5 Questions that Need Answering

Bill Parcells said the Cowboys would look to upgrade all positions in the off-season. And he meant all positions. So if the right opportunity came along Drew Bledsoe, the Cowboys will consider a change at quarterback. But, for now, Carter is the starter and will remain the starter.

1. Is Quincy Carter the answer at quarterback?
Bill Parcells said the Cowboys would look to upgrade all positions in the off-season. And he meant all positions. So if the right opportunity came along (Drew Bledsoe), the Cowboys will consider a change at quarterback. But, for now, Carter is the starter and will remain the starter. He made a lot of strides in 2003. Parcells believes he can be better in 2004 if he cuts down on his mistakes (21 interceptions) and the team improves around him, as in a bona fide running game. The better bet is that the Cowboys will bring in a veteran backup (Mark Brunell) to push Carter and take over if he falters.

2. Will the Cowboys pursue a running back, such as Duce Staley, during the free agency period?
The Cowboys know that Troy Hambrick is not the heir apparent to Emmitt Smith. Parcells made it clear that the Cowboys need a running game to help to take pressure off of Carter. The best possible free agent is Duce Staley, though Corey Dillon and/or Curtis Martin could be had in trades. Improving the running game also means upgrades on the offensive line, especially at center, right tackle and right guard -- where Matt Lehr, Andre Gurode and Kurt Vollers have so far proved to be nothing more than stop gap solutions.

3. The Cowboys have the 22nd pick in the April draft. What positions might be addressed in the draft?
The Cowboys need to find a pass rushing defensive end. Rookie cornerback Terence Newman took and got much of the blame for the playoff loss to Carolina. But he got no help up front in the form of a pass rush. A catalytic pass rusher would also help the Cowboys defense create more turnovers -- the major weakness of the league's top ranked unit. A possession receiver and a punter -- considering Toby Gowin's failures -- are also high on the Cowboys off-season wish list. A punter might also be found through free agency.

4. Are Joey Galloway, Larry Allen and Darren Woodson in jeopardy of being released?
That wide receiver Joey Galloway and guard Larry Allen would be the sources of some off-season financial decisions is expected. Galloway has never lived up to the $42 million contract he signed in 2000. His limited 2003 production is certainly not worth his $8 million cap figure in 2004. He will likely be asked to take a pay cut or be released. Allen is also past his prime and no longer worth his $5 million cap figure. Cutting him, however, might be too costly given the number of years left on his deal. But considering his run in with Parcells over the last year, something might have to give. Allen could also retire. A surprising name on this list is Woodson. The veteran safety is due a $1.2 million roster bonus in March. And given his age, Parcells said it "might" be time to look for a replacement for Woodson.

5. Will the Cowboys be contenders for Super Bowl XXXVIII in 2004?
No one expected the Cowboys to be this good so fast in Parcells' first year. And since most of his team's are much better the second year than the first, anything is possible. Parcells says he's eager and rejuvenated. He also said that being a better team might not necessarily result in a better record. The Cowboys schedule will be tough next season, with non-division road games against Minnesota, Seattle, Cincinnati, Baltimore and Green Bay. Those teams had a combined home record of 31-9 in 2003.

Quote to Note
"We worked together last offseason and accomplished some good things in the draft and free agency. I am inspired by some of the positive things that happened to us. We are going to be able to work together very effectively." -- Cowboys owner Jerry Jones on working with Parcells to improve the team for 2004.

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