We’re not faraway from Super Bowl LVI. While Cowboys Nation will spend another year watching and wondering what their team needs to do to reach the big game, there’s a few things the Cowboys can learn from the Bengals and Rams in this process.
When comparing the Cowboys to the Rams and Bengals, you can see they have pretty similar talent. All three quarterbacks sit in the same tier, they all have similar receiving corps, and their defenses aren’t too far apart when you look into the advanced metrics.
But from a talent acquisition standpoint, these teams couldn’t be further apart. The Rams and Bengals are both very aggressive in how they acquire outside talent. While the Cowboys, in big thanks to Stephen Jones are almost always very conservative. We can give the Cowboys credit for the few times over the last few years where they have been aggressive (trading for Amari Cooper and Robert Quinn), but seeing how those few times have worked out well, it’s disappointing to not see them to adopt the Cincinnati and Los Angeles team-building strategy more frequently.
For the Rams, it’s hard to even begin with how aggressive they’ve been in free agency and the trade market since Sean McVay came aboard. It started with trading for Jalen Ramsey, and that’s led to trading for Mathew Stafford, Von Miller, Austin Corbett, and Sony Michel. Those are just the trades the Rams have made over the last few years, and that’s not mentioning their free agent signings. That list is even more impressive with Leonard Floyd, Odell Beckham Jr., Andrew Whitworth, A’Shawn Robinson, and Robert Woods (currently on IR). That’s a huge chunk of their roster that was brought in via free agency and the trade market, and it’s not like these guys were bargain-bin signings.
While the Rams can almost be sometimes reckless at time with their draft picks and cap space, there’s no denying it’s worked. Since 2017, the Rams have played in two Super Bowls, won six playoffs games, and have played in two conference championships. Sure they may be low on draft picks and cap space, but there aren’t many teams in the NFL that wouldn’t trade that for postseason success.
The Bengals have a different story, but a similar approach. Unlike the Rams, many of the Bengals core players are mostly homegrown. Joe Burrow, Jamar Chase, Tee Higgins, and Joe Mixon are all high draft picks that have worked out well for Cincinnati, but the Bengals would not be playing in the Super Bowl this weekend without the likes of Trey Hendrickson (UFA signing), D.J. Reader (UFA signing), B.J. Hill (trade), Chidobe Awuzie (UFA signing), Vonn Bell (UFA signing), and Mike Hilton (UFA signing). It’s pretty easy to see the Bengals plan in team building. Build the offense through the draft, and build the defense through free agency and trade market. It’s worked really well for both Cincinnati and Los Angeles.
This isn’t written to say the Cowboys need to go all out and trade all their picks and spend a ton of money in free agency. They don’t need to be the Rams or the Bengals, but their bargain-bin approach to outside players is one that has proven to fail over the last ten years. In order to get themselves over the hump, they need to adjust their aggressiveness in their offseason team-building strategy.