Cowboys Free Agency 2012: Five Days to a Big Fizzle?

Tag or no tag for Carl Nicks?

NFL teams set their final pre-free agent rosters on Monday and news in the last couple of days suggests that Dallas could lose one of its big targets to the franchise tag.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports today that free agent guard Carl Nicks is determined to test the market, which opens on March 13th.  His quarterback Drew Brees says he’s “very optimistic” that he can sign an extension before the March 5th deadline for tagging players.  The Saints hope to re-up Brees, so they can use the tag on Nicks.

— Houston GM Rick Smith maintains that the Texans want to keep end Mario Williams and are working on re-negotiating contracts to create the cap space for an extension.  Williams’ massive 2011 cap number makes franchising him hazardous to the Texans cap shape.  Watch the wires in the next few days.  If veterans start re-negotiating and taking home large bonus checks, the odds for Williams to remain in Houston will rise.

If he hits the market, the Seahawks have let it slip that they’re ready to offer him a large deal.  ESPN regular John Clayton told ESPN radio 710 in Seattle that NFC West rivals believe Seattle will be one of Williams’ suitors.

— The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports that Green Bay has an interest in Texans center Chris Myers.  Earlier reports from Wisconsin suggest that the Packers and incumbent center Scott Wells are at odds.

Contra Costa Times beat writer Steve Corkran tweeted that the Raiders will not franchise free safety Tyvon Branch and would re-sign him for a “modest” multi-year deal.  The 25 year old Branch may be the best free agent safety option this year.

Rafael Vela

Rafael Vela

Senior Analyst Cowboys at Sports Talk Line
Started covering Dallas Cowboys @ in '95 and '96. Two more stops along the way and here I am. Senior Analyst for
Rafael Vela

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  • the TURK

    Sign 3 VETERAN Interior O-Lineman (Grubbs, Wells +1) cause we can not wait to develop rookies     PLUS Costa, Arkin & Nagy will be ready when those contracts expire

    THEN DRAFT ALL DEFENSE – to get younger

  • Pmkaram

    Does anyone know what the Cowboys coaches and front office REALLY think of the young OL players? If so,post it please.

  • kameleon_o

    I sure hope we’re in the market for Chris Myers. I’ve also been looking at less expensive OG’s and I’d like to sign Jake Scott from Tennessee. I haven’t heard anything about him in FA yet. I think he’d be an upgrade over Holland or even Kosier right now. He’s not young but we need a good vet to play on this O-line while the young guys hopefully mature. I think Scott could be that vet.

  • Lee1936

    At all costs, we must sign a suitable veteran FA Center.  Houston’s Chris Myers should be fine.

    In the draft, there are only two Centers capable of starting Day 1.  I like Peter Konz, but he’s a reach at pick 1/14, and better players at our need positions will be available there.  I like Ben Jones, but we’d have to take him at 2/45, because he’ll probably be gone by 3/82.  In fact, he could be be gone before our 2/45!  (Molk is good for an overachieving little guy who can’t put on more weight, but he’s too little.)  

    So to avoid the probability during the draft, of being denied the required upgrade at Center, we have to get a veteran FA.  That, with a veteran CB, will free us to take BPA.  

  • Milkshaker

    If I were Nicks and my QB made it so the team could keep me out of free agency, I think I might miss a few extra blocks. 😉

  • cowboyny

    I am an accountant by trade, the more I add up the numbers the more I only see the team being able to land 1 elite FA. The big killer is keeping Spencer, but if you have to replace him, not much to chose from and any player better, will cost more. Carr or Nicks to go along with Robinson, Spencer, Elam, Backup QB. It may makes sense to take more of a mid level CB and sign a FA Center.

    • Mike G

      The accountants I know at this time of the year are way to busy to try and see how much money a team has to spend in free agency. I will tell you this it looks like they will end up having between 20 and 25 million to spend this offseason. That is plenty to sign 2 or 3 top Free Agents. I will be happy with Mario Williams.

      • cowboyny

        I would like you to tell me how, a Carr or a Nicks will cost 9 million a season, Spencer, who looks like he will return could cost the team close to 9 million to tag. That is 18 million already, you still have to resign Robinson, Elam and a #2 QB. Where is the additional funds coming from?

