Dallas Cowboys: Jonathan Cooper

Stephen Jones understands trade angst

April, 26, 2013
IRVING, Texas – Thursday’s trade down with San Francisco was the 60th draft-day trade of the Jerry Jones era.

The Cowboys’ decision to move down from No. 18 to 31 and pick up an extra third-round pick was met with curiosity as was the player the Cowboys took at No. 31, center Travis Frederick.

Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones understands some of the angst.

“It’s never going to be popular when you move down,” Jones said. “Everybody thinks we’re, ‘Oh, my God, we get to make a trade. Let’s move down.’ That’s not what we were hoping for, but to me you don’t pay for the hoopla. You can’t get into that. And you’ve got to manage your draft. We felt like the best decision for us was to go do the right thing, pick up a pick and take a player that fits what we needed in the first round. That brings some value for that pick. Now we lost a few guys that maybe would’ve been a little but higher than Frederick, but they didn’t make it to 31.”

Among those players were safety Eric Reid, who went at No. 18 to San Francisco, guard Justin Pugh, who went to the New York Giants at No. 19 and wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, who went to Minnesota at No. 29.

Jones said the Cowboys only options to trade up were for guards Jonathan Cooper or Chance Warmack.

“We needed players,” Jones said. “We didn’t need to be going up and giving up ur picks with where we are under the salary cap right now,” Jones said. “We needed to be more focused on staying where we are or going the other way because we do need to infuse some young players on this team.”

How the Cowboys' trade went down

April, 26, 2013

IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys exchanged numerous calls with NFL teams about moving down from the 18th position of the first round. Team executive vice president Stephen Jones said there was competition for the selection.

There was more value gained by the Cowboys by moving from No. 18 to No. 31 and picking up an extra third round pick (74th overall).


What grade do you give the Cowboys for how they handled first round?


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"Well, you can make a hard quick decision, too," Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said. "We had gone over every scenario you could imagine over the last few days. These (scouts) do a good job of what ifs, but then we obviously analyze perspective and saw San Francisco there with two (third round picks). So they're certainly candidates to move down and keep us in the range that we wanted to be in."

The Cowboys had first-round grades on 19 players and there were only two players -- projected to be Chance Warmack and Jonathan Cooper -- that were worth moving up into the top 10. With Warmack (drafted at No. 10) and Cooper (drafted at No. 7) off the board, the Cowboys elected to stay put for the moment. When it was finally time to pick, the Cowboys graded Frederick higher than Syracuse guard Justin Pugh, who went after the 49ers selected Eric Reid at 18.

Galloway & Company react to the Cowboys trading down in the NFL draft and their first-round pick Travis Frederick. They also discuss Jerry Jones' comments on why the Cowboys did not select Sharrif Floyd.

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Stephen Jones said the team like Reid, and he most likely was the second-highest safety behind Texas' Kenny Vaccaro on Dallas' draft board. But Stephen Jones said there was more value to get an extra third-round pick than to select Reid in the first round.

When it came time to select at No. 31, Frederick was the highest-ranked player on the Cowboys' draft board. Frederick had a second-round grade, but the team felt justified getting him at No. 31 after ranking him as the 22nd overall prospect.

"Bottom line, we were very true to our grading (players)," Jerry Jones said. "Very true to the grading of our scouts and very true to what we were trying to accomplish. We did draft to our board."

Cowboys trade down to No. 31

April, 25, 2013
IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys made their 60th draft day trade under owner/general manager Jerry Jones on Thursday night.


Did the Cowboys make the right move trading down in the first round?


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The Cowboys switched spots with San Francisco, moving from No. 18 to No. 31 in the first round. The Cowboys also acquired a third-round pick, the 74th overall selection.

The 49ers drafted LSU safety Eric Reid with the 18th pick of the first round.

Dallas was interested in several players, including Sheldon Richardson, Kenny Vaccaro, Chance Warmack and Jonathan Cooper, but those players were off the board by the time the Cowboys' turn came to pick.

However, the Cowboys left highly-regarded Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd and defensive tackle Sylvester Williams on the board.

The Cowboys have two third-round picks, 74th and 80 overall.

