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Dallas Cowboys 2022 free agency: Choosing which free agent to keep from similar positions

The Cowboys have some big decisions to make this offseason.

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Philadelphia Eagles v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

After a disappointing end to their season, the Dallas Cowboys enter one of the most intriguing offseasons in recent history. The Cowboys have 24 players set to hit the open market, some of which played pivotal roles on this year's team.

Today we take a look at some of the decisions Dallas might have to make this offseason with an early edition of free agency ‘would you rather’.

Event Name: NFC Wild Card Playoffs - San Francisco 49ers v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

1) Would you rather keep Dalton Schultz or Cedrick Wilson?

Both Dalton Schultz and Cedrick Wilson could not have hit free agency at a better time. Each is coming off a career year and should have a chance to cash in on the open market.

In terms of what they may demand in a contract, Schultz’s next deal may wind up being similar to the one fellow tight end Hunter Henry signed with the New England Patriots. The now 27-year-old signed a three-year, $33M deal with the Patriots in 2020.

In Henry’s final two seasons before hitting free agency, he caught 115 passes for 1,265 yards and scored nine touchdowns. Schultz has actually posted better statistical seasons than Henry did in his final two years of his deal, catching 141 passes for 1,423 yards and scoring 12 touchdowns.

While Henry is an overall more talented athlete than Schultz, it’s hard to argue with production. While some may see his production as a byproduct of being on a talented offense, other teams may see a 25-year-old tight end on an upward trajectory.

Cedrick Wilson’s next deal is going to be an intriguing one. The former sixth-round pick had by far the best season of his career this year, hauling in 45 receptions for 602 yards and scoring six touchdowns. Like Schultz, it will be interesting to see if other teams value Wilson highly, or if they simply believe his success came from having two Pro Bowl-caliber receivers around him.

Overall, while Wilson did come on strong towards the end of the season, he’d likely be easier to replace. If Dallas was to let Schultz walk, they would almost have to spend a valued resource on a tight end. Schultz is an important piece in this offense and the Cowboys should prioritize locking him up long-term.

The Pick: Bring back Dalton Schultz

Poll

Would you rather keep Dalton Schultz or Cedrick Wilson?

This poll is closed

  • 63%
    Dalton Schultz
    (1690 votes)
  • 24%
    Cedrick Wilson
    (641 votes)
  • 12%
    Let Both Walk
    (331 votes)
2662 votes total Vote Now
NFC Wild Card Playoffs - San Francisco 49ers v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

2)Would you rather keep Leighton Vander Esch or Keanu Neal?

While many probably want to see Leighton Vander Esch and Keanu Neal both wearing a different jersey next season, with the current state of the Cowboys’ linebacker group, the team may be interested in a reunion with one of the two at the right price.

The duo of Vander Esch and Neal both was pretty disappointing in 2021. Pro Football Focus awarded Neal with a 36.0 defensive grade for the season, 32 points lower than his 2020 grade. Vander Esch finished the season with a 60.4 PFF defensive grade, but still struggled with missed tackles and really did not make much of a positive impact in many games.

With Dan Quinn likely out the door, it seems hard to believe the Cowboys would retain Neal after such a disappointing season. At just 24-years-old, Vander Esch will demand more money on the open market, but if the price is right there could be a potential return to Dallas in the cards.

In the end, letting both walk in free agency and drafting a linebacker to replace them seems like the best possible option.

The Pick: Let both Vander Esch and Neal walk in free agency

Poll

Would you rather keep Leighton Vander Esch or Keanu Neal?

This poll is closed

  • 29%
    Leighton Vander Esch
    (759 votes)
  • 14%
    Keanu Neal
    (377 votes)
  • 55%
    Let Both Walk
    (1429 votes)
2565 votes total Vote Now
Washington Football Team v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

3)Would you rather keep Damontae Kazee or Jayron Kearse?

Damontae Kazee and Jayron Kearse both were pleasant surprises for the Cowboys this season. For the first time in a long time, Dallas got some positive contributions from the safety position. While both players did play well, when it comes time to decide which to bring back, it should be an easy call.

Kazee had a nice year, but Kearse fills a bigger role on the defense. The 27-year-old graded out with a very solid 75.9 PFF defensive grade on the year. He also recorded nine PBUs, hauled in two interceptions, missed just three tackles, and allowed just two touchdowns.

Kearse also excelled against tight ends, slowing down two of the top pass-catching targets in the game.

If they can afford to keep both that would be an ideal scenario, but if it comes down to choosing one it’s pretty obvious Jayron Kearse should be the pick.

Poll

Would you rather keep Damontae Kazee or Jayron Kearse?

This poll is closed

  • 3%
    Damontae Kazee
    (81 votes)
  • 93%
    Jayron Kearse
    (2392 votes)
  • 3%
    Let Both Walk
    (96 votes)
2569 votes total Vote Now