The second wave of free agency hit Cowboys Nation and I have to say - it was a little more exciting that the week prior. The Cowboys did some stuff. Some of it was little stuff, other stuff was a little more serious. All in all, it’s been an eventful week of action and has fans singing a different tune these days. In a matter of 48 hours, there were two meaningful signings that turned free agent complacency frowns upside down. There’s a lot going on, but here are three questions I’ve discussed the most over the weekend...
Do you like the Allen Hurns signing?
My initial reaction to this was - no. I didn’t like it at all. It wasn’t so much about Hurns the player as it was the idea that the team was making such a sizable investment towards the WR position. Yes, we all would like to see a spark added to the Cowboys receiving group, but the team has more pressing needs to address. After seeing receivers like Paul Richardson and Albert Wilson sign for deals averaging $8 million annually, I expected Hurns to cost at least that much.
He didn’t. The Cowboys got a sweet deal with Hurns, averaging only $6 million per year for two seasons, but it’s even better than that. The only guaranteed money in the deal was his $2.5 million signing bonus. His 2018 cap hit is only $4.375 and should things not work out, he can be cut after the season for a measly $1.25 million dead money hit.
Not only was this cheaper than expected, but the team turned around and is signing tackle Cameron Fleming. It’s like hoping for a puppy, but then getting a kitten instead, only to turn around and get a puppy too the following day. I could feel my Chaz Green night terrors exfoliate from my body. Alas, the lug nuts from the wheels that fell off the 2017 season were being tightened up in the form of a smart, fundamentally sound swing tackle.
Now, I can truly sit back and appreciate the Hurns signing and acknowledge that the Cowboys got themselves a good route-running receiver, who is quick out of his breaks, and can offer Dak Prescott a nice window to throw the ball in. And for what he costs - it’s a very good move by the front office.
Do you want the Cowboys sign anyone else in free agency?
Going into the offseason, there were several needs that required attention:
LG, DT, LB,
WR, S, swing T, backup G
Now, only four positions remain, but it’s going to be tough to find immediate starters for all four of these in the draft. Unless they address another one in free agency, something is likely to be left out. Safety could be the trickiest to land in the draft if the team wants to get one of the good ones. Derwin James seems out of their reach and Justin Reid is the only other strong talent available and it’s a dice roll whether he’ll be there when the Cowboys pick in the second round, if that is in fact who they have at the top of their board at that time.
I feel like I’m being greedy now, but I would really love to see them get a safety in free agency. After seeing Morgan Burnett’s deal of only $5 million per year, it’s hard not to want to shop around for a good deal on one of the other safeties on the market. There are some really excellent coverage safeties still out there who would be nice upgrades over what the Cowboys currently have.
If the front office somehow managed to land Kenny Vaccaro, Tre Boston, or Eric Reid - that would complete the hat trick in free agency and set the stage for the Cowboys to kill it in the draft next month.
Who should the Cowboys target in the first round now?
Some fans are removing guard and wide receiver off the table because of this weekend’s free agent activity. I wouldn’t go that far just yet. Remember, it’s still about collecting the best players they can. What it could tell us, however, is how the Cowboys view the layout of the talent in the draft. It’s tough to know what that is exactly, but I’m sure they have their favorites. If one of those special “planet players” fall far enough, the team should considering trading a third-round pick to grab him.
If they miss out on one of those guys, they should try to move back later into the first round and target a guard or linebacker. There are several good candidates that could still be lingering around.
Guards - Isaiah Wynn, Will Hernandez, and James Daniel
Linebackers - Leighton Vander Esch and Rashaan Evans
At least one of these guys will be there towards the end of the first round. If they can find someone to trade with them, this would be a great backup plan if they miss out on one of the elite players. I would also considering using that extra draft capital gained from the trade back and packaging it with their own second-pick pick to reload and move up early on Day 2. They could end up landing two players from the above list who can step in immediately and make an impact.
It worked out nicely for the Cowboys when they traded back to get Travis Frederick in 2013 and traded up to get DeMarcus Lawrence in 2014. Maybe they work the phones hard and do both types of trade scenarios to drive themselves to the players they want.