This week's mailbag continues discussions about trading Roy Williams, why the Cowboys haven't done anything in free agency and a mistake I made in a blog post this week. (I said Seattle plays in the AFC. I blame it on old age: I turned 42 on Wednesday. My bad.)
We address all these things in our Cowboys mailbag.
Q: I would like to know if Roy Williams has any trade value at all? I would like to trade Roy Williams for a third- and fifth-round draft choice. Trading him would then give Jerry Jones the opportunity to either draft or trade for an explosive wide receiver. Jerry knows that to win games you need to score TDs and not field goals. -- Kenyatta Adams (Roselle, N.J.)
A: Kenyatta, the Cowboys are not trading Roy Williams. Not going to do it. Now, it's not because they are in love with Williams. His contract prevents the organization from doing so. He's going to make close to $13 million guaranteed this season, regardless of whether he's on the roster or not. That gives opposing teams pause. Williams has also struggled in his time with the Cowboys -- last year he caught 38 balls -- and there seem to be some trust issues between the receiver and the quarterback.
Q: Why haven't the Cowboys signed Miles Austin yet? Do you think they will draft Dez Bryant out of Oklahoma State or Golden Tate out of Notre Dame? -- Mark Miles (Flower Mound)
A: The Cowboys placed a first- and-third-round tender on Austin and want to work out a long-term deal with him. It's no rush, because Austin isn't going anywhere. A team would have to give up two draft picks to sign Austin, and it appears doubtful that will happen. There is speculation the Miami Dolphins want to do this, but I don't think Bill Parcells and Jeff Ireland will. The Cowboys will bring in Dez Bryant for a meeting April 1, but it's doubtful he'll be around toward the bottom of the first round. I haven't heard much about Golden Tate. But I do know they like Arrelious Benn, Demaryius Thomas and Carlton Mitchell.
Q: Do you think the Cowboys are going to make a move in free agency? I am a Cowboys fan (for 30+ years) living in New York and long for another Super Bowl. They need to unload Marion Barber. Use him as trade bait to get another cornerback. Terence Newman is highly overrated. Jason Garrett does not know how to work three running backs into the offensive system. Your thoughts or any rumblings out of Dallas that something might be happening soon. Thanks. -- Joanne Costantini (Port Chester, NY)
A: The Cowboys want to do something in free agency only if it makes sense to the club financially. At the start of free agency the Cowboys had the NFL's top payroll at $125 million, with them being $35 million over a projected salary cap for 2010. Being patient isn't a bad thing. In the past, the Cowboys didn't make any major moves in free agency until a few days into it. Last year, the club signed Gerald Sensabaugh, Igor Olshansky and Keith Brooking, and all three had a significant impact on the 2009 season. The Cowboys value Sensabaugh enough to retain him in free agency again by placing a second-round tender offer on him. In previous years, Leonard Davis and Ken Hamlin were signed in free agency. And what's wrong with drafting players to improve the team? Felix Jones, Anthony Spencer and Mike Jenkins are all impact players drafted in the past three years. Dallas has a strong enough roster that free agency isn't the only way to build.
Q: It is impossible for the Cowboys to play an AFC opponent on Thanksgiving. The game is on Fox and the away team's conference determines airing TV network (CBS and Fox not NBC, NFLN or ESPN). Fox broadcasts NFC teams! -- Andrew (Rye Brook, N.Y.)
A: On Thursday, on our Cowboys blog, I gave some odds regarding which teams the Cowboys would play on Thanksgiving Day. I said the last three opponents were AFC teams, and that's wrong. The rotation has gone NFC, AFC, NFC, AFC. So that was my mistake; sorry about that. Having said that, I do think the Saints and Bears are the favorites to play the Cowboys.
Q: Nick Collins. Why didn't Cowboys go after him? They could have dumped Ken Hamlin and saved some money. Collins' contract was only $23 million. Your thoughts? -- Michael (Plano)
A: I like Nick Collins, but I believe the Cowboys want to stick with some of their younger safeties to see if they can move up the depth chart. Michael Hamlin and Alan Ball will get a long look in training camp this summer. Gerald Sensabaugh is another player the Cowboys would like to give a long-term deal, but the they're waiting to see if he gets any offers from opposing teams.
Q: I would like to see the Cowboys pick up three free agents: Tackle Ryan Cook, linebacker Freddy Keiaho and safety Darren Sharper. Then they can focus on other areas during the draft. What do you think? -- Mark Leggatt (Seaside Park, N.J.)
A: Ryan Cook was a backup right tackle with the Vikings and he was given an original-round tender from the Vikings worth $1.176 million. I'm not sure if Cook is the answer for the Cowboys. He's not better than Marc Colombo at right tackle, and the team values Doug Free so much they're willing to move him to left tackle. Keiaho played in a 4-3 system last year and was the middle linebacker behind Gary Brackett for the Colts. I think the Cowboys like what they have with Bradie James and Keith Brooking at inside linebacker. Is Keiaho better than Bobby Carpenter on a nickel? Doubt it. I'd take Carpenter. Also, Keiaho wants to start. Sharper had a nice season in 2009, but I have a feeling the Saints will retain him.
Q: What are we supposed to think of Cletis Gordon? I don't know much about the guy and am wondering if he's the long-term solution to our kickoff/punt returner issues. -- Kyle (Houston)
A: Cletis Gordon told the Cowboys he wants to try out for the kick return/punt return job in order to make the roster. He has limited experience in this role, yet has done it more than Felix Jones, who couldn't field a punt on a consistent basis. The Cowboys will increase Jones' role on offense, so limiting him on kick returns -- something he's good at -- should open the door for somebody like Gordon. If Gordon makes the 2010 roster, it will come from his ability to return kicks and possibly fight for the dime cornerback job.