It’s the slow time of the year and some people don’t know what to do with themselves. If you have found that you have resorted to chasing down Pokémon with your phone just to chew up time, its okay – help is on the way. We are less than two months away from opening weekend against the New York Giants. And with each new day the offseason window is closing and the Cowboys will soon be testing out some of their decisions. Some moves have been very good, others a little more puzzling. While it won’t be too much longer to start learning the results of these choices, here are my top five off-season moves.
#5 Re-signing James Hanna
The Cowboys are very committed to the running game so it shouldn’t be too surprising that they retained the services of their top blocking tight end, James Hanna. It’s not a position that they are content with just handing over to anyone. The team drafted Geoff Swain in the seventh round of last year’s draft, but haven’t seen enough development to hand over the reins to him just yet.
Hanna is very good at what he does. For the last few years, Hanna has been one of the most underrated Cowboys on the team. He was drafted in the sixth round of 2012. While he has done very little to help in the passing game, his role in 12 personnel is vital. He’s only missed two games in his four-year career so he’s been a reliable fixture in the offense.
#4 Letting Greg Hardy Walk
For a team that is desperate for help at getting to the quarterback, it sure seems strange to not re-sign a player of Hardy’s caliber. His production last season didn’t blow anyone away, but there were times he was effective on the field and his absence will be felt…but in a good way.
Six sacks and 36 tackles is production the Cowboys could certainly use, but Jason Garrett runs his team a certain way and Hardy just doesn’t fit. Garrett gave him a chance to be a football player for the Dallas Cowboys, but Hardy didn’t embrace that opportunity like coach Garrett expected. When you show up late to meetings and have issues within the locker room, it’s just not going to fly. Jimmy Johnson exhibited more leeway and was very blunt about his preferential treatment he gave to his more talented players. Garrett doesn’t work like that.
And for those who think the Cowboys should cut Rolando McClain to send a message to the team, they should realize that players don’t have to look any further than the absence of Hardy to see what type of message is being delivered.
Sometimes the best moves are the ones you don’t make.
#3 Signing Cedric Thornton
The Cowboys didn’t throw a lot of money around in free agency, but they did make a solid investment in defensive tackle Cedric Thornton. After spending his rookie contract stuck in Philadelphia, Thornton packed up and took his talent to Dallas. It’s win-win for both teams. The Eagles don’t like having good players and the Cowboys do. Everyone’s happy.
Thornton brings some good size and quickness to help the Cowboys interior line stuff the run. While we will miss having Nick Hayden on the field, we won’t miss watching ball carriers run by him.
#2 Drafting Jaylon Smith
This one has been quite the controversial topic since the draft. The Cowboys demonstrated the ultimate display of patience by selecting a player that won’t help them in 2016. This is bad news for people who were hoping the team’s second-round pick would step in and make an immediate impact. This is a sure-fire guarantee to not happen.
Instead, the Cowboys are hoping that good things will come to those who wait. Smith’s talent at the linebacker position is something any team would love to have, but the risk involved from his injury has many people reluctant. While there is plenty of uncertainty that goes along with that infamous nerve in his knee, here is a good FanPost from Fumbles that provides some good details about his injury.
Dallas doesn’t shy away from high-risk, high-reward moves and will gladly take this collegiate star in hopes he bolsters the defense.
#1 Drafting Zeke
What can be said about Ezekiel Elliott that hasn’t already been said? Not much, actually. We, here at BTB, have spent many articles showering fans with the goodness of Elliott. The Cowboys have spent these last several years constructing a high-powered running machine and now they have an excellent driver at the wheel.
Some fans wanted Jalen Ramsey, but he would have been horrible running behind this offensive line. The Cowboys may have played it safe and double-down on their strengths, but they hit 21 with this choice so expect the payoff to be big.