While with the NFL Combine done, the focus until the draft in late April is going to be on free agency, at least until the major signings are done. We are now less than two weeks from when teams can begin openly negotiating with outside free agents. Teams can currently negotiate with their own free agents. That is a big topic for the Dallas Cowboys. Our NFL umbrella blog has taken a look at this year’s list of free agents and selected their top 100, and it has a lot of names from the Cowboys. As a matter of fact, you can say Dallas is the alpha and omega of this list, because they have both player 1 and player 100. You can also say the same about the top 10.
Here are all the names from the Cowboys listed. (You might bookmark the article because it will be used to track signings.)
1. QB Dak Prescott
6. CB Byron Jones
10. WR Amari Cooper
43. DT Maliek Collins
53. EDGE Robert Quinn
100. DT Christian Covington
There are multiple things to glean from this, so let’s discuss.
First, a word about the list itself. It is only one of many such tabulations. However, most of them have some things in common which we will get to. The author includes a note about the methodology.
We took this year’s 600+ free agents and boiled them down to the top 100. These rankings don’t just reflect talent, but also age and potential.
OK, with the proper disclaimer out of the way, here are some of the takeaways.
The Cowboys’ free agent group is incredibly top heavy
Three names in the top 10, and no other team has more than one. That pretty much sums up the level of quality represented here. Having six names overall means they have above average quantity, since the average number for a 32 team league is 3.125.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but Dak is gonna get paid
List after list has him as the number one free agent in the entire NFL. It isn’t just the Jones family and Mike McCarthy that are high on him. Everyone pretty much is.
Just to illustrate, let’s run down the other quarterbacks on this list.
3. Drew Brees
4. Tom Brady
13. Ryan Tannehill
16. Philip Rivers
30. Teddy Bridgewater
50. Jameis Winston
77. Marcus Mariota
94. Taysom Hill (RFA)
That’s a bunch of guys who have varying degrees of success as starters, including two Super Bowl champions, an untested backup/gadget player, and Mariota. Being at the top of this group is a testament to what the Cowboys stumbled into with that fourth-round compensatory pick.
Byron, oh Byron
All the signs, portents, tea leaves, and a Nostradamus quatrain point to Jones hitting the free market, with talk circulating that his next contract may hit $18 million per year with as much as $60 million in guarantees. That is apparently too rich for the ownership. Apparently next season we will find out who is correct, Jerry and Stephen, or literally everyone else.
Cooper ain’t gonna be cheap, either
Yeah, you’ve heard that refrain before, too. Just like Prescott, Cooper is the highest ranked in his position group. Just one guy’s opinion, but he seems more likely to wind up tagged than Prescott at this point. That’s more a matter of the priorities of the team at the moment than anything else.
The defensive linemen
The last three names are interesting. None are at the top of their groups, but just making this list says something about their potential value to the team. Quinn has gotten a lot of mentions as a possible re-signing, including from Jerry Jones himself. If he is brought back, the pass rush should be in very good shape. If another name that won’t be mentioned out of superstitious nonsense gets reinstated (still very much an unknown) it could be really good on that front. Hopefully Quinn would not be prohibitively expensive, and he has said he wants to return. That may be more saying what he is expected to say, however. In any case, he would seem to be a wise investment.
Having two defensive tackles on the list is interesting, given the perceived need there. Collins was thought to have under-performed last season. His inclusion here may be evidence that he was as much the victim of too-high expectations than anything else. Covington is a bit of a surprise here given that he had a more limited role. The team also has the option of using the exclusive rights free agent tender on Antwaun Woods. If they want to, the Cowboys can really solidify the DT room before the draft, which offers the advantage of reducing pressure to draft for need.
One other advantage that applies to all these players is that Dallas still has nearly two weeks during which they are the only team that can legally discuss new contracts with them. Given the value they represent, all are worthy. It is unfortunate that the team is apparently taking a pass on the most highly regarded corner in free agency.
What’s your take on this list?