- Calvin Watkins, ESPN Staff Writer
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After reading Todd Archer's fine work from Indianapolis the last few days, here are some thoughts on what was said regarding the Dallas Cowboys:
1. Stephen Jones says there's a possibility of moving Doug Free to one of the guard spots. Why? Free seems more poised to play tackle and didn't play well at that position in 2012. It might be more of the Cowboys trying to keep Free on the roster while sliding Jermey Parnell into the starting right tackle spot. However, what was the point of singing Nate Livings and Mackenzey Bernardeau to contracts worth $30 million last spring if you're giving up on them now? I didn't think Livings played bad, and Bernadeau improved as the season progressed. The Cowboys, however, do have a propensity to hold on to players too long. (Terrell Owens, Marion Barber, Flozell Adams and Marc Colombo are just of the names.) If Free didn't play well in 2012 and Parnell seems to have a better future, then move on from Free.
2. Jerry Jones wants the credit if and when the Cowboys turn things around and reach the Super Bowl. Jones sounds like a man frustrated with the criticism he's taken over the years and dumbfounded about why the organization can't move forward. It seemed the Cowboys were moving in a positive direction under Bill Parcells, but after that 2006 playoff loss to Seattle the Cowboys' window for whatever reason started to close. The next season, the Cowboys reached the playoffs as the No. 1 seed only to get bounced out of the postseason by the New York Giants. From there the Cowboys have been mediocre. You can say the 2009 season was a positive, but Tony Romo couldn't outplay an aging Brett Favre on the road in the divisional round of the playoffs in Minnesota. It seems the window on this current Cowboys team has closed and maybe Jones is trying to open it again, but he's having trouble doing it.
3. Jerry Jones said he doesn't believe he's in the same financial ballpark as Anthony Spencer. The team is more than $20 million over the salary cap and, yes, they can structure things to pay Spencer, but do they believe Spencer is worth $10-12 million per year on average? I think not. The Cowboys' front office has done nothing but praise Spencer's work of the last year. The team doesn't love him enough to pay him.
4. It was good to hear Stephen Jones talk about adding a running back in the draft or through free agency. Reggie Bush has been mentioned, but he may not come cheap. Mel Kiper Jr. has given South Carolina's Marcus Lattimore a third-round grade. Maybe that's an option. The Cowboys can't go into this draft thinking they should draft a backup to DeMarco Murray. The Cowboys have to enter this drafting selecting people who can become starters or want to become starters. If Lattimore is there in Round 2? Get him. Round 3? Get him.
5. The safety position, we thought, was solidified last season with Barry Church and Gerald Sensabaugh. The current salary cap situation has made things less stable. Sensabaugh's $3 million base salary becomes fully guaranteed if he's on the roster March 12, the start of the league year. If Sensabaugh is released the Cowboys save $1.4 million. If that happens, the Cowboys better draft a safety early. (Please don't mention a veteran because the Cowboys have been there and done that.) Matt Johnson didn't play a lick last season because of hamstring injuries, but the Cowboys believe he's got playmaking ability and were impressed by him during the brief time he practiced. Johnson better make some plays next season after the Cowboys kept him on the active roster for all of 2012.