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Cowboys news: What available players should the Cowboys target in free agency?

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NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Oakland Raiders Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

The Cowboys have remained silent in free agency, and it’s not making some fans and media happy...

Are the Dallas Cowboys playing to lose? Dink Kearney, SportDFW
Some people aren't liking the Cowboys "hands-off" approach in free agency one bit and it is making their head spin.

Here are some of the free agent signings/trades that have taken place: Sammy Watkins (WR, Kansas City Chiefs), (TE, Jimmy Graham (Green Bay Packers), Aqib Talib (CB, Los Angeles Rams), Michael Bennett (DE Philadelphia Eagles), Haloti Ngata (DT, Eagles), Richard Sherman ( CB, San Francisco 49ers), Nate Solder (LT New York Giants), and Paul Richardson (WR, Washington Redskins).

I had to stop because I’m getting a migraine as I type the names of these players. My head is hurting because the Cowboys could’ve had some of these players, either through a trade or flexing some cap muscle and signing one of them.

Jerry and Stephen would rather keep their eyes closed, remain scared, and continue to play to lose, while other teams play to win Super Bowls.

Dallas Cowboys frustrating free agency strategy must change - Steven Mullenax, The Landry Hat
It would be an easy game if all your front office decisions were good ones, but unfortunately - it's a little more challenging that that. The Cowboys are taking a careful approach and that has many fans very unsatisfied.

Dallas doesn’t just have a spending problem, they have a talent evaluation problem. And they have two gun-shy executives who are afraid to take risks, still somehow overpay for talent and seem oblivious to trades. They’d rather make draft busts than carry bad contracts.

As a result, the Cowboys front office has become absolute bottom-feeders when it comes to free agency, scraping the bottom of the clearance bins for passed over veterans. It’s embarrassing.

While other teams are signing impressive free agents and making trades to improve their rosters, the Cowboys sit quietly content to re-sign their own players to maintain the “status quo”. A group of players, I might add, who posted a 9-7 record last season and failed to make the playoffs.

Big picture for Dallas Cowboys free agency to date: Staying the course - Tom Ryle, Blogging The Boys
Tom Ryle argues in the other direction.

One thing is clear. There is a lot of money and cap space that has been spent by other teams. Contracts and guaranteed money are just ballooning. One of the guiding principles of the Dallas front office has been that they are not going to overspend in free agency, putting their main focus on keeping their own top free agents and making the draft the most important part of improving the roster. Free agency and trades are going to play a secondary role. Given the overall track record of big free agent signings, there are going to be more disappointments than success stories again when we look back on 2018 in a few years. And one thing has to be kept in mind: All these free agents and traded players are ones that their old teams chose to part ways with. Some may not have been for good reasons, but many were.

Dallas Cowboys can improve with free-agency ripple, not just splash - Todd Archer, ESPN
The Cowboys are slow-rolling it in free agency, but the question begs - can they still land a decent signing after the first wave of high priced free agents have come off the board?

As executive vice president Stephen Jones has reminded us over and over and over, good players get great-player money in free agency. The Cowboys were ready to overpay for Watkins, whose talent they hoped a reunion with receivers coach Sanjay Lal would unlock.

Trying to sign Watkins was a good move. Not paying him as a top-five receiver in the NFL might be an even better move.

Now comes the smart shopping. This is where the Cowboys have to do better than they have in recent years. They can find useful pieces to close the gap on the Philadelphia Eagles and anybody else ahead of them in the NFC. They tried the splash with Watkins, but making some ripples can go a long way in helping the core of the roster get back to the playoffs in 2018.

Best still available in 2018 free agency shows the Cowboys can still get plenty of help - Dave Halprin, Blogging The Boys
There are still plenty of players out there who could help strengthen the Cowboys roster. Dave Halprin takes a look at some of the Cowboys biggest position needs and identifies who is still available.

Safety

Best Available: Tyrann Mathieu, Morgan Burnett, Eric Reid, Kenny Vaccaro, Tyvon Branch

Other available: Steven Terrell, Tre Boston, Quintin Demps, Reggie Nelson, Ron Parker, Mike Mitchell

The safety market is dead in free agency. Very little movement. Kenny Vacarro or Tre Boston are interesting possibilities, if the Cowboys decide not to get in on an Earl Thomas trade. Keep an eye on Morgan Burnett if he is still on the market after a few more days, he is very versatile.

Dallas Cowboys: 5 Free agents they could still sign after the first wave - Randy Gurzi, NFL Spin Zone
While Earl Thomas, Tyrann Mathieu, and Kenny Vaccaro dominate the headlines as big name safeties that the Cowboys should be interested in, one name is falling by the wayside. Check out this cheaper free agent safety candidate in Randy Gurzi's list of five players the Cowboys could still go after.

1. Tre Boston, FS, Los Angeles Chargers

The final player on this list is also the one the Dallas Cowboys need more than any other. They moved free safety Byron Jones back to cornerback, which was a good move because Jones hasn’t been great at safety. He could very well live up to his first-round status with the return to his old position.

Even with it being a good move, there’s now an opening in his old spot. While rumors continue to center around Earl Thomas being an option, the Cowboys could avoid a guy wanting to be the highest paid safety in the NFL and get someone younger in Tre Boston.

Boston will be just 26-years old when the season kicks off and is coming off a campaign in which he made just $900,000 for the Chargers. This was after he spent three seasons with the Carolina Panthers, who drafted him out of North Carolina in the fourth-round.

8 Under-the-radar free agent possibilities for Cowboys to consider - K.D. Drummond, Cowboys Wire
People don't want to hear about the Cowboys free agent problems. They want solutions. And K.D. offers up eight players who are still available on the free agent market, including a veteran LB who would buy the team some time to figure out their long-term situation.

