Just Talking To Myself By MICKEY SPAGNOLA DallasCowboys.com Columnist May 20, 2004, 5:45 p.m. (CDT) IRVING, Texas - Talking to myself out loud a week before veterans mini-camp begins here at The Ranch . . . . . . and, frighteningly, answering, too. Ya think the Cowboys would be interested in Packers cornerback Mike McKenzie? Possibly, but I don't think for the first-round pick and a little something else the Packers have told Drew Rosenhaus, McKenzie's fifth agent in five years, to ask for. Now Rosenhaus says - and he says a lot of stuff - the Packers have given him permission to see if there are any takers for the disgruntled cornerback. But you know what? That's the same permission his former agent Brian Parker had before the draft, but could not find a team wanting to part with a first-round pick for McKenzie. To me, that's a little steep for a guy who has not been to the Pro Bowl, but would expect a team to renegotiate the final three years of the five-year contract he signed with the Packers in 2002 that included a near $6 million bonus. Plus, as it stands, those final three years are worth $9.1 million. Don't get me wrong. This guy is good, but . . . . why is he available? What about trading a second if the Packers will take it? That's closer to what the guy is worth, but here is the deal. The Cowboys already have spent their 2005 third-round pick on Drew Henson. If they also spend their second, that would leave them with two firsts, but no negotiable commodities for wiggle room with either of those picks. I mean, what if you wanted to move up like three or four spots with one of them? That would take a second or a third. You'd be stuck. And in my thinking, the Cowboys aren't a cornerback away from going to the Super Bowl. Just me. OK wise guy, then what would you trade one of those first-round picks for if you were inclined to? A franchise-type player. Someone who could come in and not only make a significant difference by himself, but also have at least five solid years left in his career. So it would have to be a relatively young player, probably someone who hasn't been in the league more than three or four years, and what are the chances of finding a guy like that on the market? There might be one, though: Miami defensive end Adewale Ogunleye, another Rosenhaus client the Dolphins are having problems signing. He doesn't want anything to do with his restricted free-agent tender of $1.83 million for one year. Wants a long-term deal. Now this guy seems to be the real thing at defensive end, having totaled 15 sacks and 40 quarterback hurries last year, along with 9½ sacks in 2002. Again, if this were the last piece to the Cowboys puzzle, I'd do it in a heartbeat. But as for the Cowboys, a pass-rushing defensive end, and even though they signed Marcellus Wiley, still has to be one of the team's question marks, along with cornerback, quarterback, running back, tackle, guard, punter and return guy. See what I mean? But as firsts go, this guy seems to be the real deal. Well, then since cornerback came up - again - what about Ty Law if he becomes available? Fine, but not for that first-round pick. Law is 30, and the odds are against a 30-year-old corner giving me five years worth for my first-round pick. Worse, if he wants like a $15 million signing bonus, then I'd have to sign him for at least five years, if not longer, and I really don't want to get into dumping prorated signing bonus three years down the road again. Learned that lesson signing those over-30 guys before. So, what concerns you the most about this team heading toward June 1, when some toxic waste will be dumped into free agency, the names probably bigger than their games? The offensive line. Yeah, I know the Cowboys used second-round and third-round picks on offensive linemen. But those guys are rookies. Who's to say they will be ready if needed? So that means the Cowboys head toward this mini-camp with Torrin Tucker, Kurt Vollers, Javiar Collins and rookie Jacob Rogers the leading candidates to play right tackle. Plus, you have to have a backup left tackle, and at this point, I'm guessing Vollers might be the best bet. So it would seem there still is room for a worthy veteran, if one should become available. And guard? OK, Larry Allen is back working with the team. But what's he got left? Anyone know for sure? And he had better prove it during training camp and preseason, otherwise, I get the feeling his margin for error will be pretty slim this summer. Couple that unknown with questions about Andre Gurode, and you could be facing double jeopardy at guard. At this point, the backups would be rookie Stephen Peterman, DeMingo Graham, Tango McCauley and guard-centers Tyson Walter and Matt Lehr. Hmmmm. These dominos need to fall right for the Cowboys. Hey meathead, what about that veteran quarterback? You want one? Well, the prospect of acquiring Vinny Testaverde would intrigue me, since at 40, he'd be willing to be the backup but capable of still starting if needed. He showed that last year. But Chad Hutchinson has hit a little stride in NFL Europe the past couple of games. He might have something after all, although experience would not