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Cowboys Aren’t Panicking and Neither Should You

Stephen Paea

I tried to warn you, the Dallas Cowboys were not going to be active on any of the big name free agents when 4PM came around last Thursday. Some fans chose not to listen and got upset when the best players were scooped up. We knew Dallas wasn’t going to move quickly and we knew they weren’t going to spend the big-time money it took to acquire those free agents.

Everything went pretty much according to plan, and actually, the Cowboys moved faster to sign some players than they usually do. However, they weren’t the name brand recognition players that people were hoping to sign.

Despite all the signs that were put out there, panic set in at watching former Cowboys walk out the door. Nobody liked obsessing over Twitter, ESPN or the NFL Network and seeing the reports that Terrell McClain, Barry Church, or Ronald Leary had signed elsewhere. It didn’t take long for frustration to set in for fans.

Repeat after me guys, it’s going to be OK. There is no need to panic with what’s happening right now. Your Cowboys prepared for exactly what has transpired so far and they have a plan. You might not like how they are going about their business, but Dallas is following their script.

Now, the plan might not have called for re-signing Terrance Williams but that was a pleasant surprise. He may not excite many fans with his inconsistent hands, but Williams takes advantage of limited opportunities in the passing game, is one of the best blocking wide receivers in the league and is always available (he has never missed a game). That’s important to note with fellow wide out Dez Bryant’s injury history in the last two seasons. It also helps that the deal is well below market value for a free agent wide receiver of Williams’ quality.

Doug Free’s retirement also threw a monkey wrench into the mix, but the Cowboys knew this was a possibility a few weeks ago. The team has options available as we laid out a few weeks ago and it’s safe to put right tackle in the mix as an early draft possibility as well.

The rest of what the Cowboys did is what they have been doing over the past handful of years in free agency, filling holes. They don’t sign the big money dudes, but the team fills the gaps on their roster with competent NFL players to ensure they don’t have to reach for specific positions when the draft comes around. It’s important not to be locked into one spot on your roster going into the draft and the Cowboys keep the best player available option (within reason) open.

To do that, the Cowboys are willing to add players who are undervalued by their former teams and off the radar guys who fans didn’t see coming. We might not have thought of Stephen Paea or Nolan Carroll, but both have had some success in the league and likely fit Dallas much better than they did their former employers.

Paea played in a 3-4 in Washington a few years ago before moving the the Browns in 2016, but looks like a much better fit for the Cowboys’ 4-3 under Rod Marinelli, who has experience coaching him. Despite what the stats told you, the defense was not very good against the run last year and Paea adds some beef and strength up front. He comes at cheaper price than McClain and should be a valuable rotational player.

In Carroll’s case, the Cowboys are hoping he fits their system better than he did in Philadelphia. According to some film guru’s, Carroll is better as an off-ball corner than he is in man coverage, which the Eagles left him too much in last year. The veteran corner also brings some playmaking skills the defense needs.

These additions, the draft, and the Cowboys’ in-house replacements for the players they lost has been their plan. The team is also not done adding help in free agency, either. They may not be household names and you may not think much of the players, but a few years ago you were probably asking “who?” about Terrell McClain. Now you get upset the Cowboys didn’t re-sign him.

There is more work to be done, but there’s no need to panic. The Cowboys will be just fine, as long as they have the franchise quarterback (check), the stud running back (check), the stud wide receiver (check), the reliable tight end who still gets open with regularity (check), and those three All-Pro offensive linemen (check) leading the way. We may hate the other side of the ball, but they weren’t good enough to get the job done last year, so the losses on defense shouldn’t be something the team can’t overcome.

And the team will do a big-time deal this off-season, with a big-time player, his name is Zack Martin. Hope that’s alright with you.

It might not look pretty, but the Dallas Cowboys are filling their holes and preparing for the draft. There’s no need to panic, this has been the plan all along.

You can chat with or follow Ben on twitter @BenGrimaldi

Ben Grimaldi

Ben Grimaldi

Senior Analyst at SportsTalkLine
Writer for ProFootBallTalkLine.Com. Associate sports producer. Lets talk sports! On Twitter @BenGrimaldi and Podcasting for STL!
Ben Grimaldi

  • McShrek

    Ben………….If i were the FO i woud be very concerned, the Free retirement seems to have caught them off guard, without a top oline this team will disintegrate…..Dak and Zeke will know what it is like to have been Romo from 2008-2013….Collins needs to step up at left guard, and Chaz to this point, is not the answer at right tackle; the team will likley lose its identity if they cannot run the ball effectively in 2017…just imagine if Tyron, Fred or Zack go down with a season ending injury….i see where they came to terms with Cooper which seems like an excellent move, but can he play? He is no Leary by the way he has bounced around.

