Jerry Jones sat in his luxury bus during the NFL scouting combine and declared that the Cowboys would undergo significant changes in the coming months.
“We’re not comfortable, I’m not comfortable,” Jerry said. “There is no fear of standing pat here. We’re not caught up in the fact that by some definition we had a good season. We did plan ahead and get some of our key players under contract. But in the NFL, there has got to be change.
“One of the biggest challenges I’ve got in my role here is to be an agent of change this year. We have got to look for ways to make changes.”
He followed through on his word by cutting two high-dollar veteran starters (Flozell Adams and Ken Hamlin) and orchestrating an all-but-official deal to ship first-round bust Bobby Carpenter to St. Louis.
But how significant have the Cowboys’ changes been this offseason? Where have they really upgraded?
The Cowboys are gambling that Doug Free will be better than the aging Adams at left tackle, with soon-to-arrive ex-Ram Alex Barron as the backup plan. While Adams isn’t the tackle he used to be, you’d have a tough time arguing that the inexperienced Free or the underachieving Barron is a clear upgrade.
The Cowboys still could decide to dip their toe in the free agent market to find Hamlin’s replacement. (O.J. Atogwe, a Ram who will probably become unrestricted in June, is an option but wouldn’t come cheap.) However, for the time being, the plan is to let Alan Ball and Mike Hamlin fight for the starting job.
Ball, the frontrunner, is a converted cornerback who did a solid job in four games as the fill-in starter last season. Hamlin (no relation to Ken) is a second-year player with good size, great ball skills and zero snaps of NFL safety experience. Again, it’s tough to argue that this is an upgrade.
The only obvious upgrades came through the draft. Dez Bryant will be a more dynamic No. 3 receiver and punt returner than Patrick Crayton. Sean Lee should be a better nickel linebacker than Carpenter.
But if the Cowboys are a better team next season, it’s likely to be more about the progress of young players on the roster than the offseason changes.