be it. Sure wouldn't mind a little insurance, but not at the expense of Hutchinson and Drew Henson losing snaps during training camp and preseason. Bet Bill would love "to see" before having to make a commitment. Oh, and about Kerry Collins: What's he still doing out there? There's got to be a team needing a quarterback - other than the Cowboys. What about another wide receiver? What about it? Few teams go four deep at wideout unless the base offense is a three-receiver set. With Keyshawn Johnson, Terry Glenn and Antonio Bryant, this has to work. And if Bryant can step up, this would be a dynamic group. But that's an if going on last year's performance. Ideally, your starters would be Johnson and Bryant, with Glenn the all-purpose backup and third-down guy. That would leave Randal Williams the fourth receiver. What, cringing? Just because he has yet to catch an NFL pass in three seasons? Let's see what happens this summer. The fifth guy promises to be an young, special teamer, which would mean Zuriel Smith might have his hands full with the likes of Patrick Crayton, Cedric James, James Newson and any other young guy who might become available in free agency between now and the start of the season. Are you holding your breath at punter? Sorta. But trust in Steve Hoffman. He has done pretty well finding punters over the years, hasn't he? John Jett. Toby Gowin I. Micah Knorr. The top two candidates now are Matt McBriar and Ryan Flinn. Neither has ever kicked in the NFL, and only McBriar has been with an NFL team previously. But as always, well see in camp. Both are kicking well out here, but it's always another story when 60,000 people are watching. If neither cuts it, surely there will be someone on the street capable of averaging 40 yards a kick. Hey, Gowin finished at 39 last year, and the Cowboys still won 10 games. That's seems extreme. But a bad punter sure can lose a game. OK, what if Julius Jones is not ready or gets hurt? You released Troy Hambrick. Now what? You know, you can't have everything. I'm sure every team would love to have an experienced backup waiting in the wings just in case. For now, that guy has to be fullback Richie Anderson, with Aveion Cason, Erik Bickerstaff and ReShard Lee trying to prove capable in a pinch. Certainly there will be someone out there on the free-agent pile capable of bolstering a committee approach if it comes to that. But if these guys were so high on Jones, then get him ready. Normally running backs don't take time to develop. They either got it or not right from the git-go. Finally, and I'm almost scared to ask: What about Quincy? You dog. Getting me in the middle of this crossfire again. Look, no matter what you think, Bill is going in with the intention of starting him, hoping to capitalize on last year's time invested. Quincy should have everything going for him this year: Second consecutive year in the same offensive system with the same offensive coaches and the same guy (Sean Payton) credited with influencing the career of Collins schooling him. He's got his big, possession receiver. The running game should be more of a threat. He has started 31 NFL games, the equivalent of two full seasons. He'll turn 27 in October. This is his fourth NFL season. He's unlikely to be sharing snaps with any threats in training camp. No excuses, all stripped away. Now, can he play? Can he lead an offense capable of scoring more than 18 points a game? Can this coaching staff take the wraps off in a big game on the road? Buddy Donovan McNabb was in town earlier this week saying "it's unfair," all this quarterback conjecture swirling in Dallas. "He had a great year, and he's going to have another great year this year." Hey, what are friends for? Now I'm telling myself, bite your lip. No smart aleck remarks. Me? Ah, let's just say, Donovan better know what he's talking about . . . for Quincy's sake. Good answer. Poor Anthony Wright. The guy just can't catch a break. Slated to be Baltimore's backup quarterback after going 5-2 in relief of Kyle Boller last year, Wright likely will miss the season following surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder. Wright says he sustained the injury playing in a game last November. Wright's goose was cooked with the Cowboys, seemingly, when he decided to have his partially torn ACL repaired the middle of the 2001 season when it was thought he could finish the season. How badly do the Rams want to ride themselves of QB Kurt Warner after June 1? To the tune of taking a $4.61 million hit against the 2004 salary cap and a $6.7 million hit in 2004. All they save in 2004 is his $4.85 million base salary. So that's a $11.3 million shot to the cap kisser. Former Cowboys wide receiver Joey Galloway, traded to the Bucs this spring, will be team's the top candidate to return punts, according to head coach Jon Gruden. Galloway averaged 8.9 yards handling those duties for the Cowboys the final portion of the season. Also, the Cowboys just might meet up with another former wide receiver this season. Twice, in fact. James McKnight, after spending the past three seasons with Miami following his two seasons in Dallas, has signed with the Giants.