While the coaching situation is still somewhat up in the air for the Dallas Cowboys, sometime soon they will start addressing player personnel issues. Free agency, then the draft, will bring us closer to the roster we’ll see in 2019.
As OCC has already noted, the Cowboys roster is remarkably young. The general consensus is that it is a talented bunch with a lot of room to grow. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t have weaknesses. The Cowboys will need to identity those and try to patch the holes before the new season begins.
In no particular order, here is our own list to help them along. Some context notes, this list assumes the Cowboys will either sign DeMarcus Lawrence to a long-term deal or franchise tag him. We’re guessing there is no way the Cowboys let Lawrence leave. This list also assumes that Travis Frederick will be back for 2019.
Free Agent - Darian Thompson
Xavier Woods is a player for the future, but finding him a more consistent partner would be a nice move. Jeff Heath can go from making the big play and saving the game to looking lost and getting abused by offenses. His athleticism would make him a key special teams guy, but as a starting safety his value is questionable.
It won’t be long until the Earl Thomas rumors will start to surface. The Cowboys were clearly interested in him in 2018 but weren’t willing to give up the draft capital. Now, he’s a free agent, although he is coming off injury and he will soon be over the magical line of 30 years old.
Free Agent - Geoff Swaim
The hole left by Jason Witten has still not been filled and is still pretty deep. Free agent Geoff Swaim started to produce before his injury, but is he really the guy for the future? Ditto Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz. Jarwin had one monster game, but was not a huge factor outside of that. Schultz may grow into something more, but there is no indication at the moment that he is the future. The Cowboys have a bunch of maybes at the position.
A true, play-making tight end could be Dak Prescott’s best friend.
Free agents - Cole Beasley, Tavon Austin
Cole Beasley is the incumbent but he may be looking elsewhere. He could probably get a pretty nice short-term contract from another team, and with the drop in opportunity for him in this offense, he may want to try some new scenery. He has sounded a bit frustrated in Dallas this past season.
The Cowboys could try to shoehorn Austin into a slot role and he certainly adds value on special teams, but is he the answer they want to depend on week after week? Certainly would depend on the coast of a new contract.
There is a wild card here, and that is Allen Hurns. He has the ability to play all the positions at wide receiver and during his time in Jacksonville he had pretty good production when they used him in the slot. Of course, no one is sure yet how ready he will be for 2019 as he recovers from the brutal injury in the Seattle game.
FA - David Irving
Maliek Collins is certainly a serviceable 3-tech, but you can’t help feeling how much better the Cowboys line would be if they had someone who could consistently push the pocket from the middle. David Irving has the perfect skill-set for the position, and when he plays it makes a huge difference. But the Cowboys patience has probably run out with Irving and he may be facing more discipline from the league.
The Cowboys could certainly go into 2019 with Collins as the starter, but upgrading the position might be on the team’s radar, although they have never really prioritized the position for free agent or draft resources.
Secondary running back
FA - Rod Smith
Instead of saying backup running back, or change of pace back, we’re going to call this a secondary running back. Someone who could complement Ezekiel Elliott and give him some breaks along the way. DannyPhantom did an excellent job of pointing out the benefits of having multiple running backs who can contribute. Obviously, Zeke will still be the workhorse, but having someone who can take some reps and produce would be beneficial. Zeke was getting worn down as the season progressed, he could use some help.
Rod Smith doesn’t appear to be that guy. After impressing previously in a small sample size, there was a noticeable dropoff when they used him in the 2018 season to spell Zeke. The Cowboys could use an upgrade.