Leaked draft boards and Sean Lee's contract

Taking questions about the Dallas Cowboys draft picks and Sean Lee's contract.

It seems like a very poor idea to go 4 weeks between mailbags, but for some reason it happened. In the meantime, I did game-film breakdowns of the 7 new Cowboys draft picks, and if you haven't read all of them, here are the links for each one while we proceed with your actual emails.

Just click on any name from above, and you will be taken directly to his profile and you will get the full breakdown of each player.  It is something I like to do far more than looking at guys in OTA's, because I have certainly learned over the years that there is no greater deceiver in this game than the abilities of a player in shorts and no contact.  Only when the bullets are truly flying will we know what these guys can do.  And that won't be revealed until September, unless we look backward to the games that they have already starred in.

Now, with that project done, it is time to move on to strategic studies of the squad as we review 2012 in depth and prepare for 2013 and the new things we will see this fall.  That will begin later this week with a long discussion about "12 Personnel" by the numbers in a few days.

But, for now, let's get some email discussions covered for today:


How did you like the Cowboys draft board going public again?  Are they serious?  2 times it happens in 4 drafts?  What is more Jerry Jones Cowboys than that?

Thanks, Devin.  Hopefully, by now, everyone has had a chance to study the great work that Blogging the Boys did late last week as they took pictures released by the Cowboys themselves of Jerry standing in front of his own draft board and piecing the entire board together.  It is almost something that seems like fiction - unless you realize they did this exact same thing back in April of 2010 when DallasCowboys.com released photos of, you guessed it, Jerry Jones and Wade Phillips standing in front of their draft board in the war room.  

Now, understand that this is a big deal to the people that spend all year building these files on each player.  I am not sure what you or I can do with this information, but when the NFL has 32 teams that are running fully classified intelligence departments so that they can outwit each-other in pursuit of the best 53 players each team can assemble, it becomes a rather large obstacle if the competition knows your secrets, but you don't know theirs.

Think about the last week of camp when teams are shuffling and trying to fill out their lineups and a team wants to trade with the Cowboys a player they would otherwise cut.  Now, they know if the Cowboys really liked the player on draft day and can demand a higher price from Dallas than from another team because they have seen the information.  Again, this isn't the biggest issue ever, but if a trade costs you a 6th rounder, instead of a 7th rounder because of this act of carelessness and silliness, then it is too much.

Someone asked me this week what we are missing here.  As in, there is no way this "accidentally" happens twice in 4 drafts when we are hard pressed to find any of the other 31 teams making this same mistake even once.  His premise was that maybe Jerry is doing this on purpose.  As in, Jerry wants to prove that he followed his board and had a great draft as he nailed 3 2nd round picks.  If someone had told me that the Cowboys were going to trade back and get 3 2nd rounders in this draft, I would have said that is a great idea and that this is how you build your roster quickly and effectively.  But, is public validation really his goal these days?  He almost seems like he feels quite the opposite; that it is his team and he will do whatever he wants.

Another person asked me if this is part of his feud with his scouts.  It is clear that some in the scouting department are tired of working for 12 months to stack the players as they firmly believe, only to be over-ruled at the alter by a new assistant coach, an old friend of Jerry's, or Jerry himself.  Now, they seem to be much more likely to speak up (off the record) and defend the idea that the #5 pick on their entire board fell right to them at #18 and they still wouldn't take him.  When that is the case, you can see the scouts feel that they are filling out their reports with thorough dedication for no reason whatsoever.  

In the end, I guess I have no idea how this could have happened twice.  Could the website staff be that unaware of the pictures they are making public have important proprietary information that should be protected for the betterment of the organization?  If you don't think this is a big deal, ask someone in the personnel department and watch their pulse race.  I also have no idea what the ramifications are other than people all over the league now examining the Cowboys thinking on each player and running stories like, "Do the Cowboys think we had a good draft?"  By the way, those stories are everywhere because it is rather uncommon for this to happen - let alone, twice.

But, to answer Devin's question: What is more Jerry Jones-Cowboys than that?  Sadly, nothing.


How much cap room do we have now in 2013 and what are we planning to do with it?

Basically, according to the guys at Overthecap.com, the Cowboys presently sit at almost $10m under the cap in 2013 with the Marcus Spears money now moved (since we are after June 1).  

Once you get the rookies squared away and signed - which could be done for half of that amount or less, than there is actually enough money to get one more significant piece of business done.  However, to those who dream of going to get another veteran player on the street who can really help this thing this season, we must remind you that there are some significant players coming due very soon who are going to need to get paid a lot of money.  The most imposing bills that are coming quickly will be the Dez Bryant and Tyron Smith extensions, although those can be put off for at least 1 more season.  

I don't know if you have thought those 2 deals out, but trust me, both of them will be staggering, unless something unforeseen happens.  Dez is appearing to be nearing superstar status and Tyron will be a UFA left tackle at the age of 24 who has started every game of his career and has played very well.  I don't think you need to be convinced the going rate for those types of players.  

Not on the same level of "insane cash" will be DeMarco Murray (most likely) and Sean Lee who is finishing his rookie contract for $600k this fall.  And he is the one who most expect will have a deal before training camp in August.

I will grant you that it would first be nice to see that Lee can play 16 games in a season with his style and his body, given his inability to make it through a year in Dallas so far and frankly, less than perfect health at Penn State, too.  But, his quality and his overall total package is that of a player that the Cowboys want right in the center of their plans through his prime.  

So, what would it cost to get Lee done for the next 5 or 6 years if that deal is being worked on right now?

Well, there are a few easy comparable from that same 2010 draft that netted the Cowboys Sean Lee.  At pick #47, Arizona took Daryl Washington from TCU to play linebacker out in the desert.  And, before the 2012 season, they signed Washington to a 6-year, $32 million extension that included a bonus of $5 million up front and another bonus of $10 million after 2013 that is not guaranteed, but virtually guaranteed (barring another suspension).

Then, a player that lined up next to Sean Lee at Penn State, but slid to #91 was San Francisco's Navarro Bowman.  He is also noted as another 1st round grade by the Cowboys if you go back to that leaked board from above, and has played right to the Pro Bowl.  Bowman also signed a deal before the 2012 season that dwarfed the Washington deal in guaranteed money, when he signed a 7-year, $46.3 million deal - with over $25m guaranteed.

Why is there such a difference in those two deals?  I am not positive, other than Bowman had already broken out before he signed and that Washington could have made more if he hadn't signed before his 2012 season where he was spectacular.  

So, does Sean Lee fit between those two?  That isn't actually the question.  The question is that if he put up a big 2013, how much would he make on the open market (which he would likely never get to as the Cowboys still have the protection of the franchise tag).  But, with all of the deals on the horizon for this new generation of young players, they would be wise to get Lee done to a cap friendly deal as soon as they can so they can put a little of this surplus in 2013 to work for them against the future.

Send me your questions for future mailbags at Sturm1310@me.com

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