Now that the dust has settled from free agency and the NFL draft, I’m left to wonder what if the Cowboys had not released DeMarcus Ware this year? How would the Cowboys have attacked free agency and the draft?
By releasing Ware on March 11, the Cowboys saved about $7million in cap space, which helped them sign Henry Melton, Jeremy Mincey, and Terrell McClain.
Prior to the Cowboys releasing Ware the Cowboys were right at the mandated cap space limit, so it would have been hard to make any other moves without restructuring more contracts. Jason Hatcher would have left the Cowboys either way as well, I don’t think keeping Ware would have impacted Hatcher staying in Dallas at all.
If we would have kept Ware, we probably don’t land Melton or anyone significant for that matter. The Cowboys would have been forced to lean on the draft to revamp the roster and this is where is could have gotten very interesting.
Keeping Ware probably means they would have rolled the dice one more year and would have altered the Cowboys draft strategy immensely.
We know the Cowboys were already on the phone waiting to draft Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State. Shazier would have scuttled Bruce Carter out of his job and may have given the Cowboys more options with the linebacker corps in general. If the Cowboys had drafted Shazier, its quite possible he would have moved into Sean Lee’s spot, and the other positions would be figured out during camp. I wonder if Hitchens would have still been drafted in the 4th if Shazier had been drafted in the 1st.
We also now know that Jerry Jones thought long and hard about taking Johnny Manziel with the #16 pick.
“Well, it was. Yes, it was. First of all, I couldn’t believe he had fallen there. And secondly, we had spent a lot of time, I’d spent a lot of time. He’s the kind of player that can be that kind of difference-maker. There’s no doubt in my mind that he’ll be a successful player. We have in Romo what I consider to be the better quarterback. But there’s also the future, there’s also insurance if you don’t have him. If anybody could have adjusted to Manziel’s style, we could have because we’re a lot like that with Romo.” (DMN)
It’s quite possible the Cowboys would have drafted Manziel if Ware had remained on the team, but the fact remained that the defense was still quite bad, so what else might the Cowboys have done in the draft?
With Hatcher gone, its also possible the Cowboys would have traded up to #13 and deal with the Rams and draft Aaron Donald. This would have cost the Cowboys their 3rd round pick at the minimum. This move would have negated the Cowboys from moving up in the 2nd round to take DeMarcus Lawrence, unless they threw in next year’s 3rd which would make a trade partner harder to bite on.
Lawrence probably wouldn’t have made it to the Cowboys 2nd round pick, but what about Kony Ealy? He would have been available, in fact, the Cowboys may have been able to trade down the 2nd round and still get Ealy if they wanted the presumed next best pass rushing end.
Would the Cowboys have traded down and picked up Trai Turner, OG, LSU with the scenario of the Cowboys trading up for Donald in the 1st round. We know the Cowboys had a back up plan that involved taking Ealy in the 2nd round and Turner in the 3rd round. The Cowboys would have been stuck deciding between the two most likely.
So, if Ware remained on the team and the Cowboys traded up for Donald in the 1st round and taken Ealy OR Turner in the 2nd round would you have been ok with that draft? I think that would have been a decent draft, but I’m still in favor with what the Cowboys did with Ware this offseason.
Taking Zack Martin has the line closer to the 90’s “Great Wall” now than ever before, and we’ll see the benefits this year and beyond. The Cowboys will be able to continue to revamp the defense since it could take two season’s to get it fully back on track in the 4-3 scheme. Next year, we could see the Cowboys continue the defense, likely with the linebackers and secondary next.