Dallas Cowboys: Morris Claiborne

What about Mo Claiborne's 2016 option?

April, 23, 2014
Apr 23
11:20
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IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys will exercise the fifth-year option on Tyron Smith's deal in the near future, paying him $10.39 million in 2015 if they cannot reach a long-term agreement before then.

Claiborne
What about the Cowboys' first-round pick in 2012, cornerback Morris Claiborne?

As much as paying Smith is a sure thing, the decision with Claiborne's option in 2016 is as up in the air. They will have to make the decision by May 2015, which means Claiborne will have to answer a few questions first.

The transition tag for cornerbacks in 2014 is $10.081 million, so figure that number will increase in 2015 by the time the Cowboys have to make up their minds on Claiborne's future.

The Cowboys gave up their first- and second-round picks to the St. Louis Rams to move up to take Claiborne with the sixth overall pick. He has two interceptions in two seasons. He lost his job to Orlando Scandrick in 2013 in part because of injury but also because Scandrick was playing better.

There is no guarantee he will be a starter in 2014 either.

Claiborne's health has been an issue since he was picked. He arrived with a cast on his surgically repaired left wrist in 2012. He also suffered a knee injury in camp. Last year he hurt his shoulder in the season opener and missed games with a hamstring injury. He had shoulder and finger surgery in the offseason.

If Claiborne has the type of season in 2014 the Cowboys were hoping he could have when they made the bold move to take him, then they could pick up his option as a way to guarantee they are keeping a player at a premium spot, especially if Brandon Carr does not bounce back.

They could just as easily get out of the option by the first day of the 2016 league year by rescinding the offer. The option is only guaranteed for injury at the time the team elects to pick it up. If Claiborne is on the roster for the first day of the league year, it is guaranteed for injury and skill.

The Cowboys manage their salary cap years in advance. They know the ramifications of picking up Claiborne's option and not picking it up. They are scheduled to be in good shape, but also have long-term decisions to make on Smith, Dez Bryant and possibly DeMarco Murray this summer and next summer that could eat into that space.

Claiborne can help the Cowboys with their decision by living up to the expectations in 2014.
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is expected to participate in the offseason program which starts Monday morning according to a source.

Romo missed the final game of the 2013 season to undergo back surgery and is on target in his rehab program.

In the first phase of the offseason workouts, players can lift weights, run sprints and conduct football activities without the supervision of coaches and scouts. This is the first of several offseason workouts the Cowboys will conduct. After the May 8-10 NFL draft, the Cowboys will host a rookie minicamp the following weekend.

Starting on May 28, the Cowboys will have organized team activities until June 12. The offseason program ends with the mandatory veteran minicamp June 17-19.

Romo's availability is expected in most if not all of those activities.

He's not alone in his participation of the program:
  • Running back Lance Dunbar (knee) who was injured in the Thanksgiving Day game against the Oakland Raiders last year, will also be at Valley Ranch working out.
  • Defensive lineman, Tyrone Crawford, who tore his Achilles tendon in the first day of training camp last year, is also participating in camp.
  • Cornerback Morris Claiborne (shoulder and finger) is also expected to attend workouts.
  • Wide receiver Dwayne Harris (shoulder) could also be ready for workouts.

Of course, the biggest name to work out today belongs to Romo.

Last summer, he missed several days of the offseason program as he recovered from surgery to remove a cyst from his back.

But last December, Romo underwent a discectomy to repair a herniated disc after injuring his back in a Week 16 game at Washington.

Team officials said Romo recovered well from the surgery.

"It's going good," Romo told ESPN last March after watching a Duke basketball game."We're getting close now to [returning]. Usually takes three months, it's just normal kinda roundabout date that they give ya and we're right on schedule. Really ahead in a lot of ways. Just going to be ready to go here in about a month and rehab is going good, no setbacks of any kind. Mine [surgery] was just a normal small version of it, so I should be good to go here shortly."

Romo finished the 2013 season throwing for 3,828 yards with 31 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

Cowboys Twitter mailbag, Part 1

April, 18, 2014
Apr 18
12:00
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IRVING, Texas -- Part 1 of the Dallas Cowboys' Twitter mailbag is ready.

In it we discuss:
  • What I would do with the 16th pick in the draft if I was the general manager.
  • What about a quarterback in the second round?
  • What about Orlando Scandrick and Morris Claiborne?
  • What about the salary-cap implications of letting Kyle Orton go?

