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offseason in finding ways to continually upgrade this roster. First-time offensive coordinator Jason Garrett will be under the gun as the Cowboys start the season in Year 2 of the Romo era. Can Romo be the franchise quarterback this organization so desperately needs? How will the circus that surrounds wide receiver Terrell Owens be handled by Phillips? Defensively, the Cowboys have a lot of talent but underachieved due to the inconsistencies on the back end in coverage. Phillips was hired to solve these problems on the defensive side of the ball.
The Cowboys entered free agency with the idea of addressing two major needs -- the offensive line and the free safety position. They were very aggressive in their pursuit of LT Leonard Davis. In a weak offensive tackle market, Davis was easily the best player available. However, Davis has never reached the elite status that many expected since he was drafted by the Cardinals as the second overall pick in 2001. Another solid addition was the signing of FS Ken Hamlin. Even though Hamlin must play with more consistency, he is a huge upgrade for a Cowboys secondary that finished 24th in pass defense in 2006. Backup quarterback Brad Johnson was another solid addition based on his prior starting experience. He should work well with Romo.
The Cowboys have done a solid job of identifying their own key players and signing them to contract extensions (TE Jason Witten, SS Roy Williams, C Andre Gurode and LB Bradie James). As a result, the Cowboys have not suffered any key losses this offseason. Backup quarterback Drew Bledsoe was released, while backup restricted free-agent LB Ryan Fowler signed with the Titans. Starting RG Marco Rivera has yet to be released, but could be a cap casualty due to his age and durability concerns.
The Cowboys are in a position to take the best available player with the No. 22 pick in the draft. Even though wide receivers Owens and Terry Glenn are still productive, they are starting to show their age. No. 3 receiver Patrick Crayton is a restricted free agent who could be playing under a one-year deal in 2007. Also, the Cowboys will continue to address the offensive line with youth. Defensively, the Cowboys will address their corner situation, add depth to their linebacker corps and try to find another pass rusher off the edge. However, the addition of Phillips should improve a defense that finished 13th in the NFL last season.