Mickey tells us what the Cowboys want …
So the annual bidding begins March 2, and since Thursday was the final day to issue franchise or transition tenders, we now know who's definitely up for grabs. Ya just pray the Cowboys land a La'Roi Glover or three, not Mike Vanderjagt. But hey, that's the chance you take when you play this game.
Now no shortage of ideas have been flooding in, ya'll more than willing to help the Cowboys spend their money. That's easy. How I'd love to go to that auction with yours. I'd make a killing, too.
My unscientific poll (e-mail) tells me these should be the Cowboys' top three needs to fill in free agency:
1. Offensive linemen, preferably a guard (again?).
2. Safety, the position that just won't go away.
3. A pass rusher, and at least you guys aren't all that discriminating. He can be a defensive end, defensive tackle or linebacker. Just someone to regularly join DeMarcus Ware in the offensive backfield.
Now that might be a fine list, and most of you should be commended for being so thoughtful. But you guys, most everyone seems to be missing the boat when it comes to needs, and to me, a need is something you just can't do without. The aforementioned three should be classified as wish list items. When it comes to needs, the Cowboys have just one must - one huge one.
Hey, do not scoff. You guys scoff at me enough. I'm serious about this one, and you should be too. And so should the Cowboys.
Because, unless the Cowboys change their minds, they are not going to pay Drew Bledsoe his $1 million roster bonus, along with a $4.5 million base salary, to caddie for Tony Romo this year. That's some high-priced insurance for a guy you were willing to bench after 5½ games last year in order to roll the dice on a quarterback who had not played a lick in the NFL.
Because, unless Bledsoe changes his mind, having professed no desire to simply hang in the league as a backup quarterback, he won't be back here just to cash in another, say, $1.5 million paycheck. His heart was minimally in it those final 10 games last year anyway.
So, when you are prioritizing your free-agent bucks - and while the common number being thrown around for the Cowboys is $18 million under the cap, it's probably at least $5 million less when you budget in Gurode actually signing Thursday, 10 draft choices, a practice squad, potential injury settlements, accounting for signing a punter, kicker and possibly Marc Colombo - quarterback better take precedence.
Romo gets hurt, who you gonna call? Matt Baker? Please.
Romo flops, those 10 regular-season starts earning him Pro Bowl honors last year a mirage, who you gonna call? Jason Garrett? Maybe Wade Wilson? They ain't spring chickens anymore.
Top names on the list of unrestricted free agents as of Thursday afternoon would be: Garcia, Huard, Vinny Testaverde, Kerry Collins and Anthony Wright.
Sorry, that's the best I can do at the moment. Not sure the likes of Aaron Brooks, Todd Bouman, Shane Matthews, Koy Detmer or Marques Tuiasosopo would do much more for ya.
Now it's really hard to imagine the Eagles will let Garcia walk onto another team, though they might give him a chance to cast for a potential starting job. I mean, they have no guarantees Donovan McNabb will be ready to start the season.
Nor would it seem probable Kansas City would let Huard just up and leave, unless they think Casey Printers is ready for a backup role.
To me, the best fit here with the Cowboys would be Collins, but the Cowboys might run into the same roadblock with the 12-year veteran they did in 2004 when he drew their interest: Collins still has designs on procuring a starting job.
Clarence Hill makes a list of targets …
Cowboys' potential free-agent targets
Guard Kris Dielman, San Diego Chargers: One of the two best guards on the market, and with Marco Rivera's return uncertain, it's a position of interest.
Linebacker Antwan Peek, Houston Texans: An affordable 3-4 linebacker who could flourish as a rusher under Wade Phillips and might serve as insurance for the injured Greg Ellis.
Offensive tackle Leonard Davis, Arizona Cardinals: Could be an option at right tackle or right guard. However, the price tag might be too high for this former Texas Longhorn.
Quarterback Damon Huard, Kansas City Chiefs, right: The Cowboys need an experienced and competent backup for Tony Romo. There is none better than Huard.
