and not No. 18, a distinction likely to save them somewhere around $300,000 against this year's cap). The picks don't need to be under contract prior to June 1, so the Cowboys can wait until then to take care of that even if they sign Clabo in the meantime.

PODCAST
ESPN Dallas' Jean-Jacques Taylor weighs in on Jerry Jones' remarks regarding Tony Romo's work ethic, Romo's commitment to being the Cowboys' QB and more.

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The issue appears to be Free, and how they handle his contract situation. It's easy for us to sit here and say they should cut him based on the way he's played since they signed him two offseasons ago. But the Cowboys don't like to give up on their guys, and it's likely they'd prefer to keep Free at a much lower salary and as a backup tackle. If Free would agree to the pay cut now, they'd add to their cap room and could make a move on a Clabo with more clarity about their overall 2013 cap situation. But if Free won't agree to the pay cut the Cowboys have in mind, then they're a month away from being able to cut him and things could get held up.

As you know, I like the move the Cowboys made to take center/guard Travis Frederick in the first round last week. Along with fellow first-rounder Tyron Smith, he'll give the Cowboys at least two offensive line starters about whom they can feel good. Adding a veteran such as Clabo, whom they appear to like, would up that number to three, and then they could throw a bunch of Phil Costa/Mackenzy Bernadeau/Nate Livings types into the mix for the other two spots and hope that competition pushes two of them to play better.

The Cowboys have enough talent on their roster to be a playoff team in 2013, but they have to get better offensive line play in order to cash in on that. Step 1 was the first round of the draft. Step 2 remains up in the air. But it appears they do have the resources to pull it off.
The Dallas Cowboys were almost $20 million over the salary cap when the offseason began, but the restructuring of contracts and releasing of some players put the team in a better situation after the NFL draft.

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Baylor head coach Art Briles joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss what kind of player the Cowboys are getting in Terrance Williams.

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The Cowboys are a little more than $5 million under the salary cap. They will pick up an additional $2 million when the release of defensive end Marcus Spears takes effect June 1.

That means the Cowboys will have $7 million available to sign draft picks and free agents. That figure could increase if right tackle Doug Free is released (saving $7 million) or takes a pay cut (an undetermined amount of savings).

Defensive end Anthony Spencer is under contract for $10.6 million, but his cap number could be decreased if he is signed to a long-term deal.

The Cowboys want to have salary-cap space during the season in the event obtaining a veteran free agent is necessary due to injury. Last season, the Cowboys signed Charlie Peprah, Brady Poppinga, Brian Schaefering, Ernie Sims and Anthony Armstrong because of injuries.

Right now, the Cowboys are on target to have enough space to take care of draft picks and free agents before and during the season.
IRVING, Texas – Jerry Jones basically bought an ad in the NFL classifieds during Monday’s pre-draft press conference, sending out the message that the Cowboys could be in trade-down mode when they get on the clock with the 18th overall pick.

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Randy Galloway, Matt Mosley and Glenn "Stretch" Smith discuss some of the players the Cowboys should be looking at in the upcoming NFL draft.

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That news was met with a lot of moaning and groaning from Cowboys fans.

How can you be adamantly against trading down if you have no idea what the offer might be or which players might be available? Folks just don’t trust GM Jerry.

Should they in this situation? Let’s look at the Cowboys’ history of trading down in the first round during the Jerry era.

1991 -- No. 14 overall (obtained from New Orleans – RB Leonard Russell) to New England for No. 17 overall (traded to Washington – DT Bobby Wilson) and No. 110 overall (DE Kevin Harris).

No. 17 overall (Wilson) to Washington for No. 20 overall (traded to Detroit -- DT Kelvin Pritchett) and No. 132 overall (Darrick Brownlow).

No. 20 overall (Pritchett) to Detroit for No. 37 overall (LB Dixon Edwards), No. 64 overall (G James Richards) and No. 108 overall (DE Tony Hill).

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How close were the Cowboys to getting John Elway in 1983? Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss what could have been if John Elway got his wish and was traded to Dallas.

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These three deals have to be judged essentially as one. After all the wheeling and dealing was done, the Cowboys turned the 14th overall pick into a second-round linebacker who started for two Super Bowl title teams (Edwards), a third-round guard who never played an NFL game (Richards), a fourth-round defensive end who played 13 games in two NFL seasons (Hill) and a fifth-round linebacker who made 11 tackles in two separate one-year stints in Dallas (Brownlow).

This was a case of great value on Jimmy Johnson’s trade chart and essentially a push in reality. Russell ended up being a decent running back, rushing for 3,973 yards and 29 touchdowns in his career, and it’s not as if the Cowboys passed on a Hall of Famer who went later in the first round. Edwards contributed to three title teams, starting for two.

This deal would have been a steal if the Cowboys selected offensive tackle Erik Williams at No. 64 overall. They ended up drafting him six picks later.

