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The Cowboys "Risky" Offseason, Will It Be Rewarding?

That seems to be the word surrounding the Cowboys this offseason.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Jerry Jones has let it be known for a very long time that he operates very well with risk. It's a theme he's come back to over and over in his time with the Cowboys. Lately, we've been talking about how the franchise, with the influence of Stephen Jones and Jason Garrett, has reached a more stable bearing, they appear as a better-run organization that is less likely to take on risk. But if you checked in with most of the analysis of the Cowboys offseason, risk is the word that comes up repeatedly.

Any time you take on risk, you believe you are also taking on reward. This offseason, the Cowboys have made a few prominent "risky" moves, but  the reward matches the risk. Greg Hardy was (and is) a huge risk, based on the suspension, the bad publicity, being out of football for over a year; there are just more things that can go wrong here than on average, and it could be ugly. But the reward is oh so enticing. Hardy is a top-notch pass rusher, a position that can help transform a defense. Randy Gregory plays the same spot, and comes with his own set of drug and mental issues hat he has openly discussed, and the Cowboys used a second-round pick on him, no cheap thing. But he plays that essential NFL position, and he could be here for the long-term. Risk vs. reward. These are the Cowboys two biggest risk items.

Another risk they took was coming out of the draft without a running back. Of course, that's only a risk to some people. Others would argue that McFaddden/Randle/Dunbar/Williams is a group the Cowboys brass really believe in.

When people talk about the Cowboys offseason, they generally mention this risk against some of the things they did that were not perceived as risky. Signing Jason Garrett, signing La'el Collins, and continuing to put their salary cap in a positive place, among other items.

ESPN graded all 32 teams offseason's today, using a panel of four experts, along with Mel Kiper's draft grades for each team.The Cowboys did very well in the grading, getting a B-Plus, tied for the fourth best grade. They explained the Cowboys offseason this way.

"This feels like a team that needs to have two grades," said Yates, who gave the Cowboys their lowest individual grade (B). "If things work out off the field, it's an easy A grade. If things do not work out, I don't know. In the past, it was easy to bash the Cowboys for overspending. This year, they underspent on guys that have a lot of potential for paying off big."

Re-signing coach Jason Garrett factored into the high marks Dallas received this offseason. Running back remained a concern even though our analysts had little problem with the Cowboys' decision against paying top dollar to retain Murray. The feeling was that Murray carried a high risk for injury, while the offensive line was strong enough for the Cowboys' running game to be effective regardless. Polian thought the team still might need to address the position.

I'm going to go ahead and agree with most of this. When discussing the Cowboys offseason with other media, with friends or family, I always find myself following a similar script. The Cowboys offseason was amazing, but it didn't come without risks. But, if those risks pay off, the Cowboys could be heading into a special time. Without drinking the Kool-Aid too much, Dallas has really transformed itself.

If you have these three elements, then you are going to be successful in the NFL: A talented offensive line, an efficient passing attack and a defense that can get after the QB. That's not the only way to do it in the league, there are plenty of other things to consider, but if you can achieve those three, I'm guessing you're going to win a lot of NFL games.

The Cowboys currently have two, a fantastic offensive line they just added to with La'el Collins, and a Tony Romo-led passing attack that can be lethal. I'm not disregarding the running game, that has become their identity, just that my contention is that you have to have the passing attack to go with it. The Cowboys are just fortunate that they have both, and the run definitely helps set up their passing.

The one thing they were desperately missing was the ability to get after the quarterback. That's where much of the risk went this offseason. If Hardy AND Gregory pay off this season, then the Cowboys are certainly contenders, if only one pays off, they still are formidable, and if neither pays off, they are really no worse off than last year.

And that was a pretty good year.

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