Playing out Cowboys' scenarios at No. 18

April, 25, 2013
IRVING, Texas – With the 18th pick in the first round, the Cowboys could make their pick sometime around 10 p.m. That’s a lot of time to sit around and wait.

Todd Archer joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss what we can expect in the first round of the NFL draft and how it relates to the Dallas Cowboys.

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Throughout the week, the Cowboys have run through every possible scenario so when they are on the clock (or even a little earlier than that) they will have a pick ready. It’s like going in with multiple game plans on a Sunday.

Best-case scenario: Somehow, some way Jonathan Cooper or Chance Warmack are available. History says they will there because five offensive linemen have not gone so early in thirty-plus years, but it seems like there is a lot of evidence to the contrary.

Cooper would be the preference but Warmack would be a nice pickup, too. They would walk in as Day 1 starters, which has become something of a catch-phrase around the Cowboys here this week. They would upgrade the weakest part of the team.

The only way this happens is if a quarterback or two or a wide receiver or two go early. Perhaps a running back. They need some unexpected moves that would push Warmack (most likely) down to them.

Likely scenario: The Cowboys take a defensive lineman, like Sheldon Richardson or Sylvester Williams, or safety Kenny Vaccaro.

As of this moment, I believe they would take Richardson if they cannot move back and the offensive linemen are gone. He can play both interior spots with the idea of him becoming the Warren Sapp for this Monte Kiffin defense. Williams is more of the traditional run stopper. Both would bring value to the defense.

Vaccaro is the top safety and he would fill an immediate need. Does he slip to No. 18? The Cowboys worked him out privately and had him at Valley Ranch for a visit.

Of the three, Williams figures to be the guy most likely to be available.

Second-best case scenario: Trade down in the first round and pick up extra picks.

Some might believe this would be the best-case scenario, but the offensive line needs big help.

If the Cowboys can move down, then that would open up more players to them and fit with their draft board more. They are in a no-man’s land right now where there is a gap in talent.

Depending on how far back they go, this would give the Cowboys looks at offensive lineman D.J. Fluker and Justin Pugh, defensive end Bjoern Werner and safeties Eric Reid and Jonathan Cyprien.

A pick of Fluker would seem to mean Doug Free would not be back. Pugh could be a walk-in starter at guard. Werner would fill a need as a backup defensive end with the eye on him starting in the future with Anthony Spencer on a one-year deal. Reid and Cyprien would be walk-in starters, too.

Worst-cast scenario: Everybody listed above is gone and they can’t trade down.

They must be willing to make a pick and this is where Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert comes into the mix. He could be their best player available but drafting a first-round tight end doesn’t help them that much in 2013 or give Jason Garrett the best chance to win now.

Eifert will be a terrific player, but Garrett has not shown the ability to work multiple tight end packages effectively like New England has. The Cowboys couldn’t make it work with second-rounders Anthony Fasano or Martellus Bennett behind Jason Witten.

Wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, Werner, Cyprien and Fluker would also be in this mix. Picking any of them at No. 18 would likely be higher than the Cowboys would want.

First-round preview: Dallas Cowboys

April, 25, 2013
Where they're picking: No. 18

Conventional wisdom tells us the top six offensive linemen will be gone by 18, depriving the Cowboys of the chance to address their most significant short-term and long-term need. The mock drafts in which this happens have the Cowboys taking a defensive tackle such as Sheldon Richardson or Sylvester Williams at No. 18, and some are still connecting the Cowboys with Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro, since safety is a need as well. Everybody seems to agree that the Cowboys' dream scenario is that they get one of the draft's top two guards, either Chance Warmack or Jonathan Cooper, but no one seems to think either will fall to 18.

Ed Werder joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett live from Kansas City to discuss Jerry Jones' attendance at the Bush Library on NFL draft day, what he expects the Chiefs to do with the No. 1 pick and tell a funny tale about Bill Clinton and Jerry Jones.

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History tells us that the conventional wisdom is wrong. The last time six offensive linemen went in the top 17 picks was 1966, when the league only had 15 teams in it. Guards don't tend to go early, since most teams don't assign top-half-of-first-round value to that position. History tells us the Cowboys will be able to get offensive line help if they want it in the first round. But history also tells us that the Cowboys tend to pick out a guy they really like in the first round (Dez Bryant, Tyron Smith and Morris Claiborne are the recent examples) and do what they can to get him.

