Thursday, January 3, 2013

Draft Nuggets Week 1

Hi there!

Now that we have emerged from the crazy UPS holiday season, we here at The Sports Narrative will be able to crank things back up. Thanks for your patience and patronage. Our next podcast will be tomorrow at 3:30 PM on

The following is my weekly blog at under Norm's Blog on The Dallas Cowboys and The NFL Draft. Enjoy!

Draft Nuggets 2013: Week 1

By Jeff Bowers of

Twitter: @sportsnarrative


As the calendar turns to 2013 and the Cowboys are left out of the playoffs once again, the process of building this team into a Super Bowl contender begins in earnest. And that, of course, starts with Free Agency and The NFL Draft. Welcome back, P1s, to your inside look at The Ticket’s coverage of Dallas Cowboys Off-Season. I am Jeff Bowers, associate producer and draft researcher for Norm Hitzges and The Ticket’s NFL Draft coverage; still the only station in America that covers the Draft wall-to-wall live from inside Radio City Music Hall in NYC. Over the next few months, this weekly blog entry will keep you up-to-date on all the machinations that go into constructing a roster than withstand the rigors of a 16 week regular season and carry on to capture a 6th Lombardi Trophy for your Dallas Cowboys!

So as we begin this journey together, let’s take a look at the Calendar of Events for the off-season:

Jan. 15: Deadline for underclassmen to enter 2013 NFL Draft

Jan. 19: East-West Shrine Game (Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, FL)

Jan. 24-25: Regional Combine (University of Hawaii in Honolulu, HI)

Jan. 26: Senior Bowl (Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, AL)

Jan. 27: Pro Bowl (Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, HI)

Feb. 2: Texas vs. Nation College All-Star Game (Eagle Stadium in Allen, TX)

Feb. 3: Super Bowl XLVII (Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, LA)

Feb. 9-10: Regional Combine (Orange Coast College in Los Angeles, CA)

Feb. 16: Regional Combine (Methodist Training Center in Houston, TX)

Feb. 17: Regional Combine (Cleveland Browns Training Facility in Cleveland, OH)

Feb. 20-26: NFL Combine (Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN)

Mar-Apr: Private Workouts for Players or Schools (schedule TBD)

March 2-3: Regional Combine (Atlantic Health Jets Training Facility in Florham Park, NJ)

March 9: Regional Combine (One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, FL)

March 9-11: Teams can begin negotiating with the agents of players set to become unrestricted free agents at the start of the league year (teams can only talk to agents and not the players during this negotiating window)

March 10: Regional Combine (Halas Hall in Chicago, IL)

March 12: 2013 League Year begins at 4 p.m. ET, opening Free Agency and the trading period

March 16-17: Regional Combine (Atlanta Falcons Training Facility in Atlanta, GA)

March 17-20: Annual League Meeting (The Biltmore in Phoenix, AZ)

March 23-24: Regional Combine (Virginia Mason Athletic Center in Renton, WA)

March 23-24: Regional Combine (Baltimore Ravens Training Facility in Baltimore, MD)

April 7-8: Super Regional Combine (Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, TX)

April 25-27: 2013 NFL Draft (in New York City, NY)

May 20-22: NFL Spring League Meeting (Hyatt Harborside in Boston, MA)

Aug 3: Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement


Since that’s where we are going, let’s see where we are right now:



LB Victor Butler
This 4thround pick showed flashes but never given a real opportunity behind Ware and Spencer. Only returns at a backup rate if no one offers more
CB Michael Coe
Emergency signing unlikely to return
DE Kenyon Coleman
At 34 and coming off an injury shortened season, I can’t see more than a 1 year deal
OG Derrick Dockery
Appears to be done
SS Eric Frampton
A nice find during the season. Solid special teams contributor.
CB Mike Jenkins
Will probably get a starting job somewhere else
RB Felix Jones
Injuries and expectations have hampered his Cowboys career. If he returns, it’ll be for depth and at a greatly reduced price
LS L.P. Ladouceur
The fact that you haven’t heard his name all year means he is doing his job well. Should look for him to be brought back
P Brian Moorman
Former Pro-Bowler was serviceable, but the returning and cheaper Chris Jones will probably take his job
WR Kevin Ogletree
After an opening night splash, he just could never be consistant and ultimately lost out to Dwayne Harris
SS Charlie Peprah
Veteran vagabond that might be brought back simply for depth
TE John Phillips
Never emerged as hoped prior to the season. May return but could use an upgrade at that position
LB Brady Poppinga
He should go back to his Bat-Cave and wait for a phone call
LB Ernie Sims
Filled in admirably and could return for the right price
LB Anthony Spencer
A solid season should translate into a nice payday for Mr. Spencer. Cowboys should bring him back
C Phil Costa
Should get tendered and return as a depth guy
SS Danny McCray
Might not get tendered but may return. Will compete with Frampton at SS and special teams
DE Brian Schaefering
Always need warm bodies at camp


In addition to these free agents, the Cowboys may have to massage the salary cap a bit this off-season and therefore may be forced to cut or re-work some of their larger contracts. Let’s take a look at the Cowboys salary cap and some of the players that could be targeted (Figures are approximated):


Players under contract for 2013: $132 million

Dead money: $6.5 million

NFL Cap penalty: $5 million

Total: $143.5 million

Projected Salary Cap for 2013: $121 million

Salary Cap Space: -$22.5 million

Keep in mind, this number includes Romo’s $17 million dollar cap number which will almost certainly be reworked, whether through a new deal or a trade.

Players that could be cut/traded:

-          WR Miles Austin – 3rd year of a 7yr $57 million dollar deal

o   Cap Penalty if released – $8.3 million

-          NT Jay Ratliff – 2nd year of a 7yr $48.6 million dollar deal

o   Cap Penalty if released - $7 million

-          OT Doug Free – 2nd year of a 4yr $32 million dollar deal

o   Cap Penalty if released - $11.15 million dollar deal

-          CB Orlando Scandrick – 2nd year of a 6yr $25 million dollar deal

o   Cap penalty if released - $3.78 million

Players that could be restructured:

-          QB Tony Romo – Final year of 6yr $67.4 million dollar deal

o   Cap Number - $17.23 million

-          CB Brandon Carr – 2nd year of 5yr $50.1 million dollar deal

o   Cap Number - $16.3 million


I fully expect the Romo and Carr contracts to get reworked to free up some money. For Romo that probably means an extension. As for the other players, many of those deals are too recent for any real cap savings in 2013. Austin’s deal (the reason for the salary cap penalty btw) might be the easiest to cut, but with little depth at the WR spot the Cowboys options to replace him may preclude it. Ratliff has been a warrior inside for this team, but age and injuries appear to be catching up to him more quickly than anticipated. Free performed far lower than his bloated salary would indicate, but the big hit it would take to release him might force Dallas to hang on to him for at least 1 more year. Scandrick’s deal, though smaller, is much like Free’s.

Overall, the Cowboys should head into 2013 with very little wiggle room to sign free agents. A very focused effort on 1 to 2 key positions should be the order of the day. Coming up next week, we will dive headlong into those free agency waters.

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