Safety Jordan Babineaux, Seattle Seahawks: Is a restricted free agent, but is one of the best safeties on the market. This Cowboys' killer and Texas native could be interested in coming home.
POTENTIAL COWBOYS FREE AGENTS
Unrestricted Free Agents (6)
OT Marc Colombo Was the biggest surprise of 2006 not named Tony Romo. Will be back.
K Martin Gramatica The Cowboys want him back at the right price. Will not pay big money for a kicker again.
S Tony Parrish Never really got a chance to show what he can do. But will not be back.
LB Al Singleton His run here is over. He is no longer a starter and costs too much to be a spot backup.
DE Kenyon Coleman He had his best season in 2006, but is not a starter. Will get a chance to return as a role player.
C Al Johnson There is no need for him to come back. The Cowboys have upgraded the position. He will look for a starting job elsewhere.
Restricted Free Agents (8)
TE Brett Pierce The Cowboys liked his potential, but missed much of the past two years with knee injury. Could be brought back to camp.
P Mat McBriar The Cowboys would like to work out a long-term deal for him, although he might be slapped with a second-round tender.
WR Patrick Crayton Quality third receiver. The Cowboys will likely put a second-round tender on him in case he gets an offer on the market.
CB Jacques Reeves A quality backup and special teams player. He will be offered the standard restricted free-agent tender to return.
CB Nate Jones The Cowboys like his versatility at safety, cornerback and special teams. They don't want to let him go.
LB Ryan Fowler A solid backup inside linebacker and special teams performer. Will be invited back to training camp.
FB Lousaka Polite Although he yo-yoed on and off the roster this season, he will be invited to training camp because the Cowboys have limited options at fullback.
LB Junior Glymph Continues to show potential as a pass rusher although production is limited. Will get offer to come back to camp.
Cowboys' potential draft targets
Safety Reggie Nelson,Florida: With Dallas planning to play Roy Williams close to the line, the Cowboys need a true ball-hawking free safety.
Receiver Dwayne Bowe, LSU: The Cowboys need to develop a potential lead receiver to replace the aging Terrell Owens and Terry Glenn.
Guard Justin Blalock,Texas: Guard is a priority because of Marco Rivera's uncertainty, and this Longhorn is as good as it gets in the draft.
Defensive end JamaalAnderson, Arkansas: Jerry Jones has never drafted a Razorback, but that could change if the talented Anderson falls to the Cowboys.
Safety Michael Griffin, Texas: If they don't get a safety in the first round, Griffin would be a nice consolation prize in the second or third round.
Objectives for the off-season according to C-Hill …
Get Terrell Owens ready after surgery.
Jerry Jones has said a number of times that Terrell Owens will be back next season. Until he says something different, then assume that will be the case. The focus for the Cowboys is to make sure Owens is healthy after finger surgery and up to speed on the offense going into training camp. For the Cowboys to be successful, Owens needs to be fully involved starting in training camp.
Continue the development of quarterback Tony Romo.
Romo's development was a focal point of the coaching search. He has been a frequent visitor to Wade Phillips' office. He now gets a heavy dose of tutoring from Jason Garrett and quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson. Romo's play declined late in 2006. The Cowboys want to make sure he continues to progress.
Get Greg Ellis healthy and prepared.
Wade Phillips' system is predicated on having quality pass rushers. Ellis, one of the team's two best rushers along with DeMarcus Ware, must come back at 100 percent after surgery to repair a torn Achilles' tendon. He is set to play the linebacker position in Phillips' defense that Shawne Merriman played in San Diego. That Merriman notched 27 sacks the past two years should be enough motivation for Ellis' return as soon as possible.
Develop a scheme to best utilize safety Roy Williams.
Roy Williams is a four-time Pro Bowler at safety who was a liability on defense at times. He simply gave up too many plays. Blame Williams for not developing his coverage skills. Blame the Cowboys for not allowing him to do what he does best. Phillips plans on playing Williams close to the line of scrimmage where he can make plays and limit his deep coverage responsibility. The key is finding a true free safety to play center field.