Away we go:
 

Reviewing Cowboys' free agency: 2012

April, 17, 2014
Apr 17
3:30
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With free agency entering the final stages, we'll review the Cowboys' past five free-agency classes.

We'll continue with 2012:

Players signed: Mackenzy Bernadeau, Brandon Carr, Dan Connor, Nate Livings, Kyle Orton and Lawrence Vickers.

Starts earned: 62

Analysis: The Cowboys needed to upgrade the talent level along the offensive line and secondary. Bernadeau and Livings were signed to become starters and each started every game. Carr signed a big money deal -- five years, $50.1 million -- to become a starter alongside Morris Claiborne. Orton was the quality backup needed for Tony Romo at quarterback and Vickers and Connor were quality veterans who started a combined 14 games. Carr proved to be versatile as he played some free safety at times. When the season ended, Carr had a team-leading three interceptions and 11 pass breakups. He finished the last four weeks of the season with five pass breakups. The Cowboys’ run game mustered just 3.6 yards per carry with a variety of running backs due to injuries. Vickers was a solid pickup for the Cowboys, and when healthy, DeMarco Murray averaged 4.1 yards per carry and did score four rushing touchdowns. There were some questions about the health of Bernadeau because he spent the offseason recovering from health issues before the start of the season. He almost lost his starting gig to Derrick Dockery, but as the season progressed Bernadeau got better.

Grade: B

Analyzing Kiper Mock 4.0: Cowboys 

April, 17, 2014
Apr 17
12:15
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IRVING, Texas -- So far Mel Kiper Jr. has followed the Dallas Cowboys' draft needs in his mock drafts.

In his first two mocks, he offered up Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in the first round. In his third, he went with Florida State defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan. In his Grade A mock, he went with Pitt defensive tackle Aaron Donald.

In Kiper's Mock draft 4.0 , he has gone away from the defensive side of the ball.


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Reviewing the Cowboys’ drafts: 2012

April, 17, 2014
Apr 17
9:00
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IRVING, Texas -- Day 4 of reviewing the Dallas Cowboys' past five drafts continues today with the Class of 2012.

If you want our thoughts on the 2009-11 drafts, click here for 2009, here for 2010 and here for 2011.

First-round pick: Morris Claiborne (No. 6 overall)

Claiborne
Number of picks: 7

How they did: The Cowboys made a bold move by trading up from No. 14 to No. 6 to take Claiborne, whom they had given the highest grade for a cornerback since Deion Sanders. Two years later, the Cowboys are still waiting for Claiborne to pay off.

In fact, most of the draft class has yet to pay off. Third-round pick Tyrone Crawford (No. 81 overall) did not play last season because of a torn Achiiles. One fourth-round pick, Matt Johnson (No. 135 overall) has yet to play in a game in his two seasons because of injuries. It took the other fourth rounder, Kyle Wilber (No. 113 overall), almost two seasons to find his role. Danny Coale (knee, foot) and Caleb McSurdy (Achilles) never made the team. Sixth-round pick James Hanna was the No. 2 tight end a year ago.

Pivotal pick: It’s hard to say anybody other than Claiborne because of the price the Cowboys paid to get him, giving up their second-round pick. He came in with a surgically-repaired wrist that kept him out of offseason work as a rookie. He suffered through a hamstring injury that kept him out of six games last season. He has two interceptions in two seasons and has not displayed the confidence he played with at LSU. He must turn it around in 2014 or the Cowboys’ decision to move up to get him will haunt the team for a long time.

Hanna
Best pick: There isn’t one yet really. Crawford did not record a sack as a rookie but was solid. The Cowboys are banking on him in a big way to return from the Achilles’ injury. Based on expectations and playing time, Hanna (No. 186 overall) might be the best, but he has just 20 catches for 159 yards. He could see his playing time decrease in a big way if Gavin Escobar gets more work as the club intends.

Worst pick: The Cowboys have kept Johnson around because of his potential, but the patience has to be running thin. He did not play as a rookie because of recurring hamstring injuries, as well as an aching back. He did not play in 2013 because of ankle surgery. He is out of time to make something happen, which he knows. Considering the Cowboys’ need at safety, however, there is still a chance for Johnson to make an impact.

Cowboys Twitter mailbag, Part 2

April, 12, 2014
Apr 12
12:00
PM ET
IRVING, Texas -- Part 2 of the Dallas Cowboys' Twitter mailbag is ready.

