There is less than a month separating us from the start of NFL free agency this offseason, and when it happens it is possible that we see a lot of changes to the Dallas Cowboys. Fans seem to feel most passionately about things they do not want to see the team do (namely release Amari Cooper and/or DeMarcus Lawrence), but matters involving free agency typically incite opinions all over the place.
We don’t know exactly which teams will covet would-be Cowboys free agents. Wearing the star brings with it an elevated status across the league, but is it possible that there are some players set to hit the market that could be a bit underrated?
3 Dallas Cowboys made PFF’s most underrated list of soon-to-be free agents
This past week PFF put together a list of the the most underrated free agents at every position. With the Cowboys having so many key contributors on expiring deals, odds were high that they would have at least one player on this list.
It turns out that Dallas wound up with three players on PFF’s list and all of them are players who you or someone likely wants to see return. Or are they?
TE: DALTON SCHULTZ, DALLAS COWBOYS
Schultz is arguably the best tight end available in free agency, as he’s coming off a season in which he was the sixth-highest-graded and third-most valuable tight end in the NFL. Schultz is good at finding soft spots in zone, doesn’t have an extensive injury history, adds value after the catch, wins at the catch point and holds his own in the run game. He ranked sixth or higher at the position last year in drop rate (3.4%), contested catch rate (63.2%, 12/19) and broken tackles after the catch (13). If Dallas is forced to let him walk, a team like Tennessee makes a lot of sense as a landing spot.
G: CONNOR WILLIAMS, DALLAS COWBOYS
Yes, I know — the penalties are an issue, as Williams committed an NFL-leading 17 penalties in 2021 that led to being benched for a short stretch during the season. Even with all of those plays baked into the PFF grading system, Williams still finished as a top-10 graded guard for the 2021 season (75.2) and has been one of the NFL’s 15-most valuable guards in back-to-back seasons. The penalties should regress in 2022, as they weren’t an issue before. He’s not going to be one of the five highest-paid guards in free agency and likely will receive something akin to a three-year, $20 million deal. However, it doesn’t matter the scheme, if a team needs a guard, it should pursue Williams over the much pricier options.
EDGE: RANDY GREGORY, DALLAS COWBOYS
Gregory has had a rocky NFL career with multiple suspensions, but he was a featured piece on the Cowboys’ defense this past season. He ranked 12th among qualifying edge defenders in pass-rush grade (84.7) and tied for sixth in pressure rate (15.5%). Teams may be cautious to sign Gregory given his history, an offseason knee surgery and role, but there is no denying his special tools. Between his lateral quickness, explosiveness and improved plan, Gregory showed he can generate value as a rotational pass-rusher.
It should come as no surprise to see names like Dalton Schultz and Randy Gregory here, but Connor Williams is sort of a forgotten man among Dallas Cowboys fans.
Williams struggled with penalties throughout the 2021 season, but even prior to that he was sort of the least popular member of the offensive line. He has had an up-and-down career since being selected by the team in the second round back in 2018. Did you know that among Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, and La’el Collins (since Tyler Biadasz was only drafted in 2020) that he has actually been available for the most games?
It is often said that availability is the best ability, but actual ability matters, too. PFF consider him underrated for a reason, and that is likely due to PFF having Williams as the 11th ranked guard in the NFL last season by overall offensive grade (he finished 10th in pass blocking and 11th in run blocking).
We have already spent so much time arguing why the Cowboys should bring back the likes of Dalton Schultz, Randy Gregory, Michael Gallup, and/or Jayron Kearse, just to name a few. Should we be paying more attention to Connor Williams?
Should the Cowboys be more focused on bringing back Connor Williams this offseason?
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