As long as I can remember it's been said that to have a good defense you need to be good "up the middle." Is there any possibility Dan Quinn can get them to invest any meaningful capital into DT and/or safety? Until that happens, I think they can keep changing the lipstick on this pig (bringing in new coordinators) but it's never going to be pretty. — JEREMY / AUGUSTA, GA
David: That could be a really interesting tug-of-war between the coaches and the front office. The Cowboys haven't typically valued those positions. But Dan Quinn spent a first-round pick on Keanu Neal, who has been a good player in Atlanta when healthy. And while Grady Jarrett might not have been a first-round pick, he still developed into a two-time Pro Bowler under Quinn. Hopefully he can help the Cowboys find similar players to plug those gaps on the roster.
Jonny: I don't think there's any doubt to how valuable those positions are, and consistently under-valuing them is going to hurt any front office. But perhaps "meaningful capital" means more than just huge contracts or first-round picks. Maybe that capital can come in the form of prioritizing the scouting and evaluation of those positions. The Chiefs were savvy enough to use a 2016 second-round draft pick on Chris Jones at defensive tackle, and I'm sure they're glad they did. In 2017, the Bills signed safety Micah Hyde to a 5-year, $30 million contract. That might not be Byron Jones money, but it was more than other teams offered him, and it's paid off. Treating DT or safety like a second-rate position is going to cost you games.
We talk a lot about how this year's salary cap will affect the Cowboys because that's our team, but surely it will affect other teams as well; might there be cap casualties that we aren't considering at the moment that the 'Boys might be able to pick up? And might the asking price be lower this year because of the limited cap? Thanks. — MARCUS WHITT / MULLENS, WV
David: That's a really wonderful point, and it bears watching as free agency gets closer. I don't know everyone else's cap situation as well as I know the Cowboys', but there are plenty of teams with a lot of work to do. The Saints, Eagles and Rams are all teams that are going to have to shed some salary. So, yes, I think you're right. The cap crunch could lead to an influx of talent available on the market. Whether or not the Cowboys can capitalize on that, we'll have to wait and see.
Jonny: That's an interesting way of looking at it, and you may very well be correct. In fact, there's a scenario where the Cowboys have to rely on those types of players if they aren't able to get creative. Ultimately, though, that feels like such an uncertain thing to rely on. We really can't say who will become available as a result of a cap crunch, and we might not know until other free agents have signed. There's a reason those cap casualty signings can seem like the rich getting richer. The already talented can afford to wait.