        • Mike G

          It really depends on how they structure the contracts. Romo’s cap number for 2012 will be $8.06 million. Ware is $10.301 million. I doubt any of the new players they sign will make cost more than Romo or Ware. The only way that spencer would cost that much is if they Franchise him which I think is not going to happen. I would sign Mario and Carr then draft Decastro in the first round. Let Spencer walk.

          • cowboyny

            You’re thinking isn’t realistic. Mario agent may start the bidding at 15 million, Carr is at least a 8 million a yr FA. FA’s do not want back loaded deals, they want to get paid now.

          • Mike G

            They do get paid now it is called the signing bonus. As an example if you give a player a 28 million dollar signing bonus and give him a 7 year contract the amount of the signing bonus is divided by the years so the player gets 28 million guaranteed money in his bank account and the teams hit to the salary cap is 4 million plus what ever he gets paid per year. Thats how they get paid now.

          • Mike G

            By the way Mario is not getting a 15 million dollar a year deal from anyone. He is not better than Ware and Ware counts 10 million to the Cowboys cap

          • greatwhitenorth

            Since when does talent dictate contract value?  It’s the market, and there is a big demand for a pass rusher like Mario and a bunch of teams with huge amounts of cap space.  Better than Ware, no, but he’s going to be a whole lot richer.

  •  Wells and Meyers will both hit free agency.  Jerry should have his checkbook ready.

    In related news, say your last goodbyes to Anthony Spencer.

    • Arnoldo Becho

      I would be happy to have him back for a deal underneath what Brooks got. Close yes, but more than what Brooks got, no. He is an inferior player. Right now it doesn’t look like that is gonna happen so assuming he gets more money, I desperately hope your right. 

  • Dub_TC

    DeCastro in the draft  + Carr and Branch in FA = me very happy.  Whether it happens ….. 

  • Cowboy KRS

    If we get Branch & Carr ,i will buy the Bar!!!!!

  • It looks like Monday is going to be a big day for us armchair QB’s.  After Monday, we should have a clearer picture of just who is going to be out there in the free agent pool.  As of today, Nicks is the big headline player for Cowboy fans.  And, the word out of New Orleans is that Brees and the Saint are still very “far apart.”

    That’s good news for potential Nick’s suitors.  But, there could be a a whole littany of players released into the free agent pool that could drastically change our offseason plans.  And, it goes without saying that once the “tagging” portion of the offseason ends, then the trading portion begins.  I guess my point is that we don’t know…what we don’t know…yet.  Regardless, I’ll add that I love the depth of the rookie DB class…it may be one of the perceived, deepest classes I’ve seen in years.  And, on the Spencer front, I think Brooks’ contract only underscores my point of how much the position is in demand.  You’re going to have to overpay to keep or aquire anyone worth their salt.  This is precisely the reason why I wanted the one year tag.  You essentially pay a slightly inflated market rate for Spencer for one year and then you have the option of expending a high draft pick to replace him…if that’s what you want to do.  With such a deep DB class and a seemingly weak 3-4 OLB class, this just isn’t the year to take the project on.  It’s all comes down to economics.  DB’s and 3-4 OLB’s are high dollar players who cost an arm and a leg to keep or aquire after their rookie contract runs out.  The most advantageous cap situation is to keep as many valuable DB’s and OLB’s under their rookie contracts as possible.  This year, the value is in the DB’s.  Grab a bunch of them.  Then, pray like a madmen that next year’s class is deep in Spencer’s role.  It’s a simple supply and demand approach compounded with a “bent knee” philosophy.  Let’s just hope that God is smiling favorably down on his team this offseason.  More than ever, we need his coutenance.  Isn’t it time the Cowboys catch a decent break?

  • Michael

    The Cowboys are actually in a really strong position as FA comes around. Several teams are over the cap and will have to slash their rosters this week.

    One name to watch is Luis Castillo from SD. Depending on the price and what he has left he could be a nice upgrade over Spears or Coleman.

    Also the Steelers, Giants and Panthers are over the cap and might have to cut loose some players of interest.