    Let me state this again, Romo HAS NO INTEREST AT ALL IN PLAYING for a losing/rebuilding franchise, he does NOT need the money, his only motivation is winning a ring; Cowboys have NO LEVERAGE with Houston (maybe a smidgeon due to the Ostweiler trade) and none at all with Denver, as the whole league knows he will not be on the Cowboy roster for the 2017 season and not only due to the $$$ issue……..this is about reworking Romo’s contract by the contending teams without trading for him, its all about the BUSINESS of the NFL…..the Browns are the laughing stock of the league; for all your DWare folks, that has been also put to rest……i wish him well in retirement and may his back recover completley, he will be glad of such 30 years from now.

    • Ben Grimaldi

      Don’t think the Free thing caught them off guard, they were told a few weeks ago he was thinking of walking away. Team has covered their bases to replace, but is it good enough? Collins is in a walk year and if he wants to get paid like the first round prospect he thought he was, he’ll have a great year. Team desperately needs him to play to that level. If that happens, not much changes since I think Green/Cleary can do a fine job at RT. That’s my opinion though.

      • McShrek

        Thinking of walking away and actually doing it are worlds apart, i bet Garrett and the oline coach thoguth they could talk him out of it; it would seem that they might have at least offered Leary a contract if they had known (of course nobody knows if they did); Green with his injury history is problematic, Cleary showed something in the Eagles game, but that is far cry from playing 16 games at the position……the Free retirement is a huge development….ESPN has already dropped the Boys to #7 in their power rankings.

    • McShrek

      PS….Carr and Claiborne now gone along with Ryan Davis…………we will need the program to identify most of the defensive palyers come September…………McClay is on th espot again but drafting much lower……..not even sure that the Boys will be favored to win the East now with the Giants reloading on Offense and our floating o-line issues

  • paul karam

    Do you think the Browns might be interested in Romo? Would he be interested in them? They have a new OL and WR, plenty of cap space and draft choices. This might change Houston’s and Denver’s outlook on the situation.

    • Ben Grimaldi

      Interested, sure. But Romo will have final decision if he gets released & he is not going to Cleveland.

      • Michael

        The longer this final Romo drama drags on, the more likely anything will become possible.The idea that Jones was going to give him a free release to play elsewhere turned out to be a rumor orchestrated by Romo’s camp, as are the rumors that Fox is interested in Romo.

        What Jones has in mind is completely mysterious at the moment. One thing we know about Jones is that he is a patient poker player, he could sit on Romo until after the draft, or until training camp opens. By then, the Broncos and Texans will have made other QB plans and Romo won’t have two good choices to play against each other. Romo might have to take his chances with the Browns, the Jets, or the 49ers, or retire.

        Either something went awry between Romo and Jones or the Romo to the Texans/Broncos rumors (and his instagram goodbye) were simply publicity stunts designed to pressure Jones. In any case, it is nice to see Jones has his eyes open about Romo for once. Keep calling his bluff Jerry.

        • McShrek


        • Ben Grimaldi

          Michael, I agree with you here. This is a business and the Cowboys/Jerry should play hard ball with Romo. Sucks to watch him go through this but its part of the deal.

    • daledoe

      I would be surprised if the Browns had interest in Romo. They seem to want to build from the ground up and that would go against their plan. I believe they’ll get a young QB to grow up with their team.

      • paul karam

        The Browns have Hogan, Kessler and Osweiler. Who better to groom them than Romo.

        • Michael

          The fresh rumor is that the Browns will pursue Cousins. The old rumor is that they want Garoppolo. Osweiler they will flip, but to whom? The Browns hold the key to the QB market this offseason.

          Osweiler could end up in Denver and/or Garoppolo in Houston. Things are fluid this year and the Browns crazy trade with the Texans has opened a lot of possibilities.

          • housedj75

            Agree about the Brownies & them being key to QB’s this year. (FA & Draftwise) But NO WAY Osweiler ends up BACK in Denver. There was a reason they let him go the first time.

          • Michael

            The Broncos offered Osweiler 16 million a year (and 30 million guaranteed) before he walked to take 18 million per year from Houston. Denver has a new coaching staff and it is uncertain where they sit with Osweiler, but he is still the guy they offered 16 million to less than a year ago.

          • McShrek

            And they have two better options right now with Lynch and Siemian…….it is becoming obvious now that the Romo haters are afraid that if Romo lands with a contending team, he might actually win somewhere else…….

          • Football Mensa

            I want to see Romo in Houston. Bingo on Denver having two better options than Osweiler. If Romo goes to Denver , Dallas plays Denver. I think Jerry is scared of that happening.

