Mock Off-Season w/ New GM!
***NOTE - This is an extensive post. Don't get caught up in the numbers.***
Outlaws's 2013 Mock Off-Season
Front Office Changes
Eric Mangini - General Manager
Mangini has nearly 20 years of NFL experience. During this tenure he has learned from both Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick. This experience has given him a wealth of knowledge in the 3-4 Defense. These experiences have given him a unique perspective as to how to draft, as he demonstrated consisted excellent drafts during his Head Coaching tenure. Mangini has focused on fixing the Offensive Line throughout all his stops with the draft picks: D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Nick Mangold and Alex Mack. His draft history is impeccable. Throughout 2012, Mangini has steadily pimped out the Dallas Cowboys - and now gets a chance to help run the show.
[Alternate Option - Marc Ross, New York Giants' Director of College Scouting]
Brad Seely - Special Teams
Public Enemy Number 1 for me is Coach Joe. After assessing our special team failures, Garrett and Mangini tap into Coach Seely and convince him to leave San Fransisco. Seely has been a special teams guru and has consistently put out top 10 units each and every year. Seely worked for years with Mangini both with the Patritos were the two were coordinators and then with the Browns where Seely followed to be with his friend Mangini. Again, Mangini taps into Seely (and as an added bonus, we weaken an NFC contender).
[Alternate Option - larry Izzo, New York Giants' Assistant Special Teams Coordinator]
Norv Turner - Offensive Coordinator
Callahan gives up the title to focus all his attention towards fixing the offensive line. Long time friend and mentor to Garrett returns to his former watering hole for one last gambit for victory before setting off into the sunset. Turner is an experienced play-caller who would provide a wealth of knowledge for Garrett to be exposed to and absorb. Garrett is hesitant to turn over play calling duties to just anyone, but Turner is someone he can trust without hesitation allowing Garrett to focus on being a successful Head Coach. Turner will also provide the building blocks to develop Romo's possible successor.
[Alternate Option - Rob Chudzinski, Carolina Panthers' Offensive Coordinator (and student of Norv Turner)]
Restructures / Extensions and Cap-Movements
The Cowboys enter the 2013 season with roughly 20 Million Dollars over the Salary Cap - including the ridiculous $5 Million penalty. As a result Stephen and Mangini get to work to restore order and get the Cowboys in a position to have flexibility to make any and all necessary moves in the off-season. While the number seems daunting at first glace, it is something easily tackled.
The first move the Cowboys do is Roll Over from 2012 to 2013. This move gets us to 16.5 Million over.
Tony Romo - QB
Since Romo remains on the roster for 2013, his final three years are voided and as a result 2013 becomes his final year on his contract. Romo will cost the Cowboys over in 2013. After a record setting year in 2012, the administration make sure that Romo retires a Cowboy. The Cowboys give Romo (Age 32) a four year extension for 65 Million, with 28.5 Million Guaranteed. New Cap hit of 10.25 Million, reducing Dallas Salary Cap by 6.5 Million. Still 10 Million over.
[Comparable Contract: Matt Schaub - Four Year Extension for $62Million with nearly $25Million guaranteed. ]
Brandon Carr - CB
The 50 Million Dollar free agent Corner has been battle tested this past year. At times looking like a phenom and at times he has been beaten like a red-headed step child. But overall the future with Carr looks promising. Perhaps no one aside from the Brown family and Josh Brent has suffered more this season than Carr has. Carr counts for against the Cap for 2013. The Cowboys Organization is and is set to save 10.5 Million in 2013. As a result the Cowboys are now under the cap by 500k.
Miles Austin - WR
Austin has done well for being an Undrafted player in the NFL. The biggest problem is he just can't stay healthy, but when he is on the field he is able to stretch the field nicely for the Cowboys. In 2010, The Cowboys rewarded Miles with a new contract, one which gave him over 17 Million the first year. Heading into 2013, Austin will count for in 2013. The administration approaches Austin with the proposal to take a 2.5 Million dollar pay cut (over the course of his contract) given his inability to stay on the field, while also allocating 5 Million in funds to a roster bonus to help reduce his cap hit. Austin agrees to this because the final year of his contract (total sum in excess of 11 Million) is not guaranteed, so he ends up assuring he gets more money secured for a slight pay cut. The Cowboys need to be careful with this move since while it allows for flexibility, it is part of the reason they are in this Salary Cap mess. The move saves the Cowboys 4 Million this year, bringing their cap to 4.5 Million under the threshold.
