IRVING, Texas -- Five Wonders is ready for its offseason debut.
In the offseason the Wonders will be an intermittent offering, unlike the regular season where it appears every week and unlike the players does not get the benefit of a bye week.
With no further ado, away we go:
I wonder if this is the week we find out what happens with assistant head coach/defense Monte Kiffin. While the rest of the coaching staff was locked up, Kiffin wasn't. He was with the coaching staff at the Pro Bowl, however. Kiffin carried a wonderful title, but I'm not sure how much juice he had -- if any -- in 2014. The Cowboys don't like to fire guys. See Jimmy Robinson. He was able to keep a consultant role in 2013 after two years with the assistant head coach/wide receivers title. Kiffin turns 75 at the end of the month. His one-year run as the coordinator did not go well. Jason Garrett has a lot of respect for Kiffin and would prefer the coaches goes out on his own terms. By letting the contract run out, the Cowboys can say they let Kiffin make his own decision to retire or keep coaching.
It seems to me the Cowboys will have an either/or decision on Doug Free or Jermey Parnell at right tackle. Both are set to be unrestricted free agents. I've already played my hand and said the team needs to re-sign Free. But here's what I wonder: Do the Washington Redskins make a run at Parnell now that Bill Callahan is their offensive line coach? The Redskins need a lot of line help. Callahan said Parnell could start for any team in the league. We're always trying to put two-and-two together in free agency, so it would make some sense. Last year the Redskins signed away Jason Hatcher from the Cowboys. They did it a few years ago with Stephen Bowen too. Maybe Parnell will be the third try.
I wonder if the $240,000 bonus the Cowboys gave running back Ryan Williams as part of the two-year deal he signed after the season was more of a "thank you" than a "replacement option" should the team not sign DeMarco Murray. The bonus is a little more than what the Cowboys gave Devin Street as their fifth-round pick last year. So would you bank on a fifth-round pick as the Murray replacement? I wouldn't. Williams did a fine job in the preseason. By all accounts, he did a good job on the practice squad. We never heard if a team tried to sign him away during the year, but the bonus would seem to indicate he had chances to go elsewhere and chose to stay. Let's say Murray re-signs, does Williams beat Joseph Randle or Lance Dunbar out for a roster spot if everybody is healthy? I would doubt it. And if he doesn't, all he would count against the cap in 2015 is $120,000 with another $120,000 charge in 2016.
We all wonder how these Murray talks will go before the free-agent market opens in March. I wonder what teams make a play for him if he indeed does get on the open market. The Indianapolis Colts have been mentioned. They could use a runner like Murray, but they could also use a line like the Cowboys. They have the cap space and they might be setting up the departure of Trent Richardson with his two-game suspension at the start of the upcoming season. They are on the hook for his money but maybe they have created some wiggle room. The Atlanta Falcons could use a running back -- as well as a line -- to get them back in contention quickly. They have spent money in the past. Arizona needs a running back and looks like a contending team. I don't think Murray will just go for the most cash. I think winning will play a big factor in his decision.
The Cowboys play both Super Bowl XLIX participants in 2015 with the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks making trips to AT&T Stadium. It will be the first time since 2010 the Cowboys will face both Super Bowl teams from the previous season. They lost to the New Orleans Saints and beat the Colts. I wonder where these teams fall in the schedule. In the regular season I wondered if the Patriots will make a Thanksgiving Day trip to Arlington, Texas, but the old TV rules have been thrown out the window and I wonder if the NFL would like to make that a prime-time game during "sweeps" to draw a huge rating. Actually both encounters could be prime-time matchups, given the Seahawks' pull as well and we know the Cowboys will get at least two home night games in 2015.