Free agency in the NFL is just a few weeks away. We all know the Cowboys are never major players in free agency, but they will sign at least a few guys. So the question that was presented to the BTB staff was - Who is the one NFL free agent the Cowboys should target? This meant outside free agents, so we couldn’t pick DeMarcus Lawrence or Anthony Hitchens. And we were mindful the Cowboys tend to be bargain hunters, so we stayed away from the Top 10 list of free agents, hitting more mid-tier to bargain guys.
Here is what we came up with.
Michael Strawn - Justin Pugh
Offensive lineman Justin Pugh. Pugh was a mediocre right tackle for the New York Giants in 2017 but was playing out of position. He’s much, much better suited as an interior lineman and could potentially dominate playing between Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick. He would likely demand a four-year deal at $7-8 mil per year, which is high but not excessive. The vast majority of free agent options at the guard spot are retreads and failed draft picks unlikely to perform any better than the Jonathan Coopers of the world.
Obtaining a guard through free agency would avoid having to invest yet more draft resources into that position. Pugh is only 27 but has missed time each of the last two seasons, so that could be a concern. The upside, however, is adding another potentially dominant piece to the offensive line without having to either pay a top-shelf salary or use a top draft pick.
Tom Ryle - Kenny Vaccaro
On the free agents, if the Cowboys don’t make a successful run at trading for Earl Thomas (which I’d really love, but am not really hopeful about), they should look hard at a couple of safeties, Kenny Vaccaro and Eric Reid. They have to do some real work their, especially with Reid’s injury concerns, but with Byron Jones slated to be a full-time corner, they could shore up the safety group. It should not stop them from taking the right safety in the draft, but if one of those FAs would pass muster, it would put them in good shape in the secondary no matter how the draft fell.
Michael Sisemore - Tre Boston
If I’m the Cowboys, I’m looking at free safety. The guy I’m looking at is Tre Boston. Boston had 79 tackles, eight PDs, and five interceptions in one year with the LA Chargers. It’s looking like he’s moving on and the Cowboys should make him their big fish to reel in. He’s 25, has solid production, and plays a position that Dallas needs to think about with talks of Byron Jones playing cornerback. This draft has some solid strong safety playmakers but this team needs a single high topper to the defense. Boston is the guy you pay because the probability of Earl Thomas is not as realistic as some folks hope.
Cole Patterson - Jerick McKinnon
I like the safety route, as Dallas would be smart to add to their secondary in free agency; however, just to be different, I’ll go with running back Jerick McKinnon.
McKinnon is a free agent after rushing for 570 yards,adding 421 yards receiving, and scoring five touchdowns in 2017. McKinnon would be a fascinating add to this offense, as his playmaking in the open field in both the run game and in the pass game would open up so much for this offense. If Zeke needs a breather, bringing in a guy like McKinnon on a third down could help this offense.
Other offensive weapons I would like for the Cowboys consider are John Brown, Donte Moncrief, and Taylor Gabriel. All could bring big plays to the offense.
DannyPhantom - Bradley McDougald
I struggle coming up with names because whether or not I like a guy depends on what his price will be. Other than guard, there aren’t too many bargained-priced players at other positions that would offer anything better than what we already have. The only player that remotely interests me is safety Bradley McDougald.
Dave Halprin - Justin Ellis
The Cowboys don’t like to spend high draft picks on 1-tech defensive tackles. Stephen Jones reiterated that point just this week. But the team is desperately thin at the position and really needs to grab a guy who can help stop the run. Justin Ellis was languishing until he dropped some weight (don’t get confused, he still weighs around 330) and had a really nice season for the Raiders. PFF ranked him as the 23rd interior defender against the run. He won’t be super-cheap like previous options (Terrell McClain, Stephen Paea) but should come at a decent price. He’s not greatat rushing the passer, but could serve as a rotational guy that can provide some beef in the middle.