Don’t forget the OL, Cowboys …
If early mock drafts are any indication, the Cowboys will use the 22nd pick to select a cornerback.
California’s Daymeion Hughes and Texas’ Aaron Ross are the frontrunners. Considering owner Jerry Jones’ campaign to drape the franchise in the Lone Star flag, it would come as no surprise if the Cowboys went with Thorpe Award winner Ross.
Choosing either Hughes, Ross or another corner in the first round would be a sure sign Dallas is serious about moving Anthony Henry to free safety. The Cowboys need a center-fielder type at that position so they can play Pro Bowl strong safety Roy Williams closer to the line of scrimmage.
Williams is a liability in deep coverage, especially when teamed with either Keith Davis or Pat Watkins, who shared time at free safety last season.
Solving the problem at free safety is a priority, but the Cowboys also have needs along the offensive line.
The Cowboys have drafted only one offensive player (tight end David LaFleur, 1997) in the first round the last 11 years. That trend may come to an end in April because of Marco Rivera’s recent back surgery.
"I’ve recognized that we’ve got to look to our right guard situation and see how we handle it knowing Rivera is compromised here to some degree," Jones told reporters at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. "... Right now it’s hard to (count on him), but that’s not a decision I’ve made, and it’s not just mine. It is Rivera’s."
Even if Rivera returns, the Cowboys can’t count on him holding up for an entire season. He turns 35 in April and has undergone back surgery twice since the Cowboys gave him a free-agent contract before the 2005 season.
Auburn’s Ben Grubbs (6 foot 3, 305 pounds) should be available when the Cowboys are on the clock in the first round. The Cowboys could always keep Henry at corner and acquire a partner for Williams either via free agency or in a draft rich with safeties.
And, if you are like me, then you are fascinated by the Combine. Perhaps you aren’t thinking that the bench press numbers are not relevant to football, but yet you cannot stop watching as you put together your list of dream targets for your team. I have actually avoided most of the Combine, as I plan on trying to watch it all going back and forth to England this weekend, but here are a few items:
Saturday Results from Combine …
Sunday Results …
Monday Results …
The NFL Combine blog …
Meanwhile, The Cotton Bowl will move to Arlington …And you thought Dallas couldn’t get it done…
Arlington will likely host the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic starting with the January 2010 game.
The Cotton Bowl Board is set to vote on the change today and could announce plans this morning to move the game to the new Cowboys stadium, said Terry Briggs, a Cotton Bowl official.
Cotton Bowl president Rick Baker wouldn't say for certain whether the game would move because the committee had not voted yet.
"Our board will make its decision based on what is best for the future of our football game," Baker said. "It's going to be one of the hardest decisions our association will ever have to make."
The 74-member board's vote will be final.
Dallas Mayor Laura Miller said the Cotton Bowl Board has always wanted the game to be played in a covered stadium and that Dallas has no plans to cover the 76-year-old stadium in Fair Park. She said it would be disappointing if the board decides to change venues.
"Our goal is to make the Cotton Bowl the best venue to play college football during the State Fair," she said.
The Red River Rivalry, between Texas and Oklahoma, and the Southwest Airlines State Fair Classic between Prairie View A&M and Grambling State, are held annually in the Cotton Bowl stadium during the State Fair of Texas.
Cowboys spokesman Brett Daniels would not comment on the possibility of the Cotton Bowl game moving to the new stadium, which will have a retractable roof and is set to open for the 2009 NFL season.
Mavs beat the hapless Hawks …I can’t decide what I think of the yellow Atlanta uniforms…Has any team had more uniform changes than Atlanta?
That much was evident in the game, which the Mavericks took control of in the second quarter. They were never threatened after halftime as Dirk Nowitzki (27 points), Jason Terry (21) and Howard (20) led an efficient offense. Jerry Stackhouse had 19 points off the bench and Croshere was effective, too, as the Mavericks rolled to their 12th straight win.
