Help Wanted

With all of the big name cornerbacks available in free agency now out of the picture, the Dallas Cowboys are in somewhat of an uncomfortable position headed towards the second mini-camp of the 2004 offseason.

The Cowboys had their opportunity.

Back in early March, there were plenty of players that were there for the taking.

Guys like Antione Winfield, Bobby Taylor, and Troy Vincent were all quality veteran cornerbacks that could have made a significant impact this fall.

But for whatever reason, the Cowboys elected to go in a different direction. Even with starting corner Mario Edwards signing with Tampa Bay, the organization decided against acquiring a high priced veteran to provide help at the one position in the secondary that has always served as "the weakest link."

That was then, now fast forward to late May.

Today, Jerry Jones, Bill Parcells, and company still find themselves wondering who will fill the starting cornerback spot opposite Terence Newman this fall.

Sure, they picked up three corners in the draft last month, but is anyone really expecting one of these guys to come in and claim a starting spot?


Bruce Thornton, a running back for about half his career at Georgia, appears to have been a quality pick up, and Nate Jones and Jacques Reeves had their moments during mini-camp.

But it is really a good idea to start a rookie this year?

With the savvy veteran Darren Woodson, All-Pro Roy Williams, and future Pro Bowler Terence Newman patrolling the Cowboys' secondary next season, the "other" defensive back stands to see a lot of passes thrown his way.

Simply put, whoever it is that starts opposite Terence Newman, better be ready, because he's going to be under the spotlight starting in the season opener.

And that brings me to my point.

The Cowboys should do everything possible to obtain another veteran cornerback before the start of training camp in late July.

Even though the organization hasn't had much success acquiring veteran corners as of late (yes, we I'm still trying to forget Bryant Westbrook), this may be the most important move remaining in the offseason.

One more cornerback with at least 5 years experience in the NFL would go along way in helping a secondary that could easily be the best in the league next year.

Unless of course, you're putting all your stock in Pete Hunter, a 7th round draft (200) pick out of Virginia Union. Parcells hinted last month that Hunter would be his cornerback of choice if the season were to start today.

"Right now, it's Pete Hunter," said Parcells. "We'll look at this Thornton kid and some of others, but right now it's Hunter."

Hunter had his moments last season, recording 19 total tackles, 4 passes broken up, and an interception. Certainly, he's at least as capable as a player like Mario Edwards, but he's clearly not the long-term solution.

The Cowboys need one more player, one more athlete, as the final piece of the secondary puzzle.

Last year, Mario Edwards was exposed as a corner that could consistently be beaten deep, and even if he wasn't beaten, he'd get called for pass interference more times than not.

In a defense that has had trouble creating big plays and turnovers, having a weak link in the secondary can only make matters worse.

The Cowboys have to find a way to get rid of that "weak link," and starting a rookie, or a guy like Pete Hunter, isn't the way to do it.

Forget about potential quarterback controversies or Julius Jones, the real issue this summer is who will settle in at the cornerback spot opposite Terence Newman.

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