Welcome to the off-season. Here we are a week and a half away from the end of the CBA and there has been no news on the negotiations. What we do know is that the owners and players association have been meeting with federal mediator George Cohen the last few day, but have all agreed on a code of silence as far as what has been happening behind those close doors.
While the negotiations are on going for a new CBA, things with the Cowboys coaching staff have been finalized. New defensive coordinator Rob Ryan has finally spoken about his new position and has come off saying all the right things from what I’ve heard. I believe the Ryan hiring will be a positive because the Cowboys defense needed a change. I believe they became too comfortable with Wade Phillips the last few years and things became stale and predictable. With Ryan I look for an attacking defense and for him to do different things during different situations, unlike Phillips.
Other coaches joining the Cowboys are Jimmy Robinson (Asst. Head Coach/Wide Receivers), Matt Eberflus (Linebackers), Brian Baker (Defensive Line) and Mike Woicik (Strength and Conditioning). Head Coach Jason Garrett believes they have put in place the best possible coaches to get the Cowboys to the next level. From everything I’m hearing from the new coaches I’m excited to see the team in action. It was time for the Cowboys to make some changes and to get some new blood.
As far as the players, the Cowboys have some important free agents like Doug Free, Jason Hatcher, Marcus Spears, Kyle Kosier, Bryan McCann, Stephen Bowen, Allan Ball, Gerald Sensabaugh and Sam Hurd. I’m sure not all of these players will be back for the Cowboys in 2011 and a lot also depends on the new CBA and when the new deal is signed. Come March 4th no players that are scheduled to become free agents can be signed until a new deal is signed. I believe the Cowboys top priority is Doug Free and they need to get him signed. He made big strides in his first season as the starting left tackle. The offensive line needs a lot of work and Free is a good starting point.
Now, I will never claim to be an expert as far as free agency or the salary cap or anything on the business side of football, but with Sensabaugh and Ball both being free agents and neither being the answer at safety in my opinion, my question is why aren’t the Cowboys doing anything right now? Or maybe they are and the public just doesn’t know it. Three safeties were just released and can be interviewed and signed anytime between now and March 3rd. OJ Atogwe, Eugene Wilson and Bob Sanders are all on the open market right now. Why not bring them in? Atogwe was also a free agent last off-season and the Cowboys showed no interest. Again, in no way am I an expert with the business side and maybe the Cowboys have a plan, but from what I’ve seen from the safety play is that the position needs to be addressed. I can name all kind of players that I would like the Cowboys to sign, but is just me being a fan and thinking how great it would be to go on a signing spree.
One thing that is certain is that even if a new CBA agreement is not reached in the coming weeks or months is that the NFL Draft will be held April 28-30. The Cowboys currently hold the 9th overall pick. Do the Cowboys draft for need or best player available?
When it comes to the Cowboys free agents, other NFL free agents or the draft, none of that will matter if a new CBA is not signed because there won’t be a 2011 NFL season. As a fan I have gone through the 1982 strike, which wiped out seven games from the regular season schedule and the 1987 strike, which brought in scab players for three games. Both were not fun at all and I would rather not go through a third strike. Let’s hope the owners and the players can come to an agreement quickly so the Cowboys and the rest of the NFL can get back to doing what they normally do during this time of year.