Cowboys under the radar during NFL free agent season

Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

The Dallas Cowboys have been one of the quietest teams this offseason in free agency -- which is a bad thing for a team coming off of back-to-back 8-8 seasons.

Jerry Jones isn't used to standing pat, but that's exactly what the Dallas Cowboys have been forced to do this offseason. Aside from restructuring veteran contracts already on the roster and placing the franchise tag on Anthony Spencer, the Cowboys have been nearly invisible this offseason, as they struggle to find any cap room to improve the roster.

The Cowboys are set to host Will Allen and Justin Durant on Monday, as Jason Garrett and Jones attempt to improve Dallas' defense according to NFL.com, but the Cowboys have just over $100,000 in cap space. Dallas' cap space pinch comes despite the fact that the team restructured the contracts of DeMarcus Ware, Miles Austin, Jason Witten, Brandon Carr and Ryan Cook.

Dallas is also attempting to restructure and extend quarterback Tony Romo's contract, which would afford Dallas much-needed cap space this offseason. Romo is set to count for nearly $17 million against Dallas' salary cap in 2013, and that money could be moved around to later years with a new contract.

Until that happens, the Cowboys have no choice but to remain quiet -- and remain mediocre.

Formerly America's Team, the Cowboys have turned into the perfect portrait of mediocre, and the Cowboys will return most of their mediocre roster going forward in 2013, with few, if any, improvements to show.

In each of the last two seasons, the Cowboys finished with an 8-8 record, losing a de facto NFC East title game in Week 17 to bitter NFC East rivals. The Cowboys went on to watch the New York Giants win the Super Bowl two seasons ago, and last season watched as the Seattle Seahawks marched into Washington D.C. and defeated a hobbled and eventually injured Robert Griffin III Redskins-led team -- something the Cowboys could not do in Week 17.

After the Cowboys lost to the Giants in Week 17 of the 2011 season, thanks in large part to an awful secondary, Jones and the Cowboys went and signed Brandon Carr -- who was widely considered to be the top free-agent cornerback. While Carr is a solid player, the Cowboys gave him a five-year, $50 million contract. By comparison, the Patriots signed Aqib Talib to a modest one-year, $5 million contract this offseason, in a depressed free-agent cornerback market.

Going forward, Carr will be a cap liability as well, as he's set to count $12 and $13 million against the cap between 2014-16.

Dallas' biggest offseason change came to its coaching staff, as Rob Ryan and the Cowboys parted ways. Jones brought in Monte Kiffin and his Tampa-2 defense to replace Ryan and his 3-4 defense, which represents a drastic change in basic scheme for the Cowboys. The safety position is pivotal in the Tampa-2 defense, and that is perhaps Dallas' weakest part of the roster.

With a lack of resources to lure a big-time safety into Arlington, Dallas is positioning itself for failure in its new defensive scheme. Carr and Morris Claiborne will be thrust into different roles in the secondary as well, which will require more physical play -- something that could be a problem for the 5'11 Claiborne.

Instead of making improvements to the roster, Dallas has spent the offseason making drastic changes to the defensive scheme without changing its personnel on defense.

Further, Dallas' offensive line is still a mess, and will remain the Achilles heel of Dallas' offense going forward.

It's become painfully clear that the Cowboys needed a change at general manager years ago, but since the owner is the general manager, Cowboys fans will continue to do penance for the success of the 90s, over 20 years after Dallas' dynasty fell -- thanks almost entirely to Jerry Jones.

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