They probably won't end up with Vaccaro. First of all, it's possible he goes earlier than 18 (say, to St. Louis at 16). Second of all, their needs on the lines and the comparative value at those positions likely will push them to take a linemen of one sort or the other in a draft whose second round is packed with starting-caliber safeties. Sure, it's possible Vaccaro is this year's Jerry Jones crush and there's nothing anyone else in the braintrust can do to talk him out of it. But I'd be surprised if they end up with the Texas safety.

They could shock us by taking a tight end. The Blogfather, Matt Mosley, says he's been hearing the Cowboys love Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert, and if that's the case they could be making plans to move up to get him. While that would seem silly with Jason Witten still in place and at the top of his game, it's not completely crazy to find another weapon for Tony Romo in the passing game. If Eifert is the Cowboys' best player available, they could go for it. It would be foolish, and would leave them too short in too many other areas, but I'm not sure that would stop them.

My prediction: I'm leaning on history here and saying the mocks are all wrong and the Cowboys are going to be able to get one of those guards. Since we're making a pick, I'll say it's Chance Warmack who falls either all the way to 18 or at least into the 14-15 range that would allow them to make a sensible, cost-effective trade-up to get him. Not like last year's trade for Claiborne, which cost them their second-round pick, but maybe for a later-round pick or even a 2014 one.

Names to keep an eye on for Cowboys

April, 25, 2013
IRVING, Texas – Over the last few years, the Cowboys’ top-30 visitors before the draft have been a good indicator into who they end up selecting.

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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Guys like Dez Bryant, Sean Lee, Tyrone Crawford and Matt Johnson, among others, visited Valley Ranch and ended up getting picked by the team.

Here is the list of this year’s invites to keep handy for the next three days:

S Kenny Vaccaro, Texas
S Jonathan Cyprien, Florida International
S Eric Reid, LSU
G Chance Warmack, Alabama
RB Le’Veon Bell, Michigan State
RB Joseph Randle, Oklahoma State
DL Sheldon Richardson, Missouri
RB Knile Davis, Arkansas
G Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina
OL Justin Pugh, Syracuse
DT Kawann Short, Purdue
DT Jordan Hill, Penn State
C Travis Frederick, Wisconsin
S Phillip Thomas, Fresno State
WR DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson
LB Sio Moore, Connecticut
LB Gerald Hodges, Penn State
CB B.W Webb, William & Mary
WR Charles Johnson, Grand Valley State
RB Giovani Bernard, North Carolina
OL Kyle Long, Oregon
S J.J. Wilcox, Georgia Southern
LB Brandon Magee, Arizona State
TE D.C. Jefferson, Rutgers
TE Dion Sims, Michigan State
WR Markus Wheaton, Oregon State
S Jakar Hamilton, South Carolina State
DT Bennie Logan, LSU

Should the Cowboys trade up for a guard?

April, 25, 2013

IRVING, Texas – In an ideal world the Cowboys would love to see Jonathan Cooper or Chance Warmack be available with the No. 18 pick in the first round.

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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Some might call that a fantasy world.

So do the Cowboys trade up, even a smidge, to get one of them in tonight’s first round?

With so many teams reportedly looking to move down, the cost might not be so prohibitive. I’ve been fairly strong in my belief that the Cowboys need as many early picks as possible, but if it costs a fourth-rounder to move up a couple of spots I could be talked into it.

But there is also this to remember from last year’s draft: high-level people with the team last year felt taking guard David DeCastro at No. 14 was too high. Pittsburgh took DeCastro with the No. 24 pick.

If they felt No. 14 was too rich for the best guard in last year’s draft, then does it make sense to trade up higher than that for this year’s top guards?

Some believe DeCastro was a better prospect than Cooper and Warmack. Others believe differently. It’s not clear how the Cowboys compare the players. An element to the decision has to be the position. Rightly or wrongly safeties and guards are not as valued as other positions.

Unlike last year’s draft, this year’s crop of players does not have the top-end skill players. Perhaps that has pushed Cooper and Warmack up the boards of many teams. Perhaps that’s why DeCastro was available at No. 24 last year.