The win came in spite of being shorthanded as Greg Buckner, already suffering from a broken nose, sat out after bruising his left knee against Denver on Saturday. With Devean George already out with a right knee injury, the Mavericks had to scramble in the backcourt. Buckner's status for tonight's visit to Minnesota will not be known until game time. Both Buckner and Howard made the trip.
And while the winning streaks keep getting more impressive – this is their third of 12 or longer this season and their 20th in a row at home – Avery Johnson was concentrating on other things.
"I'd like to have double [digit] winning streaks starting April 20," he said.
That would be at the start of the playoffs.
In the meantime, he'd settle for the league keeping a closer watch on defenders who crowd his shooters.
Mavs in Minnesota tonight …Danger, Will Robinson, Danger – Danger…
Who's hot: Kevin Garnett
Even hotter than usual, we mean. He's averaged 27 points and 18 rebounds in the last two games and is averaging 15.4 rebounds in the last five games. If you want the surest bet going, it's that he will reach double figures in scoring, something he's done in 377 consecutive games, the eight-longest streak in league history. And he's not just scoring. If he gets five assists tonight, he'll pass Kenny Smith for 79th on the all-time dish list. ... Rookie Randy Foye has supplanted Mike James in the starting lineup and has responded by averaging 13.5 points and eight assists in the last two games. ... The Mavericks have won three in a row over the Wolves, but only by a total of 11 points.
Elias Says …
The Mavericks beat the Hawks on Monday night 110-87 and became the first team in NBA history to fashion three different winning streaks of at least 12 games in the same season. Eleven of the 30 current NBA franchises have never had a single 12-game winning streak in the history of their franchises: Charlotte, Cleveland, Golden State, Indiana (as an NBA franchise), L.A. Clippers, Minnesota, New Orleans/Oklahoma City, Orlando, Toronto, Memphis and Washington.
The Mavericks' win over the Hawks was about as sure a bet as they come, considering Atlanta's 22-34 record entering the game. There has been only one game in NBA history in which a team at least 12 games below .500 won on the road against a team riding a winning streak of at least 11 games: on April 24, 1993, Dallas, with a 10-71 record, won in Houston to end the Rockets' 11-game winning streak.
NHL Trade Deadline:
Watch Coverage from TSN in Canada Here …
Guerin, Smyth, Roberts, Blake, Roenick …all will know the truth by 2pm…
The contenders and pretenders will be decided today as the NHL's 3pm et/Noon pt trade deadline approaches.
And with an earlier deadline date this season, there are plenty of players and teams left in play.
The St. Louis Blues continue to rebuild their lineup, trading veteran forward Keith Tkachuk to Atlanta on Sunday for centre Glen Metropolit and draft picks.
And team president John Davidson and general manager Larry Pleau hold arguably the most coveted prize today in winger Bill Guerin.
Guerin signed a one-year contract with St. Louis last summer and is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in July. The 36-year-old has 28 goals and 47 points this season.
Another team that is expected to be in selling mode is the Florida Panthers.
With the team's playoff hopes all but dashed, General Manager Jacques Martin is fielding calls for helpful veterans like forwards Martin Gelinas and Todd Bertuzzi.
Bertuzzi, 31, is in the final season of a four-year, $27.8 million contract and will become an unrestricted free agent in July.
St Louis ponders the extension for Guerin …
The Blues and the agent for forward Bill Guerin had two conversations Monday, and the puck now appears to be in the club's end.
Bob Murray, who represents both Guerin and former Blue Keith Tkachuk, spoke once in the morning and once in the afternoon regarding the Blues' leading scorer.
In the first conversation, the Blues expressed "serious intent" in re-signing Guerin, who has been garnering a lot of interest leading up to the NHL trading deadline today at 2 p.m. (St. Louis time).
"We had a bit of a discussion about signing Billy," Murray said. "They were general discussions, not negotiations back and forth. We talked about parameters and we have left that with the Blues. At this point, it's in their quarters, whether they want to take the next step ... if they want to trade Billy or take a further step."
