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Cowboys offensive free agents 2019: Who stays and who goes?

Some big decisions are coming in Big D.

NFL: New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The 2019 season is over for the Dallas Cowboys and now it’s time to look ahead to the new year. This team is still loaded with a lot of talent, but keeping this group together for the foreseeable future is going to be a challenging task for the front office. With some big stars requiring pricey contracts, the Cowboys must decide how to properly distribute their funds.

While the team has tough decisions to make on both sides of the ball, today we are just taking a look at all the free agents on offense.

Dak Prescott

It’s never been about whether or not the Cowboys are going to extend Prescott, but rather - when will it happen and for how much? He’s likely to end up somewhere in the vicinity as Russell Wilson’s $35 million per year salary. Some will argue he shouldn’t be making that type of money, but the price of franchise quarterbacks are steep, especially when you have an impressive start to your career like Prescott.

He’s a prime candidate to be tagged simply so the front office doesn’t have to compete with other potential suitors that would drive up his asking price, but ultimately a long-term deal is coming.

Prediction: Stays

Amari Cooper

Similar to Prescott, Cooper has let his body of work speak for itself. He’s already had four 1,000+ receiving seasons and he’s just 25 years old. Cooper is one of the best route-runners in the league and has already demonstrated a great rapport with Prescott.

Despite the great season from second-year pro Michael Gallup, receivers like Cooper are hard to come by and the Cowboys have no plans to let him get away. After already forfeiting a first-round draft pick to acquire his services, they’ve been committed to him for over a year already, and nothing has happened to make them change their mind. Will he demand Michael Thomas-type money? That’s a hard sell, but he’s still going to be expensive. And even though Cooper has had some disappearing acts in his career, there’s absolutely no reason to hesitate in re-upping on him for the future.

Prediction: Stays

Randall Cobb

The Cowboys got a great deal for the veteran slot receiver from Green Bay as he was 30 percent cheaper than retaining Cole Beasley who left for Buffalo. Some would argue that Beasley was held back in Dallas, but there’s only so much Beasley can do. Despite eclipsing over 100 targets for the first time in his career, Beasley’s catch percentage was one of the lowest of his career. While Cobb didn’t get the same amount of looks Beasley did, he had more receiving yards and was very efficient averaging 10 yards per target.

If Cobb wants to stay in Dallas, this should be something the team can handle financially. It could come in a form of a three-year deal, giving the team outs after the first season. The team may also look to the draft to find a good receiver, but if the price is reasonable, it makes sense to keep Cobb around. He’s still under 30 and is coming off a season where he played 15 games. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that his old coach Mike McCarthy is now running the show in Dallas. He’s worth it.

Prediction: Stays

Tavon Austin

The veteran “whatever” back liked Dallas so much in 2018 that he decided to come back at a discounted price of just $1.75 million for the season. That’s great value for a talent like Austin; however, that value is diminished when you consider how little he is used in the offense. In 2018, you could rationalize his low numbers being attributed to health, as he only played in seven games that year. Last season, he doubled the amount of games played, yet had similar numbers. The Cowboys just don’t appear to have enough work for him in the offense.

Austin’s price won’t be that expensive, but he should be able to command a little more money than what the Cowboys are willing to give him. And you’d have to figure a new home would open the door for more opportunities as well.

Prediction: Signs elsewhere

Jason Witten

This one gets a little tricky because we don’t know where his mind is at right now. Last year, he found it hard to stay away from the game as the urge to help a competitive team make run at the playoffs was just too good to pass up. Now, with the organization going in a new direction, the team faces the possibility of some hiccups that might take bit before being back in the thick of things.

The Cowboys also need to consider if having Witten return is necessarily a good thing. Sure, he still is so fundamentally sound that he provides his young quarterback a safety net, but far too many times Prescott looked his way early in his progressions. Not only that, but the lack of targets distributed to Blake Jarwin is not helping this offense.

Prediction: Retires, again

Blake Jarwin

This was supposed to be the year we saw what the third-year tight end could do with more opportunities, but the return of Witten sorta put a kibosh on that. Jarwin’s 31 receptions for 365 yards and three touchdowns were almost identical to his 2018 output. He catches 75 percent of his passes, and gains close to nine yards per targets. You can essentially set your watch to it.