Last year the Cowboys had just paid decent money to Nate Livings and Mackenzy Bernadeau in free agency before the draft. Why take a guard in the first round when you just gave Livings a $3.5 million signing bonus and Bernadeau a $3.25 million bonus?

This year the Cowboys know what they have in Livings and Bernadeau, which could make them more inclined to go the guard route this year even if it costs them a little bit more.
With the 18th pick of the NFL draft, the Dallas Cowboys will select ...

With that, we look at five players that the Cowboys might select with their first-round pick Thursday night:

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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1. Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina: Highly-regarded player had just two seasons of work in college. Scouts say he has a quick first step, excellent swim move and strong, active hands. Selecting Williams will become more of a reality if a safety or offensive linemen aren't available and the desire to move down decreases. He won't start right away because of the Cowboys' experience along the defensive line, but he most likely will be a starter in 2014.

2. Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas: He fills a need at the position where he can play close to the line of scrimmage and in coverage. The Cowboys want defensive backs to make plays on the ball, and the Cowboys defensive coaches and scouts believe he can do this. Vaccaro covers a lot of ground because he plays fast and displays smarts to make plays.


Who will the Cowboys pick at No. 18?


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3. D.J. Fluker, T, Alabama: In a draft heavy with guards and tackles, Fluker should be around in the teens. He's been projected to go late in the first round or possibly early in the second. He's got one of the biggest wingspans (87 1/4) of any tackle in the draft, displays good hands and has power to push defenders off the line of scrimmage.

4. Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri: The Cowboys might have to choose between Williams and Richardson. Both players attended JUCOs, but it seems Richardson needs some work. He's got the measureables (6-2, 294 pounds), a quick first step and makes plays away from the line of scrimmage. But he had shoulder surgery before the 2012 season and played only one full season at Missouri.

5. Chance Warmack, G, Alabama: He's considered one of the best guards in the draft along with Jonathan Cooper. There's some doubt if Warmack will be around at No. 18, but if he falls somehow, the Cowboys need to grab him. Warmack has good foot quickness, balance and strength. He had 40 starts in the SEC, which is impressive to NFL coaches and scouts.

2013 #bloggermock: Cowboys get OL help

April, 24, 2013
There was concern, I won't lie, as I sat there with the No. 18 pick for the Dallas Cowboys in the ESPN.com blogger mock draft. Dallas absolutely needs to come out of the first round with a new starting offensive lineman, and they were going off the board quickly. The top three tackles went in the top five picks, and when guard Chance Warmack went to Arizona at No. 7, I got worried.

Eyeing North Carolina's Jonathan Cooper, who was still on the board at No. 10, I reached out to Paul Kuharsky to ask if the Titans wanted to trade down. He said they did. I offered Dallas' first-round pick and third-round pick (Picks 18 and 80) for the No. 10. Paul countered by offering Picks 10 and 142 (fifth round) for Picks 18 and 47 (second round). I said I couldn't do that, after ripping the Cowboys for giving up their second-round pick last year to move up for Morris Claiborne. Don't want to be hypocritical, right?

So Paul and I talked about some possibilities involving 2014 compensation, but we couldn't agree on it, and he ended up taking Sharrif Floyd for the Titans at No. 10. My next move was to reach out to Bill Williamson, who was picking for the Chargers at No. 11. I made the same offer to him -- the 18 and the 80 -- but he said he was going to stay put and make a pick. He picked Cooper, which obviously disappointed me-as-Cowboys.

Now I had my eye on D.J. Fluker, the Alabama tackle who would allow the Cowboys to bid goodbye to Doug Free and help solidify the run game. I think he's the absolute perfect guy for the Cowboys at 18 if the guards are gone by then, and the only team I was still afraid might snatch him away was Carolina at 14. Fluker didn't feel worthy of trading up for, so I decided I'd stay put and hope he fell to 18, and if he didn't, I'd look into trading down and going after someone like Syracuse's Justin Pugh.

But Pat Yasinskas took Sheldon Richardson for Carolina at 14. And (because I know you guys want to know) Mike Sando took safety Kenny Vaccaro for the Rams at 16. And lo and behold, there was Fluker still sitting there at 18 for the Cowboys. I ran to the podium.

