The Athletic ranked the top-100 free agents, and the Cowboys are well-represented.
Dak ranks number one. Amari Cooper is also in the top-five. Who else is ranked in the top-60? Hint: all defensive players.
9. Byron Jones, CB, Cowboys (27)
He played mostly right corner for the Cowboys last season but has experience previously playing safety and can line up in different spots. Jones is an elite athlete and effective in both man and zone. He can match up with outside receivers and can also take on dynamic tight ends. It would be no surprise to see Jones become the highest-paid corner in the NFL at $16 million or $17 million per season. The Cowboys could use the franchise or transition tag on Jones, but he seems well behind Prescott and Cooper on their priority list.
39. Robert Quinn, EDGE, Cowboys (30)
The Cowboys made a shrewd move, acquiring Quinn for a sixth-round pick before last season. He produced 11.5 sacks and 22 QB hits. Quinn had a sack or QB hit on 9.6% of his pass-rush opportunities, which ranked 10th among 172 qualifying players. Quinn most often lined up at right defensive end and won with speed turning the corner. He is no longer in his prime, and age will be working against him, but Quinn will be a solid option for teams looking for a veteran pass rusher.
55. Maliek Collins, DT, Cowboys (25)
He started 55 games in four seasons with the Cowboys and finished 2019 with four sacks, 10 QB hits and six tackles for loss. Collins is still young, so the possibility exists that he’ll put it all together and make a leap in the next few years. But at this point he should be viewed as a solid, starting-caliber 4-3 defensive tackle.
Looking to make a splash? Here are a few options for the Cowboys to consider, including adding an interesting player at the safety position.
Karl Joseph, S
The next position the Dallas Cowboys could potentially make a splash in free agency would be at the safety position if they don’t feel like picking one at No. 17 in the draft is worth the value. They would need a safety with starting experience and in need of a fresh start.
That safety is Karl Joseph.
Joseph has been on the outs with the Oakland Raiders ever since Jon Gruden arrived and during that time he has been linked to the Cowboys whenever a trade has been discussed.
Now that Joseph has become a free agent the Cowboys can go after him without having to give up a player of draft capital and according to Spotrac.com, his market value is projected around $6 million a year. And while Joseph may not have the most impressive stats but the best thing about Joseph is his ability to cover and make tackles.
Something that safety Jeff Heath wasn’t able to do consistently during his time with the Cowboys. Joseph’s effective tackling and cover ability paired with current safety Xavier Woods range covering the middle of the field would give the Cowboys a very good tandem that can cover anything thrown at them. They would also make receivers think twice about going across the middle of the field because both also love dishing out big hits.
The Cowboys really need a strong safety and I believe that Joseph is that safety that can give the Cowboys a good chance at getting farther into the playoffs.
Could Dallas get lucky this offseason?
2. Cornerback market remains still
I don’t want to even think about the Cowboys’ issues at cornerback if they don’t keep Byron Jones. It’s tough to know where his value will land. After all, since Josh Norman became the highest-paid CB in the NFL at $15M per year in 2016, only Xavien Howard passed him with 50 thousand dollars two years later.
Can Jones reset the market? He’s been great, despite not producing interceptions. The Cowboys can’t let him walk. With a little bit of luck, the market will remain as still as it has been since 2016.
Money talks, but Byron Jones walks? The Cowboys may have other plans at cornerback - DannyPhantom, BTB
What are the Cowboys’ plans regarding the cornerback position?
While the Cowboys should make a good push to retain him, we have to prepare ourselves for the very real possibility that he’s played his last game with Dallas. The reason for this is simple math - Byron Jones has his price, and the Cowboys have theirs.
Jones has been a great bargain for the Cowboys over his rookie deal that included a fifth-year option, costing the team just under $15 million for those five years. While $15 million for five years is great value, $15 million for each year is not. And that could be what he’s looking at as he’s entering an offseason where there are bound to be some teams vying for his services. One team has already made it clear they’re coming after him.
The Cowboys got great contribution from their 27th overall pick in 2015, but that’s not reason to overpay in order to keep him. If they found a quality replacement in the draft, it helps the team financially. Players like Prescott and Cooper can be extended without concern, and they may even be able to make a play at edge rusher Robert Quinn.
Ultimately, it would be nice to keep Jones, but the business side of football always takes precedence, and this looks like one of those times where letting him walk is the right move.