In it we talk about the Cowboys' drafting injured players, Anthony Spencer's possible return, a position switch for Morris Claiborne and a Matt Johnson update.

If you want to see the Part 1 of the mailbag, click here.

Away we go:

 
IRVING, Texas -- Once again we had a ton of questions in Wednesday’s chat and I couldn’t get to them all, so let’s pull out some leftovers to answer right now.

First a leftover question: What’s better warmed up – spaghetti or chicken lo mein? I’m going spaghetti. I think I’d go with the lo mein cold.

Away we go:

Blake Tyler (Nashville): I think we all agree that Tony is best when the play breaks down and he can move and find his guy down the field. Big plays. I know this sounds crazy but is there any way with a better line in front of him that it takes away some of our big play ability? The offense just didn’t look that explosive last year.

Todd Archer: You sort of sound like Jerry Jones when he said if there is a quarterback that doesn’t need protection as much it’s Romo, but I don’t want to pin that on you. I hear what you’re saying, but I think the big plays were down because the offense changed. They were not as aggressive as in the past down the field. Was that Romo protecting the ball or himself? Perhaps. Was it the new playcaller in Bill Callahan? Perhaps. I’d much rather have my quarterback be able to go through his reads and make plays that way than rely on him to create when things breaking down. Romo has done that sort of thing so many times that it seems second nature, but you don’t want to live off that. I wonder if he had a hard time trusting the protection because things broke down in the past that he was getting rid of the ball too early sometimes. Just a though.

Marco (Houston): If Donald is gone at 16 and Ealy is available do you think the Boys would settle or trade down?

Todd Archer: I’m not sure how high the Cowboys are on Kony Ealy. They might see him more as a left defensive end so that takes him down a peg. As good as he looks and as good as the numbers suggest, you want more plays. He made a lot but something just seemed missing. I think there might be better players available at No. 16 at other positions that make the Cowboys go elsewhere and trading down is always an option. I’ve said this before, but in order to trade down the Cowboys have to hope there is someone there that another team wants to trade up to get. They must be prepared to make a pick at No. 16.

Ray (From Southside): Any updates on to who the 30 players will be for pre-draft visits and for Dallas day??

Todd Archer: The names that I know of so far are Anthony Barr, Demarcus Lawrence, Jimmie Ward, Ryan Shazier and Aaron Donald. They usually don’t use all of their 30 visits at the outset with the chance they can add two or three guys later in the process. For the Cowboys it matters who comes to Valley Ranch. In the last nine drafts the only two top picks not to visit were DeMarcus Ware and Morris Claiborne. Last year they ended up drafting four players who visited and signing a couple of undrafted free agents as well. Dallas Day is another important tool and with so many seventh-round picks, the Cowboys will be able to lock in on their priority free agents. I’m working on a list of Dallas Day guys, so stay tuned for that, but Jackson Jeffcoat is not one of them despite growing up in Plano. Since the family moved to Colorado, I guess he can’t be in the mix.

Cullen Calabria (Paris, TX): Linehan's RB's combined for over a 100 receptions last year Bush had 50+ and so did Bell? Can we expect similar things this year? Because Murray only has 1 rec TD in his career which I blame on play calling more than him.

Todd Archer: I wouldn’t expect 100 catches from the running backs here but that’s not a slight on DeMarco Murray, Lance Dunbar or Joseph Randle. It’s more about the construction of the Cowboys’ offense. The Lions don’t have Jason Witten, so there were more balls for Bush and Bell to catch. They don’t have a Terrance Williams as a No. 2 receiver either. Murray caught 53 passes last year, so I think he’ll be in that range again. As a group Cowboys runners caught 72 passes in 2013. I can see that going to 85 or so if Dunbar can stay healthy. I wouldn’t get carried away with Murray’s lack of TD catches. I think that’s more of a product of having guys like Dez Bryant, Witten, Miles Austin and Williams around here lately.

Barr, Donald, Ward among draft visitors

April, 10, 2014
Apr 10
9:50
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IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys have signed three defensive players in free agency, but that does not mean they have fixed the woes on that side of the ball in the offseason.

Among the national visitors to the Cowboys next week for pre-draft visits are UCLA outside linebacker Anthony Barr, Pitt defensive tackle Aaron Donald, Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier, Boise State defensive end Demarcus Lawrence and Northern Illinois safety Jimmie Ward, according to sources.