Will the Cowboys do the same if the same situation plays out Thursday night? It doesn't sound like them. But I think they'd be wise to take Fluker. And I don't even think they'd be nuts to take an offensive lineman in the second round as well. The need -- short term and long term -- is that significant.

Eight in the Box: Ideal first rounds

April, 19, 2013
NFC Eight in the Box: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

What would be the ideal first-round scenario for the Cowboys in next week's NFL draft?

Dallas Cowboys

Arlington and Texas A&M product Luke Joeckel, the potential No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft, joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Richard Durrett to discuss the draft, coaches and advice from his dad.

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Because of the perceived lack of top-level skill-position talent in this year's draft, a lot of the mock drafts and projections have the top offensive linemen going off the board early. Mel Kiper Jr.'s latest mock Insider, for example, has six offensive linemen going in the top 12 picks, which means well before the Cowboys pick at 18 and probably too early for them to make a sensible trade-up to grab someone like Alabama guard Chance Warmack or North Carolina guard Jonathan Cooper. This would be unfortunate and far from ideal for the Cowboys, but history offers hope. The last time six of the first 17 picks in the draft were offensive linemen was 1966, when there were only 15 teams in the league. Only three times since then -- 1977, 1985 and 2008 -- have as many as five offensive linemen been picked in the top 17. The Cowboys probably can't expect any of the top three tackles to fall to them, but their ideal first-round situation would be for Warmack, Cooper or even Alabama tackle D.J. Fluker to fall to 18 and allow them to shore up their most significant area of short-term and long-term need. If only one of those guys is still available by 14, the Cowboys should look into trading up to get him.

To see the ideal first-round scenario for the other NFC East teams, click here.

Advanced scouting: Jonathan Cooper

April, 14, 2013
Jonathan Cooper Spruce Derden/US PresswireNorth Carolina's Jonathan Cooper is a top guard, but will he be available for the Cowboys at No. 18?

To help preview who might be on the Dallas Cowboys’ board for the NFL draft, ESPNDallas.com has identified five players at five key positions that we’d like to learn more about. Along those lines, we’ve asked former Cowboys assistant coach Glenn “Stretch” Smith – the official scout of Galloway & Company – to study tape of each player and give his thoughts.

No. 1 offensive lineman: Jonathan Cooper

Height/weight: 6-foot-2, 311 pounds

School: North Carolina

Why he’s on the radar: The inconsistent play of the Cowboys' guards in 2012 raised serious questions about the team's future at the position. There were two guards taken in the first round last year and that trend could continue with Cooper considered the top player at his position. The issue is whether he'll fall to the Cowboys at No. 18. If he's still on the board at No. 14 or No. 15, Dallas might have to move up to get him. Fixing the offensive line is a high priority at Valley Ranch and getting Cooper could help the Cowboys improve.

Projection: First round

Stretch Truths: Guard who was also a high school wrestler so he plays with excellent leverage and feel. He’s flexible for a big man with good bend and balance, which helps him in pass protection to recover. ... Has good feet to pull and get second level blocks. ... Average punch and pop. ... The question I have with this kid is size and lower football functional strength to run through contact. ... Overall opinion: He’s the fifth-best offensive lineman.

Cowboys visitors from need positions

April, 2, 2013
Stretch Smith takes Galloway & Company around the NFL, discussing quarterback moves, Tony Romo's contract and Chip Kelly's first season.

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IRVING, Texas – It is no secret that the Cowboys need help along the offensive and defensive lines and at safety entering the NFL draft, so it’s not surprising the team is meeting with some of the best available at those positions this week at Valley Ranch.

With the draft three weeks away, the Cowboys are scheduled to meet with 28 national prospects, including offensive linemen Chance Warmack (Alabama), Jonathan Cooper (North Carolina), Jonathan Pugh (Syracuse) and Travis Frederick (Wisconsin), safeties Kenny Vaccaro (Texas), Jonathan Cyprien (Florida International) and Eric Reid (LSU) and defensive linemen Sheldon Richardson (Missouri) and Kawann Short (Purdue).

Among the other players visiting are Clemson receiver DeAndre Hopkins, Fresno State safety Phillip Thomas, running backs Knile Davis (Arkansas), Joseph Randle (Oklahoma State) and Le’Veon Bell (Michigan State) and defensive tackle Jordan Hill (Penn State).

