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The Cowboys improved this offseason, but how much is the question

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There were gains and losses for the Cowboys this offseason, but where did it net out?

NFL Combine - Day 2 Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

ESPN has been ranking just about everything they can think of this offseason, and their latest effort takes a shot at ranking which teams improved the most, and which improved the least, over the offseason. How did they go about it? Well, they just asked some people who cover the NFL.

Keep in mind that this does not consider how good or bad a team actually is, but rather only how the roster changed since last season. Miami isn’t likely to top many lists this season, but the improvement bests the rest of the pack.

Here is our ranking of how each NFL team improved — or didn’t — during the 2020 offseason, based on votes from NFL writers Dan Graziano, Kevin Seifert, Jeremy Fowler and Mike Clay. Considerations include free-agent signings, trade acquisitions, draft selections, coaching changes and even, in some cases, long-term injuries or retirement.

The Cowboys obviously had a massive change when they decided to move on from Jason Garrett and bring in Mike McCarthy. The hope was that with a talented roster in place, the Cowboys could elevate themselves into the elite of the NFL instead of just being a playoff contender.

On the field, there was the standard turnover of the roster with free agents leaving and free agents signing. Plus a draft that had most analysts raving about the Cowboys haul. What was the net of all of that? According to ESPN - meh.

13. Dallas Cowboys

Big additions: Head coach Mike McCarthy, WR CeeDee Lamb, DT Gerald McCoy, CB Trevon Diggs, S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, DE Aldon Smith

Key losses: C Travis Frederick, CB Byron Jones, DE Robert Quinn, WR Randall Cobb, DT Maliek Collins

The Cowboys have lots of questions on defense, but the loss they’ll feel the most is that of Frederick, who was an anchor on their outstanding offensive line and decided to retire this offseason. Can Joe Looney be an adequate replacement, or will they spend the season trying to find the right fit? The big move was re-signing wide receiver Amari Cooper, but Lamb falling into their laps in the first round of the draft makes only things brighter for Dak Prescott and the offense — as long as the line holds up. — Graziano

A 13th ranking does put them in the top half of improvement, but the idea of changing from Garrett to McCarthy, plus a draft class that should help, would make one think their ranking would be a little higher. An underrated change that may play out in a big way is the change in defensive coordinator. Things had grown stale under Rod Marinelli and there was a sense the Cowboys were not aggressive enough as a defense. The lack of turnovers could have been a result of that to some extent. Under Mike Nolan, there should be more action that should lead to more opportunities at getting the ball.

There were some key departures, and the absence of Travis Frederick may be the big one. While Byron Jones and Robert Quinn were standouts on defense, everything on offense starts with the offensive line. As much as the Cowboys have an embarrassing number of weapons at the skill positions, if they can’t protect Dak Prescott and open holes for Ezekiel Elliott, #Team40Burger will remain a dream. Hopefully Looney or Tyler Biadasz will prove up to the task of replacing Frederick.

As for the rest of the NFC East, they sit bunched up a little behind Dallas. Philadelphia is 17th, New York is 18th and Washington is 19th.