Deavoney J. Lane, Upper Marlboro, Md.: I've noticed a lot of later picks have signed with the teams which drafted them. I haven't seen the Cowboys sign any of the drafted rookies. Is there any problems? Or is it because everyone's off for a while? Training camp starts in a couple weeks, so do you think Julius Jones and others will be signed by then? When do early picks usually sign? Is it when the people before them sign? Mickey: This should be the least of your worries. The Cowboys don't traditionally sign their draft choices until like the week before training camp, and there has been times they've gotten the final guys signed the morning of the first practice. So that they have not announced any signings does not mean trouble on the horizon. And with no first-round pick, this should be an easy year to get everyone signed. I'll go out on a limb to say all picks will be signed in time for the first practice. Also, think about this: If you sign guys early, and something, God forbid, should happen to them, you are responsible for their cap charges. Also, do you pay your bills three weeks before they are due? Me, I keep my money until the bitter end. Brian K. Caraway, Lancaster, Texas: Based on the past several mini-camps and having a year of NFL experience, do any of the players from last year's draft appear to be turning the corner that may make them a special player? Mickey: Well, you know what Bill Parcells thinks of Bradie James. Now we just need to see that when the pads some on. From the results I've seen from the off-season workouts, it appears Jason Witten and Terence Newman have made significant strides in their conditioning and strength. Now we'll see how that transfers to the field. Keep an eye on Witten. He's only 22, but appears to have the ability to become a big-time tight end in this league. Richard Beller, Fort Collins, Col.: Do you really think Roy Williams is the best player on the Cowboys (as apparently many people do from his being the only one among the NFL's Top 50)? I see a hard-hitting safety who is often a liability in pass coverage - as in the Carolina playoff game, or the first game against the Giants. I don't mean to diminish his skills and potential - and I recognize the terror he probably causes opposing wide receivers - but Glover, Nguyen and Coakley seem far more consistent in their play. What do you think? Mickey: I think that is a great observation. From a potential standpoint, Williams certainly stands out, but he does need to improve on his coverage. Even Parcells has said that, pointing out he told Williams to work hard this off-season on his man coverage skills. For my money, La'Roi Glover would have been in the Top 50. Kelly Holbrook, Jericho, Vt.: My husband is the one whom is the COWBOY nut, but thought I'd sneak on after having to listen to him muttering on your Stars report. It seems his question is how many of those 50 were taken in this year's free agency, and that if the Cowboys know they need some stars, why do they keep signing old, used-up players - some who never were good players, or in his words, never had a prime? The muttering has been loud for quite some time in this house. Please do this . . . WIN! Stop that darn MUTTERING in my house so I can hear the darn TV. Thank You! Mickey: This might be the all-time best offering to Mick's Mail yet. I love it. Kelly, I'll pass this on to the team to see if it can do something to create a no-muttering zone in your house. As for the star players, your husband is right, several of those players in the Top 50 changed teams as free agents - Terrell Owens and Jevon Kearse to name two. But it always has been my opinion you don't build a team through free agency. You add to what you already have, otherwise you overspend and quickly run out of salary cap space. You must raise stars, not buy them. Tell your husband to look East to see how New England built a team which has won two Super Bowls now in three years. And if that doesn't keep the muttering to a minimum, I suggest investing in a muzzle. But whatever you do, don't take away his computer, OK? Trevor Saulter, Coudersport, Pa.: You forgot Larry Allen from your "The Stars Must Shine" piece on June 22. LA would have been on the top 50 list! Mickey: I was going to overlook this when the same response came from one or two of you. But I couldn't resist after reading a half dozen. So . . . let's see, it's the start of the 1995 season, and Larry Allen had all of 10 NFL starts under his belt. But you knew then he was one of the Top 50 players in the NFL? I don't think so. I did not forget Larry Allen. He just hadn't proven himself yet. Justin Summarell, Louisville, Ky.: Do you think the Cowboys will show interest in Eric Kelly, providing he clears waivers? I watched him in college and he had pretty decent combination of footwork and speed that kept him from getting burned deep, and showed some coverage skills. I know he's no Terence Newman, but I think he could compete with the guys currently fighting for the starting right corner. Mickey: There does not seem to be much interest around here in the corner released recently by Minnesota. Might be because he's like 5-9. I'd think if the Cowboys signed a free-agent corner, he needs to be more talented than just someone able to compete with the rest of the field. Otherwise, might as well let the field compete as is. Paul Fulks, Raleigh, N.C.: What, in your opinion, is currently the most glaring weakness the Cowboys should address? Mickey: I don't know that they need to address this, but the position that needs to answer the biggest question, in my opinion, would be right tackle. They do not have a proven player in the bunch competing for the starting job there, and two of the three candidates finished their college career playing a different position - one on the other side of the ball. Yeah, I'll go with right tackle, with right corner a close second. Darren Benson, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada: Having the luxury of watching the mini-camps (after the grueling job of keeping the DCC's company), who in your opinion is winning the battle at right tackle? Is Torrin Tucker starting to look like the future or is Jacob Rogers standing out? Mickey: Hard to say. Hard to judge offensive linemen when they don't work in pads. I liked what I saw from Tucker last year. He seemed mentally tough. He could have easily quit when he struggled