The 2020 NFL Free Agency period is upon us as several big name players are committing to huge deals with new team. And for a team like the Dallas Cowboys who have a plethora of high demand players, it means saying goodbye to several of the players we’ve grown attached to over the years. Byron Jones left for South Beach. Robert Quinn is heading to the Windy City. And Randall Cobb joins a Houston receiving group that is now without DeAndre Hopkins thanks to a very perplexing trade the Texans made with the Arizona Cardinals.
The Cowboys also will say goodbye to Maliek Collins, who provided four solid years at defensive tackle as well as the safety nobody loves to love, Jeff Heath. Even the great Jason Witten will wear the star no more as he joins Collins and Heath in Las Vegas.
With the first couple days in the books, Cowboys fans have grown a little restless. We got some good news with the re-signing of Amari Cooper, but even that whole ordeal was drug out a bit to make us all sweat. The Cowboys front office is notorious for laying low while many of the other teams go ballistic in a free agent spending frenzy. Tuesday evening, we got some pleasant news with the signing of six-time Pro Bowler Gerald McCoy. That certainly helps the defensive tackle position group.
Even with a couple important signings under their belt, fans are still thirsting for more. This is the typical routine for the Cowboys front office and fans should be used to by now. Here are a couple things to keep in mind about what’s transpired.
It’s not pleasant, but they had to go
Byron Jones, Robert Quinn, and Randall Cobb are really good football players. It would’ve been nice if those guys were able to re-sign with the Cowboys, but if you look at what that it’s costing their new teams - I don’t blame Dallas for letting them walk out the door.
Jones’ five-year, $82.5 million deal made him the highest paid corner in the league for a moment. Good for him. His new $16.5 average salary is more than the total cost the Cowboys paid over his entire five-year career. And despite Jones possessing so many great traits to be a strong corner in this league, that’s still quite the hefty contract.
Quinn’s five-year, $70 million deal is a nice reward for his 11.5 sack season last year. It really makes you feel good about only giving up a sixth-round pick and $8 million of cap space to get what the Cowboys got from him last season. It certainly was a great year, but is this type of production he can sustain? Keep in mind, he only averaged six sacks his previous four season, and he’ll be 30 when the new season starts. Quinn is a good player, don’t get me wrong, but he lined up alongside two of the most double-teamed players in the league last year (DeMarcus Lawrence and Maliek Collins). The Bears are now paying a price that requires him to keep that type of high-level production going. That could be a tall task.
Speaking of one good year, Cobb’s been on a downward decline since his Pro Bowl season in 2014. Some of that is attributed to his inability to stay healthy as he hasn’t played a full 16-game season over the last four years. His big 828-yard season in Dallas was nice and it made the Cowboys front office look smart for getting him for just $5 million, but for a new cost of $27 M for three years, that’s just too rich. There are more affordable ways to find a no. 3 receiver, including the upcoming draft that features a deep class of wide receivers.
Comp picks are nice, but earning them is even better
With all the players the Cowboys have lost in free agency, they are in line to stack up a nice collection of compensatory picks in 2021. And since Jones and Quinn landed some big deals, a couple of those picks could end up being at the end of the third round. While nobody is going to complain about having a couple extra shots at the top 100 players in the NFL draft, it’s also nice that the team has gotten strong enough performances from their players to earn those picks.
Sure, players like Quinn and Cobb are gone, but what still remains is the savvy minds that brought them here in the first place. The front office has shown the ability to make key trades in the form of Cooper, Quinn, and even Michael Bennett, to get the guys they need. That careful-yet-calculated approach to free agency means they are minimizing overpaying for players, and in a lot of cases - they’re netting positive results. That’s a rare thing in free agency.
But the best thing about how they operate is that it literally affords them the luxury to keep their stars. They may go down to the final hour on some of these deals in an attempt to save as much money as they can, but they always seem to get it done.
It’s important to replenish talent, but spending a bunch of money in free agency isn’t always the way to go.
Free agent winners are regular season losers. Remember how great the Cleveland Browns and Oakland Raiders were supposed to be after all their big moves last year? And they called the Chiefs free agent losers. How'd that work out for them? pic.twitter.com/ZWPGzGHrWS— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) March 19, 2020
Do the Cowboys have some holes to fill courtesy of the departed? Absolutely, but free agency is far from over. Let them do their thing, and if it’s not splashy enough for you, just remind yourself that we won’t be watching Amari Cooper in a Redskins uniform next season, but rather this instead...