Because Jarwin was an undrafted free agent in 2017, his three years of service makes him a restricted free agent, so the Cowboys hold all the cards here. Of course, that control all goes away after next season which means time is running out on having a low-cost pass catching tight end option on the team.

Prediction: Stays

Xavier Su’a-Filo

The veteran backup guard has quietly been a real dependable player for the Cowboys these last two seasons. After rookie Connor Williams went down with an injury in 2018, Su’a-Filo stepped in and helped the Cowboys win seven of their final eight games of the year. Even this past season when Dallas lost five of seven, the team was 2-1 when Su’a-Filo started and finished the game at left guard.

Make no mistake about it - he’s been a reliable player. The Cowboys scored him for $800k in each of the past two seasons, but he’s earned a decent raise as he shops around for a team looking to add a new starting guard in 2020.

Prediction: Signs elsewhere

Joe Looney

They say timing is everything, and veteran G/C got the raw end of the stick on this one. After filling in admirably for All-Pro center Travis Frederick in 2018, Looney would’ve commanded a respectable contract had he hit the free agent market last season. Unfortunately for him, he still had another year left on his super-cheap two-year, $2.1 million deal.

Last season, Looney was kept on the shelf until Week 16 when an injury to Su-Filo meant his services were again needed. He was very Looney-like; nothing spectacular, but solid. The fact that he was a third-stringer means there shouldn’t be a lot of money for him in the open market, and that could land him back in Dallas once the first few waves of free agency subsides, but this one is going to be close. Looney is family within the offensive line group, and it would be great to get him back, but the Cowboys depth combined with being stingy with their cap allocations might mean a slightly better deal lies elsewhere.

Prediction: Signs elsewhere

Adam Redmond

There are a couple important points to remember about Redmond before predicting his future with the team. First off, he made the team at final roster cuts, so despite such a crowded house along the offensive line position group, the team still wanted him on the team. Second, he’s an exclusive-rights free agent, which means the Cowboys have a strangle-hold on his rights for a super-cheap price.

Prediction: Stays

Cameron Fleming

Disclaimer: Fleming isn’t actually a free agent as he still has one more year left on the two-year, $7.5 million deal he signed last offseason. We’re including him in the mix here because, for all intent and purposes, that deal really was just for one season.

The Cowboys structured his deal in a way that gave them an option for the 2020 season. If the team felt they needed him for another year, they could choose to commit another $4.43 million of cap space to retain him as their swing tackle. However, if they feel okay about their tackle situation, they can get out of his deal with just a $750k dead money hit.

Things have changed since last March when they signed Fleming. For starters, La’el Collins has been extended so their starting tackles are both under contract for the next four years. They also like what they have in undrafted free agent Brandon Knight as he filled in well after Collins hurt in the Green Bay game. And let’s not forget that Connor Williams could play tackle in a pinch as they also have Connor McCovern to play inside if needed.

Essentially, the Cowboys have several viable options so it makes no sense to carry that type of cap hit for Fleming.

Prediction: 2020 option not exercised

Cooper Rush

Similar to Jarwin, Rush is was an UDFA from 2017 with three years of service, so he’s a restricted free agent. It would be very surprising for another team to poach him away from Dallas.

While Rush should remain with the Cowboys, the team should also be on the lookout for another backup. The team tried to have another option in their back pocket when they drafted Mike White a couple years ago, but he’s gone. And with Rush only around for another year, the team needs to start looking ahead.

Prediction: Stays

Kai Forbath

The veteran kicker made a great impression on the team, making all 10 of his field goals once signing with Dallas at the end of the season. That should land the 32-year old kicker a job somewhere, but will it be in Dallas? Forbath is an unrestricted free agent, and while he won’t demand a huge amount of money, multiple teams could be vying for his services.

The Cowboys are cheap and they’ll have a full offseason to look for a replacement. Brace yourself for more kicking fun in 2020.

Prediction: Signs elsewhere

L.P. Ladouceur

It’s hard to say if the veteran long-snapper has another year left in him. Over the past two offseasons, he’s taken it a year at a time with one-year contracts. Will he do it again in 2020?

The Cowboys have all kinds of problems, but their long-snapper isn’t one of them. It’s hard to know what Ladouceur will do, but at 39-years-old, eventually you got to hang it up.

Prediction: Retires

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