So, at this stage in the off season, I look at what has transpired, and like many of you, I have my opinions on what is to come next. Thus, if I were GM, then these are my thoughts (long-winded, but as the new GM, I have a lot to say and do): POLICY CHANGES * Unique Talent (UT) - determine, internally, what the term "unique talent" means to the organization; this term to be used in contract discussions and is the type of player that can make you defer from the other rules of contracts (ex: Troy Aikman in his prime) * Contracts & Extensions - I make it WELL known in circles throughout the NFL that I do not sign or extend anyone under any circumstances for more than 3 years - ever. It would take a UT to even consider it. The point of making this public is to gain the trust of the fan base (who pay my salary) so that they see we have a future plan for the organization; we would lose out on some Free Agents (i.e.: we would not have signed Carr last year under this policy change), but that would also lead to the long-term financial stability of the team, which will eventually open more options in future years * Contracts (30+) - no one, and I mean no one over the age of 29 gets hired/signed/extended for more than 3 years EVER unless they are a UT. Sounds like the contract & extensions policy, but this is in writing at Valley Ranch so that people know I mean business * Draft guru - I search far and wide to hire a true draft geek; someone that eats/breaths/sleeps nothing but players from the college ranks at all levels with no care to what the coaches want - a true BPA board; I want this guy to create the initial board and then to work with the Coaching staff after that (As it would be their decision of course); it might be too late this season so I will just have to do it myself CAP THOUGHTS * Romo - extend him for 3 years (not 5); give him a deal for 3yr/$55m ($33m guar) through 2015...we give him a $15 signing bonus and salaries of $3m/$15m/$22m. He gets $18m this year, and the cap hit goes down to $8m, saving $7.8m against the cap in 2013; If Tony plays well, leads them to the promised land, etc., then we use that 3rd year as another restructure year; Tony is not likely to want to do this as he will look for longer stability; so, tell him that we appreciate you and will just let him play under his current contract and we will revisit later; this means it is a contract year and put up or shut up time - in next year's draft, you go out and draft one of the QB's (there will be plenty); this puts pressure on Romo, assuming he signs the 3 yr extension, to earn the job in 2015; I love Romo, but this is a business; * Spencer - three schools of thought...a) if we extend Romo, no need to extend Spencer, or at least, keep that in your back pocket in case you want; b) we let Spencer's Tag ride and see if he can play DE in a 4-3; c) trade him this year - IMO, "c" is not going to happen; Kiffin/Marinelli want to see Spencer @ DE (so do I as the GM); but, we extend him IF we can't agree with Tony on an extension; * Free - it is a foregone conclusion that as the GM, I don't pay Free his projected amount for this year. Thus, I hang on to him to see how the draft goes. Free is a good guy to have as a back-up at either OT position; But, I tell him post-draft that he takes a hefty pay cut, or plan on being on the unemployment line on June 2nd * CAP SAVINGS - as the GM, I go into the next few weeks with the thought process of having $10m (minimum) to spend IF I WANT TO; If nothing jumps out at me, then that savings goes towards next year FREE AGENCY * To sign or not to sign - OK, see the moves above, I plan on improving the team in free agency so that the draft truly becomes BPA. Thus, here is what I do. I extend Tony for the 3 years. I extend Spencer for 3 years. I KEEP Free but at a $2m/yr deal, or he is hitting the pavement on June 2nd, no regrets either way. These moves likely give us about $12m in cap savings for Romo & Spencer and then about $5m-$7m more for Free; * Signings - these are the guys I target BEFORE the draft - Eric Winston (OT) - I want this guy @ RT; many like Parnell and I do too; but, I like Parnell as the 1st guy off of bench to back up Winston and TySmith; 3yr/$20m ($10m SB, $1m/$4m/$5m, $15m guar; 2013 cap hit $4.3m) - Brandon Moore (OG) - older, yes, but a very good and durable G; 3yr/$15m ($5m SB, $1m/$4m/$5m, $10m guar; 2013 cap hit $2.7m) - Rhonde Barber (S) - older, yes, but his experience in the Tampa-2 is critical to the young safeties; 2yr/$10m ($5m SB, $1m/$4m, $6m guar, 2013 cap hit $3.5m) - total cap hit for these signings = $10.5m (a lot left for the draft) DRAFT * Trades - uh-uh; I will take phone calls, but let callers know that if I am not swept off of my feet, that I don't trade my picks for any reason; thus, if someone is desparate, then I will benefit from any trade; otherwise, I pick at my spot * 1st round - based on my FA moves, the OL is not necessarily the biggest need any longer; thus, follow my draft geek's plan and take BPA; my preference is the best DT available or if the best ones are gone, I take the best DE, or if they are gone, Vacarro or (wait for it), Patterson or Austin at WR; that is the benefit to removing many of the biggest needs for the team in FA; my geek-board has Warmack and Cooper already gone, but if one of them is still there, then I could go OG, but only if it is one of those two * 2nd round - depends on first round, right? not necessarily; I still follow my geek-board; but, preferences are a DE pass rusher to eventually replace Ware/Spencer and to give them some snaps off; I could see our first two picks being DT and then DE (or vice versa); * 3rd round - if I haven't taken a safety yet, I take the best one available in the 3rd round, period; We have two young guys on the roster and Barber starting; but, you have to keep the talent there * Other 3 picks - we still go with BPA, with a lean towards getting a back-up RB in the 4th, potentially someone for the OL in round 5 and then take a flyer on a QB in round #6 (I am of the belief that we grab a QB every year - throw them against the wall and see who sticks) SUMMARY * Money - extending Romo & Spencer keep them on the team for 2 more years and possibly longer; we use the cap relief to fill the 3 holes as mentioned; this year is the last one where I make these types of resutructures unless I have to do so next year to get under the cap; each year, that should lessen to the point of getting ahead of the game - the goal as the new GM is to never have dead money on the books, it will take a few years to get there and that is why future extensions are maximum of 3 years * Personnel - the biggest needs currently are OL, DL, and S; the OL has been addressed and now, if healthy, could be a strength with Winston, Livings, Costa, Moore, Smith being backed up by Parnell, Berny, Free; the Safety position has experience and youth with our two current safeties being pushed by Barber and our draftee. The DLine will get a boost in this draft with at least one guy in the first two rounds * Health - must be healthy - if so, this team, as I have now upgraded it, can win now. There is enough inherant skill backing up players at most positions to feel comfortable heading into the season * OUTLOOK - we go 10-6 or 11-5, win the division and at least one playoff game; potentially, if healthy, we could get a deep run in the playoffs So says Fredd, the GM OK, what are your opinions? Take your shots; what did I miss?