          • Michael

            @McShrek and @footballmensa:disqus

            What Jerry should do and what Jerry will do are two different things. The fly in the ointment here is the post-June 1st designation that frees up cap space this season. Jones could release Romo with a June 1st designation, but why? The longer he holds Romo the more pressure he puts on the Broncos and Texans. If you remember back a few years, when Romo had leverage he fleeced the Cowboys with a horrendous contract. Today, Jones has the leverage and he is trying to extract value from his asset. You can’t really blame Jones for that. If Romo has the ability to win a championship, then why wouldn’t a team step up and make the Cowboys an offer for his services?

            As for Osweiler, who is to say the problem in Houston was Osweiler and not O’Brien? It takes two to get into a physical altercation and O’Brien certainly played a role. It is worth remembering that both the Broncos and Cowboys tried (with the Broncos being successful) to trade up in the 1st round last year for Osweiler clone Paxton Lynch.

            Also hanging in the wind is the question of the Cowboys backup QB. I think it is obvious that Garrett would like an older veteran but if the price if right why not try to make a play for a Osweiler? There is no guarantee that Prescott won’t hit a wall or that he will remain healthy. Maybe there is a three team trade in the winds?

            In any case, the Browns are at the center of the QB universe this offseason.

          • Football Mensa

            What Jerry should do has been mostly wrong since 94.

            Bill O’Brien never spoke with Osweiler before he signed with Houston. I’d be a bit pissed as well.

            There is no guarantee Dak isn’t a one year wonder. Dallas should be in the drafting another qb business.

            Lynch is more mobile than Osweiler.

          • Michael

            O’Brien was right to be mad. But that will get sorted out quickly if the Texans don’t win. A quirk of O’Brien’s offense is that it is heavily reliant on option routes and continuity between QB and WRs. Any young QB coming in for a single year will likely struggle. Romo, with his experience and demonstrated skill with option routes, would probably be great in O’Brien’s offense. Back in Kubiak’s offense, Osweiler was pretty good. There he had defined routes and known reads. Typical stuff a young QB needs to be functional.

            Dak could be a one year wonder. And I agree that Dallas should be in the QB business. Why not try to get Osweiler? His stock will never be lower than it is now.

          • McShrek

            Elway released Ostweiler, his actions would indicate that he is not an elite QB to be; really tall QBs have never worked out outside of Peyton; the future of the position in the NFL is for far more mobility, not less

          • Michael

            He wasn’t released, he was a free agent and signed with the Texans because they offered more money. It was a stupid decision on Osweiler’s part largely because the Broncos made him a generous offer. Also, Osweiler is neither as tall nor as slow afoot as everyone thinks. He is a shade taller than Flacco and mobile enough to live on a regular diet of bootlegs and rollouts while in Kubiak’s offense.

            I have no idea if Osweiler will bounce back from his self-inflicted humiliation but I do know that his stock is at a low point today and he will never be cheaper.

          • McShrek

            You are absolutely right, he was a FA and went for the biggest $$$$……….as he egts older his mobility will dissipate…….

          • McShrek

            Both Houston and Denver pose problems for the Joneses………playing Denver this year is something they would like to avoid….

          • Michael

            I would love to see Romo go to Houston or Denver. That would be good for the NFL and great fun to watch. But, I would much rather the Cowboys extract some value for Romo before cutting him loose. At the end of the day, I would rather the Cowboys win a Superbowl than the Broncos or Texans.

            Some you of guys, it seems, would rather see Romo win than the Cowboys. My loyalties don’t run that way. But to each their own.

          • McShrek

            Cowboys have a right and obligation to extract value from Romo as well they should, but they (for the upteenth time) have almost no leverage……..

          • Michael

            The longer Jones waits the less certain Romo’s destination. Time gives Jones leverage. And for Jones the game might be as simple as keeping Romo from the Texans. Who knows? I am sure there is a marketing or fan base issue at work.

          • McShrek

            Not at all, everyone knows that the Cowboys will release Romo sooner or later….. long way to training camp; once June 1st rolls around the matter will be decided

          • Football Mensa

            The reason the Browns got Osweiler is because of the salary floor. Teams have to spend X amount of dollars and they were way below the floor. It also gave them a second round pick which adds to their ammo if they want to pursue Garapolo . Just how bad are you as a player when the team you play for gives a second round pick to get rid of you ?

            In no way will Romo ever wear the orange helmet.

            Jerry should let Romo go. He destroyed his career with the putrid o lines he trotted out year after year. I want the Cowboys to win so bad but I won’t lie. There is a piece of me that wants Jerry to squirm the remainder of his years as Dallas owner. I truly hate the man.

          • Lee1936

            Thank you!