The Cowboys draft didn’t do a lot to address their defensive needs. Their top defensive pick — linebacker Bruce Carter — is coming off a torn ACL and figures to be fourth on the depth chart at inside linebacker.
That means Jerry Jones is going to be active when free agency starts again. Here’s what we think they should do when the lockout ends.
1. Find a starting safety or two.
The Cowboys plan to move Alan Ball to cornerback. Gerald Sensabaugh is a free agent. That leaves Barry Church and, um, Danny McCray as the top two safeties on the roster. Yikes.
Dallas may bring Sensabaugh back and sign a high priced free agent like Michael Huff. This position needs a lot of help.
2. Fix defensive end depth.
We thought end was Dallas’ second biggest need in the draft, and they didn’t wind up with a player at the position. A lot depends here on the NFL rules put in place. Dallas could retain Stephen Bowen and Jason Hatcher with restricted free agent tenders if 2010 rules come back.
If not, the Cowboys are going to have to spend a lot of money to find a starter and a capable backup or two. This position was a weak point last year in Dallas and the Cowboys may overpay just to maintain the status quo.
3. Cut Marion Barber.
We thought we’d give Jones an easy one to complete. With DeMarco Murray on the roster behind Felix Jones and Tashard Choice, this is a no brainer.
4. Re-sign Doug Free.
We’re not so sure this one will be easy, although VP Stephen Jones called it the team’s top priority.
The Cowboys seem to be banking on Free’s return, but the 27-year-old is coming off a strong season at left tackle and could interest a lot of teams. Dallas wants to pair Free with Tyron Smith, their first-round pick. They don’t want to go back to Marc Colombo as a starter again.
5. Don’t overspend too badly.
Jerry Jones had this to say about the lack of defensive holes plugged in April:
“[Rob Ryan] knew the ones he was interested in went early and what that does is put pressure on us to get the free agents.”
That comment should excite agents and scare Cowboys fans.