FREE AGENCY OUTLOOK
The Cowboys have signed their top free-agent priority, signing center Andre Gurode to a six-year, $30 million contract that includes a $10 million signing bonus last week. Gurode, a Pro Bowler last year after holding off Al Johnson for the starting center position, gives Dallas a foundation to build upon on the offensive line for years to come.
Next the list was Pro Bowl punter Mat McBriar, who was also signed to a longterm deal earlier this week.
Now the Cowboys are turning their attention to unrestricted free agent offensive tackle Marc Colombo.
The Cowboys did most of their free-agent damage before the season and during the season with contract extensions for prospective free agents like TE Jason Witten, safety Roy Williams and linebacker Bradie James. As a result, the Cowboys don't have any major free-agent decisions, although they would like to re-sign center Andre Gurode, tackle Marc Colombo and kicker Martin Gramatica. The Cowboys would like to re-sign them but they are not going to break the bank for them. Consider restricted free-agent receiver Pat Crayton priorities as well, of course at the right price.
The Cowboys have already cut Drew Bledsoe, but look for them to pay a $5 million roster bonus to keep receiver Terry Glenn. The good news on the T.O. front is they don't have to make a decision on his situation until he's due a $3 million roster bonus until June.
1. Offensive line: The Cowboys must upgrade on the offensive line. It's a familiar refrain in Dallas but no less crucial. They need help at guard and tackle -- especially with veteran guard Marco Rivera facing his second back surgery in the last three years.
2. Safety: The Cowboys have been held hostage by their poor play at free safety for the last three years. It has hurt the production and play of strong safety Roy Williams. The Cowboys are toying with the idea of moving cornerback Anthony Henry to safety. If not they could take one in the draft, possibly Florida's Reggie Nelson.
3. Wide receiver: The Cowboys contend they are bringing back both Terrell Owens and Terry Glenn. Although both were productive last year, they are old. The decline is coming if it hasn't already. The Cowboys must get younger at receiver. This is a major area of emphasis in the draft.
FRANCHISE PLAYER: None.
TRANSITION PLAYER: None.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
* OT Marc Colombo came out of nowhere and was the biggest surprise of 2006 not named Tony Romo. Will be back.
* K Martin Gramatica solved the team's questions at kicker. The Cowboys want him back at the right price. They will not pay big money for a kicker again.
* S Tony Parrish never really got a chance to show what he can do. It's unlikely he will be back. But he could be invited to camp at the right price.
* LB Al Singleton was a luxury for the Cowboys last season. His run here is probably over. He is no longer a starter and cost too much to be a spot backup.
* DE Kenyon Coleman came out of nowhere to have his best season in 2006. But he is not a starter. So the Cowboys will only pay so much. Will get a chance to return as a role player.
* C Al Johnson lost his starting job. There is no need for him to come back. The Cowboys have upgraded the position. He will look for a starter's job elsewhere in 2007.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
* WR Patrick Crayton is a solid third receiver. The Cowboys want him back and will likely put a high tender on him so they can cover themselves in case he gets a better contract on the market.
* TE Brett Pierce is just snake bit. The Cowboys liked his potential but he missed much of the past two years with a knee injury. Could be brought back to camp.
* CB Jacques Reeves is a quality backup and special teams player. But he is not starting material. He will be offered the standard restricted free-agent tender to return.
* CB Nate Jones has had a nice run for someone who has no future as a starter. The Cowboys like his versatility at safety, cornerback and special teams. They don't want to let him go.
* LB Ryan Fowler is a solid backup inside linebacker and special teams performer. But he has no future as a starter in Dallas. Will be invited back to training camp.
* FB Lousaka Polite yo-yoed on and off the roster last season. He lacked the toughness the Cowboys wanted to be a starting fullback. He will be invited to training camp because the Cowboys have limited options at fullback.
* LB Junior Glymph showed potential as a pass rusher although production is limited. He has yet to make any significant plays. Will get offer to come back to camp.
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS
* DE Stephen Bowen had one sack in the only game played this year. Might have something for next year.
* S Abram Elam is a very good special teams player and has some potential as a safety. This could be make or break.
* G Cory Procter has shown potential in practice, but he has yet to play. He might be needed next year with Marco Rivera facing surgery.
* G Joe Berger was picked up late in the season for future potential. The Cowboys hope he can develop like Marc Colombo.
* DT Montavious Stanley was a 2006 draft pick who was cut in training camp. He was brought back late in the season for depth purposes. He still has yet to make an impact.
* C Andre Gurode: Potential UFA; $30M/6 yrs, $10M SB.
* Mat McBriar: Potential RFA; $8.5M/5 yrs, $5M SB.
Complete Cowboys Free Agency Breakdown
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