Monday Morning News & Notes

The Cowboys are planning on extending contracts to their nine restricted free agents, including running back Troy Hambrick. At the same time, several names appear to be moving to the top of the draft board at running back, including Ohio State's Maurice Clarett.

Hutchinson Staying Positive
Back up quarterback Chad Hutchinson has remained positive this offseason, even with his move to NFL Europe. Hutchinson took a vacation to South America after the season, just before being selected to play for Rhein oversees.

"There is no use going into something with a bad attitude," said Hutchinson about the move. You'll get nothing from it. So, I'm going in with the attitude that it's a great opportunity for me: Go to Europe, see Europe, and play, and the most fun I'll have is from playing. And I'm not worried about here. Nothing I can do about it. All I can do is take care of myself."

Free Agent Update
The Cowboys will tender contracts to their nine restricted free agents: defensive tackle Willie Blade, linebacker Markus Steele, wide receiver Randal Williams, safety Lynn Scott, center Matt Lehr, tackle Javiar Collins, tight end James Whalen and running backs Aveion Cason and Troy Hambrick.

Only Lehr (fifth round) and Steele (fourth) would require a team to give up compensation in return. They will all get the minimum tenders of $630,000.

Galloway a Lock to Return
As of now, it doesn't appear the Cowboys will release receiver Joey Galloway, despite his $8 million cap figure for 2004. The Cowboys believe Galloway has a future with the team and as of now wants to restructure his deal to a more palatable figure, likely lowering his $6.3 million base salary and allowing him to make some of it back in incentives.

If they released Galloway, they would save $2 million under the cap.

The Cowboys have talked to the agents for cornerback Mario Edwards, center Gennaro DiNapoli and defensive end Ebenezer Ekuban but indicated the players likely won't be re-signed before they become free agents.

Draft Plans
The Cowboys have only five draft picks and they plan on using them wisely. Running back, offensive guard/tackle, defense tackle/ends are the top priorities. With the 22nd pick in the first round, there could be a couple of running backs available, Oregon's Steven Jackson and Michigan's Chris Perry. Both would be upgrades over Troy Hambrick.

Don't be surprised if the Cowboys wait for Maurice Clarett in the second or third rounds. Parcells has always been good at turning around players who have problems at other places.

Dallas is also continuing to show heavy interest in N.C. State quarterback Philip Rivers. Should Rivers be available when the Cowboys go on the clock in the first round, which is looking less and less likely by the way, he would clearly be one of the top two or three choices.

SilverStarDigest will have more on this story later this week.

Young Ailing
Cowboys right tackle Ryan Young is planning on playing in 2004 but could retire if his knee does not improve.

"I talked to him [Monday] and he is fully focused on playing. The only way it won't happen is if the knee doesn't hold up or the Cowboys decide to go in another direction," Young's agent, Ben Dogra, said. "Their first minicamp will be a tale-telling for everyone."

Signed in the offseason to shore up the offensive line, Young instead battled a chronic knee injury in 2003.

And while Young wants to see how he does at mini camps, the Cowboys would like to know where he stands before free agency begins on March 3.

"I think we need to know things like that before the new year starts, probably before free agency," Stephen Jones said, adding he "wouldn't rule anything out" with regards to Young possibly retiring.

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