1993 -- No. 29 overall (S George Teague) and No. 112 overall (Albert Fontenot) to Green Bay for No. 46 overall (WR Kevin Williams), No. 54 overall (LB Darrin Smith), No. 94 overall (RB Derrick Lassic) and No. 213 overall (LB Reggie Givens).

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Nate Newton went undrafted in 1983, but he still feels like he was part of one of the greatest draft classes in league history. Newton joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss his draft experience from 30 years ago and his journey to three rings.

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Both of the second-round picks the Cowboys acquired contributed to two Super Bowl title teams. Williams was a quality punt and kick returner who started at receiver for the Cowboys’ last championship team, setting career highs with 38 catches for 613 yards and two touchdowns that season. Smith started all four of his seasons in Dallas.

Teague had a solid nine-year career, but he ended up spending most of that in Dallas anyway. Fontenot also lasted nine NFL seasons, making 81 starts. Lassic lasted 10 games, and Givens never played for the Cowboys.

Give the Cowboys a win for this deal, but it wasn’t lopsided by any measure.

1995 -- No. 28 overall (LB Derrick Brooks) to Tampa Bay for No. 41 overall (traded to Atlanta – DB Ron Davis) and No. 63 overall (OG Shane Hannah).

All Brooks did in Tampa Bay was go to 11 Pro Bowls, be named first-team All-Pro five times, win a Super Bowl and establish himself as one of the best linebackers of his generation.

Hannah started the Cowboys’ tradition of early-round offensive line busts, getting hurt in training camp and never playing a game in the NFL. They flipped Davis for a second-rounder (RB Sherman Williams) and fourth-rounder (TE Eric Bjornson), a couple of backups who combined for 10 career touchdowns.

This might be the worst draft-day deal the Cowboys ever made.

1996 -- No. 30 overall (Andre Johnson) to Washington for No. 37 overall (DE Kavika Pittman) and No. 67 overall (C Clay Shiver).

Pittman made 18 sacks in eight NFL seasons (10 in four seasons for the Cowboys). Shiver started 25 games, but that was evidence of how weak the Cowboys were at center, as he was out of the league after three years.

Johnson was a huge bust for the Redskins. He never played a game in Washington.

The Cowboys would have been better off staying put and drafting Texas product Tony Brackens in the first round. Brackens, picked No. 33 overall by Jacksonville, had 55 sacks and 27 forced fumbles in his eight-year career.

2002 -- No. 6 overall (DT Ryan Sims) to Kansas City for No. 8 overall (SS Roy Williams), No. 75 overall (CB Derek Ross) and a sixth-round pick in 2003 (WR Zuriel Smith).

A couple of Williams’ five Pro Bowl berths were reputation selections after his performance fell off, but he was a dominant force as a playmaking intimidator early in his career. That’s much more than you can say for Sims, who only had one more sack in his career than Williams did.

Ross looked like a steal when he had five picks as a rookie, but the character red flags that caused him to drop into the third round proved true. Bill Parcells got rid of him midway through Ross’ second season. Smith played nine games for the Cowboys, contributing primarily as a return specialist.

This was a good deal for Dallas, just not nearly the steal it seemed destined to be during the rookie seasons of Williams and Ross.

2004 -- No. 22 overall (QB J.P. Losman) to Buffalo for No. 43 overall (RB Julius Jones), No. 144 overall (TE Sean Ryan) and a 2005 first-rounder (DE Marcus Spears).

Spears was a serviceable player for the last eight seasons. Ryan was a nonfactor during his two years in Dallas.

But this deal comes down to Steven Jackson vs. Julius Jones.

The Cowboys decided, based strongly on the input of running backs coach Maurice Carthon, that there wasn’t much difference between the top back on the board and the backs who would be available in the second round.

Jackson has rushed for 10,135 yards and counting, more than twice as many as Jones ran for during his career. Jackson has accounted for 64 touchdowns, almost three times Jones’ total.

Oops.

2007 -- No. 22 overall (QB Brady Quinn) to Cleveland for No. 36 overall (traded to Philadelphia – QB Kevin Kolb) and a 2008 first-rounder (RB Felix Jones).

The Cowboys were tempted to pick Quinn, who they had in the top 10 on their board, but they opted to fully commit to a quarterback with 10 starts under his belt named Tony Romo. Considering that Quinn is with his fourth team and Romo just got $55 million guaranteed, it’s pretty clear that was the right call.

The Cowboys moved back into the first round to select OLB/DE Anthony Spencer, giving up third- and fifth-rounders to do so. No regrets there, with Spencer a solid player coming off his first Pro Bowl appearance and Kolb failing to make an impact in Philadelphia.

This deal would have looked like a stroke of genius if the Cowboys picked Chris Johnson, Matt Forte, Ray Rice or Jamaal Charles the next year. Alas, they selected an Arkansas alum to be a change-of-pace back. Felix Jones had some flashes of brilliance, but his Dallas tenure was a pretty big disappointment given the quality of backs picked behind him.

This was still a solid deal for Dallas.

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