What's the deal with Cowboys' Doug Free?

March, 14, 2013
Paralyzed in free agency, unable to get Tony Romo extended, and the hits just keep on coming for Dallas Cowboys fans, who are going to absolutely hate this story from Calvin Watkins about right tackle Doug Free. Calvin reports that, according to a source, Free's future with the Cowboys is "secure for now."
Earlier this offseason, executive vice president Stephen Jones said of Free's possible return: "I wouldn't rule Doug out."

[+] EnlargeDoug Free
Tim Heitman/USA TODAY Sports Tackle Doug Free is scheduled to count $10.02 million against the Cowboys' salary cap.
Free's status could again become tenuous if the Cowboys believe there's a tackle worthy of selecting in the first two rounds of the draft. If that's the case, Free could be sent packing, and Jermey Parnell or the draft pick would become the starter at right tackle.

Yeah, see, that's the whole thing. The phrase "secure for now" doesn't really mean much, right? You're either secure or you're not. If the status of your security can change, you're not secure. So I wouldn't worry too much. I still think there's a really good chance they designate Free a June 1 cut and save $7 million against the cap during the summer.

But the fact that they haven't done that yet speaks to their situation, and their lack of ability to find a replacement for Free. They literally can't sign a free-agent tackle (unless they get that Tony Romo deal done and reduce their quarterback's 2013 cap cost in the process), and picking 18th in the draft they can't be certain they'll find their answer at right tackle in the draft. They could find a very good guard at that spot, such as Chance Warmack or Jonathan Cooper, which might help convince them they can afford to give Parnell a shot. But six weeks away from the draft they can't possibly know.

Former Alabama All-American guard and potential Cowboys draft pick Chance Warmack joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss what it would mean to play for the Cowboys and why Larry Allen was his childhood hero.

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So they will wait on Free. They cut defensive lineman Marcus Spears and designated him a June 1 release because they felt like they had enough depth on the defensive line to do that now. But obviously, and justifiably, they don't feel the same about their offensive line. And as bad as Free was last year, they don't feel as though they can let him go without knowing who's going to replace him. Add all of that to the Cowboys' famous tendency to hang onto their own players too long and refuse to admit mistakes, and you find yourself unable to say with complete certainty that they will part ways with Free. Even if it seems obvious to all of us on the outside that they need to do so.

This Cowboys' offseason is going to be like this -- slow and frustrating -- and they're going to need to have a very good, 2013-focused draft if they're to make the playoffs this year. Cowboys fans aren't used to Marches like this one, but they don't have much choice right now other than to deal with it.

5 Wonders: Six years for Tony Romo?

February, 26, 2013
IRVING, Texas – After spending five days in Indianapolis for the NFL scouting combine, I’m wondering about a lot of things, so here's another offseason version of Five Wonders:

Ed Werder joins Richard Durrett and Ian Fitzsimmons to discuss what he took away from the NFL combine and his conversation with Jerry Jones on the penthouse bus.

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Here we go:

• I don’t wonder about the Cowboys signing Anthony Spencer to a long-term deal before the free-agent market opens. I do wonder if the Cowboys can really place the franchise tag on him for the second straight year. Owner and GM Jerry Jones said the Cowboys have a “reasonable way” in which they can keep Spencer in 2013. By reasonable, I don’t believe he’s talking about the $10.6 million price tag as much as he is simply just putting the tag on him. If the Cowboys want to tag Spencer, they would have to essentially come up with $30 million in salary cap room because they are over the projected cap by roughly $20 million. They can get there by restructuring a number of contracts, but it pushes out bigger money against the cap in future years. Dallas has to ask itself if he's worth it. The Cowboys are moving to the 4-3, and Spencer will play the right defensive end. I had one AFC personnel man tell me Spencer would go back to six sacks a year in that role in that scheme. Part of what made Spencer successful as a pass-rusher in 2012 was how much he moved around.

