Many in the Cowboys community have started to focus on the upcoming 2021 draft. Rightly so, the draft is a great opportunity for the Cowboys to replenish their roster. The draft offers an opportunity for re-birth every year for all NFL teams.
But there is another avenue for re-birth each year, and that’s free agency. It’s a chance for teams to grab NFL-proven talent that have for some reason worn out their welcome with their former clubs, or have just become too expensive. The flip side of that is teams will lose talent in free agency.
The Cowboys have seven unrestricted free agents and three restricted free agents on the offensive side of the ball. Dallas has some real decisions to make. Let’s dig in and see who the Cowboys will re-sign and who they will let go.
QB Dak Prescott
This is the big one. It will dominate the headlines until something happens. The Cowboys front office has made it clear that they plan to re-sign Prescott, but that has been said before and the Cowboys have been unable to get a long-term deal done. They have the franchise tag in their back pocket, but if they have to use it, their salary cap will be wrecked.
In the end, the Cowboys just have to get this done. They need a long-term deal that will allow them some maneuverability with the immediate salary cap.
Prediction: Long-term deal completed.
C Joe Looney
Versatile lineman Joe Looney has been a bridge the Cowboys desperately needed. He first filled in for Travis Frederick in 2018 when Frederick missed the season. Then he was the fill in when Frederick retired this year, and then when Tyler Biadasz was injured after the rookie took over the starting center position. Looney is a great depth player to have, but given the Cowboys situation, can they afford him? They were able to get Connor McGovern some experience this year, and while that was at guard, McGovern also played some center in college. They also signed Adam Redmond to a future’s contract.
Prediction: Looney gets a better deal from another club needing a possible starter.
WR Noah Brown
The Cowboys receiver finally saw some action as a pass-catcher instead of just a blocker. Still, it wasn’t a whole lot. Brown still is primarily used a blocker and the problem for him is other teams probably see him the same way. It’s unknown how he would perform in an offense where he was a one of the primary targets, but it’s unlikely to happen. Brown also offers special teams ability, playing on almost 50% of the ST snaps this year.
Prediction: Returns on a low-cost, one-year deal.
QB Andy Dalton
It took Dalton a little while to find his groove in this offense after Dak Prescott went down with injury. A concussion and a COVID diagnosis slowed his roll, but once he got back in the swing and had a stable offensive line, he looked competent. Dalton appears to be on the line of backup QB/lower-tier starter. In a year when the salary cap rises, the Cowboys would have more money to spend on keeping Dalton around, but they will need to pinch pennies with a Prescott deal eating up cap space in this contracting salary cap year.
Prediction: Dalton gets an opportunity elsewhere to compete for a starting job while a team grooms a young rookie.
TE Blake Bell
This was quietly one of the Cowboys’ success stories in free agency. Bell doesn’t show out on the stats sheet, although he was occasionally a target in the passing game. But his ability to block and to play on special teams was a valuable asset.
Prediction: Stays with the Cowboys on a low-cost, one-year deal.
OT Cameron Erving
This is going to be an interesting one for the Cowboys. Erving played fairly well when he was available, but the injuries were an issue. The Cowboys could be set at tackle with Tyron Smith and La’el Collins returning, but their health is not a sure thing. The Cowboys were able to get valuable playing time for Brandon Knight and Terence Steele, and both will be cheap to keep.
Prediction: He leaves for a better deal with another team.
OT Jordan Mills
The Cowboys actually waived Mills in the last week of the season.
Prediction: They may give him a shot on a minimum deal to come back, but that would be it.
OT Greg Senat
Prediction: Like Mills above, a minimum contract at best.
WR Malik Turner
Prediction: Unlikely to stay, never really found a niche.
WR Cedrick Wilson
Wilson had moments when he looked like the fourth receiver the Cowboys are looking for behind their big three.
Prediction: Cowboys keep him and continue to develop him.