early in that one start against Miami, but he dug in. It's way too early to make any predictions about Rogers, who by the way, is transitioning from the left side to the right side. Zack Bumpers, Wilmington, Del.: God Bless you, as I read last weeks questions, I was thinking, don't these people read the articles during the week. My question is based off of one of your answers last week. You said that the Cowboys are thin at safety. I was wondering if Tony Dixon has shown enough to take over for Woodson in the near future. Is he a real part of the future or "just another guy"? I guess the same can be asked about Scott as well. Mickey: At this point, I can't imagine the Cowboys would be willing to hand over a starting job to Dixon. He's in his fourth season, and needs to come on strong. He just needs to make some plays when he gets playing time. Otherwise, I'd think the Cowboys will think twice about re-signing him when his contract expires after the season. Same goes for Lynn Scott. And, I appreciate your kind sentiments. Maybe we need to make Spagnola's Corner mandatory reading before you're allowed to ask any questions here. Jordan Brooks, Georgetown, Texas: Do you think Keith Davis would be able to come back to training camp and legitimately challenge Darren Woodson for a starting job at safety after nearly gaining Defensive Player of the Year honors in NFL Europe? Mickey: I don't know about challenging for a starting job, but if Davis can continue what he started in NFL Europe, and improve on what he did toward the end of the 2002 season here, I'd say he would have a chance to make the team. First things first. But I don't know that you want to run Woody off the field just yet. Qaadir Antwine, Herndon, Va.: How likely is it that Will Pettis could be a Cowboy this year since wide receiver experience is kind of slim and Antonio Bryant is still iffy? Mickey: Plus, we can add to that now Dedric Ward having to recover from surgery to repair the fifth metatarsal in his right foot. The thought has run through the organization to possibly give one of the Arena League wide receivers a shot in camp. They tried signing Pettis last year, but New Orleans intercepted on the mandatory waiver process. Not sure they want to try again, but if they did bring on one of the Desperados' wide receivers, it might be Bobby Sippio, who is a little bigger at 6-3, 215. Carlton Barber, Okinawa Kadena AFB: Does Bruce Thornton seem good enough to play a starting role in the slot? Plus, is this guy the steal in the draft for us? Mickey: If you've been paying close attention, the Cowboys' fourth-round draft choice caught the eye of Parcells in the recent mini-camp, having made a few plays on the ball. Not sure they are thinking of Thornton in the slot, since a healthy Donald Mitchell probably will handle that chore. But Thornton will be in the mix for the starting job on the right corner. I don't know about the steal of the draft, but at this point, could be a special player found in the fourth round. Drew Burks, Lorena, Texas: It seems that you answer a lot of questions that have already been answered either through your column or email or in the other articles. Why don't they just read the articles? Now then, my question is: Who do think will open training camp as the starting right tackle and who do you think will start in the season opener? Mickey: Man, I should have you guys policing these questions. Maybe folks don't' realize there is a column above Mick's Mail? OK everyone, you've been forewarned. The "Mail" police are out in full force. Read "all" of the website. As for right tackle, Javiar Collins worked with the first team offense at the mini-camp practice, but there was a rotation going. We'll know more about Rogers once the pads come on, and there must be a reason the Cowboys selected him in the second round. My money is on Tucker to open the season as the starter. I just think there is something to this kid from Southern Mississippi. We'll see in due time. Mitch Word, Brownfield, Texas: Why aren't contracts honored in the NFL? For example, someone signs a seven-year deal, but then it becomes "only a three-year deal." Why aren't contracts considered what they ought to be, i.e., an agreement between two parties for services rendered? I know pro sports is a world unto itself, but what gives? Mickey: Unlike like other professional sports, contracts in the NFL aren't guaranteed. In fact, most not even for a season. They are week to week, and that's how the guys get paid. You're on the 53-man roster for Sunday's game, you get paid on Tuesday. My guess is, because of the high injury risk, guaranteed contracts could absolutely break an owner, and especially in a league with a salary cap. Plus, what other league has teams carrying 53 players? Can you just imagine the financial repercussions if all the contracts were guaranteed? Nobody would ever get a long-term deal. Bill Zimmerman, Daytona Beach, Fla.: Seems people don't read your stuff real close-like, so let me help them with a couple of recurring topics: You respect the job Quincy Carter has done so far, while also realizing he must continue to improve if he is going to keep his starting job. You do not think Bill & Jerry should overpay (with money or draft picks) for free-agents who are aging or injury-plagued vets, or young "one-hit-wonder" players; but it's OK to spend low salaries in order to fill out the roster with experience. In Bill You Trust. In other words, you're not defending the man's decisions (or Jerry's), you're just trying to explain the logic used. Sometimes you agree, sometimes you quietly disagree. And that's your job. Hope that helps everyone out there. Now, my question: Wasn't the offensive line the weakest part of the team last year, and more to blame for offensive woes than the skill-position players (Carter, Hambrick, Galloway, etc.)? I believe so. Mickey: Well, I've never been so honored to have someone provide the Cliffs Notes for my writings, but you're interpretations are pretty good. Maybe I should post these each week as my creed to prevent any confusion. Yes, you are on to something. The offensive line did struggle. All those times you saw Troy Hambrick hit at or behind the line was not his fault. And if Quincy Carter did not have the ability to escape from pocket pressure, the Cowboys might have suffered more than 50 sacks. The line must improve if this offense is to improve.