Soldiers were lost but the fight is still going. Dez Bryant, Jason Written and Tony Romo will not settle for anything less than a Super Bowl run.
You walk in to your local convenient store and purchase something to drink. You see a can soda for 79¢, a 20 oz soda for $1.29 and a 2 liter bottle for a little less but it’s not cold. You decide on the 2 liter. The price of the beverage is 99¢. You reach into your pocket and pull out a one dollar bill. You hand it to them and tell the cahier that they can keep the change. Why? You place little to no value on that penny. But say if you paid with a one hundred-dollar bill, then you would take your change. Maybe even count it again in the car to make sure you know what you got. And while you sacrificed a cold drink, you benefited in other areas.
The Cowboys placed little value on their linebackers corps. While they played well while here, the market price for their services proved to be not in line with the Cowboy front office. The smarts of Durant, the play-making ability of Carter, and the presence of McClain will be missed. Speaking of missed, last year these players missed a combined 16 games of football. You can’t register stats on the sideline. The two linebackers that they signed, Jasper Brinkley and Andrew Gackhar, have missed one game since 2011. Cowboys also signed Keith Rivers.
George Selvie, Henry Melton and Anthony Spencer were members of the defensive line. The Cowboys needed pass rushers who could get to the quarterback and create pressure. Melton was coming on late in the season, but the Cowboys did not see enough to either sign his option or offer him a deal. And for Selvie and Spencer, perhaps it was time for a new scenery. Cowboys think they have seen the best at what they were and chose to look other places for help on the defensive line. The first addition to the line was Greg Hardy. He is one of the most dominant forces in the NFL. The Cowboys believe he can be a double-digit sack and have a huge impact on this team.
Sterling Moore was a solid number four corner that sometimes had the expectations of a number two corner. Teams tried to pick on him but for the most part, he held his own. As a free agent, Moore wanted to be paid. It only made sense. He played more, at a good level, so he should be paid more. The NFL is a business, after all. Cowboys just didn’t think he was worth what he wanted. Cowboys signed Corey White with the hopes of being Moore’s replacement. They believe he can also handle playing in the slot. This would allow for Orlando Scandrick to play on the other teams best wide out which would be a better matchup for the Cowboys and they may get more reward out of Scandrick’s contract.
The Cowboys also parted ways with most of their offensive free agents. They had to choose between resigning Doug Free or Jeremy Parnell at Right Tackle. The better player was Free, though Parnell was younger and more athletic. They chose Free.
Dwayne Harris contributed little on offense (only 116 yards), but was a special teams stand out. He became the Cowboys best tackler and was their return man. In 2013, Harris averaged over 30 yards a kick return and almost 13 yards a punt return. Last year, however, Harris’s numbers dropped an average of six yards on kick returns and four yards on punt returns. With players like James Hanna, Jeff Heath and Cameron Lawrence among leaders in tackles on special teams, they will be asked to pick up the slack. From a return standpoint, the decision as to who they put back there is a mystery. The Cowboys could try Joseph Randle, Cole Beasely, Lance Dunbar, a draft pick or an undrafted free agent.
The biggest free agent to leave via free agency was DeMarco Murray. Murray was accountable for 2,261 yards of offense. Those air and ground stats will be missed. The Cowboys were waiting for Murray to bring them an offer. They didn’t think it was going to be from Philadelphia. The Eagles provided Murray with what he wanted. A nice contract with the right amount of money guaranteed and a chance to prove Cowboys front office wrong. They Cowboys seemed fine with at. The next day they sign Darren McFadden to a deal. McFadden will get his chance to show what he can do behind a solid offensive line. His best years in Oakland was in 2010-11 when the Raiders line had an 18th run block ranking. What will he do now with arguably the best line in Football? Injuries were a concern with Murray. The same can be said for McFadden who sometimes looks as if he skips leg day. He has had 12 injuries to his legs since entering the NFL. This will be something the cowboys will have to monitor. What they see in taking a shot on McFadden is a back with good vision, a willingness to block, cutting ability and speed. If he holds up, he could run well behind this Great Wall of Dallas 2.0 and help this offense succeed.
The Cowboys were just a call away from advancing to the NFC championship game. They were almost there. They felt like they were ribbed of their chance at NFL While last season was nothing to sneeze at, going 12-4 and breaking the 8-8 cycle, they know that this team is capable of more. They also know that time is of the essence. Cowboy lifers such as Tony Romo, Jason Witten, and L.P. Ladouceur want to win a Championship. Who knows how much longer they will play. Romo was recently on TV talking about how little of time he has left. The proverbial window is closing. While they are all still solid players in this game, all three made the pro-bowl last year, they don’t want to leave anything on the table. You give your all to this game and many just want one thing: a Super Bowl ring. That is their focus.
The amazing year Dez had, leading the league in touchdowns, doesn’t matter. He wants to win a championship. The addition of Greg Hardy did not ease that train of thought for these guys. With young studs on Defense like Lawrence, Hitchens, and now Greg Hardy, this might be a great opportunity for Cowboys. Biggest problem in their way? Finding another Corner, improved play of entire secondary and having success running the ball with out DeMarco Murray.
The Cowboys will add this new group of free agents and the players selected from the draft to their team. April 20 is when OTAs begin. The annual NFL draft will take place in Chicago and will be held on April 30.