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Dallas Cowboys 2021 free agents: Who stays, who goes?

Hopefully the Cowboys get more from their free agent signings this year.

Miami Dolphins v New York Jets Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

As a general rule, it’s not always good to look back into the past to see where things may have gone right or wrong. In professional sports, however, it serves its purpose as a measuring stick to know where organizations need to do better. For the Dallas Cowboys, one of their problem areas a year ago was there lack of impactful free agents.

As we know now, the Cowboys basically bombed last year with their free agent signings. Aldon Smith was arguably the most impactful, but as good as he started out the 2020 season he faded just as quickly as things progressed. The Cowboys definitely needed to do a better job this year, and although it’s still early, it looks as if they may have succeeded.

Let’s take a gander at each of Dallas’ free agent additions to determine who stays and who goes when everything is said and done. This, of course, is all speculation, but at this early point of the offseason, that’s pretty much what all we have to go on.

P Bryan Anger - The Cowboys signed Anger to a one-year, $1.2 million contract to come in and compete with Hunter Niswander. Whichever punter performs better in training camp will likely retain the job for the 2021 season since Dallas can get out of either contract with little to no financial impact on the salary cap. STAYS

DE Tarell Basham - Basham signed a two-year, $5.5 million contract with the Cowboys this offseason to add some much-needed depth to the DE position. He was one of the bigger signings by the Cowboys and as such they should have a specific role in mind for him the next couple of years. STAYS

WR Noah Brown - Dallas decided to bring back Noah Brown on a one-year deal, but he’s facing an uphill battle to make the roster this year. He was one of their better special teams performers in 2020 and that will be his ticket to make it through the final roster cuts once again. His play in training camp will be key for him. GOES

CB C.J. Goodwin - Goodwin signed a two-year, $3.5 million contract with $2 million guaranteed with the Dallas Cowboys this offseason. He has been their special teams ace for the past several seasons and should continue in that role for a few more years under the guidance of John Fassel. STAYS

S Damontae Kazee - Dallas’ new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn is directly responsible for bringing in Kazee to replace Xavier Woods as the Cowboys new free safety. He made be just under a one-year deal, but he’s expected to be a big part of the defensive turnaround this year. STAYS

S Jayron Kearse - Kearse is another player the Cowboys signed to a one-year contract, more than likely due to his special teams ability. But, he will try to challenge Donovan Wilson for a starting job at strong safety and as such brings added value to the table. If nothing else, he provides solid depth at the position. STAYS

CB Jourdan Lewis - Jourdan Lewis was a surprise re-signing by the Cowboys this offseason. Receiving a three-year, $13.5 million contract indicates Dan Quinn has something specific in mind for him and rumors are he could also dabble at safety. With the multiyear contract, it’s difficult to imagine he’s going anywhere. STAYS

LS Jake McQuaide - Jake McQuaide joins the Cowboys on a one-year deal to replace Dallas’ long time snapper, L. P. Ladouceur, who was nearly perfect for the team in his 16-year career. The four-time Pro Bowler reunites with John Fassel and Greg Zuerlein in Dallas and hopefully maintains the consistency we’ve come to expect from the position. STAYS

LB Keanu Neal - Keanu Neal is yet another one-year signing by the Cowboys this offseason and perhaps the one who can make the biggest impact. He’s expected to compete for reps at WILL LB this year, but his past experience playing safety could come in handy as well. That kind of versatility all but guarantees him a job in 2021. STAYS

OT Ty Nsekhe - Considering Tyron Smith’s yearly struggles to remain healthy, the signing of Ty Nsekhe to a one-year deal probably isn’t receiving the type of fanfare it should. At 36-years-old he is expected to be Dallas’ swing tackle, but could be challenged by either Brandon Knight or Josh Bell for the job. STAYS

QB Dak Prescott - Although there are some who disagreed with the re-signing of Dak Prescott, he is no doubt the Dallas Cowboys best free agent addition. He should pick up right where he left off in 2020 and be in command of one of the more dominant and high-scoring offenses in the entire league. STAYS

TE Jeremy Sprinkle - With Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz fully entrenched as the Cowboys top two tight ends, it’s difficult to know where a player like Jeremy Sprinkle fits in. There’s going to be a pretty good competition to become Dallas’ TE3 in 2021, which means Sprinkle is really going to have to outplay his competition. GOES

DT Brent Urban - Brent Urban was one of several players the Cowboys brought in to hopefully upgrade their porous defensive line play from a year ago. He’s someone who doesn’t mind doing the dirty work from the interior of the DL and should do so once again this year with the Cowboys. He could be a bargain as a one-year rental. STAYS

DT Carlos Watkins - Carlos Watkins is a versatile defensive tackle who joins the Cowboys on a one-year deal after first spending his first four years in the league with the Houston Texans. As things stand right now, he’s going to have to have a huge training camp to stick around because there’s a lot of competition at DT. GOES

WR Cedrick Wilson - Cedrick Wilson rejoins the Cowboys on a one-year deal and should serve as their WR4 once again in 2021. His versatility to play any WR position and also contribute on special teams makes him a valuable depth piece. There’s no reason to believe he’ll be playing anywhere else other than Dallas this year. STAYS

Well there you have it for the Dallas Cowboys 2021 free agent additions. It may not turn out exactly like I predicted, but one things for sure, they’ve done a much better job of bringing in players who should contribute this year than they did a season ago.