Do you feel this team would be this careful in free agency if it wasn't already so close to the salary cap? Is the youth movement advertising just a positive spin on a poor situation?
Nick: I think I understand your question, but I guess my response is, what's the difference? Because if the team had more money to spend, then no it wouldn't be as frugal with the dollars. When you have money, you can take chances. The Cowboys have taken their chances and gotten burned. So whether or not the Cowboys are making this so-called youth movement out of necessity or not, it's really the only option. So the next question for both of us would be: is this just a one-time thing or the new model? And maybe we'll have a better answer to that after Week 17 next year.
Rowan: That's a good question. I think they'd be more willing to take a couple chances in free agency on some pricier veterans if they had the money to do so. I'm sure the cap situation has a lot to do with the way they're operating, but getting younger isn't a bad idea for any team. I think it's a philosophy change after years of mediocrity with a largely veteran group. They have some money left to sign veterans and haven't jumped at the opportunity. That tells me while the cap certainly plays a role, it may not be 100 percent responsible for the "youth movement."
Will there ever be a point when you can see the Cowboys getting out of salary cap jail in order to operate better in free agency? I understand that you build through a draft, however, there is young talent out there that we miss because of our situation.
Nick: Well you only build through the draft when you draft well, particularly in later rounds. The Cowboys haven't done that and therefore they're forced to hit the free-agent market. If you go back and look at FA history, every couple of years the Cowboys make big moves. In 2012 they went wild and signed a bunch of vets, most notably Brandon Carr and Kyle Orton. Then they take a quiet approach a few years. This year has been in the middle. Melton is a big signing for this team. But I really think the salary cap going up like it did hurt the Cowboys more than it helped. It gave other teams a lot more spending room and drove up the market value on a lot of players out of the Cowboys' price range.
Rowan: That point won't happen within the next year or two. A few years from now if more veterans are cut and the restructuring ceases, it's possible. I think for a while they'll be cutting it close to the cap, until the cap number rises in future years and lends some more room. As long as they're paying Tony Romo to be their franchise quarterback, they may have to be more frugal than many teams. It appears this offseason might be the start to getting the salary cap back to a long-term respectable amount.