The Cowboys head into free agency with more money to spend than expected and owner Jerry Jones says, "We will use it."
The Cowboys could make several moves in free agency that will help them narrow their focus for the draft. They couldn't do that last year because of the lockout that pushed back free agency until the start of training camp. That won't be the case this year.
"In a perfect world, what you want to try to do is go into the draft without needs," coach Jason Garrett said. "I think you tend to draft worse when you say, 'I think we need to draft this position or that position.' And regardless of how objective you want to make that process, you invariably say, 'OK, we have a need here, so maybe we bump a player up ahead of this guy when they're really probably pretty similar.'
"In an ideal situation you want to address your needs prior to the draft. Hard to do that, but you're trying to do that so you can draft as purely as possible. We couldn't do that last year."
The biggest needs/decisions the Cowboys have on offense are at guard, backup quarterback and third receiver.
Saints free-agent guard Carl Nicks is the best offensive lineman in the draft. He was coached in college by new Cowboys offensive line coach Bill Callahan so there is a natural fit here.
The question is how much money the Cowboys are willing to spend to go after Nicks. The Saints want to retain him but they also have to sign quarterback Drew Brees.
Nicks is mean, nasty and physical. He certainly would be a serious upgrade up front. If they don't sign Nicks the Cowboys could draft Stanford guard David DeCastro in the first round or continue to make it work with two of the three veterans from last year; Montrae Holland, Kyle Kosier and Derrick Dockery.
The retirement of Jon Kitna means the Cowboys must decide if they are going to go with the inexperienced Stephen McGee as the backup to Tony Romo or try to sign a veteran off the street. McGee has not done enough in his time on the field to give the Cowboys complete confidence that he can handle the job. Garrett has also liked to have a veteran behind Romo. He went with Brad Johnson before Kitna. However there is not a long list of inviting options on the street. Options include Shaun Hill, David Garrard, Sage Rosenfels, Vince Young and possibly Jason Campbell.
A much bigger decision for the Cowboys is deciding what to do about third receiver Laurent Robinson who had a breakout season with 11 touchdowns and is now looking to cash in big on the free-agent market. The Cowboys need Robinson as they have no other capable third receiver but they also already have big money already invested in starters Miles Austin and Dez Bryant.
That Austin and Bryant are somewhat injury prone is even more reason to keep Robinson but again at what price. The Cowboys have been burned many times before for giving big money to a player after one breakout season.
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