NaVorro Bowman, LB, Raiders

The Cowboys were all set to sign the nine-year veteran during the 2017 season after the 49ers released him. He stood them up, never leaving his Oakland visit. That made sense, as he didn’t want to uproot his family in the middle of the year.

If he’s more open to moving them over the summer, Bowman might be an intriguing option to replace Anthony Hitchens. He signed for just $2.6 million last year, so something that would net him $3 million or so seems the appropriate range for replacing Hitchens and Justin Durant as the veteran backup. Jaylon Smith looks good to go, but can play Sam backer on run downs and allow Bowman to be a two-down guy in the middle of the defense.

Dallas Cowboys: Fee agent linebacker options - Peter Dawson, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Peter Dawson provides a list of five veteran linebackers that could be low-cost options for the Cowboys. Most of them are on the wrong side of 30, but there is one guy who could be the type of player the team is looking for.

4. Jon Bostic, formerly of the Indianapolis Colts, New England Patriots, Chicago Bears. Age: 26

Next season, he'll likely be on his fourth team since he entered the league in 2013. His size and speed make him a good, versatile player. The main concern is his lack of production.

With Hitchens gone, here are a few linebackers Cowboys could target - Jeff Cavanaugh,The Athletic
The Cowboys can also look to the draft to find their new answer at linebacker. There are some intriguing second-day options, including the super athletic LB from Texas who still has a lot of learning to do in order to be a great player in this league.

Malik Jefferson – LB – Texas

The biggest thing that stands out of tape with Jefferson is that he's a guesser. When he guesses right the results look incredible. When he guesses wrong he leaves holes that runners exploit for big gains. He guesses wrong too often.

He's going to be drafted highly because if he can develop his ability to read and react he has all the physical tools you can dream of for the position. I have this play in here just to show you how quickly he can cover ground. That's moving.

Jefferson sort of reminds me of a faster version of the current Jaylon Smith. Has some issues with his reads and reaction and is at his best playing in a straight line, but has great size and speed. He could absolutely develop into a special player, but he has work to do to get there. I have him as a third-round player but think he'll go higher because of the tools.

Dallas Cowboys: NFL draft preview: With Anthony Hitchens gone, could Cowboys take one of these linebackers to replace him? | SportsDay
Draft expert Dane Brugler previews this year's top crop of linebackers

With more teams implementing nickel and dime coverages in base formations, the traditional thumping linebacker isn't in high demand in today's NFL. However, all 32 teams are searching for the versatile, do-it-all linebacker who can blitz, cover and help in run support. And this draft has several of those types, starting with Georgia's Roquan Smith and Virginia Tech's Tremaine Edmunds, who are projected as top-15 picks. And for the teams who miss on the two crown jewels at the top, there is quality depth on Day 2 with several linebacker prospects with starting potential in the NFL.

NFL Draft 2018: 7 Ways Free Agency Has Reshaped the Draft - Zach Kruse, Bleacher Report
Free agency has been quite eventful for many teams and it could have a big influence on the draft decisions made in April. How can some of the activity affect the Cowboys? Zach Kruse discusses some of the events that have reshaped the draft.

Quarterback Carousel Spins

So, where's the shakeup? For starters, Kirk Cousins landed in Minnesota, leaving several of the teams picking early (Jets, Broncos, Bills, Cardinals) to sign stop-gap options. Don't be surprised if one or more of those teams aggressively attempts to trade up to find its franchise quarterback, as free agency didn't provide many answers.

With still many teams in front of Dallas needing a quarterback, this could increase the chances of an elite talent falling to pick 19, possibly including the best WR in the draft?

Bears Don't Need to Reach for a Pass-Catcher

Chicago signed receivers Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel and tight end Trey Burton, giving Trubusky a trio of immediate difference-makers in the passing game. Considering only one Bears pass-catcher topped 500 yards last season, that's a marked upgrade.

It's becoming increasingly difficult to pinpoint when a player like Alabama's Calvin Ridley will come off the board.

2018 NFL Mock Draft: Latest 1st-Round Predictions in First Week of Free Agency - Gary Davenport, Bleacher Report
Last week produced the post-combine mock drafts. Now the mocks have been updated to reflect the first week of free agent activity.

19. Dallas Cowboys

Da'Ron Payne, DT, Alabama

Were Calvin Ridley or Courtland Sutton available at No. 19, wide receiver could be the call for the Dallas Cowboys. It's possible it still will be. But the team has other needs. In end Demarcus Lawrence and tackle David Irving, the Cowboys have the foundation for a stout defensive line. But that line needs fleshing out. And Alabama's Da'Ron Payne is a lot of flesh.

A 6'2", 311-pound brick house of a lineman who tallied 53 tackles for the Crimson Tide last year, Payne entered draft season as one of 2018's most sought-after lane-cloggers on the defensive line. But there were questions regarding his pass-rushing chops and ability to get upfield. Payne went a long way toward answering those questions at February's NFL Scouting Combine, peeling off an eye-opening 1.67-second 10-yard split.

By weight of comparison, Joey Bosa of the Los Angeles Chargers had a 1.68-second 10-yard split at the combine in 2016. Payne's already an impressive player in his own right who would provide a substantial boost to a Dallas run defense that was good against the run in 2017, allowing 104 yards a game. But give the big fella a couple of years working under the tutelage of one of the best defensive line coaches in the NFL in Rod Marinelli, and he could be much, much more.

Lawrence, Irving, second-year pro Taco Charlton and now Payne? That's a line that could do some damage.