Teams are allowed 30 national visitors leading up to the draft. They do not work out, but they meet with coaches and scouts and are put to the test mentally. The Cowboys can have an unlimited number of players work out at their Dallas day session on April 17 that includes players from local colleges or who played high school football in the area.

Donald has been linked to the Cowboys since an impressive showing at the Senior Bowl in January. He met with coaches at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis in February and will come to Valley Ranch as well. Donald might be the perfect fit as a 3-technique in Rod Marinelli’s defense.

The Cowboys signed Henry Melton as a free agent, but it does not take them out of the bidding for Donald, who had 11 sacks and 28.5 tackles last season. Melton’s contract is essentially a one-year deal. If he does not perform at a high level, the Cowboys can walk away from the final three years of the contract by not exercising the option.

Barr had 23.5 sacks in his last two years at UCLA and was a first-team All-Pac-12 pick. He played mostly linebacker, but his ability to rush the passer has some teams wondering if he can be a full-time defensive end. It is possible he could play strongside linebacker and move to defensive end in passing situations.

Shazier has phenomenal athleticism and can cover tight ends and running backs. With Bruce Carter in the final year of his deal, Shazier could provide excellent insurance or perhaps force Carter to move to the strongside linebacker spot. Shazier had 143 tackles last year for Ohio State and 44.5 tackles for loss in his career.

Lawrence led the Mountain West with 10.5 sacks in 2013 and had 20.5 tackles for loss. At 6-foot-3, 251 pounds, he is more of a defensive end than outside linebacker with long arms and deceptive strength.

Ward is one of the top safeties in the draft and could be a first-round pick. He had 95 tackles, seven interceptions and 10 pass deflections last season, but he is also coming off foot surgery. The Cowboys have not looked at the veteran safety market in free agency for somebody to play alongside Barry Church. They have said they like what they have in last year’s third-rounder, J.J. Wilcox, as well as Jeff Heath and Matt Johnson, who has yet to play in his first two years because of injuries.

In recent history, the Cowboys have shown a preference for selecting players who visited Valley Ranch before the draft. Last year, Travis Frederick, Terrance Williams, Wilcox, B.W. Webb and Joseph Randle were among the pre-draft visitors they selected. Since 2005, the only top picks not to visit the Cowboys before the draft were DeMarcus Ware (2005) and Morris Claiborne (2012).

Dominik calls CB a 'hidden' Cowboys need

April, 8, 2014
Apr 8
12:30
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IRVING, Texas -- ESPN Insider Mark Dominik was the general manager of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2009-13.

He spent 19 years with the Buccaneers and his time coincided with Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli and assistant head coach/defense Monte Kiffin. He knows what they want in draft prospects, so it was interesting to note that Dominik has cornerback among the Cowboys’ hidden draft needs in this Insider piece. Insider

Here’s what he said:
Dallas Cowboys: Cornerback
The Cowboys have acquired three cornerbacks of note over the past two years in Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne and B.W. Webb, so this might not look like a need area if you just skim through Dallas' depth chart (especially given their issues at other positions). But there is a real concern about the play of Claiborne, the No. 6 overall pick in 2012, and if they don't think they can get him straightened out, the Cowboys will need to add another corner in order to hold up in pass defense against their NFC East rivals.


He did not mention Orlando Scandrick, who was the Cowboys’ best cornerback in 2013. Earlier Tuesday, Calvin Watkins said the Cowboys need more from Carr, who received a five-year, $50 million deal from the club two years ago. Webb was mostly lost as a rookie and lost his job late in the season to Sterling Moore. Dominik correctly points out the thoughts on Claiborne, who is entering his biggest seasons.

But I wonder just how high the Cowboys would select a cornerback considering how much they have invested in Carr, Scandrick and Claiborne with picks and money. Would they go after the likes of Darqueze Dennard, Bradley Roby or Justin Gilbert?

TCU’s Jason Verrett is scheduled to visit with the team during the Dallas Day, but he is coming off shoulder surgery. Does he fit what Marinelli wants from corners?

The draft is not just about 2014. It is about the future as well. Scandrick’s re-worked deal late last season all but guarantees he will be around in 2015. The Cowboys have not restructured Carr’s contract, in part, because it would make it more possible to release him after this season if he does not find his 2012 form. Claiborne is signed through 2015 with a team option for 2016, but if he does not improve significantly this season then it would seem unlikely the Cowboys would exercise it.

