Bob Sturm: Thanks for doing this. I have plenty of Cowboys concerns that need your brain!
David Moore: If it needs my brain, I'm concerned.
Bob Sturm: First, in your mind, why have the Cowboys been so quiet on releasing players when we thought there would be far more activity in terms of saying goodbye to player who may no longer have great ability or usefulness?
David Moore: I believe the uncertainty of what lies ahead in free agency. Will they use the system of the last contract, or will they revert to the previous CBA, in which some players who are restricted now would be unrestricted.
I believe this is a strategy to keep all of your assests until you know what the rules are. Then you will see changes.
Bob Sturm: Is it safe to assume some of the more obvious names that will be gone? Let's hear your thoughts on Barber, Roy Williams, and Colombo for instance.
David Moore: I believe Barber will be gone. He has a roster bonus due in June, and if they cut him down the road instead of now, it saves them about $1 million on the cap. This is an example of a move not being made now because it makes more financial sense to do it later.
Colombo has a very complex contract with two bonuses that can be activated in the first 15 days of a new NFL work year. I would have a better shot at explaining the intricacies of some quantom physics theory. But I've been told if the Cowboys cut Colombo in the first 15 days of a new deal, they will also save about $1 million on him. I think there's a good chance he's gone, unless he signs a lesser deal with an understanding he will likely be a backup.
Williams is the hard one. The Cowboys still take a pretty big cap hit if they cut him. The ideal scenario is to rework his deal, but why would Williams agree to that? I would lean toward him being back at the moment, but I blow in the wind on this one.
Bob Sturm: Interesting. So, even though we went through all of this in 2010 with Roy, it appears he still has an air-tight deal that almost secures a spot in 2011, too? What a great agent!
David Moore: If the Cowboys cut him they will have to absorb a cap hit of a little more than $3 million with no player to show for it. Here's the question: is it better to have an overpaid third receiver or to have that financial black hole on the roster?
Bob Sturm: $3m to cut him or how much to keep him?
David Moore: He's $9.4 million on the cap in 2011
Bob Sturm: Geez, I think paying a 3rd WR $9m is a very silly option. The difference gets you a starting safety of great regard. I would swallow my pride and do what needs to be done, I think.
David Moore: They did it with Terrell Owens.
Bob Sturm: By the way, the optimist says that the Cowboys are keeping their powder dry for a big strike like Michael Huff or Eric Weddle. The pessimist is worried they aren't going to do much like in 2010's offseason. Maybe even wondering about cash flow. Where are you in this? OJ Atogwe would have been very useful, in my opinion.
David Moore: The Cowboys will be more active in free agency this off-season than last. In my mind, they have two safety spots to fill and two spots in the offensive line. They can address some of that in the draft, but not all. They must turn to free agency.
Obviously, this team had two shots at Atogwe and didn't seem interested. Like you, that surprises me. I think he's pretty good. You mentioned two good names in the safety market. Here are two others, Baltimore's Dawan Landry and San Francisco's Dashon Goldson. Landry is 28. Goldson is 26. Both have an upside.
Here's another interesting thought. What if UCLA safety Rahim Moore is on the board when the Cowboys draft in the second round. Do you take him and move Alan Ball back to backup corner, addressing two positions with one move? I think that scenario makes sense.
Bob Sturm: I can see that, but a rookie CF safety bothers me. If you have to pay for quality, I think I would spend on that spot for a player I know can generate big plays at this level. Moore seems reasonable, but the safety group looks thin. Q Carter (not that one) from Oklahoma looked very ordinary to my eyes.
Bob Sturm: So, you are also fine with replacing Sensabaugh? I am torn on this. I think he is serviceable - but too much of the Cowboys defense is merely serviceable. He has no interest in physical play, and I am hard pressed to think of a great SS who doesn't like hitting at least occasionally.
David Moore: When the top safeties aren't even being discussed until late, late first and early second, you know it's not a strong position in the draft. But if you can get the top player at his position at a position of need in the second round, I think you consider it.
As for Sensabaugh, I agree with you. Serviceable. I think they need a dramatic upgrade at the position, and I don't see where brining him back allows you to do that. If the Cowboys thought he was the answer, they would have given him a multi-year contract last year.
Bob Sturm: I am trying to provide a personal profile of every player on the roster on the Cowboys blog during Feb and March and serviceable is a theme I keep finding. That entire DE crop just lacks anybody who can play well against both the run and occasionally cause some stress to a QB in a pass rush. They just need more matchup issues on this defense. I think we all fell in love with the concept that the Cowboys had a really good defense, but are learning that they have a few nice pieces surrounded by ordinary. That has to change.
David Moore: You're right. This defense was good in 2009 because the impact players on defense, DeMarcus Ware, Jay Ratliff and the two inside linebackers in Keith Brooking and Bradie James, demanded attention. The players aroung them made plays. You didn't see that happen last season.
You're point on the defensive line is a good one as well. Everyone criticizes the secondary play last season, and that's justified. But that defense was built on stopping the run and getting pressure on the QB. Neither happened, and that left th4e secondary exposed.
Bob Sturm: So, how do we address the "ordinary" DL and the "we would happily aspire to ordinary" OL in one offseason?