[+] EnlargeTony Romo
AP Photo/Tim SharpThe Cowboys want to get a deal done with Tony Romo, but for how long?
I wonder if people realize how well Tony Romo is thought of in the NFL. Yes, he will put the ball up for grabs too much for the liking of some, but one AFC offensive coordinator said he could see Romo as the highest-paid player in football if he were on the open market. Whenever Romo signs his extension -- be it before or after free agency begins -- I wonder if the Cowboys will make it a six-year deal. In other words, it would be a five-year extension through 2018. Part of the reason for the longer deal would be to help with the salary cap in the early years of the deal. When the Joe Flacco deal comes in, I would expect the Cowboys and Romo’s agents to get together in real negotiations. During the season, I said it would be a five-year extension for $85 million. Now I would put that figure around $90 million, or $18 million per season. Please remember, though, that a lot of this stuff is funny money.

• It’s funny how the combine works for players. Teams constantly say they put more stock in the tape than they do what a guy does in shorts or whatever Under Armour is putting them in nowadays, but then you hear about risers coming out of the week in Indianapolis. Blame the media, or at least the ex-coaches and personnel guys who have media jobs. But I wonder if the performances of two offensive linemen -- North Carolina’s Jonathan Cooper and Oklahoma’s Lane Johnson -- take them out of play for the Cowboys at No. 18 overall. Cooper was powerful and could move. Johnson showed good strength and can run as well. The good news is that if these guys rise, other players will fall. I still can’t see Alabama’s Chance Warmack falling to No. 18, but some didn’t like what he showed at the combine. To them, I’ll steal a line from Randy Galloway: Watch the game.

Herm Edwards joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss the NFL combine and Cowboys' offseason. Edwards says Rod Marinelli is the key to the defense this season, not Monte Kiffin. He also talks about what it would be like to work for Jerry Jones.

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I wonder if Jason Garrett will remain as the playcaller. On Saturday, Jerry Jones said he would be fine if Garrett continued to call the plays in 2013 after he seemed to indicate at the Senior Bowl in January that he wanted a new playcaller. If I’m Garrett, and I understand it’s a must-win season after two straight 8-8 campaigns, then I’m riding my own hand and betting on myself. But that does not mean Bill Callahan wouldn’t be more involved. He will be. But here’s something to remember when Garrett talks about a “collective effort” in creating the game plan. Between series, these coaches are talking all the time about certain plays in certain down and distances, so it’s not as if Garrett is just pulling a play out of thin air.

• I’m really wondering if the Cowboys will not cut Doug Free before March 12 when they need to get under the cap. It’s been assumed all along he would be because of his $10.02 million cap number and the team’s need to create room. If the Cowboys were to cut Free now, he would likely be designated a June 1 cut, which means the team would not gain the $7 million benefit until then. That would be enough to pay for their draft picks and college free agents. Maybe it makes sense for the Cowboys to see what they get in free agency and the draft before letting go of Free. The talk of him moving to guard does not make much sense since he's not a power player.

Draft strengths set up for Cowboys' weaknesses

February, 22, 2013
INDIANAPOLIS – With workouts commencing today at the NFL scouting combine, the Cowboys could find themselves in an enviable position in April because their needs seem to match up with the strengths of the draft.

Todd Archer joins Galloway & Company to discuss who the Cowboys should draft in the first round and how far the team can go with Tony Romo at quarterback.

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The Cowboys have what would appear to have early-round draft needs on the defensive and offensive lines, as well as safety.

“We just got out of eight days of draft meetings and preset our board as we come down here and feel this is, at least in my opinion, one of the strongest defensive tackle classes that have come out in a while,” Minnesota general manager Rick Spielman said.

There could be as many as a dozen defensive lineman selected in the first round, and the Cowboys have a need with their move to the 4-3 under new coordinator Monte Kiffin. Pass rush is at a premium because Kiffin and defensive line coach Rod Marinelli would rather be able to bring pressure with four players than have to blitz.

On the offensive line, the Cowboys could be looking for tackle, guard and center help and there are players who will fit at all three spots, including Oklahoma’s Lane Johnson, Alabama’s D.J. Fluker, North Carolina’s Jonathan Cooper and Alabama’s Barrett Jones who could be had in the top three rounds.

Chicago general manager Phil Emery said he sees up to five safeties who can become starters.

“There are five or six starters in this class at safety,” Emery said, “and that’s rare to me.”