So maybe drafting a cornerback, even early, makes sense after all.

Chat recap: All about opportunity

April, 3, 2014
Apr 3
11:05
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IRVING, Texas -- We had another spirited chat on Wednesday in which we touched on a number of subjects.

One that I will delve further into here in a bit is why the Dallas Cowboys didn’t sign Kenny Britt or Hakeem Nicks, and why I don’t believe Chris Johnson will be coming here.

But we also discussed:
  • The Cowboys approach to free agency.
  • The possibility of signing DeMarco Murray to an extension.
  • If Anthony Barr is in play at No. 16 for the Cowboys.
  • The future of Morris Claiborne.

If you want to look at the whole chat, you can click here.

But let’s get back to the Britt, Nicks, Johnson talk.

Here was one question:

Eric (Long beach): Why didn't the cowboys have interest in guys like Hakeem Nicks or Kenny Britt that signed cheap one year deals? they could have been nice to go along with dez and injury insurance

Todd Archer: Let me turn the question around -- why would Nicks or Britt want to come here when the Cowboys are committed to Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams? They are looking for opportunity too. They felt other teams were better opportunities for them.

To build off that subject:

I think far too often we forget the other side of interest in signing with a team. A player’s agent is never going to shrink the market for his client, so they would never say never when asked if their guy would be interested in playing for the Cowboys.

Since I’ve been covering this team, you always hear agents say, ‘Player X would love to be a Cowboy.’ Some of that is true. Some of that is to drive up the price. And how many times have we heard players say they grew up Cowboys’ fans? Jeremy Mincey, the new defensive end, said the 1994 NFC Championship Game loss was to the San Francisco 49ers was a painful day for him.

Players want opportunities to play. Maybe Nicks and Britt could have beaten out Williams for a starting spot opposite Bryant, but there was no guarantee that was happening here. Nicks signed with the Indianapolis Colts and should start at least at the start of the season with Reggie Wayne coming back from a knee injury. Britt chose the St. Louis Rams in part to reunite with coach Jeff Fisher, who coaxed him into his best years.

Johnson has been a starter since he got into the league. The Cowboys have their running back in Murray. When they are at their best, they ride Murray. They don’t split carries. But why would Johnson want to split carries anyway? He will get a better chance to do that somewhere else.

The Cowboys made a mistake in passing on Johnson in 2008 when they took Felix Jones. Some thought Johnson was too slight to excel at the position. He’s not the same player he was a few years ago, but he has something left. It’s just not enough for the Cowboys.
IRVING, Texas – For a variety of reasons the Dallas Cowboys need their cornerback trio of Brandon Carr, Orlando Scandrick and Morris Claiborne to play better in 2014.

One reason is the addition of DeSean Jackson to the Washington Redskins.

We documented Jackson’s efforts against the Cowboys while with the Philadelphia Eagles. He’s scored just one touchdown against the Cowboys and averaged 3.5 catches a game in the regular season.

Maybe things become a little different now that he is with the Redskins. He will have a first-time head coach in Jay Gruden, who loved to throw it when he was the offensive coordinator of the Cincinnati Bengals. He has Robert Griffin III trying to recapture the magic of his rookie season. He has Pierre Garcon, who lit up the Cowboys, and free-agent pickup Andre Roberts.

Carr struggled badly with Garcon (11 catches, 144 yards) in the second meeting of the season last year at FedEx Field so much that Scandrick moved in late in the game when the defense made a stop. Roberts has played twice against the Cowboys with the Arizona Cardinals and has two 100-yard games.

He caught five passes for 110 yards and a touchdown in the Cardinals’ 27-26 win in 2010 and six passes for 111 yards in the Cardinals’ 19-13 overtime win.

New defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli will have to blend what Carr, Scandrick and Claiborne do well into the scheme better than last year’s coordinator, Monte Kiffin. Carr and Claiborne have to play better to give Marinelli options.

Trade Mo Claiborne? No thanks

April, 1, 2014
Apr 1
12:15
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IRVING, Texas -- The DeSean Jackson trade talks that never went anywhere got ESPN Insider Field Yates to think about some trades that should happen. Insider

Claiborne
Yates has one for the Dallas Cowboys, sending cornerback Morris Claiborne to the Arizona Cardinals for defensive tackle Dan Williams.

