Led by Roy Williams, La'Roi Glover, Greg Ellis, and an overachieving linebacking unit, the Cowboys were the surprise team of 2003 under first year head coach Bill Parcells.
At the same time, there were many people within the organization that suspected the team could improve by releasing much-maligned cornerback Mario Edwards.
Edwards, who had become a scapegoat of sorts throughout the 2003 season, was a solid performer who often took the bulk of the blame on deep passes and bad penalties. Consequently, the Cowboys didn't mind letting him go to Tampa Bay last summer.
Unfortunately, that decision turned out to be costly. Throughout the 2004 season, the Cowboys could find no answer at the right cornerback spot opposite Terence Newman.
First it was Pete Hunter. Then it was Jemeel Powell and Bruce Thornton. No matter who the Cowboys plugged in there, it just didn't work.
Of course, it also didn't help that Dallas was looking for another safety to take the spot of the injured Darren Woodson, or that second year corner Terence Newman didn't equal his production from his rookie year.
Nevertheless, the Cowboys need to sign a corner this year in free agency. They can't afford to go with another rookie, and they also can't afford to be stingy with their free agent dollars.
So which players are out there that could realistically come to the Cowboys?
Probably one of the leading candidates is unrestricted free agent Ken Lucas of the Seattle Seahawks. Lucas stands it at over 6-feet tall and is coming off a season that saw him record over 60 tackles, while bringing in six interceptions.
He's also one of the few options out there that may not command an enormous amount of cash. He won't be cheap, but he likely wouldn't cost the Cowboys what a player like Fred Smoot would.
Smoot is a legitimate playmaker, but he probably won't be worth (in the long term) what it would take to sign him.
Other players the Cowboys could look at include, Arizona's Renaldo Hill, Tennessee's Andre Dyson, and Baltimore's. Oakland's Charles Woodson is also available, but Woodson is coming off a season that saw him arrested for public intoxication, not to mention an injury that kept him out of the last three games of the year.
And it would also take a significant amount of money to sign him.
So as it stands, don't be surprised to see the Cowboys make a serious play for Ken Lucas. Lucas makes the most sense from a financial standpoint, plus he's been in the league for four years, and he's coming off a strong year for Seahawks.
The Cowboys need an experienced veteran, and Lucas may fit the bill better than anyone else available.
Here's a complete list of all free agent cornerbacks in the league: