Cowboys will lean defensively but not ignore offense

INDIANAPOLIS -- Even though the Dallas Cowboys might not be able to keep free-agent running back DeMarco Murray, the bent of their offseason approach will be to help their defense.

"It goes without saying we are weighted towards the defense," executive vice president Stephen Jones said.

The Cowboys need help at all three levels. They have free agents along the defensive line in Henry Melton, Anthony Spencer, George Selvie and Nick Hayden. They have free agents at linebacker in Rolando McClain, Justin Durant and Bruce Carter. They have uncertainty in the secondary, especially at cornerback.

Morris Claiborne likely won't be ready for the start of training camp because of a knee injury. Brandon Carr's $12.7 million cap figure is too high and the Cowboys hope to begin talks with his agent about a different deal here at the NFL scouting combine. Sterling Moore is a restricted free agent.

The draft looks to have solid pass-rushers and cornerbacks available. The team can look to free agency for help, but Jones has said the team will not dive into the deep end of that pool because the value often does not match the price.

Jones, however, did not want to box himself into a defense-only stance. While all ties will go to the defense, the Cowboys will not ignore the offense in the draft or potentially free agency if the right value is in place.

It is the old need vs. best player available debate that sometimes sounds better on paper than in reality.

"We felt just as strong last year that we needed defense and we took offense," Jones said, alluding to the selection of guard Zack Martin in the first round. "We had five guys we were slated to pick ahead of Zack and they were all defense. And then they were all gone ... That's why you don't necessarily stick with it. It's obvious to everybody that our offense was very strong last year and we spent a lot of money on our offense compared to our defense. We need help over there.

"But if there is a great player there that we have rated real high and he's way ahead of the next best defensive player, then we take him."