With the first week of free agency in the books, a lot has changed for the Dallas Cowboys. Some of their own free agents have stuck around, while others headed out for bigger paydays. The team also opened up their wallet a bit for a few outside free agents as they attempt to fill the voids left on their roster.
How do things look with all the moves made this week? Let’s take a look at the six most pressing position groups entering free agency and examine this team’s depth over the next five years.
[Blue = new contract, Orange = rookie deal, Purple = outside free agent, and Gray = bubble player who may or may not be on the roster next season]
The Cowboys signed Amari Cooper to a new $100 million deal so they now have their star receiver under contract for the next five years. Randall Cobb will remain in Texas catching passes from no. 4, but it will be from Deshaun Watson now. Michael Gallup is right in the middle of his rookie deal, so he’ll be super cheap for the next couple seasons, and the team has several young players who could compete for a roster this upcoming season.
The Cowboys may look for an affordable free agent to replace Cobb (maybe Emmanuel Sanders?); however, they may opt to go the cheaper route and take advantage of this great wide receiver depth from the 2020 draft class. With Cooper locked down, the team has the luxury of letting great value come to them.
Bye bye Byron
The Cowboys lost their best corner as Byron Jones signed a big money deal with the Miami Dolphins. The team did bring back Anthony Brown and that now gives them a starting caliber player that will be on the roster past the 2020 season. Former Baltimore Raven corner Maurice Canady was signed for depth, but he only has four career starts under his belt.
The team could still look to free agency for a corner, but the chances of finding a reliable starter is dwindling. The team missed out on Chris Harris Jr. as he signed a two-year, $17 M deal with the Los Angeles Chargers (pretty good value). Logan Ryan is still on the market, but he said he won’t take less than $10 M per year, and that may take him out of the mix for the thrifty spending Cowboys.
This is looking more and more like an area where the Cowboys will use the draft to replenish their cornerback group. They still have some work to do here as both Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis become free agents after the season, so expect a few corners to be selected over the next couple drafts.
Big boy McCoy
I’m one of those guys who was holding on to a glimmer of hope that the team would re-sign Maliek Collins, but Rod Marinelli quashed those plans as Collins signed with the Las Vegas Raiders. While the Cowboys lost Collins, they got themselves six-time Pro Bowler Gerald McCoy. The veteran was once considered to be one of the top DT’s in the game, and while that’s not the case anymore, he’s still pretty effective. He’s a complete player, and despite his age - he has an extensive history of not missing many games. And when you consider the price, the Cowboys got themselves a good deal that provides them a little more cushion at the position.
It’s still a mystery what’s going on with Antwaun Woods. He’s an exclusive rights free agent, which means the Cowboys have complete control over him for super cheap in 2020, yet they haven’t re-signed him. Why not? And with Christian Covington no longer under contract either, the team needs to find someone to play the 1-tech position.
There are plenty of good defensive tackles in this draft class as the team may still be able to find a future starter within the first couple days of the draft. There’s also the mystery that is Tysten Hill. While many aren’t too optimistic about him so far, it should be interesting in seeing what year two reveals.
Ha Ha, who’s laughing now?
There is nothing triumphal about signing a $4 M safety to a one-year deal, but when you look at the pieces the Cowboys have had at the safety position in the past, the addition of Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is a welcomed site. He had a Pro Bowl season in 2016 as he had five interceptions that year. He’s a good coverage safety and will be a nice player to pair up with Xavier Woods this upcoming season. The team also signed Darian Thompson for the next two seasons, which is an underrated move as it gives the team a quality reserve off the bench.
While the addition of Clinton-Dix shores up the Cowboys safety starters for the upcoming season, they still have nothing lined up for the future. They should still try to find someone in the draft, but their recent signings takes a little bit of pressure off to where they shouldn’t have to reach for a player to fill an immediate need.
Edge of tomorrow?
If there is one area that the team is in the red on in terms of net gains/losses from free agency, it’s defensive end. Losing your top sack leader in Robert Quinn will do that to you. They do have some young guys on the roster, and a possible return of Randy Gregory would be great, but this area has now became a weak spot on the roster.
While some have thrown out Jadeveon Clowney’s name as a possible signing for Dallas, that seems a little unreasonable as he’s expected to command more money than the Cowboys are likely to spend on a second edge rusher. A more likely choice would be a player like Everson Griffen or Jabaal Sheard, who have been effective in the past, but recent drop-offs should make them more in the Cowboys price range.
The team may choose to use their top draft resource on a new edge rusher as LSU’s K’Lavon Chaisson is one of this year’s top players and he’s projected to go right around where the Cowboys pick in the draft.
It’s Jarwin’s job now
Jason Witten will begin his 18th season wearing the silver and black of the Las Vegas Raiders. The Cowboys decided to be proactive in getting Blake Jarwin under contract for the next four years. With Witten gone, the opportunity is there for Jarwin to see more action, and if that turns out to be a good thing, the front office is going to look like geniuses for getting ahead of this thing.
Jarwin’s new deal all but throws dirt on the notion the Cowboys will do anything big in free agency to bolster this position group, but they still need to work on adding some depth. This new draft class doesn’t offer any stellar choices early, but there is a good bubble of candidates that should come off the board after the top 100 picks. Maybe the Cowboys can cash in with some cheap draft capital to add a youngster to this group.