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Cowboys 2018 free agent primer: What do they need, how much money do they have & more

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Here’s where we stand as free agency is about to open for the 2018 NFL season.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Arizona Cardinals Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

As we head into free agency, let’s take a quick look at where the Dallas Cowboys stand and what may be coming up for the team. As we all know, the Cowboys have not been big players in free agency for a while now and there is no reason to believe this year will be any different. But, they will add some players and they will re-sign some of their own guys, so there will be some activity.

What are the important dates for free agency?

Today, Mar 12th, is the beginning of the legal tampering period. Teams can contact agents for other players and enter into negotiations, but no contracts can be finalized until March 14 at 4 PM ET. That date and time, March 14th at 4 PM ET, is the official start of the new NFL calendar year when players officially become free agents.

Teams are allowed to re-sign their on free agents, or players who have already been cut from other teams, at any time.

How much money do the Cowboys have to spend on free agents?

As of right now, the are roughly $4 million under the cap for 2018. They could generate some more cash flow with a few moves.

  • They could sign Zack Martin to a long-term deal and in the process lowers his $9.3 million cap number for 2018.
  • They could restructure the deal of Travis Frederick and pick up about $7.2 million in cash flow.
  • They could release some more players like Orlando Scandrick and James Hanna, that would generate about $6 million in savings if they are post-June 1st designated.
  • Other options include re-working Dez Bryant’s deal or restructuring Tyron Smith’s deal again.

Who are the Cowboys free agents?

You can find the full list of free agents here, and you can also follow all the signings and rumors there, too.

Of those free agents, there are some more important than others.

  • Linebacker Anthony Hitchens is an important part of the Cowboys defense, but it’s hard for the Cowboys to keep him since he is likely to receive starter money elsewhere.
  • Defensive lineman David Irving is a restricted free agent, so the Cowboys have options. A first-round tender would cost around $4.3 million, a second-round tender would be just under $3 million.
  • Bringing back guard Jonathan Cooper would give them some insurance if they don’t come away with another guard candidate in free agency or the draft.

What are the Cowboys positions of need?

That’s a good question. Defensive tackle, guard, wide receiver, linebacker and safety are generally the positions mentioned. Some would also throw in tight end.

The Cowboys just signed ERFA Brian Price to a two-year deal, so he will be in the rotation at the 1-tech spot. But that doesn’t preclude them from making more moves in that area.

The hole at guard is large, and if they don’t re-sign Jonathan Cooper, it becomes a major need.

Wide receiver is kind of the wild-card. They have three starters in Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley, but the unit has been criticized and could use some revamping. They may be looking towards the future when bringing in a new wide receiver. Generally, though, it’s believed they will us the draft instead of free agency to do this.

Linebacker will be an issue if they can get Anthony Hitchens back in the fold. They will need some insurance with Jaylon Smith and Sean Lee.

With Byron Jones moving to cornerback, the safety position seems a little thin, some reinforcements there would be nice.