Heading into March, team owner and general manager Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys made a promise to the organization and fans that money will be spent on multiple positions the team needs.
When the gates opened on the 13th of March, the new league year began and Jerry Jones didn’t hesitate to strike the free agent market by signing Brandon Carr, one of the top cornerbacks out on the market. By signing Carr, the Cowboys addressed a much needed area of the team. But Jones wasn’t finished after signing Carr as the Cowboys signed six more players in multiple positions in only the first week of the free agent signing period. So with all the paper work finished and the contracts signed, it’s time for me to go inside the helmet and grade each move.
Cornerback Brandon Carr (Former Team Kansas City Chiefs) – The secondary was a major problem down the stretch and one of the key factors of the team missing the playoffs. Veteran Cornerback Terence Newman was released as expected to make room for either Cortland Finnegan or Brandon Carr. Finnegan was signed by the St. Louis Rams as the Cowboys showed more interest in Carr, a much better all-around player at the cornerback position. Carr gives the defense youth and major upside with a player that brings not only raw talent, but a solid fundamentally sound athlete, something the secondary has been lacking. And to lock a player of Carr’s caliber up for the next five seasons is worth the price tag of $50 million.
Quarterback Kyle Orton (Former Team Kansas City Chiefs) – Can’t deny the fact the organization is taking into consideration that starting quarterback Tony Romo. Signing Kyle Orton not only gives the Cowboys perhaps the best backup quarterback in the game, but a player that has yet to turn 30. The recent backups to Romo have been Brad Johnson and Jon Kitna, both players that were at the end of their careers. Romo has taken a physical pounding over the last two seasons, and head coach Jason Garrett understands from his experience of being a backup that you can never expect your quarterback to stay healthy through the grinds of a brutal sixteen game season.
Fullback Lawrence Vickers (Former Team Houston Texans) – The six year veteran has been known as one of the better lead blockers in the game. Vickers was the lead blocker for the league’s top rushing attack in Houston, paving the way for arguably the league’s best running back, Arian Foster. The move leaves indication that fullback Tony Fiammetta’s days in Dallas just might be over with as the team declined to give him an exclusive rights deal. Fiammetta’s health has been a major concern dating back to his days in Carolina, and by signing Vickers, the Cowboys have secured the fullback position with one of the top blockers to lead block for DeMarco Murray, a running back with a tremendous upside.
Linebacker Dan Connor (Former Team Carolina Panthers) – Another area of the team that is in the process of revamping, linebacker. The signing of Connor, a teammate of Sean Lee at Penn State brings youth to the position as the team continues to bring in young blood and exit out the old. Bradie James and Keith Brooking may be on their way out the door as the future at the position going forward will be Bruce Carter and Sean Lee at inside linebacker with Connor coming in on multiple substituting packages.
Guard Nate Livings (Former Team Cincinnati Bengals) – No doubt the team is rebuilding the offense line, a key factor on the teams falters down the stretch in their recent after thanksgiving collapses. Livings is listed at 6-5, 332 lbs. He stared 47 games for the Bengals including all 16 in 2010 and 2011 unlike Kyle Koiser who’s was injury prone on the interior part of the offensive line, a main reason why the team is expected to release Koiser. Livings brings an upgrade of size and durability at the guard position, a much needed factor on the offensive line.
Guard Mackenzy Bernadeau (Former Team Carolina Panthers) – Listed at 6-4, 308 lbs., Bernadeau stared only one game in 2011 and 12 in 2010 for the Panthers. Not the biggest name out on the free agent market, but worthy of depth and potential of possibly becoming a starter in the near future as the team continues searching for the right mix at the line of scrimmage.
Safety Brodney Pool (Former Team New York Jets) – Before joining the Jets, Pool played for Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan and defensive backs assistant Jerome Henderson in Cleveland. The move is basically for depth reasons as the team signed Pool for only one year. Always good to sign a player that has a connection to the coach and is familiar with the system.
So Jerry has begun delivering the promise he made in the early stages of the offseason. But he and his son Stephen Jones have stated that the work has yet to be done. The Cowboys lost standout receiver Laurent Robinson to the Jacksonville Jaguars leaving them in need of a third receiver. Kevin Ogletree was re-signed to at least leave some depth at the position and only for slightly more than the league minimum salary of $610,000 on a one year deal. Andre Holmes and Dwayne Harris are other youngsters at the position the team feels have potential to work their way in the teams passing game as third and fourth options in a seemingly pass-happy league. As the offseason continues, Jerry and Stephen Jones seem to have the right plan ahead of schedule and outlook to help “America’s Team” head into training camp as a super bowl contender. And hopefully, high expectations don’t spiral downward this time around?