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Cowboys tricky dance in signing Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper and Byron Jones in free agency

Dallas has some decisions to make this offseason on personnel.

Dallas Cowboys v Detroit Lions Photo by Jorge Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Things are not too great with the Dallas Cowboys these days. They’ve lost two games in a row and in spite of being well within range of winning the NFC East, the collective opinion shared by most is that the team will be moving on from Jason Garrett at season’s end.

There are a lot of ways to feel about the current state of the team but there is also the future state to consider as well. If the Cowboys are looking for a new head coach, that person will be charged with leading the Cowboys roster to the Super Bowl, something the current regime has failed to accomplish so far. What about that roster, though?

Dallas had a few players get paid big this past offseason. The defense had DeMarcus Lawrence and Jaylon Smith while the offense saw Ezekiel Elliott and La’el Collins get paid.

There are many Cowboys left needing new deals and most notably among them are Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper. Perhaps a tier below that is Byron Jones, and one report from Sunday morning suggests that Dallas could lose two of them in free agency.

Sources said the only way that Cooper will not hit the market is if the tag is placed on him, but there is obviously only one tag to go around per team. With the receiver market limited by so many top players already signing extensions, and with Prescott set to go from earning less than $5 million in four years to over $33 million a year, the odds of keeping him and Cooper -- without Cooper on the tag -- are slim. The Cowboys and Cooper made no headway the entire offseason, and there is no inclination on his side to do a deal now with free agency so close.

Similarly, there has been no communication between the Cowboys and Jones either, sources said, and no talks are expected. With years of starting experience at safety and corner, Jones, a former first-round pick, is positioned well on the open market and sources said it looks increasingly likely he will be elsewhere in 2020.

There’s no real need to panic here as there is still a lot of time between now and 2020 free agency beginning. It would be very strange for the Cowboys to have given up a first-round pick for Cooper so recently and not retain him, but obviously anything is possible. Losing Byron Jones is something many have forecast for a while, but until it’s official there’s no need to fret.

What’s more is that this report incorrectly suggests that there is only one tag per team. There is a detail in the league’s current CBA that pertains to 2020 with regards to tags. While, yes, normally teams are only allowed to utilize one tag per offseason in the offseason of 2020 specifically (barring a new collective bargaining agreement) teams can use both the transition and franchise tags. This could allow Dallas to tag say Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper.

What do you think? Could the Cowboys really let Cooper and Jones walk? There’s no way that they’re going to watch Dak Prescott leave and somebody will likely be left out.

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