How could the tight end market help Dallas?
Recently released Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen would be nice if this was five years ago. His injury history and age make a marriage unlikely. Los Angeles Chargers and Atlanta Falcons tight ends Hunter Henry and Austin Hooper are good options but both will probably ask for top of the market deals that would be too rich for Dallas to become players. Indianapolis Colts tight end Eric Ebron is too similar to Jarwin to really make sense.
Hypothetical trade candidates include Tampa Bay Buccaneers pick tight end O.J. Howard or Chicago Bears tight end Trey Burton although both of those would require something in return and the dollar amount associated with both might be a non-negotiable for this team.
The hope and idea are that the Pittsburgh Steelers make tight end Vance McDonald available this offseason. McDonald is 30 years old and has a club option of $6.5 million dollars. Coming off a year where he only caught 38 passes, the Steelers could move on and find a younger and cheaper option.
From the GM’s Eye: Want to sign an aging superstar? Better balance the short and long terms - Michael Lombardi, The Athletic
Lombardi writes on what teams need to consider when thinking about adding aging stars.
We’re now entering the fun phase of the NFL offseason when teams will demonstrate to their fan base whether they understand the difference between building a team and just adding players. The next month or so will show whether general managers know that a comprehensive strategy is much more important than the right tactics.
What’s the difference? Strategy is knowing what to do when there is nothing to do; tactics are knowing what to do when there is something to do. A strategy is more abstract, based on long-term goals. Tactics are concrete, matters of finding the right move to make right now.
So many teams have enormous amounts of cap room, which means when the market opens, they feel the need to act quickly, fearful they might fall behind — an urge compounded by the pressure of the fans and media. Other organizations might have available cap space but still take their time before spending a dollar. They don’t care about making immediate moves; they care only about their strategy.
The key is to address the right tactics for a situation without neglecting the team’s long-term view. Any team interested in signing Tom Brady or Philip Rivers (including the Patriots) must ask themselves a question: Do we have a plan in place to accommodate the short-term impact as well as the long term?
Anthony Brown is among those mentioned as a potential bargain in the 2020 free agent class. But could Dallas pursue any other name that Moton lists?
DT Jordan Phillips
As a unit, the Buffalo Bills defense garnered well-deserved praise for stifling offenses throughout the 2019 campaign. All-Pro cornerback Tre’Davious White, Pro Bowl linebacker Tremaine Edmunds and standout rookie defensive tackle Ed Oliver all come up in conversations about the stout group.
We don’t hear much about Buffalo’s top pass-rusher. Jordan Phillips led the Bills in sacks (9.5) and ranked second on the team in quarterback pressures (20). This sounds like hyperbole, but aside from Aaron Donald, he had arguably the most impressive year among interior defenders.
Focusing on interior tackles only, Phillips listed second behind Donald in sacks and tackles for loss (13) while only playing 52 percent of defensive snaps. Lining up for about half of the plays on his side of the ball, the massive 6’6”, 341-pounder made a significant impact within a vaunted unit.
Potential suitors on the market may not buy into Phillips’ breakout 2019 campaign because he logged just 5.5 sacks through his first four seasons.
At 27 years old, as a 2015 second-rounder, Phillips may be a late bloomer. He’ll likely sign a one-year prove-it deal with a new team or push to provide further confirmation of his disruptive play on a short-term pact in Buffalo.
For those of you that are following the entertaining XFL, it was good to see the Renegades notch their first win of the season (and in franchise history).
The Dallas Renegades earned their first win of the XFL season by scoring three touchdowns in the fourth quarter to beat the Los Angeles Wildcats 25-18.
Another ex-NFL quarterback made his first start for the XFL season for the Renegades. Former Steeler Landry Jones played with a hurt ankle that kept him out of the season opener, but he threw a crucial touchdown in the fourth quarter and ended the day with 305 passing yards.
”It’s not a secret, I didn’t play well today,” said Landry, who threw two interceptions. “The thing I’m most proud of are those scrambles — I couldn’t believe it.”
Jones had a couple of drive-saving scrambles on third down to help gain a 6-3 lead entering the fourth. Donald Parham was his favorite target, connecting with the tight end five times for 76 yards and a touchdown. Artis-Payne was also an important target for Jones, who also caught five balls for 32 yards and finished the day as the Renegades’ leading rusher with 99 yards on 14 attempts and two scores.