Last season the Dallas Cowboys special teams unit on paper ranked 14th overall in the NFL. Looking at the kick return yardage they ranked sixth in the NFL with an average of 26.1 yards per return and a total of 965 yards and one touchdown from CeeDee Lamb while ranking 14th in punt return yardage, averaging 9.1 yards per return and a total of 265 yards according to Lineups.com. On paper this is pretty good, but when you factor in the fumbles and poor decision-making by kick returner Tony Pollard, it’s not as good. His decisions to return kicks out of the endzone on numerous occasions left the Cowboys with poor field position.
Those poor decisions can’t continue to happen for the Cowboys if they are to win the field battle position and help this offense when they step on the field. Special teams coach John Fassel must push to get himself a player dedicated to the special teams’ return game. Pollard and Lamb have both shown that they are highly effective on offense and head coach Mike McCarthy might not want to put those players at risk of injury. Lucky for the Cowboys there are a few returners that are available this offseason that the Cowboys could sign.
If you’re looking for someone who has been doing this for a long time then Roberts is your man. Ever since entering the league in 2010 Robert’s has been a mainstay at the returner position on every team he’s signed with. Now at 32-years-old, Roberts is a little long in the tooth but his experience and the fact that he’s still effective having averaged 28.5 yards and 1,625 yards in his last two years with the Buffalo Bills. Roberts still has gas left in the tank and would be a nice weapon that teams have to gameplan for.
The next player on this list is right behind Roberts in terms of age at 30, but he’s just as dangerous as Roberts if not more dangerous. During his last two seasons with the Chicago Bears, Patterson averaged 29.2 yards per return, 1,842 yards, and two touchdowns. Better stats than Roberts but with Patterson, you are also getting a Swiss army knife that can be used all over the field if injuries required it. That also brings a heftier price tag, one that the Cowboys may not be able to meet.
Agnew is another dangerous return man hitting the free-agent market this offseason and with four years of experience, he could be someone that the Cowboys take a look at. During his time with the Detroit Lions, Agnew put up good numbers on a poor special teams unit where he averaged 25.8 yards per return and a total of 1,649 yards and one touchdown. Agnew’s speed could be the thing that catches the Cowboy's attention the most because when given an opening he hits it full speed. Given the chance to play for a better special teams unit under coach Fassell, Agnew may thrive.
The Cowboys need to get something done to make sure that they aren’t putting important starters and role players on offense in danger. Any of these three would be a welcome addition to this Cowboys special teams unit but they don’t have to look at these three alone, there are others that are on the market. Now it’s up to Fassell to pound the table in an effort to sign an effective return man.