Jason Witten - TE
After a record breaking season for a TE Witten is set to make in 2013. In order to save the Cowboys some money this year, he moves around 3 Million of his salary into a signing bonus - saving the club 2 Million this year.
DeMarcus Ware - LB
Ware is set to count for a little over so with some restructuring magic, we save an additional 2 million this year.
Sean Lee - LB
With one year left on his contract, Lee becomes Priority #1 to re-sign. Using and contracts as a base line, the Cowboys extend Lee by five years, giving him a six year $40 Million contract with 20 Million Guaranteed. This year he will now count 3 Million against the cap. [So 2.125M more than before.]
I would love to see a few of these players traded away for late round picks / players. That, however, is simply too much work for me to project, so it's just easier to cut ties with. Also, please note this is a fluid time-line. That is to say that not all these players would be cut prior to the draft, but it is simply easier to have this breakdown here. Also, the reason I am taking the hits now as opposed to next year is because next year we will likely have to re-sign: Murray, Dez, Smith & Carter. Plus, I am tired of playing the game of paying for something later. We take our lumps this year and are marginally active during Free Agency so as to maximize our Draft Compensation Picks.
Doug Free - OL
I am probably the biggest supporter of Free. The man was a rock as out LT, and has been awful the past two years. This isn't a contract I will bash because I frankly thought it was great at the time. But his production isn't worth it. It makes no real sense to have him even try and restructure, he is lost to this club. He counts for against the cap and releasing him now saves us $2,825,000. We could wait until after June first and save a larger portion, but I would rather save a little now and a lot next year, we are going to need it.
Dan Connor - LB
The long time friend of Lee was brought in to compete for the starting job and failed to get it. Connor is set to count against the cap, which is simply far too high for a team that is cash-strapped. Cutting Connor saves the team 3 Million in cap rooming.
Gerald Sensabaugh - S
Sensabaugh is a solid player, but unspectacular. He's going to be 30 at the start of the season and won't be worth the price tag associated with him. Cutting him saves 1.25M.
Marcus Spears - DL
Spears has been a decent foot-soldier all things considered. But his time in Dallas is over. I would like to see him traded to a team like the Colts, but again - best to just cut it off now. Spears is set to make this year, and by cutting him we save 600k.
Ryan Cook - OL
Cowboys absorb 150k Bonus and end up saving 1.1 Million by cutting Cook. Decent player, and for a 7th rounder worked out well - just isn't worth retaining.
Eric Frampton - DB
Anthony Armstrong - WR
Phillip Tanner - RB
David Arkin - OL
Donavon Kemp - WR
Anthony Spencer - LB
No, I am not a Spencer-hater. I actually think he has been a really good player. I think he is a top 5 SOLB for the 34. But franchising him is out of the question - and I don't think Dallas has the fire power to match a team like the Jets or Colts. Should rake in a nice comp-pick in 2014.
Mike Jenkins - CB
Jenkins will be payed decently and be given the chance to be a starter. Wish him the best and hopefully a nice Comp-pick comes in for him as well.
And the Not Even Worth My Time Discussing: Good riddance to bad rubbish.
Players to Re-Sign
L.P. Ladouceur -L.S
Not much to say, the oldest person the the team returns given his reliability. 3 year deal. 2014 and 2015 will focus heavily on finding his replacement.
After some Cap movements, the Cowboys manage to get under the Cap with 20 Million and change (not counting Lee's extension). So the Cowboys are in a decent position to make marginal moves this off-season. Also by taking the hits this year, they set themselves up for a much better position next year when several of the young talent will be looking for new Contracts.
Desmond Bryant - DL, Raiders
Height - 6' 6"
Weight - 311 lbs
Age - 26 year old
If for no other reason than it would be fantastic to have a 'Des' Bryant on both the offense and defense we should sign him. But there is more. Over the past few years, this Harvard graduate has been exposed to the 3-4 Defense and has shown the ability (and flexiability) to play snaps at both DE spots as well as the NT position. He is an under the radar type of individual who is the definition of a blue-collared worker. He loves studying tape and has shown an affinity to be able to stop the run and provide a good pass-rush. We sign Bryant to man one of the DE spots and allow him to continue to tap into his potential. He would be signed to a similar deal that Hatcher received.
