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Cowboys 2021 free agency: Players that could fit the mold of a one-year free agent rental

Could the Cowboys look to sign players to one-year deals?

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New York Giants v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

With the NFL and NFLPA currently negotiating the 2021 salary cap for the new season, teams are left to assume that they will have less money. The number floating around for the salary cap previously had at least a $175 million floor. There is new word that the floor will now be a little higher.

Still, a significantly lower number than last year’s $198.2 is expected will lead to more cuts and less money spent than usual as teams adjust. The Cowboys aren’t impervious to this situation and will have to adapt to the situation just like the rest of the league. One idea was just brought up by a current NFL player and he is reiterating a notion that is making the rounds in NFL circles.

Arizona Cardinals running back Chase Edmonds said on Twitter that players may be looking to sign one-year deals to get through this uncertain salary cap season.

Edmonds assumption that players could be looking for a one-year deal to get through this offseason isn’t really a stretch. It would be a win-win for the player and the teams. The player gets a nice paycheck and still has the ability to make more money next season, while the teams can sign players they believe can help them in 2021 while not doing damage to their salary cap and stay under this year’s cap. This is something that would definitely benefit the Cowboys who are in a situation where they need to get their franchise quarterback signed to a long-term deal.

Signing Dak Prescott is going to be the major signing for the Cowboys this offseason and it could take up a considerable amount of cap space for them. If the Cowboys are able to get Prescott under contract, then, if they do plan on being players in free agency, they will most assuredly be looking to sign players to one-year deals to protect their cap, especially players they are hoping to retain who are hitting free agency this season. Players like Xavier Woods and Aldon Smith may want to stick with the team they know and turn in better seasons in an effort to get a bigger payday on the open market next offseason.

The Cowboys may also be able to take advantage of players from other teams hitting free agency that are looking to improve their stock. They have a strong offense that does have a few issues with depth, but they also have a defense that needs to be rebuilt. They could look to land players that have previous experience with new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, as well as players who have history with head coach Mike McCarthy. Assuming the players know what these coaches are looking for, and already know their systems, they could benefit themselves in the long run by having a quality year and hit free agency again in 2022.

There is also another way to approach this. Instead of going the familiarity route outline above, the Cowboys could bet on players who either will not be able to find the big deals they would get in normal years, or had down years in 2020 and are ready to rebound. There seems to be an anticipation that some mid-level free gents are going to get squeezed in this new salary cap year and have to take low-end one-year deals. The Cowboys should absolutely be in the market for them.

There is also the one-year rental that is a player coming off injury, or had a down year, or are in a scheme that just doesn’t fit them. PFF did an in-depth look at players who fit this mold and found that cornerbacks and safeties are the positions that have the most variance in WAR year to year. A lot of it has to do with injuries or scheme. It just so happens the Cowboys could be in the market for corners or safeties. PFF even made a list of players who they think are prime for a one-year deal in 2021.

Some of the safeties and corners they identified include:

Cornerbacks

Quinton Dunbar
Nickell Robey-Coleman
Kevin King
Cameron Sutton
Ahkello Witherspoon
Troy Hill
D.J. Hayden

Safeties

Bradley McDougald
Malik Hooker
Deon Bush
Jaquiski Tartt
Rayshawn Jenkins

For good measure, they also provided some interior defensive linemen which the Cowboys could use.

Mario Edwards Jr.
Roy Robertson-Harris
Christian Covington
Larry Ogunjobi

It will be interesting to see how the Cowboys approach this offseason, they would be smart to continue their current process of signing players to one-year deals but get in faster to sign better players and take advantage of this situation.