The 2022 offseason for the Dallas Cowboys are obviously key for the organization’s Super Bowl aspirations. The championship window for this team is currently open, meaning they need to capitalize on the talent they have at their disposal before it’s too late. That’s why we’re going to put on our general manager’s hat today to attempt to fix the Cowboys over the offseason.
First off, it’s probably important to understand getting into the salary cap and finding enough to spend in free agency really isn’t as big as an issue as many would lead you to believe. By restructuring a few contracts and cutting a little unnecessary fat on others, the Cowboys can easily get under the salary cap and sign just about any free agent they want if they so choose.
With that in mind, we’re going to put together a ‘how-to’ offseason guide for the Cowboys that will take us through free agency, the 2022 NFL Draft, and will ultimately build the roster for the upcoming season. Let’s start by determining which of their pending free agents the Cowboys should re-sign and then go from there.
3 contracts to renew, 2 to let go
Players to Re-sign
Randy Gregory, Defensive End
Running it back with Randy Gregory gives the Cowboys their best chance of having a formidable pass rush in 2022. That will probably take at least a contract extension that will pay him at least $12 million per season, but it should be money spent.
Jayron Kearse, Safety
Jayron Kearse was an unexpected leader and key contributor for the Cowboys defense in 2021. He should be a rather cost-effective re-signing and would help provide starting experience and depth to the safety position 2022.
Bryan Anger & Jake McQuaide, Special Teams
A two-for-one special? Maybe not, but lumping these two together just seems right. Both should be relatively cost-effective for the Cowboys to re-sign and both should be considered no-brainers considering the way they performed in 2021.
Players to let go
Greg Zuerlein, Kicker
Consistently splitting the uprights is a required skill for kickers in the NFL. Sadly, consistency was Zuerlein’s biggest downfall in 2021. He simply can’t be trusted anymore and the Cowboys can save approximately $2.5 million by parting company.
Blake Jarwin, Tight End
Bad luck and injuries have prevented Jarwin from living up to his potential, which could make him somewhat of a surprise salary-cap casualty, even with Dalton Schultz potentially leaving via free agency. Dallas can save $4.25 million against the salary-cap if he’s released.
Free agent moves to make
LB Kyzir White, Los Angeles Chargers
With Keanu Neal possibly departing via free agency and the unknown about how Jabril Cox will rebound from his season-ending knee injury, the Cowboys need a new WILL LB. Kyzir White is the man for the job. He’s not a “known” player, but he would a rather inexpensive upgrade.
TE David Njoku, Cleveland Browns
With Dalton Schultz possibly departing in free agency and Blake Jarwin as a potential salary-cap casualty, signing David Njoku would be an aggressive FA addition by the Cowboys. He has the talent to be just a productive as Schultz.
S Marcus Maye, New York Jets
After just playing in six games in 2021 due to an Achilles injury, the Cowboys could add one of the better free safeties in the game on a one-year “prove it” deal to upgrade the back end of their defense. If it works out they can re-sign him, if not let him walk and hopefully receive a 2023 compensatory pick in return.
2 players to acquire via trade
LB Dre Greenlaw, San Francisco 49ers
Greenlaw unfortunately missed the majority of the 2021 season due to a groin injury and ended up being buried on the depth chart because of it. He’s entering a contract year in 2022 and doesn’t look to have a future with 49ers. A mid- to late-round pick should be enough to bring him to Dallas to help upgrade their LB position even further. It may be a one-year rental or turn into something long-term. But, if it doesn’t work out it could turn into a 2023 compensatory pick when he signs elsewhere as a free agent.
DE L.J. Collier (Seahawks) for CB Anthony Brown (Cowboys)
Player-for-player trades are rare in the NFL, but this is one that could be mutually beneficial for both teams. Collier has fallen out of favor with the Seahawks, playing 17% of the defensive snaps in 2021, and Brown is a potential salary-cap casualty with the Cowboys. Swapping these players would at much-needed depth for both teams. Collier’s versatility to play DE or DT would help Dallas’ defensive line depth and Brown’s ability to play inside/out would help Seattle’s CB depth. And, both contracts are manageable for both organizations.
2022 mock draft after offseason moves
Round 1, Pick 24 - IOL Kenyon Green, Texas A&M
Add Kenyon Green to the Cowboys offensive line and the unit would once again become a dominant force. He is the best OG in the 2022 draft class and would immediately upgrade Dallas’ OL, improving both the running and passing game.
Round 2, Pick 56 - S Jalen Pitre, Baylor
Dallas doesn’t typically value the safety position this high in the draft, but for a versatile player who played SS, FS, ILB, OLB at Baylor they should change their minds. He would be a chess piece-type of weapon for Dan Quinn, much like Micah Parsons was as a rookie.
Round 3, Pick 88 - WR Alec Pierce, Cincinnati
Alec Pierce checks the boxes Mike McCarthy likes in a WR. He is a player very similar to what McCarthy had in Jordy Nelson during his time with the Packers and would provide the same kind of skill set with the Cowboys as a Michael Gallup replacement.
Round 4, Pick 120 - EDGE/LB Jesse Luketa, Penn State
Jesse Luketa is the kind of do it all, versatile defensive player who could have a 10+ career in the NFL. He would not only provide much-needed depth at defensive end and linebacker for the Cowboys, but also be a stud on special teams as well.
Round 5, Pick 152 (traded) - LB Dre Greenlaw, San Francisco 49ers
A 2019 fifth-round pick by the 49ers, Greenlaw is well worth the trade for the Cowboys. Prior to his groin injury that cost him of all but three games in 2021, he was an ascending player with 24 games of starting experience. He’s also better than any LB Dallas could get in this point in the draft.
Round 5 (projected comp pick) - TE Charlie Kolar, Iowa State
With the projected comp pick for QB Andy Dalton, the Cowboys add another talented TE to combine with David Njoku. This duo could be even better than Dalton Schultz/Blake Jarwin, which could be a pretty big boost to the Cowboys entire offense.
Round 6, Pick 183 - DT Noah Ellis, Idaho
The Cowboys may not be able to land Jordan Davis in the first-round, but that’s okay because Noah Ellis is another big man with surprising athletic ability they can take late in the draft. The 6’4”, 360-pound DT is a little inexperienced, but he’s a brick wall with good vertical and lateral mobility.