[Comparable Contract - Jason Hatcher's 3 year deal for 6 Million with 2.5 Guaranteed.]
Terrance Knighton - DL, Jaguars
Height - 6' 3"
Weight - 330 lbs
Age - 26
Knighton has found himself on the bench lately more often than not as the Jaguars are moving to a shceme to provide a greater threat with the interior blitz. Terrific run-defender who provides a decent collapse of the interior pocket but main-duty is to take up defenders and stop running backs in their tracks. He's young. He will be cost-effective, and he will fill a need in the void we have at NT. Knight needs a team to take a flyer on him to be able to regain his honor, Dallas gives him just that with a Spears' like contract.
[Comparable Contract - Marcus Spears' 5 year deal for 19.2 Million with 4.2 Guaranteed.]
Connor Barwin - LB, Texans
Height - 6' 4"
Weight - 268 lbs
Age - 26
Barwin has cost himself a lot of money this season. He just has two sacks this year and has a limited number of splash plays - a large reason this should be attributed would be because of the dynamics of Mega-Watt. Barwin's days in Houston maybe numbered given the talent they have there at the OLB position. Coming to Dallas, Barwin immediately steps in as a starter and doesn't have to move very far. I would give him a contract similar to that of Brooks of the 49ers signed. While it may seem like a big deal, it is actually very cap-friendly and if he doesn't produced he can be let go in the near future. But until then the 26 year old is given a nice contract given his mediocre year (comparatively) that won't destroy the bank for Dallas.
[Comparable Contract - ' 6 year deal for $44.5 Million with $17.5 million in guarantees.]
Matt Slauson - OL, Jets
Height - 6' 5"
Weight - 315 lbs
Age - 26
I know, the first reaction is, "WHO!?" The second reaction is - "Outlaw want's someone who bashed Tebow?!" Now that you guys move past that, lets talk about Slauson. He won the starting LG position for the Jets this year, and is intimately aware of Callahan system having played for him with the Jets and also in college at Nebraska. In fact, Slauson praises Callahan saying - "In our room, Callahan means everything. The guy is an incredible coach. He's the best coach I've ever had in my life, and I know all the other guys say the exact same thing. The guy has saved my career twice. If he's not here, I'll be really bummed. He's a huge part of our success. If he's gone, he'll be really missed." He is a tough smart guy who loves our coach and has the versatility to play multiple spots on the line. The 6th round pick could provide a nice boon for the line and I see a similar deal that Mackenzy Bernadeau signed, which is an 11 million dollar deal.
Pat Lee - CB, Lions
Height - 6'0"
Weight - 200 lbs
Age - 28
Lee is a decent player who comes to play our Dime Corner. Lee is also a force on Special Teams, and with losing McCray - we can't ignore that aspect of the team. Lee has valuable playing experience. He will come on the cheap side. 2-3 year deal for a little over the vet minimum each time.
To give some pre-draft analysis. This off-season the Cowboys took a lot of hits on the chin in order to fix the future. They signed several role players as opposed to outright studs who should be able to either start or come in on spot duty and be an asset. Several players were targeted who have the versatility to play multiple positions as well as the intelligence to do so. The cowboys infused a wealth of youth to this roster and have virtually no holes going into the draft which allows for the Best-Player/Value-Approach to the draft to occur. As it stands the Cowboys hold the 18th draft. And as always - I will ignore any criticisms that "so and so player" will be drafted higher or lower if it's within a round either way. The draft is crazy, each and every year.
The Cowboys, who have multiple targets, receive a phone call to move from the 18th overall pick to the 25th overall, picking up a 3rd and a 5th along the way. The Cowboys trade down hoping that one of their targets will still be there.
Jonathan Cooper - OG, North Carolina
Cooper is an extremely athletic Offensive Guard with spectacular vision. He really excels in pass protection. I have made it no secret that for this team he is my number 1 OG. I think him and Smith can form a dominate Left Side for a long, long time.
Oday Aboushi - OT, Virginia
Aboushi has played LT a lot, but I am drafting him to compete and eventually develop as our RT. He is very athletic and strength is in pass protection. But he still needs to develop consistency in technique and as a blocker. Aboushi and Smith could provide versatile, athletic bookends for a very long time.
Phillip Thomas - FS, Fresno State
Love Thomas, he is a play-making Safety who is a sound tackler and great hands. Has the flexibility to play either S spot. In 2011 he suffered an injury and has come back in 2012 to have a fantastic campaign showing no residual effects.
