IRVING, Texas – More than a few times we have talked about all of the difficult decisions the Dallas Cowboys face this offseason.
ESPN Insider Mike Sando believes the Cowboys have the most challenging offseason of any team in the NFL.
The other four teams Sando listed are the Oakland Raiders, Miami Dolphins, Washington Redskins and Carolina Panthers. The Raiders have a ton of cap space but not a lot of talent. The Dolphins have to deal with the Richie Incognito/Jonathan Martin mess but have pieces in place to compete. The Redskins have a new coaching staff in place but the hope of Robert Griffin III regaining form. The Panthers have free-agent decisions to make but have the look of a team that can continue as playoff contenders.
Here’s what Sando wrote:
“The Cowboys are a mess from a salary-cap standpoint, and it will affect their team-building again this offseason. For years, the organization has relieved short-term cap pains by pushing charges into the future, all in the name of a win-now philosophy. That probably will be Dallas' approach again this offseason as the team tries to clear more than $20 million just to comply with the 2014 cap as required by March 11.
Teams seeking quick cap relief sometimes release players to clear room. Dallas cannot do that in most cases because so many of the Cowboys' contracts would produce even greater charges in 2014 if the players were released. Top pass-rusher DeMarcus Ware is on a short list of Cowboys whose releases would produce immediate cap relief. Ware has struggled with injuries recently and turns 32 in July. The team would be worse without him, however.
None of the cap-related moves available to the Cowboys, from reworking deals for veterans to releasing Ware, would improve the team. Even with those measures, Dallas could very well lose two of its best defensive linemen, Jason Hatcher and Anthony Spencer, in free agency. The Cowboys will have to prop up their defense through the draft while banking on Tony Romo to make a strong return from back surgery. It's a formula for treading water and sinking eventually.”
The last sentence is a good one. The Cowboys have been treading water for a few years now, unable to capitalize on their playoff win in 2009. Since then the Cowboys are four games under .500.
But how do the Cowboys get out of this spot? Would you be willing to go through a complete rebuilding job that could take more than a few years? Would you have confidence in the people in place to put together the rebuilding process?