With the NFL announcing the new expected salary cap of 208.2 million in 2022, could you see the Cowboys extending Randy Gregory, and other upcoming free agents to contract extensions starting now? I believe they could get creative and make these happen before they hit the open market and their prices skyrocket. — JEFF WILLEFORD / SAN ANTONIO, TX
David: Anything is possible if the team and player are both motivated to get something done, but I'd call it incredibly unlikely. Deals do sometimes happen during the season. Philadelphia has done a few just this year. But we're just a handful of games away from the end of the year, and guys are probably better off maximizing their seasons and waiting to see what the market holds. I do think the Cowboys will be able to hold on to at least a couple of their big free agents, but I doubt it will happen while they're still playing.
Nick: Don't forget the fact (or the song) that it takes two to make thing go right. Yes, it'd be great to get these guys locked up before free agency hits. But, if you think their price tag will "skyrocket," I would imagine the agent thinks it even more. So, these guys are pretty smart in knowing what the market is going to be. And sometimes, they just have to go out there and test it and see what's available. But the Cowboys could give Gregory the franchise tag to make sure he sticks around for at least one more year. Something tells me that Gregory will appreciate everything Jerry Jones has done for him to stand by him all these years and I bet they get a good, fair deal worked out before free agency. As for the other guys, like Schultz, LVE, Kearse, Connor Williams to name a few, I would bet they might get to the open market.
Do you think part of the problem with the offense is the lack of throwing the deep ball and stretching the defense? — EUGENE ESSEX / GULFPORT, MS
David: I absolutely think that's an issue, the problem is I'm not sure it's an easy fix. It seems pretty obvious that teams are dropping as many men as possible in coverage, blitzing as little as possible and daring the Cowboys to beat them underneath. At the start of the season, they had a devastating run game that would make a defense pay for that decision. At this moment in time, that's not the case. I think the two likely solutions are either 1) find a way to produce in the run game 2) improve the timing on the intermediate passing game, so that it can establish some sort of rhythm. I'd like to see them play with tempo a little more often than they have been. Perhaps it would help.
Nick: I'm all for that. And not just because I like to see the big play and it's usually a quick, easy way to score. But I think it's way better than a 50-50 ball in today's NFL. We all saw what the Raiders did on Thanksgiving. Even if the play was open or not, Derek Carr was throwing it up on Anthony Brown, hoping to get a call. I do think the Cowboys should take advantage of their receivers and the fact refs tend to call more P.I. penalties these days. So it seems like there's probably a 65-70 percent chance that something favorable is going to happen. I also think throwing more deep balls will soften up the run defenses, too. So, I agree with you on that one.