Mike Gillislee - RB, Florida
Consider the following: The last time the Dallas Cowboys won a SuperBowl, we had a Florida Gator at the Running Back position. Clearly that's been what we have been lacking. This senior running back is a tough man, as he has battled through injuries all season and still been a force. He is a tough runner with deceptive speed who really excels at blocking and can also catch out of the backfield. Part of the reason for the Gators success this season has been because they almost always get positive yards rushing the ball. In fact, all season playing an SEC Schedule that faced LSU, UGA, FSU, SCAR, TAMU defense - Gillislee only lost 34 yards all season. Boss!
Braxston Cave - C, Notre Dame
Cave is a tough and mobile center who has battled back from an injury in 2011 to help the Irish have a stout running attack opening up the lanes. Smart players, a class blue collar worker.
Brandon Williams - NT, Missouri Southern
Small School Player who has massive potential. He has absolutely dominated the competition around him. His stats are eye-popping: 68 Tackles, 16.5 TFL, 8.5 Sacks, 2 Pass-breakups, 8 QB Hurries, 5 FFs and 1 Safety.
Mychal Rivera - TE, Tennessee
Rivera has so much talent and it's wasted on an inept Tennessee team that doesn't utilize it's TE's. The fun nick-name he has developed is that he is the best kept secrete in the SEC. In fact, he has broken Witten's record for receiving yards at Tennessee in a single season. The guy is a stud in the making.
Quanterus Smith OLB
Video Hightlights: ,
Our injured pick of the year. Smith is a monster and abused Alabama's OL for three sacks before he was injured. Great first step and sound technique. He can be a force.
Undrafted Free Agents
Jordan Rodgers, QB - Vanderbilt
Ben Aguilar, OLB - Macmaster
Darryl Morris, CB - Texas St U
Mitchell Gale, QB - Abilene Christian
Mike Catapano, DE - Princeton
Caraun Reid, DT - Princeton
Dallas lands some Princeton grads through contacts with Redball. They bring in QBs to compete against each other, one being the younger brother of a certain starting QB in GreenBay.
Final Roster Turnover
The goal of this off-season was to get younger and get better. Dallas took on a lot of cap hits now to free itself up for the future. It improved in the trenches and added a focus on the offense. Next year a true QB will be a high priority to learn from Romo. This would give us a 76% turnover ration since week 1 of 2010, and if you include our Practice Squad - it would give us nearly 81% turnover ratio. The would be a lot of competition developed with this roster. From 3rd WR to #2 RB. The offense and defensive lines will have to battle out to be starters. All this will push the team as a whole to be better.
I am a big fan of churning the bottom of the roster every year. With 15 new players we almost reach my benchmark of 30% turnover.
2013 Dallas Cowboys Roster
QB: Tony Romo | Kyle Orton | Jordan Rodgers
RB: Demarco Murray | Lance Dunbar | Mike Gillislee
FB: Lawrence Vickers
WR: Dez Bryant | Dwayne Harris | Cole Beasley
WR: Miles Austin | Danny Coale
TE: Jason Witten | James Hanna | Mychal Rivera
LT: Tyron Smith | Darrion Weems
LG: Jonathan Cooper | Nate Livings
C: Kevin Kowalski | Braxston Cave
RG: Matt Slauson | Mackenzy Bernadeau
RT: Jeremy Parnell | Oday Aboushi
DE: Desmond Bryant | Sean Lissemore
NT: Jay Ratliff | Terrance Knighton | Brandon Williams
DE: Jason Hatcher | Tyrone Crawford | Ben Bass
OLB: Demarcus Ware | Quanterus Smith
ILB: Sean Lee | Caleb McSurdy
ILB: Bruce Carter | Alex Albright
OLB: Connor Barwin | Kyle Wilber
CB: Brandon Carr | Orlando Scandrick | Darryl Morris
SS: Barry Church | Sterling Moore
FS: Matt Johnson | Phillip Thomas
CB: Morris Claiborne | Pat Lee
Special Teams: 3
K: Dan Bailey
P: Chris Jones
LS: L.P. Ladouceur
1. Mitchell Gale, QB
2. Ben Aguilar, OLB
3. Ronald Leary, OL
4. Mike Catapano, DE
5. Rob Callaway, DL
6. Orie Lemon, LB
7. Andre Holmes, WR
8. Caraun Reid, DT