1. CowboysHQ.com is your best source for all things Cowboys this offseason. Led by our man inside the Star, Mike Fisher, we’ll keep you ahead of the curve on where this offseason could lead and what players could be staying or going.
We're also ahead of the curve when it comes to Jerry Jones' Hall-of-Fame plans.
So Jerry is in the Hall of Fame. (Here's the rest of this year's class.) Mr. Jones had a lot to say, of course ...
Jerry also says he's given "no thought'' to who would be his presenter.
Our Mike Fisher, though, is out ahead of this:
Consider that a first-and-10 bonus ... and read on ...
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be focusing on some of the players and storylines that could have an impact on next season. Some of those stories will come outside the 1st and 10 umbrella. Some will appear here. Today I look at the five key needs the Cowboys must fill this offseason:
Defensive end: Remember — Demarcus Lawrence just had back surgery. Tyrone Crawford just had shoulder surgery. Randy Gregory is out for a year with the suspension. Charles Tapper has a Pars Defect in his back and hasn’t played a game yet (he said last week he’s been cleared to return for 2017). Right now this team’s starting defensive ends are Benson Mayowa and David Irving. The Cowboys won't get lucky two years in a row. Free agent and draft talent is needed now.
Cornerback: My hope is that the Cowboys will be able to retain half of their secondary headed to free agency. They’ll need to find some cheap free agent options and draft more players to fill the remaining spots.
Wide receiver: First, the Cowboys must decide if they want to keep Brice Butler or Terrence Williams. The upside is they’ll be cheap. The downside is I think both have reached their ceilings. Releasing both and finding a potential replacement in the draft might be the way to go.
Defensive tackle: Less of a need than end, but it’s still worth shoring up the depth, especially if Terrell McClain and Jack Crawford — who can play inside and outside — don’t return.
Running back: Lance Dunbar and Darren McFadden are both free agents. The Cowboys have just Ezekiel Elliott and Alfred Morris under contract, and Morris has only one more year. Finding depth in the draft would be a smart move. Hey, why not Adrian Peterson, says Adam Schefter, in a story that might be true but truly reads like Sunday-morning-attention-getting.
Our new staff writer, Ryan Ratty, has his own thoughts on what the Cowboys’ needs are heading into free agency and NFL Draft. Ratty’s analysis is up at CowboysHQ.com, along with potential fits in both free agency and the draft. Follow him on Twitter at @RyanRattyNFL.
2. Your Tony Romo update. We will just save a space for Romo each week up until a decision is reached about Romo’s future (probably sometime in March).
This week, Tony Romo has a shopping list? That’s what CBSSports.com’s Jason LaCanfora reported earlier this week. The Cowboys will listen to offers for Romo, LaCanfora reported, and Romo has four teams in mind if he can no longer be in Dallas — Houston, Arizona, Denver and Kansas City. All four would satisfy what I imagine would be Romo’s desire to play out the twilight of his career for a contender. This being Super Bowl week, and with the entire NFL in Houston, this sorta became a thing.
Logically, this would also make sense. The Cowboys know they can’t keep a backup QB at $24 million in cap space for 2017. Romo knows his days as a starter in Dallas are done. He isn’t going to leave Dallas to go play in Jacksonville. But a Romo shopping list?
If you’ve heard of Baseball’s hot stove season, we’ll you’re smack in the middle of the NFL’s version. Take everything with a grain of salt.
For what it’s worth, former teammate DeMarcus Ware thinks Romo would be a great fit in Denver, and Buffalo reportedly has interest in Romo. ... and CHQ knows for a fact Romo has network TV offers he's prepared to turn down to give football one more shot.
3. Meanwhile, our Mike Fisher talked with StarCast host Jamie Horton about the Romo situation. So, apparently Tony Romo wants to "stick it" to the Dallas Cowboys? Except that's not true. Or is it? Horton and Fish hash out the story from respected NFL reporter (and Fish buddy) Jason Cole of Bleacher Report.
But, really, how much does the Tony Romo decision affect the Cowboys in free agency? Apart from Zack Martin how many familiar faces will return to Dallas in 2017 and beyond? Plus, Fish and Jamie provide their Super Bowl predictions in this week’s StarCast (my Super Bowl pick is at the end of First and 10).
4. In our Debate Camp piece this week, Matt Galatzan and I wrote about the three free agents we believe the Cowboys should prioritize this offseason, in terms of their own free agents. Matt and I lined up well on two players, but differed on a third. Click here to read the piece, which is a new weekly feature here at CowboysHQ.com.
5. Who is Quincy McDuffie? One of the Canadian Football League’s leading kick returners in 2016, with two returns for a touchdown and a 29.7-yard average. The Cowboys signed him earlier this week. McDuffie can help the Cowboys at wide receiver, too, putting the Central Florida product in direct competition with Lucky Whitehead. The Cowboys will give both a hard look in 2017, as one of them may end up being elevated to the No. 3 receiver position, depending upon what happens with free agents Terrence Williams and Brice Butler.
6. Jason Witten indicates that his status as an NFL player beyond 2017 is a year-to-year proposition. At age 35, Witten is certainly at that point where he must think about life after football. But don’t read any more into this than what he’s saying. Witten is an elite player and elite players tend to play longer. They also tend to play longer when they play with good teams, and the presence of Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott on offense should extend Witten’s championship window. If I had to guess, if the Cowboys win a Super Bowl in the next two years Witten will be on that team.
7. Jaylon Smith appears to be running very fast. Here’s the proof.
Again, if he’s 90 percent of what he was at Notre Dame in 2017 the Cowboys are getting a linebacker that could turn that second row of the Cowboys’ defense into its primary strength.
8. It’s our Tweet of the Week:
This is what happens when soft drinks hand out football awards.
9. This week’s great moments in headline porn: “Tony Romo will end Jerry Jones” from foxsports.com
First, of all, it’s a Skip Bayless column (hey — Skip still writes?). Second, it’s filled with gems like this:
“Dak isn’t Hollywood – he’s hard to sell as a gate attraction. But he’s everything you want in a quarterback. He’s the perfect Cowboy quarterback for everyone but Jerry Jones.”
Hey, Skip — winning sells anything. That’s why Prescott is doing a Spotify commercial with Joe Montana — Joe FREAKING Montana — during the Super Bowl. That’s why I see just as many Prescott jerseys as I do Ezekiel Elliott jerseys around town.
And stop touting that you’ve written three books about the Cowboys, as if that burnishes your credentials. You wrote the last one in 1996. You don’t cover the team on a regular basis. You know nothing about this organization as it is configured now.
10. And one more thing...
I’ll take the Falcons in Super Bowl LI. I’m not a Patriots hater or anything like that, I just want to see someone else win this thing. And a team like the Falcons, which has never won an NFL title, would certainly appreciate the breakthrough.
Want to talk more Cowboys? Hit the CowboysHQ.com message boards or hit up Postins @PostinsPostcard or Mike Fisher @FishSports on Twitter.