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Dallas Cowboys’ Free-Agent Grade Reviews (Part II)

January 29th, 2015 at 12:19 PM
By Darko Debogovic

Our Dallas Cowboys’ free-agent grade review continues with the letters B and C:

B.)

OG, Ronald Leary (exclusive-rights)

T, Doug Free (unrestricted)

T, Jeremy Parnell (unrestricted)

CB, Sterling Moore (restricted)

DE, Anthony Spencer (unrestricted)

Similar to the A-grade, players that get B’s are ranked in the top 40 percent of their respected positions—not stellar by any means but definitely worth keeping. Though there aren’t any Pro Bowlers in this category, the three offensive lineman listed, shows the strength and efficiency of the Cowboys’ offensive line. Re-signing Leary is a forgone conclusion, determining who to keep between Free and Parnell is where it gets dicey. All indications point to retaining Free, who came into the season as the starting tackle. Nagging left ankle and foot injuries forced Dallas’ oldest linemen out of the lineup for nearly the end of the regular season—as well as their two playoff games—but during his absence, Parnell did an excellent job protecting Tony Romo and opening up holes for DeMarco Murray. Additionally, Parnell is three years younger than Free and according to Pro Football Focus, was ranked the seventh-best right tackle in the league—which will undoubtedly garner starter money. As cruel as it sounds, the Cowboys can create a reverse bidding process between the two players, where one is offered a contract financially agreeable to the team with a predetermined expiration period. Once a decision is made, they can then offer the other player something similar and go back-and-fourth until a deal is reached. Having two good tackles may not be such a bad thing after all, but it’s pretty clear one of them will not be coming back in 2015.

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Dallas Cowboys’ Free-Agent Grade Reviews (Part I)

January 28th, 2015 at 7:09 PM
By Darko Debogovic

After an impressive 2014 campaign that saw Tony Romo break Troy Aikman’s franchise record for passing yards, DeMarco Murray shatter Emmitt Smith’s rushing record and Dez Bryant surpass Terrell Owens in touchdown receptions, the Dallas Cowboys—despite a controversial playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers—must be feeling pretty good heading into next year’s quest for a sixth Lombardi Trophy.

But before arriving there, before even getting to training camp, they’ll have to make some critical decisions surrounding personnel. Two of the aforementioned players are scheduled to become free agents in March, along with 21 other players, putting a lot of pressure on the front office to get things done. But how does one decide on whom to keep and whom to let go? Is Murray more valuable than Bryant? Should Brandon Carr come back? Can Rolando McClain be effective going forward?

These are just some of the questions Cowboys management will have to answer during the offseason. And though we don’t know what goes into the process of making those decisions, we’ll give each potential free agent a grade based on their individual performance from this past season. Keep in mind, to qualify for these grades, a player must have played in 25 percent of their team’s snaps—on offense or defense—meaning there are a number of Cowboys’ role players who won’t be ranked.

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Can Tony Romo Play Better Next Year?

January 27th, 2015 at 3:48 AM
By Darko Debogovic

For the first time in five years, Tony Romo was back in the Pro Bowl. Romo broke career marks in yards per attempt, completion percentage and touchdown-to-interception ratio this season, en route to guiding the Dallas Cowboys to the best record in the league at 12-4 and the NFC East title.

He also led the league in passer rating, Total QBR and completion percentage. But outside one of the team buses after a Pro Bowl practice in Glendale, Arizona, Romo wasn’t satisfied with any of his individual accomplishments. Instead, he focused on what his team needs to do collectively if they want to hoist the Lombardi Trophy for a sixth time.

“Ultimately, I feel like we didn’t accomplish what we set out to do, so it leaves a bad taste in your mouth,” Romo said, per ESPNDallas.com. “I think you just figure out how you have to be better, I have to be better. Our team has to be better. And you have to go attack this thing with everything we’ve got. You want to keep constantly trying to figure out new ways to improve. You’re never satisfied. Last year is not a satisfying feeling. If anything, it makes you more hungry to be better going forward so you have an opportunity to achieve all your goals. Ultimately we didn’t get that done and that just never sits well. I’m a firm believer that you have to start over and go do everything you did to be better the next season. You can’t just rest on anything you’ve done. It just doesn’t work that way.”

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Tony Romo Acknowledges the Importance of Retaining Both Dez Bryant and DeMarco Murray

January 26th, 2015 at 7:56 PM
By Darko Debogovic

Tony Romo is very cognizant of the impact Dez Bryant and DeMarco Murray had this season. The two impending free agents helped the Dallas Cowboys reestablish the balanced offense the club was renowned for in the 90s, while helping Romo to arguably the best season of his career. Now, the 34-year-old quarterback is giving his best effort, trying to sway owner Jerry Jones to retain both players for the foreseeable future.

“Any time you get talented guys where you can put more than two on one side of the ball, you get three, four, [yards per play] if you’re lucky enough to ever get five,” Romo said, per Dallas Morning News. “It’s one of those things where if you can put a group like that together, you can make a run and be very difficult for teams to deal with for years. I think that’s what you’re trying to build ultimately is to have sustained success. We have an opportunity to have that.”

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Dallas Cowboys Look to Fix Their Defensive Needs via 2015 Draft

January 25th, 2015 at 5:28 PM
By Darko Debogovic

Following their controversial, playoff loss in Green Bay, it was clear that the Dallas Cowboys were lacking an effective pass rush. Their inability to get to Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers—especially late in the fourth quarter with the game on the line—was their Achilles heel.

With so many free agents on their roster, it’s imperative that they select a good collegiate defensive end or tackle in the upcoming draft. According to ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr., there’s plenty to go around:

“In terms of pass-rushers, there are a lot of them,” said Kiper, per Sportdfw.com. “That’s probably the strongest position in this draft—those combo guys who can get after the quarterback.”

Whether attacking from the edge or up the middle, the Cowboys need to get to the quarterback more frequently next season. Defensive end/tackle, Tyrone Crawford was arguably their most productive pass rusher this year and thanks to his versatility, the Cowboys will have options in terms of choosing between positions in the draft. Crawford can play either left defensive end or lineup as a three-technique, defensive tackle. If Dallas opts for a premier pass-rushing end in the first round, Crawford can stay inside. If they find a good fit at tackle, Crawford can play on the outside—it’s a win-win.

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