Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Dallas Cowboys [Print without images]

Monday, March 11, 2013
Cowboys could be quiet in free agency

By Calvin Watkins

The Cowboys will enter free agency Tuesday afternoon as spectators in the early going.

PODCAST
Todd Archer joins Galloway & Company to discuss the Cowboys' latest moves, if the team should extend Tony Romo's contract and much more.

Listen Listen
That's ok because, after all, sometimes fans forget what happened the previous year.

Last year many fans wanted the Cowboys to jettison Terence Newman from the team. After that occurred, the Cowboys spent $50.1 million -- the most for a cornerback in franchise history -- on Brandon Carr.

Cowboys fans wanted upgrades to the offensive line, and Jerry Jones delivered by spending more than $30 million on guards Nate Livings and Mackenzy Bernadeau.

Lawrence Vickers was expected to be upgrade at fullback last season and the Cowboys signed him to a two-year deal worth $2.4 million.

Jon Kitna bothered the Cowboys' faithful because of his age and declining skill set; forget about the fact he was a respected member in the locker room. Enter Kyle Orton, who lost his starting job to Tim Tebow the previous season in Denver, to take over as Tony Romo's backup. Orton signed a three-year, $10.5 million contract.

The Cowboys made their free-agency play last spring, upgrading the cornerback, guard, fullback and backup quarterback positions.

All it got them was an 8-8 season and a seat at home watching the playoffs.

You can't expect the Cowboys to become big players every year in free agency. The team was nearly $20 million over the salary cap when the season ended and you can't expect the franchise to cut everybody because it comes with a price. Dead money hits you the next year or two depending on when a player is released from his contract.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Cowboys will get under the cap. They've agreed to restructure the contracts of Livings, Orlando Scandrick and Jay Ratliff. There's a chance Dan Connor and Marcus Spears will be sent packing.

In Connor's case, a pay cut was offered a week ago, but nothing has transpired along that front. Sending Spears home saves just $600,000. But finding the right fit for Spears (defensive end or defensive tackle) could be the main reason he's released.

At this stage of the offseason the two most important financial plays for the Cowboys are defensive end Anthony Spencer and Romo. Romo will likely get a long-term deal at some point, mainly to reduce his team-high $16.8 million salary cap.

Spencer, who received the franchise tag, wants to remain with the Cowboys long term. Whether he will get a big-money deal from the Cowboys is uncertain.

As of today, the Cowboys are nearly $6.8 million over the salary cap. Depending on how much gets done by Tuesday afternoon, the Cowboys might not have much room to play with in free agency. So while other teams are holding press conferences and flying players to their facilities, things will be quiet at Valley Ranch and Cowboys Stadium.

It's not the end of the world. Just the reality of the situation.