The Williams Scenario

I’m ready to spend some cash!

A National Football Post story this morning speculates that the Cowboys may pursue Mario Williams should he enter the market on March 13th.

A Houston Chronicle piece this morning says that Williams will not receive the Texans tag, so he’s going to be available.

Yet the story in Cowboys-land this morning has Anthony Spencer receiving the franchise tag.   Doesn’t this close off a Williams pursuit?  Not at all.

As long as Spencer does not sign his tender, his contract is not guaranteed for 2012 and the Cowboys could renounce his tag at any time, pushing Spencer onto the market as an unrestricted free agent.

Tagging Spencer may just be a short-term insurance policy.  The Cowboys can ask him not to sign it and give them a few days to pursue other available options.  The top players always go quickly. Their contracts are the biggest issued and they’re done when teams have maximum cap space.  Recall how quickly Albert Haynesworth signed with Washington the year he became a UFA.  The deal was rumored  to be worked out in the hours prior to the window’s opening and his signing was announced just minutes after players could sign.

I doubt Mario Williams would last 24 hours on the market.  Let’s play the what-if game and say Jerry goes for Williams and succeeds.  He can then turn Spencer loose.  Teams will still have gobs of cap space and with the Williams and Cliff Avrils likely gone, Spencer rises to the top of available outside linebackers.

Spencer could guarantee himself a nice chunk of change by signing Dallas’ tender, but by waiting a day or two, he can greatly improve his chances of getting a long-term deal with the big signing bonus every free agent covets.

Everybody wins.

This is all speculation on my part.  I have no more knowledge than the NFP writer that Dallas will or won’t pursue Mario Williams.  Dallas may decide it’s cheaper and more effective to keep Spencer and look for a young rusher in the draft.  But if Jerry does want Super Mario, tagging Anthony Spencer shouldn’t get in his way.

Update:  This Dan Pompei story for the National Football Post this morning recaps Combine interviews.  For those handicapping the players for Dallas’ 14th overall pick, you can raise the odds for David DeCastro and Fletcher Cox, and drop those on Dre Kirkpatrick a bit.  The first two made themselves look safer as top-15 options.  Kirkpatrick apparently did the opposite.  One team rep described Kirkpatrick as, “difficult to trust.”

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 Toe Cutter

    I would rather have a veteran Interior O-Line GROUP to open up the vertical passing game and rushing lanes for #29 RB Murray in Callahan’s new blocking scheme

    We will face the Giants Pass Rush Depth & the Eagles Wide 9 TWICE in our pursut of the NFC East Title and HFA

    Wells, Grubbs and Mathis have the experience we need to be able to seize Romo’s 3-5 Yr window and can be brought in at bargain prices

    Then we could draft all Defense to get younger on that side of the ball

    It also leaves room for other upgrades and role players like Luis Castillo

    Mike Woiczik will have Costa, Nagy and Arkin ready when these guys contracts run out
    Imagine 7 new defensive players from the draft plus all we get from UDFA’s when camp opens……

  • Michael

    Here is a nice list of somewhat under the radar UFAs from PFW:

    Jonathan Fanene could be worth a look.

  • Taylor

    JJ is a great salesman, maybe he could convince Mario that Dallas is the promised land.  More likely is that one of the teams with big money will convince Mario that he can own the promised land.

  • The Foster deal virtually guarantees that Williams will test the free agent market.  In fact, unless Williams signs a sweetheart deal with the Texans…and/or the Texans pay him an unprecedented bonus amount, then he’s going to enter a bidding war that might set records for the NFL.  We’ve got several teams who are in real danger of not making the cap floor next year.  How do these teams want to resolve that?  By paying an elite player ridiculous, record-setting money.  As is, the Cowboys have room to sign Williams…if this was any other offseason.  But, we’re competing(if we are truly interested) with teams that can blow us out of the water in any bidding war.  With that said, I place the probability of Williams ending up with the Cowboys at less than 5%…and that may be generous.  

  • Dark Gable

    Williams has been hurt every year for the past 3 years ..why would you pay big money for often injured player

    • Williams didn’t miss a game his first four years.  He missed the last 3 games of ’10 with a sports hernia.  He tore a pec last year.  He does not have a chronic problem.  He has never torn a ligament or some such injury which can compromise his speed.  He was playing with the hernia and the team asked him to shut it down.  

      So no, he has not been hurt every year the last three years.  Dallas may not pursue him, but if you’re going the slam the guy at least use some facts.