He writes:
Dallas Cowboys trade cornerback Morris Claiborne to the Arizona Cardinals for defensive tackle Dan Williams

Why it works for Arizona: Claiborne's NFL struggles are hard to figure after he starred at LSU, but his natural abilities are still enticing. The team added depth in the secondary with Antonio Cromartie this offseason, but Claiborne would bring higher upside playing alongside former LSU teammates Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu. Peterson also happens to be a free agent next offseason, and while the Cardinals are angling to keep him around long term, a rejuvenated Claiborne would give them insurance in case Peterson ends up elsewhere.

Why it works for Dallas: Claiborne is the Cowboys' third cornerback right now and has disappointed. The team has had better luck adding cornerbacks in free agency than through the draft and is desperate for big bodies along the defensive line. Williams has just one year left on his deal, but he presents an intriguing size and strength combination next to Henry Melton, a penetrating interior force. It may not be the most natural fit in what Dallas does defensively due to Williams' lack of quickness, but his ability to clog space would provide an upgrade against the run.




Maybe this could happen but it definitely won’t happen, and we’re not talking about any salary-cap issues that could hinder a deal. The Cowboys are not about to give up on Claiborne, whom they moved up to the sixth pick in the 2012 draft to select. And Williams does not bring enough value in return. He’s in the last year of his contract. The Cowboys control Claiborne’s rights for another two years.

This is a huge year for Claiborne, who has yet to flash the potential most people thought he had coming into the draft. Maybe it has been health. Maybe it has been scheme. Maybe it has been a lack of confidence. Maybe it’s all of the above.

But for the Cowboys to get the benefit of the trade up to get him, Claiborne has to come through in a big way in 2014. For them, not for the Cardinals -- or anybody else.

Cowboys Twitter mailbag, Part 2

March, 22, 2014
Mar 22
12:00
PM ET
IRVING, Texas -- Part 2 of the Dallas Cowboys Twitter mailbag is ready.

In it we touch on the draft ramifications of signing Henry Melton, Sean Lee’s position and Rod Marinelli’s future.

If you missed Part 1, you can read it here.

Away we go:

 

With Tony Romo, Cowboys not rebuilding

March, 14, 2014
Mar 14
3:03
PM ET
IRVING, Texas -- Earlier today my guy, Calvin Watkins, brought you a post that says the Dallas Cowboys are rebuilding.

I don’t want to say Calvin is wrong, but, well, um, well, I don’t agree with that premise.

Romo
It’s not a rebuild the Cowboys are going through. And if you want to call it a rebuilding job, what exactly are they rebuilding from? They have won one playoff game since 1996. Teams that rebuild at least go to conference title games or Super Bowls -- and win Super Bowls.

I just don’t think you rebuild when you have a franchise quarterback that will turn 34 in April and is only in the second year of a six-year extension.

What the Cowboys have done the last few years -- and I wrote about it -- is re-tool. The departures of DeMarcus Ware, Miles Austin and Jason Hatcher are more evidence that the Cowboys are re-tooling. With Tony Romo, the Cowboys still need to win now. Owner and general manager Jerry Jones said as much at the NFL scouting combine.

SportsNation

Should the Cowboys be in rebuilding mode?

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    76%
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    24%

Discuss (Total votes: 7,665)

He doesn’t have time to wait three or four years to rebuild with Romo as his quarterback.

What the Cowboys are doing is changing their core. While Romo and Jason Witten are still the focal points of the team because of their play, status and production, the core of the team has moved on from guys like Ware, Jeremiah Ratliff, Austin, Andre Gurode, Marc Colombo, Bradie James and Terence Newman in recent years to newer players.

The core now is Sean Lee, Dez Bryant, Tyron Smith, DeMarco Murray, Orlando Scandrick, Travis Frederick, Terrance Williams and Barry Church. They would love guys like Morris Claiborne, Tyrone Crawford and Gavin Escobar to join this list but they have not proven they can play yet.

The Cowboys have to maximize what they have left with Romo and Witten but not to the point where they are left in salary-cap shambles for when the “new guard” is in their prime.

Rebuilding, to me, is starting over. The Cowboys aren’t going to start over with Romo and Witten and they’re not exactly moving back to ground zero either.

What they are doing does not guarantee success or even something better than 8-8, but they are in the process of passing the torch, so to speak.

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