    Bart Scott is going to be cut as well and will be cheap. He knows the defense and might be a better veteran backup than Brookings or James. He would add some attitude to short yardage defense in any case.

    • greatwhitenorth

      What do you think about Adam Carriker at DE?  He’s certainly not the player he was supposed to be, but he’d definitely be an upgrade over Coleman and wouldn’t break the bank.  Plus there’s the added benefit of stealing someone from the Skins…

      • Michael

        I like Carriker a lot. He is young and has all the physical tools. Plus I like his motor. He could be expensive but would be a nice upgrade over Spears.

        He is a perfect 5 technique.

      • Michael

         I kind of like Red Bryant as well. The Seahawks run a 4-3 under with Bryant as a 5 tech.

        He is 27, athletic, and huge. You can move him around like the Pats with Wilfork to shutdown an outside or inside run. Plus he blocked 4 punts and had 2 INTs last year.

        I’ve seen 25 million over 5 years with 9 million up front tossed around as a realistic contract for him.

  • JoeMF

    Branch and Carr would be nice additions and getting Nicks with those two would be amazing. Still think we sign Spencer to a multi year contract.

  • Ben

    Branch and Carr would sure make the secondary a LOT better…  Also, in unrelated news, the world is round.  

    • So you’re saying Alan Ball  is flat?  

      • Ben

        More like a line.  He’s one dimensional at best. 

        •  that would indicate he’s good at something.

          I would consider him infinite, he’s like space.  Just when you don’t think he can go any further, he manages to suck more. 

          • jazzbo251

            So, he’s like a black hole.

  • Linda

     What does everyone think about this in the draft: sign a corner in fa, draft Poe in the first, and Irvin in the second.  Get some push up the middle, preventing the qb to move forward, allowing the OLB’s to get more sacks.  I am liking that idea more and more.

    • jazzbo251

      What do you do about the interior O-line then?

    • Lee1936

      This can be done if you take a veteran CB and a Center in free agency.  I think Poe will be there at 1/14, and that Irvin will be there at our 2/45.  Then with Irvin onboard, we can let Spencer walk, or franchise him.  So far, we’ve replaced and upgraded Newman, and spruced up our pass rush.
      We then grab a Guard at our 3/82.  With our FA Center, this closes the gaping hole in our interior OL.  Or, if we are SURE that one of the young Guards will be starter quality by September, then we could take the top remaining DB, DE, or ILB instead.

      Pick 4: TE Bennett’s replacement: Michael Egnew or James Hanna.   
      Picks 5-7:  Look for slot CB, slot WR/KR/PR, developmental QB, or a ST coverage ace.  

    • Arnoldo Becho

      As much as Poe and Irvin have impressed, we should avoid moving him up in our rankings too much due to the combine. Yes if the usual suspects are all gone before pick 14, I would not be too disappointed with Poe at 14 but I think Ta’amu is better. If we are determined to get a quality NT, trade up from 45 for Ta’amu.

  • AustonianAggie

    I have a feeling Dallas is not interested in Nicks. I buy that story that Dallas is interested in Centers. That news about Tyvon Branch is particularly interesting. I never know what Jerry Jones will do but good players in their mid20s are good signings.  

    • Lee1936

      All you say makes sense.  Nicks is a gold-plated Cadillac–nice to have, but only if you have too much money.  More important, he plays Guard, and if you can’t draft a decent Guard in this year’s bumper crop of Guards….

      Center is our weakest link on offense.  Only two Centers are available in the draft, so you have to sign a veteran FA Center.  

      And so far as Branch is concerned, I’d rather sign a #1 Safety than a #3 WR (Laurent Robinson.)

  • Michael

    I’m all for trying to sign Branch. He isn’t an exciting player, but he is steady and improving. His range is good and he tackles well. 

  • hardwater

    Would rather pay for a C and draft DeCastro anyway.

    • Arnoldo Becho

      Definitely. This make the OL a real strength and creates depth. Of  Koiser, Akrin, Nagy, Costa, and Kolwowski, only one would have to start. We should expect at least one of the young guards to become a good starter and I trust all of those players as backups. So long as Parnell continues to develop, the line looks very solid including Decastro and a Veteran C.