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Deciding which of the Cowboys offensive free agents should return in 2021

It’s about more than just Dak for the Cowboys.

Dallas Cowboys v New York Giants
Jumbo Joe is an overlooked decision for Dallas.
Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys have a lot on their plate. While the NFL Draft is drawing a lot of attention already, they first have to navigate free agency. Most of the attention is on outside prospects for the team to sign, and of course that elephant in the room regarding their quarterback. But Dak Prescott is not the only one of their roster from last year to consider. Most of the decisions in that area are on the defense, but they have some calls they need to make on offense as well.

ESPN writer Todd Archer broke down the players involved, with his own call on what he thinks the team should do. Our Matt Holleran took at look at some of the personnel on the defensive side. Here are the rest on offense.

QB Dak Prescott

Archer comes to the obvious conclusion that they have to keep him. But there is one thing he mentions that merits some further discussion.

Clearly it’s keep; however, if the Cowboys don’t have a long-term deal with Prescott in place well before June, then they likely will have to find a new quarterback in 2022.

This is where the ownership is playing with fire. The franchise tag is a useful tool for allowing further negotiations, although in terms of cap space it makes things much more difficult for the team if they don’t get something done on a multiyear deal before the March 17th deadline to be under the cap for their top 51 players. However, a failure to get one done at all could mean the team is in the market for a replacement next year, and if there is one thing that is glaringly obvious it is that you can’t just stroll into QBs R Us and find a new franchise player.

Yet oddly, this is a year when multiple teams are bungling their QB situation. Matthew Stafford has already left the Detroit Lions, Deshaun Watson wants out of the Houston Texans, and now Russell Wilson has gone public with his desire to find a team that takes better care of their quarterback than the Seattle Seahawks. Jerry and Stephen Jones are dangerously close to creating a similar mess with Prescott.

They definitely should not do that.

QB Andy Dalton

He was signed as insurance, and turned out to have a very uneven season. Archer’s view is that he should be allowed to seek other opportunities, but with a caveat that a failure to reach a deal with Prescott could change things. The thought of having to rely on him to be the starter next year in that case should fill us all with trepidation.

WR Noah Brown

He had his best year with the Cowboys, but with the starting trio of Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and CeeDee Lamb, he was still largely an afterthought. Wide receiver is one position where teams can find good value deep into the draft, so it makes sense that Archer thinks he should be allowed to walk.

TE Blake Bell

While Dalton Schultz was a huge surprise last season filling in for the injured Blake Jarwin, the other Blake was also a nice surprise, proving to be a competent tight end for the offense. He is a logical player to keep around to have a very deep TE room this year.

OT Cameron Erving

Say what you will about the early season struggles, both Terence Steele and Brandon Knight grew a lot last year when forced into playing. Erving had his own injury problems and would be more expensive, so Archer bids him adieu.

OL Joe Looney

Archer bring up an excellent point about Jumbo Joe.

This might be their toughest call because of what Looney means in the locker room.

All the reporters who are around the Star say that to know Looney is to love him, and that apparently extends to his teammates. He will not be needed to start at center this season, but he is an excellent backup to have. Archer likes getting him back on a one-year contract.

LS LP Ladouceur

You don’t really want to mess with perfection. He is an easy call to bring back. One-year contracts for him have become an annual tradition for Dallas.

Those are Archer’s takes, and he is one of the most reliable beat reporters covering the Cowboys. But with the salary cap issues this season, things are harder to predict this year. We’ll soon start finding out what the team actually decides.

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