The 2013 season was another difficult one for the Dallas Cowboys. Dallas will have to answer a lot of questions concerning their roster going into 2014: which players will be coming back, which players could move on, and which positions should Dallas look at in the NFL draft? Here, we will focus on the defensive line.
The D-line was a disappointment for the Cowboys. A lot of that had to do with injuries. Dallas’ starting defensive line was supposed to consist of DeMarcus Ware, Anthony Spencer, Jay Ratliff, and Jason Hatcher. Spencer and Ratliff never played for Dallas in the regular season because of injuries. The Cowboys were forced to sign guys off the street. Some played well like George Selvie, but there just was not enough talent there to compete overall.
At the defensive end position, Ware had a down year and is owed $12 million in 2014. Can Dallas convince him to take a pay cut to stay? If not, then the Cowboys may have to part ways with the nine-year veteran. I believe that Dallas will find a way to keep Ware at a reduced price. Dallas needs him. With Ware coming off a subpar season, he really has no leverage to demand the full $12 million.
Another defensive end who could possibly leave Dallas is Spencer. He missed all of the 2013 season and is now a free agent. With Dallas being so far over the salary cap, it is hard to see him playing in Dallas in 2014.
At defensive tackle, Hatcher had a Pro Bowl year and is now a free agent. Unfortunately for Dallas, Hatcher will likely have multiple offers from teams with much more cap space than the Cowboys, and they will probably not be able to afford to keep him. I see very little chance of Hatcher playing for Dallas in 2014.
I believe Dallas has to address the defensive line in the draft early and often. No offense to Selvie and Nick Hayden, but you cannot expect to be a good defense counting on those guys as starters. Defensive line was one of the weakest spots for the Cowboys in 2013, and it must change for Dallas to succeed in 2014.