  • On the “Dallas Cowboys Blitz” show tonight on local network TV, Rob Phillips did a little report from inside Valley Ranch.  The subject matter isn’t really important.  But, during the report, I did notice a draft board similiar to the infamous leaked board a couple of years ago on the top right of the screen.  I couldn’t really make out the names…so I don’t know if it’s a current board.  But, it was definitely a draft board.  So…someone with the technology (and time) to zoom in and check it out should.  I’m doubtful that the Cowboys would actually leak their board this early in the process.  But, this is exactly how we discovered the other one.  Someone should look into it… 

  • Raja

    I have always said that upgrading the pass rush is my No.1 FA priority (alongwith a C). If this move comes to fruition there would be Qs on the base scheme we will play and that in turn influences if we draft a Kuechly. Go DBs from Rd 2 onwards heavily. The pass rush will help these guys get their sea legs this season and with a bit of good health luck we could be serious contenders in 2013.

  • Snwbdgislife

    Sounds like a rumor leaked to increase leverage while negotiating with Spencer.  I don’t buy it at all.

  • Cowboy KRS

    Stephon Gilmore & Brandon Carr!!!!!!(Dangerous)

  • Cowboys4Life

    Signing Mario Williams might mean that we can’t afford a CB or center in free agency.   But if we could still have enough to sign someone cheap (maybe a Terrel Thomas or a Samson Satelle) along with Mario then I am in.

  • Austonianaggie

    Since Cox and DeCastro are opposite interior players I wonder who would win their match up the majority of times?

    • Austonianaggie

      Cox has longer arms and can improve his technique still – he’s more capable of an athlete so I think with coaching Cox would be able to beat DeCastro

    • Nightspook

      De Castro – Mean, nasty, want-to and can-do.  Cox “ain’t chopped liver” however from all scouting reports is a level below what De Castro brings.  That beings said … I would take either of em with a star on their helmet!

  • Ware94

    I’m not buying this Mario rumor. He has a better chance ending up in Seattle, Tampa Bay or St. Louis than Dallas. I can see Dallas signing CB Carr & 2-3 minor free agents.

  • Dee523192

    what about  restructuring some contracts like scandrick, ratliff, witten, and free. cut buehler, coleman, newman, and maybe spears, and kosier. here are some moves i think we need to make.

  • fiverings37


  • Michael

    That is a thin piece of speculation.

    I f Jerry can work the deal then more power to him, though this sounds more like a leverage gimmick than a realistic option.

    And, given the way the CB market has dried up, what are the Cowboys to do about CB?

    • I didn’t say I thought it would happen.  I don’t.  I’m just running through permutations. 

      • Michael

         I wouldn’t put it past Jerry to make it happen. One good thing about Jerry is that as misguided and stupid as he can be at times, he REALLY, REALLY wants to win.

        I don’t know how he copes with some of the terrible seasons the team as been through.

    • Lee1936

      CB in rd2.

    • Nightspook

      Even though my mind agrees with you, I just could not give you a “like” .. 🙂  My heart wants the big Dubbya!  And the  math is there, until  you start to compete with teams that have 60mil in cap space.  He is going to take the A-Rod path.  “Show me the money!”

  • Milkshaker

    With all of Jerry’s talk of regret for wasting Romo’s prime years, my hope is he’s aggressive in free agency this year and Mario Williams is the kind of signing Jerry makes.

  • cowboyny

    Read the same thing about Kirkpartrick’s interviews at the combine. I do not see him becoming a Cowboy, as well as Jenkins, either. My top three at 14 today: DeCastro, Cox, Ingram.

    • Kjd811

      Mine as well.

    • Nightspook

      Put’s more priorty on Carr in FA than Williams….  DRAT!

  • cowboyny

    Mario Williams is the ultimate FA prize this year. Could he possiblly become a Cowboy? If the front office wants him, then they will get him. However, with several needs areas most notablly at CB/OL, would they be better off spending the FA money on filling those areas? You can make a strong arguement either way. I would lean towards getting the big fish in the sea.

    Say the Cowboys signed Mario Williams, they could still remain in the 3-4 scheme, but it may makes more sense playing in a 4-3 scheme. Think of the possibilities:

    -Mario Cox Ratliff Ware

    -Mario Lissemore/Hatcher Ratliff Ware
    Kuechly Lee Carter

    -Mario Cox Ratliff Ware
    McCellin Lee Carter

    Any option would look real, real good.

    If Mario is in the fold, you would have to think the draft process will be about filling needs at CB and along the interior of the OL, where very little FA money would be left to sign anybody of substance.

    • Mike G

      The other day you were not in favor of my post when I posted that the boys should sign Mario. I am glad you are seeing the possiblilities differently now. I will say this over and over, Mario is in the prime of his career and a player of his caliber being available is something the boys have to go after. The pairing of him and Ware will cause the other teams to start staying awake at night. It has been a long time since they have had to do that.

