It has been a little over a month since the 2021 season ended for the Dallas Cowboys, although it feels like 100 years have passed. Time seems to move slower in the offseason, but before you know it we will be getting ready for the opening game of 2022.
Before then, a number of things will happen and one of them is free agency in the NFL. The official league year begins on March 16th (see a full list of important dates here) and right around that point is when this team’s roster could see significant change.
The Dallas Cowboys brain-trust has slowly been dropping bread crumbs about how they may be planning to approach things as far as team finances concerned. Releasing one, or both, of Amari Cooper and DeMarcus Lawrence seems more than plausible despite the shouts from just about everyone.
While nothing is guaranteed when it comes to big money in free agency, it feels like the Cowboys may only be interested in saving as opposed to spending. Stephen Jones talks about the salary cap like if he says it out loud three times that something terrible is going to happen and chooses so live in constant fear of it.
That is a big issue.
ESPN’s worst-case scenario for the Cowboys offseason: They keep feeding at the bottom of the free-agent market
It feels like an exercise in futility to sit here and lay out our most optimistic offseason scenario for the Cowboys. Anything we could or would suggest feels a little unlikely given the last decade’s worth of proof that they will not seriously dabble in free agency.
Consider that it has been 10 years - a literal decade - since the Cowboys dropped sizable money on a “big-name” free agent in Brandon Carr. The result of that deal spooked the team (Carr was a fine player, just not the difference-maker that Dallas hoped for) and they have chosen to go bargain hunting every year in the aftermath.
Dallas seems to believe that they are the Green Bay Packers from the time before the internet existed and prides themselves on building through the draft. While your nucleus of talent can come from there, the way that even the Los Angeles Rams’ did (yes, really) you still have to be willing to execute on the right free agents and trade targets as evidenced by L.A.
The Cowboys being unwilling to do this for yet another offseason would feel like an incredible bad idea. In fact, it is literally the worst-case scenario for the team as outlined by ESPN’s Todd Archer.
Best-case scenario for the team’s offseason: The Cowboys are already sending the message they can’t keep everybody because of the cap. While true, they need to keep the right guys so they need to find a way to keep Gregory and Lawrence and improve the offensive line either in middle-tier free agency or early in the draft. The combination of Gregory, Lawrence and linebacker Micah Parsons should make for a formidable defense in 2022.
Worst-case scenario for the team’s offseason: They keep feeding at the bottom of the free-agent market. They did well there in 2021 with guys like Kearse, Carlos Watkins, Damontae Kazee and Malik Hooker but were they true difference-makers? Maybe Kearse. The Cowboys have done a better job drafting in recent years, but they need to make a bigger push in free agency even if it is not at the top end of the market.
Keeping in mind that it would be a breath of fresh air for the Cowboys to bring in some serious outside talent, at the very least they could keep their own talented players, you know, guys like Amari Cooper and/or DeMarcus Lawrence.
The way that Stephen Jones has spoken publicly about this subject has certainly cast an ominous tone over the offseason and any would-be decision that the Cowboys could make. It is important to save money where you can, but at what cost (no pun intended)? Why cut Cooper and/or Lawrence just to be less-qualified at those positions? You could have the greatest draft class of all time and still not properly replace that production in a season where so much is on the line.
What is your worst case scenario for the Cowboys this offseason?