Three reasons Cowboys can't afford lockout

Jerry Jones indicated during Super Bowl week that he was braced for a lockout that would last through the summer.

For the first time, there is hope that won’t happen, with the league and players association making progress toward a deal and extending the current collective bargaining agreement a day to continue negotiations. That’s even better news for the Cowboys than most NFL teams.

A team coming off a 6-10 season and trying to change the culture under a new coaching regime simply can’t afford to skip an offseason.

The three biggest reasons a lockout would be a really bad deal in Dallas:

  • Dez Bryant’s development: Bryant made an impact during his injury-shortened rookie season due to his immense talent and desire. But he’s barely even scratched the surface of his potential. His understanding of Jason Garrett’s offensive scheme is elementary at best. He’s had precious few reps with Tony Romo. He’s just getting to know a new position coach in taskmaster Jimmy Robinson. And he’s rehabbing from the surgically repaired broken ankle that ended his season a month early. Bryant, more than any player on the roster, needs a full offseason under the supervision of the Cowboys’ coaches and medical staff.

  • Rob Ryan’s defense: Keeping up with family tradition, Ryan boldly predicted that the unit he inherited, which allowed the most points in the NFC last season, would be great from the get-go. That will be pretty close to impossible if he has to cram all the installation into an abbreviated training camp. The Cowboys’ new defensive coordinator needs time to teach the terminology and technique of his scheme, especially with the Cowboys probably adding at least a few new starters during the offseason.

  • Mike Woicik’s work: The six-time Super Bowl champion strength coach’s return to Valley Ranch might have been the most underpublicized major move in the NFL so far this offseason. This is a man who helped build the teams of the last two decades, winning three titles with the Cowboys in the ‘90s and three more with the Patriots since 2000. He was recently voted the NFL’s top strength coach by his peers. But his credentials are irrelevant if he can’t work with the players this offseason.