    • Lee1936

      There should be money left for signing a veteran Center.

  • Natedawg

    The only thing I worry about is this may be a little too cute. What if Spencer instantly signs the tag? He’s under no obligation not to if it’s offered to him. It’s an amount he is clearly not worth for 1 year. Eight million of guaranteed money for 1 year and he can go right back and get a long term deal next year. Not to mention it really screws us for free agency this year.

    • He could do that, but he can probably score a bigger bonus on a multi-year deal than 8.8M.  And if he goes for the short-term cash and gets hurt this year he can kiss a long-term deal goodbye.  

      It’s in his best interest to hold out for the longest deal possible.

      • Natedawg

        True, the Cowboy pessimist is always prepared for the worst case scenario. It has happened before with a player unexpectedly and quickly signing a franchise tag i.e. Charles Woodson with the Raiders.

  • BamBam

     Is it assumed that Mario’s best position in a 3-4 defense would be OLB rather than DE?  Could Ryan put him in a position as 3-4 DE where he would still have opportunities to rush the passer rather than just occupy blockers?

    • Bluefin

       Mario Williams wants to rush the QB and likely wants to be a 4-3 DE.

      He can play any position he wants to, but I don’t think he wants to be a 3-4 DE.

      If Dallas wants Williams, it should be an easy hurdle to jump.

      Mario will be rushing the passer, likely from a variety of positions in various defensive looks.

      Rob Ryan, Jason Garrett, Stephen Jones and Jerry Jones just have to sell Williams on how he will be used in Big D.

      I’m not worried about that.

      • Mike G

        I think the Cowboys have better personnel for a 4-3 anyway. I think Carter and Lee would end up having better careers in a 4-3 and Ware can do it all so he will be great no matter what defense is being played. A 4-3 could move Ratliff off of the nose and get more depth with Hatcher Lissimore Brent and Spears. Also a 4-3 outside Linebacker are cheaper and much easier to find.

        • Nightspook

          I love where your coming from, but I believe it is a given that Ware is better standing than with his hand on the ground as a pass rusher.  You take away his pass rusher “role” IE move to a 4-3 and keep him at ROLB then he loses what makes him great.  I believe Bluefin has the approach.  Sell Williams on how you are going to use him.  

  • Mike G

    I have been posting this for weeks. Mario is the man the Cowboys should be going after. The Cowboys have layed low on this hoping not to increase awareness. He is in the prime of his career and he will help the entire defense get better. Sign him Jerry !!!!!

  • I don’t know what numbers Williams is looking for…and I don’t think I’ve read anything other than wild speculation on what he’s actually looking for in terms of an annual cap hit.  But, is the idea wonderfully..almost too good to be true…appealing?  You bet your sweet bippy!  And, this is also one of the main plus points for tagging Spencer.  All options are open…with no desperation in play to force your hand.  But, if we do sign Williams, then that’s it.  No Nicks, no Finnegan…or any other big name free agent…which is fine with me.  And, if Williams is signed, then OL become a more prevalent need with that #14 pick.  Vela’s pet cat Irvin is gone.  In fact, you won’t be expending any value in the draft on the OLB position…which makes predicting the Cowboy’s draft strategy a bit easier.  But, first things first, we need to hurry up and wait for that first day of free agency.  I like the idea…love it actually…but wonder what the trickle down effect is on the rest of the roster. 

  • I’m a Cowboy

    Bring on the 4-3.

    Williams Hatcher Ratliff Ware

    Hightower Lee Carter

    • Arnoldo Becho

      I like these guys a little better. Yes Kuechly is slightly out of position but I dont feel like worrying about that.
      Williams Lissemore Ratliff Ware
      Kuechly Lee Carter

      • I’m a Cowboy

        I like Hightower a little more for the strong side. Plus I think we can trade down get him and pick up more picks in the 2nd round. Good round to get cb and og.

    • Jon

      I like your thinking. the 3-4 Defense sucks! 4-3 Defense is BEAST!

  • Kjd811

    Mario will def. upgrade the pass rush and he his under 30 but part of me would rather see them pay for the corner in FA and draft the rusher. Of course its a projection to draft the rusher where mario is a proven commodity.

    Ware and Williams would be a great pash rush combo.

  • Michael Emery

    Can I triple like this article Raf? I mean talk about the dynamic duo (but like Batman1 and Batman2) . Mario and Ware would really improve our secondary simply by the fact that they would have to cover for shorter periods of time. I say yes please.  

  • Cowboy KRS

    D.Ware,M.Williams & D. Poe, move over Ravens,Steelers ,Da Boys are Back in Town! Number1 D.

    • Lostar2009

      Wow that would be awesome !!!