The NFL calendar rolls along, and before you know it free agency will be here. Well, you’ll have to wait until March 14th, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s not too far away. Before we begin dreaming about players from other teams we’d like for Dallas to sign, let’s take a look at their own free agents. The Cowboys have made a point of trying to lock up their own free agents, when warranted, instead of splashing money around elsewhere. This is usually the true meat of the Cowboys free agency period.
Absolutely not leaving
DeMarcus Lawrence - It’s hard to concoct a scenario where Lawrence isn’t a Cowboy in 2018. Maybe if a team decided they wanted to give up a couple of very high draft picks or something in trade. In reality though, through a new contract or the franchise tag, Lawrence will be terrorizing the opponent's QB for Dallas next year.
Anthony Hitchens - Even though injury wiped out half his season, Hitchens put together a sensational year after returning to the field. Now that Jaylon Smith is improving, the Cowboys could have a nice rotation there with Hitchens, Smith and Sean Lee. If the Cowboys can keep Hitchens, they don’t have to burn a high draft pick or spend in free agency for another linebacker to go with Smith and Lee. With Lee’s injury history keeping Hitchens is great insurance.
David Irving - (Restricted Free Agent) Irving is a RFA, so the Cowboys will have the rights to him if they so choose, even if another teams signs him to an offer sheet. I would expect the Cowboys to place a second-round tender on Irving just to be sure they’ll keep him.
L.P. Ladouceur - So dependable, I guess the only thing that would stop him from re-signing is if he retired or something, he will be 37 next season. Expect him back.
Jonathan Cooper - They might bring in competition for Cooper at left guard, but I doubt they will go into the season without his services being available. He showed himself to be a competent guard, and he might get better the longer he plays between Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick. Unless a team throws big money at him, the Cowboys will probably re-sign him at a moderate price.
Keith Smith - (Restricted free agent) The Cowboys will likely sign him outright, but even if they don’t they could still match any offer he gets. He’s done well as a fullback, no reason not to keep him.
Brian Price - (Exclusive-rights free agent) Price was intriguing in his short time in Dallas. The Cowboys need depth at the 1-tech, and Price is a big run-stopper that showed a little bit of promise. The Cowboys would probably like to see another full season from him.
Kyle Wilber - The veteran linebacker/defensive end is really kept around for two reasons - versatility and special teams play. At some point, though, the Cowboys will find a younger, cheaper player to fulfill that role. It may be in 2018.
Joe Looney - He’s a known quantity, he’s relatively young and has some position flex, that all works in his favor. The Cowboys would probably like him back as long as the price is right.
Leaning toward out the door
Byron Bell - The veteran really didn’t impress this season, although he was a step up from Chaz Green at tackle. With the injury issues Tyron Smith has had, the Cowboys may want to search the free agent market or use a draft pick to upgrade here.
Alfred Morris - There’s nothing wrong with Morris as a reserve, but my guess is he would like to go to a team where he will have a chance to see more playing time. Rod Smith seems like the best option to back up Ezekiel Elliott, Morris will likely move on.
Brice Butler - It’s been a weird stay in Dallas for Butler. Sometimes he’s really impressive, sometimes he disappears for long stretches. The Cowboys need a deep threat like Butler, but it likely won’t be Butler.
Bene Benwikere - The Cowboys will likely add some more young corners in the draft or as undrafted free agents. It seems unlikely Benwikere will return.
Agree, disagree? Hit the comments with your thoughts.