To put it simply, the Dallas Cowboys' offseason was a bit underwhelming. There were clearly some major flaws on the team, but Dallas did almost nothing to address them. Who is to blame for these blunders?
It's impossible to answer that with any certainty. Jerry Jones seems to be running the show for the Cowboys, but Jason Garrett may have also been pulling some strings in the offseason.
Either way, a huge part of Dallas' offseason failings was based on past mistakes. And those failings fall at the feet of Jerry Jones.
Just what was so bad about the Cowboys' offseason, you ask? Well, primarily the fact that they largely failed in addressing their needs and didn't do much to improve their team.
Dallas never really had a chance at a great offseason. Before it even began, the Cowboys sat over the salary cap, so they had to cut some fat. They certainly weren't in a position to add any.
Dallas isn't a good enough team to have such salary cap problems—ones that aren't going to go away soon. So how did the team find itself in such a perilous situation?
By giving out bad contracts.
The best example of this was giving Doug Free a four-year, $32 million deal. Free isn't a good starter at right tackle, and he may soon be forced inside to guard. Yet he's making $8 million a season.
This poor cap management limited what Dallas could do in 2013.
Then there is the other big issue.
It isn't that good. There are some serious holes on the team—especially along the offensive line. To make things even worse, Dallas switched defensive schemes, moving from Rob Ryan's 3-4 to Monte Kiffin's 4-3. This hurts the team's depth and starting talent on defense.
So, with limited money, the Cowboys needed to add talent another way.
Through the draft.
In need of adding starters and depth alike, Dallas fell somewhat short of expectations.
Albert Breer @AlbertBreer
Text from one AFC personnel man when I told him the Cowboys took Frederick: "Yuck".2013-4-26 03:46:43
The team did address one huge need along the interior offensive line by drafting Wisconsin center Travis Frederick at No. 31. However, few would argue that Frederick was worthy of the selection. In fact, he ranked at No. 115 on Rotoworld's Josh Norris' rankings.
Now, Frederick may have been a bit better than that. Still, he is a center, and most analysts thought of him as a second or third-round talent.
The Cowboys also passed on some significant talent when they moved down in the draft by trading their No. 18 selection to the 49ers. A number of defensive linemen—Sharrif Floyd, Datone Jones and Sylvester Williams—would have been great fits, and Dallas also missed out on offensive linemen Kyle Long and Justin Pugh as well.
So, going into the second round, the Cowboys needed to add a starter. They could have went with a defensive tackle, a safety or perhaps even another offensive lineman.
What do the Cowboys do? They draft a tight end.
While talented Gavin Escobar was arguably worthy of the selection, with Jason Witten already in Dallas, the pick seemed like a luxury.
In the third round, the Cowboys selected a safety in J.J. Wilcox, but they never got around to a defensive lineman, a unit which remains one of the team's biggest weaknesses.
This draft not only failed to find great value, but it also failed to properly address some of the team's most paramount needs.
Assigning the Blame
One or both of two people here deserve the blame. Clearly, it is either Jerry Jones or Jason Garrett responsible for these decisions. Jones definitely gets the blame for past contracts, and in turn, the team's awful salary cap situation.
But who should be blamed for the team's draft? Based on Garrett's reaction to trading back with the 49ers, it isn't him.
The Frederick pick fits Jones' profile. He loves mean offensive linemen and he isn't afraid to spend a high pick on one. Perhaps Garrett wanted something a bit flashier?
It's impossible for an outsider to say who made what decisions for the Cowboys. One thing that is clear though, is that Jones is the chief decision-maker in Dallas, and has been for quite a while.
As the boss would expect to receive credit for any great moves, he also deserves blame for any bad ones.
So it's only fair that this offseason goes on none other than the owner.