Now that the final bit of suspense has been eliminated with Kellen Moore returning after not getting a head coaching job, this would seem to be a quiet time for the Dallas Cowboys prior to the start of the new league year and free agency on March 16. But there are plenty of things that can and should happen. One is that the team definitely will be doing some contract restructures to free up cap space. But restructures aren’t the only things they have available. Here are five things that the team should definitely do, not only to help with a bit of extra cap money, but to improve the roster as well.
Re-sign key free agents
Stephen Jones is already engaged in his annual “the cap is real” propaganda campaign. That does not bode well for the team doing as much as it should, but they need to see if they can get some deals done to retain important talent. Over at DallasCowboys.com, Nick Eatman established some tiers for their 22 free agents this year. Borrowing from that, here is my list of how they should prioritize them.
- S Jayron Kearse. He was a real catalyst for the secondary, and they need him back. He is first not only because of his value for the team, but because he may be more affordable than some of the bigger names on the list. Besides, the Cowboys hate to use high draft picks on the position and this is the best way to keep the safety room strong.
- DE Randy Gregory.Hopefully the not so subtle hints that the team could move on from DeMarcus Lawrence aren’t real, but if there is any truth behind them at all, the team has to get Gregory back. Even if Lawrence also sticks, they should still bring Gregory back. He is very good and because of the various travails and suspensions he has gone through, he has low mileage as well.
- TE Dalton Schultz. He has become a safety blanket for Dak Prescott. Blake Jarwin is still under contract, but Schultz has done more on the field by a considerable margin.
- WR Cedrick Wilson. It would be better to keep Michael Gallup, but there is reason to believe the Cowboys won’t be willing to meet the money he could get from another team. Wilson is insurance against not getting a good WR in the draft.
- P Bryan Anger. The Pro Bowl punter should be a very affordable and cost-effective signing.
- LS Jake McQuaide. Did you hear his name mentioned during the regular season? You didn’t, because he did not have a bad snap. And his cost is pretty much the same as any long snapper of comparable quality.
- DE Dorance Armstrong. He is conditional and would be much less of a priority if they don’t mess up and keep both Lawrence and Gregory. But if one of them is not back, he is a necessity.
Cut Greg Zuerlein
As our RJ Ochoa documented, he was the worst extra point kicker in the NFL last season. He wasn’t much better at field goals. Stop the bleeding and find a new one. He also would add nearly $2.5 million in cap space.
Cut Keanu Neal
The experiment of moving him from safety to linebacker was not very successful. Designating him a post June 1 release would bring another $1 million in space.
Extend Anthony Brown and release Jourdan Lewis
Brown was very solid, and while the team has ball-hawk Trevon Diggs and promising second-year man Kelvin Joseph in the backfield, Brown would help ensure the improved performance of the cornerbacks continues. He also had three interceptions in the regular season and added another in the Wild Card game. The extension could net over $3.1 million in space, and moving on from Lewis gets another $2.3 million. These smaller cap amounts start to add up.
Extend DeMarcus Lawrence and Amari Cooper
This is the most radical proposal in this article, but between the two of them, they could net a whopping $29.4 million in cap savings, according to Over the Cap. In terms of value to the team, they are probably among the top five or so players on the roster. While the recent grumblings from Jones are not at all encouraging, we can still cling to a faint hope that he is posturing to try and move in this direction. It is a slim reed to cling to, admittedly, but extending them would do much more to make the roster stronger than moving on in the name of the cap.