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Cowboys roster breakdown: Wide receiver is the most complex situation

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There are a lot of moving pieces here.

NFL: JUL 27 Cowboys Training Camp Photo by Adam Davis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

There have been some simple situations in this series of looks at the Dallas Cowboys roster. Others are a bit more involved. None have had the complexity and options of the wide receiver position.

Currently under contract

  • Michael Gallup
  • Noah Brown
  • Devin Smith
  • Cedrick Wilson
  • Tevin Jones
  • Lance Lenoir
  • Ventell Bryant
  • Jon’Vea Johnson

That’s one proven starter, some players that have seen limited action, several coming off injury, and some real unknowns. One oddity is that the 2019 roster at DallasCowboys.com doesn’t show Lenoir at all, while Over the Cap has him under contract - but as a tight end. We’ll throw his name in for now just to cover the bases.

Current free agents

That’s the WR1, WR3, and WR4 from last year. Cooper is the big one here, and the consensus is that he is the next man to get re-signed once the contract for Dak Prescott is worked out. Cobb may have gotten a new lease in Dallas with the hiring of his former boss with the Green Bay Packers, Mike McCarthy. Austin had occasional flashes, but generally was not much of a factor last season. It remains to be seen if he is considered worth bringing back, assuming his price would be affordable with all the other contracts the team has to do that will eat up cap space.

Outside free agents

A little surprisingly, the top 100 list at NFL Trade Rumors is not as long as might be expected. And frankly, it would be a bit of surprise to see the Cowboys showing much interest here because of the cost involved. But given the fact that they have such a need to fill out the roster, they are listed here just in case. Age is included as usual.

  • A.J. Green 32
  • Robby Anderson 27
  • Emmanuel Sanders 33
  • Breshad Perriman 26
  • Demaryius Thomas 32
  • Devin Funchess 26
  • Nelson Agholor 27

You can probably count out the over 30 ones right off the bat.

It is worth noting that Cooper is listed eighth overall among free agents, while Cobb comes in at 77 out of 100.

Draft possibilities

This, to quote Top Gun, is a target rich environment. Position overall in the 2020 class is once again from CBS Sports.

  • 8 CeeDee Lamb - Oklahoma
  • 11 Jerry Jeudy - Alabama
  • 17 Henry Ruggs III - Alabama
  • 23 Tee Higgins - Clemson
  • 30 Laviska Chenault Jr - Colorado
  • 42 Brandon Aiyuk - Arizona State
  • 43 Jalen Reagor - TCU
  • 51 Justin Jefferson - LSU
  • 52 K.J. Hamler - Penn State
  • 60 Denzel Mims - Baylor
  • 68 Bryan Edwards - South Carolina
  • 76 Donovan Peoples-Jones - Michigan
  • 78 Tyler Johnson - Minnesota
  • 79 Devin Duvernay - Texas
  • 84 Antonio Gandy-Golden - Liberty
  • 92 Isaiah Hodgins - Oregon State
  • 94 Michael Pittman Jr - USC
  • 95 Chase Claypool - Notre Dame

Given that the NFL Combine is still to come, there is likely to be a lot of movement in these rankings. That, plus the needs of the teams that draft ahead of the Cowboys in the first round, means that none of these names are truly out of the question. With this pool of talent (which just continues beyond the day two candidates), it is hard to imagine the Cowboys not coming out of the draft without at least one wide receiver added.

Add in Cooper and possibly Cobb, and that is the likely solution for the Cowboys. Re-sign your own, add a draft pick or possibly two, depending on how the rest of the player acquisition goes, throw in a UDFA or so, and let the camp battle begin.

And then there is this.

The X factor

Dez Bryant has made it known he wants to return to the NFL, and would like the Cowboys to consider him. The staff has not been completely un-receptive to the idea. It may be a long shot, but Bryant has also floated the idea of coming in to replace the role of Jason Witten in the red zone. If he was willing to take a lesser role in situations where speed is less valuable than the ability to go up and fight for a reception - well, it could be intriguing.

In any case, wide receiver is always one of the most interesting things to watch during camp and preseason. This year does not look to be any different.

Links to earlier installments in this series:

Running backs and tight ends

Offensive line

Defensive tackle

Defensive end

Linebackers

Safety

Cornerback