The immediate reaction from the playoff loss to the Vikings was that the offensive line was one of the more egregious offenders in the game and that it must be the area the Cowboys must focus the most on improving in the offseason.
And though there were some serious holes in the protection in that game, it should be reiterated that one game does not make a season. And for the most part, the Cowboys' line performed well.
The injury to OLT Flozell Adams (calf) during the game might underscore the fact that his replacement must be found, though he actually had one of his better seasons in recent memory, even eliminating the penalties he has become well known for committing.
Doug Free showed enough this season on the right side perhaps to project and give him a chance on the left. The likely solution, other than moving Free, could be to draft or sign a long-term replacement for ORT Marc Colombo, who clearly struggled against the Vikings but still has some gas left in the tank and likely remains the opening-week starter in 2010, according to team sources.
Salaries won't be too much of an issue, per se, if the league does not come to an agreement on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement prior to March because it would mean next season would not have a salary cap. And because owner Jerry Jones has some of the deepest pockets in the NFL, he likely would be OK with absorbing the combined contracts of Adams and Colombo.
Adams, who turns 35 in May, is scheduled to make a base salary of $5 million and a roster bonus of $2.5 million. Colombo has a base salary of $2.1 million and is due a $2 million option bonus on March 1 that was deferred from last year.
Of the two, Adams is the more likely to get cut strictly for salary considerations, but if the coaches believe Free should be starting next season, Colombo could be cut or traded in training camp. He's strictly a right tackle at this stage of his career and could fetch a draft pick in return.
But again, it should be noted that the offensive line wasn't considered a serious problem until the playoffs and it could remain mostly static.
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