A debate exists amongst football fan bases when their team has an improved season and makes some noise in the postseason whether or not the team should go all in to maximize their chance at a championship. For the Cowboys in 2015 this is an especially good version of said debate. The situation sees a former dynasty being rebuilt by true decendants in Jason Garret and Stephen Jones along the lines of a vision known as The Process. Add to the mix a newly lightened salary cap, recently strong draft history, and an aging quarterback with only a few years left to win the big one. With so much being slowly built to ensure a positive future for the team, should the Cowboys revert back to the Jerry Jones brand of high risk taking and go all in to win a championship for Romo? Even if it gambles the future of the team?
To make such a decision, it would be wise to follow first evaluate the team and decide what pieces would need upgrading, and figure out how to go about acquiring those pieces.
The idea is not to build the roster like an All Madden team or a Dream Team. Everyone knows what happened to the Dream Team in the NFL and saw the undefeated Patriots lose the Super Bowl. Instead, identify the weak spots and bringing them up to par. Improve on your strengths and keep an ace up your sleeve. When you become a top quality team, and you can match up against the others on that level, then and only then is the team is truly a Super Bowl contender.
The points of weakness on the Cowboys roster stand out at defensive line, cornerback, and running back. The linebacking corps will be all shored up if Rolando McClain re-signs, but until that happens it should be considered as well.
The strengths of the team are offensive line, receivers, and kicker. They have already taken care of these areas. Doug Free and Ronald Leary were re-signed to keep the starters intact on the offensive line, but some depth will be needed as the swing tackle Jeremy Parnell got paid like a starter to join Jacksonville. Dez Bryant was tagged while they work out his long-term deal and Cole Beasley was signed to a multiyear deal to continue giving fits to opposing defenses on third down. On special teams, kicking ace Dan Bailey should enjoy the continuity of his place holder, punter Chris Jones, being retained.
As far as an ace up the sleeve, one can see several options on the roster already. Gavin Escobar has shown he can be a huge passing treat in the red zone. Lance Dunbar has the kind of speed and elusiveness to make a few home-run plays. On defense, J.J. Wilcox has done nothing but improve in his new position. His hard hitting ways and focus on the ball could see him grow into something special. Morris Claiborne has his back against the wall to ever show he can be the talent his draft pedigree suggests. It doesn’t look likely, but if the mental side of the game “clicks” while quarterbacks target him, his splash play potential could see him exemplify why he was “Pick 6” in 2012. Lastly, if you hang around the best Cowboys site on the internet, BtBBtB, you will pick up a lot of faith in second year DE Ben Gardner from the very football savvy crowd over there. He didn’t play a single snap last year due to injury. He may turn into the next Unicorn Matt Johnson, or he may become Jared Allen.
A few edge rushing options remain on the market. Greg Hardy would be the biggest name, but his checkered past has kept him jobless so far. Some established veterans in Abraham and Freeney are available, but the best bet may be the Cowboys’ own Anthony Spencer. Inside, a major space eater in B.J. Raji, is on the market but would come at a high price. Strong veteran leaders would be nice to lead the young guys while making an impact on the field, but could come with a heavy price tag.
At cornerback, the best player still on the market is Tramon Williams. He is seeking a big payday but that price tag drops every day he doesn’t get signed. A better option could be long time Marinelli player Charles Tillman. He is aging and has had injury issues, but his pure presence could be a major impact on the young guys like Patmon, Claiborne, and whoever is drafted. Teaching these guys his signature “Peanut Punch” could really improve the defense.
The running back situation is not necessarily a hazard but is not as strong as it was last year. The main issue is that every back on the squad has question marks. McFadden has underwhelmed as a Raider, Williams has an injury history, Randle’s off the field issues are a growing concern, and Lance Dunbar seems too small to carry a heavy load. Bringing in a big hitter could return this position to a strength of the team and behind the great offensive line see a running game that pays dividends throughout the team. The big star story is Adrian Peterson coming to Dallas. This is a stretch considering the situation, but if it somehow came together, the team could release Randle and really feel like they are a top team in the league, led by an offense few could match.
By most fans’ account, the team needs to improve the defense majorly to make it to the Super Bowl. The team is currently courting Greg Hardy, a move which would immediately bring real hope that the defensive line could get after the quarterback this season. A re-signing of Rolando McClain and some added talent in the secondary could make this unit a top ten force in 2015. But this brings back the pressing question: is it worth gambling the financial future to pay for help now?
Tony Romo will be the highest paid football player this year making $27 million. While this seems enormous, it will get the team “over the hump” so to say with his contract. They will not be chained to him if a sudden injury ends his career. However, they can restructure his contract and push a bunch of that guaranteed money into the next few years. This would allow the team to pay a couple more defensive players and cover the rookie class. The numbers are too complicated for a laymen to acquire and figure out. That is why Stephen Jones gets the title “genius” from the people who follow his work closely. But when calculating the risk, the inner Jerry Jones in all of us, who wants to go down swinging, says, “Pull the trigger, son. The downside would be only temporary, but the glory of a championship lasts forever!”