That was in the morning. In a second conversation, Murray said that the two sides "talked about different alternatives."
Murray wouldn't elaborate on those alternatives. Asked if the Blues made Guerin a contract offer, he said, "I don't want to get into that."
Blues President John Davidson did not return a phone message left Monday.
The alternatives with Guerin, who will be a free agent on July 1, are fairly simple:
Re-sign him — With 28 goals, Guerin could easily command $3 million to $4 million per season.
Trade him and forget about him — The Blues should be able to get a nice package in return for one of the top forwards on the market.
Trade him with the intent of re-signing him in July — It worked with Doug Weight last season.
One thing is certain, though, and that's that everyone will know the answer by this afternoon.
On Monday, Guerin seemed to have no idea what would happen.
"It's not really up to me," Guerin said. "There are some decisions that have to be made by the Blues. I don't know which way that's going to go. It could go by way of trade. It could go by negotiations ... who knows? There's not too much time left. I just don't know which direction it's going to go right now."
Guerin added that he didn't "want to put everything on (the Blues) because J.D. and (Blues general manager Larry Pleau) have been nothing but great through this whole process. I guess if something were to happen, it would be a mutual agreement. But we're not there yet ... we're not talking about that yet. We'll see."
A sticking point appears to be that Guerin, while saying that he would like to re-sign with the Blues, would favor being in the NHL playoffs in April. That doesn't look like an option for the Blues, who with a record of 26-27-9 were 12 points out of a playoff spot before Monday.
"Yeah, I'd like to play in the playoffs," Guerin said. "It's too bad we got off to the start we did (7-19-6), or else we'd be playing in them here. It's still a possibility, but it's an uphill battle. In the end, I want a toilet made of gold, too, but sometimes you can't have that. It's not up to me."
JJT on Rangers situation …
While it's great that Tom Hicks has given Jon Daniels permission to negotiate a lucrative long-term extension with Young, who certainly deserves it, deep down you know it means two years from now, Mark Teixeira will leave through free agency.
That's simply ridiculous.
You just don't let Hall of Fame-caliber players walk away, especially those you drafted and cultivated. At least not until they reach the end of their careers and their pride won't allow them to accept a reduced role.
The Rangers, however, have made a habit of it.
Pudge Rodriguez walked. They traded Alfonso Soriano, though Ian Kinsler's presence makes that deal less painful. They dealt Sammy Sosa, too, although they had no idea
he was going to become a superstar.
No one can predict who's getting into the Hall of Fame, given the self-righteous nature of the voters. But Young and Teixeira, given their current production, will receive strong consideration for baseball immortality.
Baseball Card Dorks rejoice …
The "Holy Grail of baseball cards,'' the famous 1909 Honus Wagner tobacco card once owned by hockey great Wayne Gretzky, has sold for a record-setting $2.35 million, the seller of the card said Monday.
The buyer has only been identified as a Southern California collector. SCP Auctions Inc., a company that holds sports memorabilia auctions, said it bought a small share of the card. It is scheduled to be shown at a news conference at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday.
There are about 60 of the tobacco cards in existence featuring the Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop, one of the first five players to be inducted in Baseball's Hall of Fame.
The seller, Brian Seigel, in 2000 paid a then-record $1,265,000 for the prize card, which is in much better shape than the others.
"This particular one was preserved in spectacular condition,'' said Joe Orlando, president of Professional Sports Authenticator of Newport Beach - the company that certified the authenticity of the card. "It's the Holy Grail of baseball cards.''
Still, the Wagner cards are so rare that even tattered ones will sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars, Seigel said.
The others "you could stick in middle of the street and let cars drive over it through the day, take it in your hand and crumple it up, and it still would be a $100,000 card,'' said Seigel, CEO of Emerald Capital LLC, an asset management company, who lives in Las Vegas.
Gretzky and Bruce McNall, former owner of the Los Angeles Kings, bought the card for $451,000 in 1991.
These girls love the Flea Market