It’s clear the Dallas Cowboys are not going to be huge spenders this offseason. However disappointing it may be, it’s something we’ve become accustomed to in Dallas. Since the Cowboys signed Brandon Carr to a five-year, $50 million contract back in 2012, they have not made any real splash signings in free agency for players outside the organization.
While Dallas likely won’t be in a position to hand an outside free agent another $50 million deal this spring, if they are able to figure out a Dak Prescott deal, they will have some money to work with.
Even if they do extend their signal-caller, the Cowboys’ limited funds will likely enable them to go big on just one position group. Dallas will have to make the decision which part of their team needs to be upgraded the most? With that in mind, we asked our front-page writers this question, “If the Cowboys can splurge on one position group in free agency, which should they chose?” Here were their thoughts.
Now onto the BTB writer's free agency predictions...
For me, it is safety, specifically a free safety. That is of course driven by need, but after going through my exercise looking at the PFF top 100 free agents, it also reflects the supply situation. There are multiple lower-cost options for cornerback, and there just aren’t any really good defensive tackles that would require a big investment. But safety has some very good players that will demand more that the Cowboys (namely Stephen Jones) normally will pay. However, if they do decide to step up to the table, safety is where there is likely to be the best return on their money, and it would solve a huge issue.
First, I want to go on record and say that I’m firmly against throwing big money on an outside free agent. Not only does the league itself have a terrible track record when it comes to getting a good return on their investment, but the Cowboys are especially ineffective at doing so. However, playing along with this hypothetical, if Dallas rolls the dice in any one area, I would like it to be defensive tackle. The team knows it’s a weakness, which is why they threw money at Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe last season, but clearly that didn’t work out. If the team wants a legit upgrade, it’s going to mean opening up the wallet as the good free agent DT’s won’t come cheap. If they could somehow find a quality player at that position, it would be a huge get for the defense.
I’m going to cheat a little bit and just say the Cowboys should splurge on the secondary. Trevon Diggs and Donovan Wilson are building blocks, but there’s not much else back there right now. Anthony Brown can play adequately both outside and in the slot, so it’d be nice to get at least one free agent corner that can actually be a weekly starter while also throwing money at one of the three big free safeties (Marcus Maye, Justin Simmons, and Anthony Harris) in this pool. I think this is the best way to go since the draft doesn’t seem to have too many surefire difference makers in the secondary right now, so betting money on more proven commodities there seems the smart move.
If the Cowboys want to really kick this offseason off the right way then after getting their own priority free agents signed then they need to shift their focus to the middle of the defensive line. Give me one or two more big bodies up front to help stop the run. This has been a position they’ve neglected for too long now. There are going to be a lot of good young free agents as well as older vets that can come right in and help right away. Players like Johnathan Hankins, Sheldon Rankins, Lawrence Guy. These are the kind of guys that can shore up a defense that has been killed by the run over the years. Then work on the safety and cornerback positions.
First I am going to echo what Danny said in his response, I am also strongly opposed to spending big money on an outside free agent. As he mentioned, Dallas does not have an excellent recent track record when doing this. Although I wouldn’t want to make a long-term commitment to a player demanding big-time money, I still think they can make some key upgrades. The secondary is where I would allocate my funds. Dallas could look at some mid-level cornerbacks like Xavier Rhodes and Jason Verrett. Pro Football Focus has Rhodes signing for three-years, $24 million, and Verrett for two-years, $10 million. Dallas could easily afford these two contracts, and pair one of those corners with Diggs, Brown, and a high draft pick in 2021.
Let us know what position group you think Dallas should spend their money on in the comments section below.