INDIANAPOLIS– Jerry Jones isn’t interested in giving away his competitive advantage, but he knows exactly where the Cowboys are lacking heading into free agency.
The Cowboys’ owner/general manager met with reporters Saturday, where he was asked directly what positions he needs to address in the coming weeks and months.
“I am not going to say which ones because it’s competitive,” Jones said. “But there are two spots we get wounded if we don’t have at least that position back with that caliber of player. There are two spots.”
That might come as a bit of a surprise, given what’s facing the Cowboys when free agency opens on March 9. There are 18 free agents from last year’s team heading for the open market next week, and many of them played key roles on the way to a division title.
In fact, you can count a grand total of six starters from last year’s team that are set to test the open market as free agents.
To hear it from Jones, though, these are losses the Cowboys can absorb from within their roster – at all but those two key positions.
“We need to replace those positions, that talent level on the roster. Beyond that then we are not decimated if we don’t have that individual player,” he said. “We will have somebody playing the position. But out of that whole make up and list, there are two we have to really address. We can’t come up empty.”
Jones might not want to specify which positions are the most troubling, but it’s possible to read between the lines. The Cowboys run the risk of losing two of last year’s top three cornerbacks in Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne. Safeties Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox are also risks to be signed away.
And of course, there’s the duo of Terrance Williams and Brice Butler – who could leave the Dallas offense without an outside receiver opposite Dez Bryant if they decide to leave.
Which positions take top priority is something Jones would prefer to keep to himself, but it’s clear he’s got a pecking order in mind.
“We can make due most of it what is in question in free agency for us with our existing players,” he said. “We’ve got to replace those two parts of our team.”
The Cowboys have multiple options for how they can address those concerns. They have a limited amount of salary cap space, but they’re confident they can accomplish their goals in free agency. There’s also the NFL draft, where Jones feels good about his prospects for acquiring talent.
However he finds that talent, Jones said he isn’t concerned about the problem. Whichever resources they use, he said he’s confident the Cowboys can fix their two problem spots.
“It’s two, it’s not nine – it’s two,” he said. “And I think we’ve got the cap room, and whatever we resolve with Tony – I feel confident that we cannot lose on those two.”