David Moore: We talk about the needs in the offensive line and secondary being at the top of the list, and I think that's true. But the quality of this draft early is in the defensive line. I think there's a good chance one of the blue chip defensive linemen is still on the board at No. 9. I wouldn't be surprised at all if the Cowboys took a defensive lineman at No. 9
Bob Sturm: Honestly, I think that is where they need to go. Actually, the dream scenario is to trade down with someone like NE and gather an extra 2nd or so, but it doesn't look like too many teams are concerned with shooting into the Top 10
David Moore: Here's one. What if you move back a few spots, pick up an extra pick and can still get Cal's Cameron Jordan or Wisconsin's J.J. Watt to plug into the line at defensive end. Do you do it?
Bob Sturm: I absolutely do it. There is no question this team has enough needs that you give up a spot or two to add a premium Top 100 pick. No doubt.
Bob Sturm: Let's go back to current Cowboys and the situation of roster upheaval. Leonard Davis?
David Moore: Here's the key. If you move out of the top 10, you'd better still hit big on who you take in the firt and second. Do the Cowboys inspire that trust?
As for Davis, I think the ideal scenario would be for him to be a part of this going forward in a backup role and sometime starter. He did not play well last season. He has trouble against the quicker defensive linemen. But he's also willing to accept a lesser role and do his best. He's not a starter who will pout if he doesn't start anymore.
Bob Sturm: There is another monster cap number, too, right?
David Moore: If you consider $9.4 million in 2011 a monster number.
Bob Sturm: Wow, he won't pout if he doesn't start? I won't either for $700k a game.
David Moore: I wouldn't pout for $700 a game.
Bob Sturm: But, I do think RT is my biggest concern. Kosier is UFA, right? A bit easier to find, but he was a very useable LG who could really pull in space when healthy.
David Moore: Here's the dilemma in the OL. You can argue that it needs two or three new starters _ I think three is hard to pull off in one season, but the argument can be made _ but two of the top three players in the line are free agents in Doug Free and Kyle Kosier. The Cowboys want both back.
Bob Sturm: Let's not scare everyone on Free - Cowboys have him as a restricted player barring any major CBA developments, right?
David Moore: It's unlikely he goes anywhere unless the FA rules change.
Bob Sturm: This is the one downside to player development. When you bring Free and Austin and Romo in, you have to pay them right away.
Bob Sturm: And pay them quite well. Seems Free's contract could be amazingly huge.
David Moore: True. But let's use the OL as an example. Isn't that better than overpaying in FA for an offensive linemen in his late 20s or early 30s, as the team has done in the past?
Bob Sturm: oh yes. I have no issues whatsoever in locking in Doug Free. Pay him his money as they say in Rounders.
David Moore: You're a big Rounders guy
Bob Sturm: I think you can make the case that a trade down puts you in the sweet spot for OL help. I think a few of those big boys at tackle could start from Day 1, but #9 seems way too high for any of them - and #40 seems way too low
David Moore: That's another good case to be made. Colorado's Nate Solder will likely to go in the top 10 or soon thereafter. Then there's a bit of a drop and you get to Anthony Castonzo, Tyron Smith, Gabe Carimi. They are all mid first into the 20.
Bob Sturm: Solder scares me to death. Little edge rushers dominated him in college. I think Trent Cole would light him up. Clay Matthews. Danger. Danger.
Bob Sturm: Whereas, Carimi cannot run as fast or jump as high, but I never saw him dominated last year.
David Moore: A Lost in Space reference. I like it.
Bob Sturm: Wil Robinson
David Moore: Carimi certainly thinks highly of himself. But so does Dr. Smith.
Bob Sturm: Keith Brooking - back?
David Moore: I believe he will be back. He won't be on the field as often as he was last season, but there is still a role for him in this moving forward.
Bob Sturm: Tell me about Sean Lee's stock price.
David Moore: He's an instinctive linebacker. Not only does he know how to play the game, he has a feel for the nuances of what to do at the position. There is a big upside here.
But he's got to show he can stay on the field. He hasn't done that so far, so it's hard to get too carried away with his upside.
Bob Sturm: Ideally, he starts game 1 next to Bradie?
Bob Sturm: And for the next 10 years?
David Moore: That is the player the Cowboys believe they drafted.
Bob Sturm: I don't want to hold you hostage much longer, so I will save the rest of my stuff for next time- Last topic, how different do you think Rob Ryan can make things?
David Moore: Well, I think you saw in the second half of last season what Jason Garrett wants to do on defense. He wants to attack. He wants his defensive coordinator to force the action. He doesn't want the bend but not break philosophy that worked for Wade Phillips until it broke last season. Ryan is creative in how he pressures the quarterback. He blitzes from different spots. He's aggressive. I believe that attack mentality will make a difference.
Bob Sturm: I am pretty excited about it, but now they have to find pieces. If you like to blitz from all 11 spots, you need players who can do it. And Wade had many DBs who were never asked to time blitzes or find alleys.
David Moore: You're right. But look what happened in the second half of last season. Even Orlando Scandrick got some sacks.
Players like to be turned lose. This regime change should work to their favor, just like Wade's approach paid dividends when he took over for Parcells.
Bob Sturm: Oh, real last one. From your trained eye, player on the roster that is a penny stock that you think could be a big factor in 2011: Example, I have been advised that Sendejo is worth following closely
David Moore: Sendejo is a good name. I'd throw OT Sam Young into the mix as well.
Bob Sturm: David, you are a good man for doing this. I hope I didn't scare you away from doing it again soon. Good times.
David Moore: Not at all. I enjoyed it. But next time, we need to exchange more movie and TV trivia.
Bob Sturm: Done- Thanks!