restructuring the deals of several veterans, most notably Brandon Carr's, DeMarcus Ware's and Jason Witten's deals.
Dallas finished the day under the cap, and has yet to work out a new deal for quarterback Tony Romo, which could add more space for the team to use during the free agent window, which begins on March 12th.
The biggest issue, Romo's contract aside, will be what the team does with free agent defensive end Anthony Spencer? Dallas could franchise Spencer for a second consecutive season, but Jerry Jones, in his inimitable style, hinted last week that Spencer could stay and go. Jones told the press he "had a number in mind" for Spencer that the player was likely to exceed on the market.
So what might the team do with that figure which might be too thin for Spencer's tastes? Is there a veteran end who might better fit Mr. Jones salary slot?
I have to assume the Cowboys will be modest players, whether they keep Spencer or let him walk. And if they let him go, I'd have to assume they would pursue a veteran end to replace him. Letting Spencer walk and not signing a replacement obligates the team to spend a high draft pick on a new left end. That means the team will use its 1st or 2nd round pick merely to run in place. That's hardly Jerry's mind-set.
With that in mind, I scanned the free agent lists and saw two potential mid-ticket signings which intrigue me.
1. DE Michael Bennett -- He's Martellus Bennett's more modest brother. He's also the better player in the Bennett household. The former A&M Aggie has started at left end in Tampa's 4-3 the last two seasons and has made major strides. He bagged 4.0 quarterbacks in 2011 and sacked nine more in 2012. If you think back to Dallas' narrow win over the Bucs in week four, you remember Bennett embarrassing right tackle Doug Free with a power game; Bennett consistently got under Free's pads and walked the tackle to Tony Romo. It was Bennett who knocked Romo woozy late in the contest.
Bennett is two years younger than Spencer (27 to Spencer's 29) and is on the rise. He's a Texas native and might relish polishing his game under Rod Marinelli. He could be a cheaper and better player than Anthony Spencer the next three to four years.
2. S Kenny Phillips. There are some intriguing, if dinged safeties in the veteran market -- Dashon Goldson, Louis Delmas, William Moore, Ed Reed and Phillips.
Moore might be the safest bet, but he's also the most likely to land a Eric Weddle-sized deal, in my opinion. Reed is old, and Delmas has battled injury issues.
Phillips has as well but he looks like the potential bargain to me, because he's been one of the best safeites in the NFC when healthy. Blogging the BEast's Jim Kempski has made the claim, and I concur, that Phillips has been the NFC East's best safety the past few years, and it hasn't been close. He's big, instinctive and can play centerfield.
He had full years in 2010 and 2011 but made only eight starts in 2009 and 2012. That has moved the Giants to let him test the market. Those yo-yo starting numbers will probably keep his cost down. He's only 26, and successfully rehabbed a knee which had the risky microfracture procedure performed on it in 2009.
He's a potential low-risk, high-reward signing. Given the Cowboys fortunes at safety recently, an 85-90% Kenny Phillips would represent an upgrade.