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Cowboys musings on draft prospects, free agency and training camp

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Looking at the future for the Dallas Cowboys.

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Dallas Cowboys Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

With not much going on right now in the NFL and for the Dallas Cowboys, and with the Covid-19 issue affecting everything that is going on, let’s take a look at a few things to distract ourselves for just a moment.

Just how many prospects will the Cowboys interview for the draft?

Most years, this would be the time when all eyes would be on the Star in Frisco for people interested in the Dallas Cowboys. That is because one of the most informative things leading up to the NFL Draft was the college prospects the team brought in for their 30 allowed visits. We would also be tracking Dallas Days for local candidates, and any mention of scouts or coaches showing up at pro days.

In the new abnormal, all that is now gone. Travel has stopped except for absolutely essential reasons. However much importance we place on football, prepping for the draft is really not one of those. That doesn’t mean that the team is not talking to college players. It will all just have to be via video chat and such. One interesting thing to note is that the only real limits the league has placed on video communication appears to be restricting how many times the prospect can be contacted, and for how long.

Theoretically, a team could speak with far more than 30 possible draft picks if they chose. It would take some time management, but if you did just 15 different players a week, you could knock out 45 between now and the actual draft.

And we would pretty much be in the dark unless someone (most likely agents) spread the word.

The relationship of free agency spending and team success is - all over the place

If you pay even the slightest bit of attention this time of year, you know that there is a lot of debate about the Cowboys’ stingy approach to paying outside free agents. Some hold that the lack of playoff success over the past decade, or at least since the Brandon Carr signing in 2012, is largely due to their frugality.

So this set of charts comparing free agency spending and season wins for each team is interesting.

If you really drill down into these, you can see with careful consideration is that one right answer in free agency . . . doesn’t really exist. Some teams spent heavily to get to the playoffs, while others didn’t. There are several examples of franchises that opened their wallets only to see another year of mediocrity or worse. You also see times where a big splash preceded real success on the field, as was the case with the Green Bay Packers last season. The New England Patriots tend to be below average in expenditures, but we know how that hasn’t hampered them. Even the Philadelphia Eagles, who are perceived to have used big spending to get their lone trophy, actually only have the 2016 season where they were tossing a lot of money around.

Here’s a really radical thought. Maybe free agency is not all that big a driver. For that matter, the draft might be overrated for its impact as well. Perhaps the real difference lies in coaching. Or having the right core of stars.

Most likely, it is figuring out a good combination of all of the above, and realizing that what works this year may not pan out so well the next. Flexibility matters, too. As Cowboys fans, we have learned that a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of the process, or something like that. Now let’s see what the new staff can do in Dallas.

Is this the beginning of the end for the Cowboys in Oxnard?

The NFL continues to maintain that the season will begin on schedule this year. That may be optimistic, it is entirely possible that the season will be delayed, which of course will push back training camps.

The Cowboys are still planning to go to Oxnard for training camp, but any disruption in the start of proceedings this summer could cause that to be cancelled. Even if the schedule does somehow stay on track, there may still be some restrictions on gatherings in certain states, so that could alter plans. It would be a mild surprise to see Dallas make the trip out to Oxnard this year, no matter how close to the original timeline the NFL is able to get.

Moreover, it may be an open question as to whether the Cowboys ever do return to California for camp. The new CBA will significantly shorten camp. Not only will there be one less preseason game starting in 2021, practices are also curtailed, with only 16 days in pads allowed. Given the need to compress even more into the time they have, it seems like having to move out of state and then back is not really a worthwhile use of time. When Dallas first started going to California for camp it made sense, because it allowed them to escape the grueling August temperatures and humidity of North Texas. Now they have a spiffy indoor practice facility at their headquarters. That could mean a great Cowboys tradition may be a thing of the past.