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Dallas Cowboys free agency: ESPN’s simulation exercise has the Cowboys landing Von Miller

ESPN steps into some fantasy, so we will follow the Cowboys angle.

Super Bowl LVI - Los Angeles Rams v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

There is officially less than a week between now and the beginning of free agency, and when the light turns green plenty of teams will sprint off of the starting line. If history is any indicator, then the Dallas Cowboys will not be among them. Over the last decade or so the Cowboys have chosen to sit back, relax, and watch from afar as other teams race to spend all sorts of money on players in the name of improving their roster.

The Cowboys argue that while free agency can be used to improve a team, the overpaying that has to happen to land would-be names on the free agent market isn’t worth it. They take calculated chances where they feel like the risk is worth the price, and every now and then that brings someone who a lot of people have heard of before.

It is hard to find a “huge” name on the free agent market that the Cowboys could end up being in the mix for. There is one though that is quite large and would be a welcome addition to Dan Quinn’s defense.

ESPN’s free agency simulation has Von Miller ending up with the Dallas Cowboys

Predictions are in no way guarantees, but educated guesses are always interesting to take a look at. Free agency is often a world where the highest bidder wins but sometimes some things have enough smoke to see the fire from far away.

Time will tell if this is the case here, but something notable popped up during ESPN’s simulation of free agency. What the worldwide leader did was interesting and you need to understand the context of the exercise before we proceed:

Our NFL Nation reporters served as GMs for their teams and made contract offers for key free agents while trying to stay within that team’s salary-cap restraints and realm of realistic outcomes. The object wasn’t to “win” but rather to accurately reflect how a team might approach negotiations. For instance, the cap-strapped Packers didn’t throw around any offers here, but the Dolphins and Jaguars had money to spend — and it showed. Once the offers were all in, national NFL reporter Dan Graziano played the role of player rep, mulled the proposals and “signed” each of the playmakers to a new deal.

Injecting reality is obviously the most important factor here because living in fantasy land gives us no actual insight into what any team might wind up doing. ESPN’s Todd Archer is one of the best people at covering the Cowboys so seeing how the team may act through his lens is valuable.

That being said, the Cowboys only made one offer in this exercise and it was to free agent pass rusher Von Miller. They were one of three offers with the Los Angeles Rams (Miller’s former team that he just won the Super Bowl with) and the Seattle Seahawks being the others.

Cowboys’ offer: Two years, $30 million ($30M guaranteed and three void years attached from an original five-year, $90M offer) ... We’re tugging on Miller’s heartstrings to return to home in the twilight of his career and pair with Micah Parsons. You can be the leader on our defense. — Todd Archer

A “five-year, $90M” offer would certainly sound quite large on paper, but as you’ll note Archer threw in the three void years to help massage things. Now a two-time Super Bowl winner, Miller is at a point in his career where he can seemingly pick and choose where he wants to chase rings and there is an argument (not trying to start any fights here) that the Cowboys are in the mix. Perhaps Miller agrees.

On the subject of “tugging at Miller’s heartstrings”, he is in fact a Texas native. Three years ago his Mom openly petitioned for Jerry Jones to return him to the lone star state so it would stand to reason that there is some affection from Miller for the Cowboys franchise.

That sounds great, but big-name players are often connected to the Cowboys so it’s not exactly shocking that this happened at one point in time. What is notable though is that the admiration between Dallas and Miller does seemingly run both ways. According to Todd Archer a month ago, the Cowboys were actually in on potentially acquiring Miller this past season when the Rams ultimately won out in the trade for him.

The Cowboys, who had discussions with the Broncos about Miller, have picks in each of the first six rounds, including No. 24 overall in the first round, not including a potential compensatory pick.

So we know that (to some degree) Miller appreciates the Cowboys and that the Cowboys were considering trading for him this past season. If Dallas truly does feel like they are on the precipice of something then wouldn’t it make sense for them to add to their already-established defense (with Dan Quinn returning at that) and wouldn’t it make sense for Miller to stay in the weaker conference that is the NFC? What’s more is he could be to Micah Parsons what DeMarcus Ware was to him when the Cowboys released Ware six years ago. Full circle!

Perhaps that is what happened in the parallel universe that ESPN crafted because Miller chose Dallas over the Rams and Seahawks.

The decision: Miller picks the Cowboys

The Dallas deal was an eye-catcher at first glance since it’s five years and $90 million on paper, but it’s really a two-year, $30 million deal with those void years. It’s better than what Seattle’s offering, especially with that silly structure the Seahawks always insist on. So do I take more money but less guarantee from the team I just won the Super Bowl with? Or do I try to win it with a third team? Man, L.A. was fun, but there’s just something about that star on the helmet. — Dan Graziano

How he fits: With uncertain futures of Randy Gregory, who is set to be a free agent, and DeMarcus Lawrence, who has refused a pay cut, Miller can be the perfect pass-rushing complement to Micah Parsons and serve as a mentor to the burgeoning star, similar to the way DeMarcus Ware was for Miller in Denver. This would be out of the Cowboys’ recent character in free agency, where they have been low-money shoppers, but Miller remains a top-end pass-rusher and would thrive in Dan Quinn’s scheme. — Todd Archer

We know that Randy Gregory is a free-agent-to-be, but news has changed a bit on DeMarcus Lawrence. While it felt like Lawrence was soon going to be a cap casualty a report emerged on Friday that he “isn’t going anywhere.” A Cowboys pass rush trio of Lawrence, Parsons, and Miller would be difficult to not feel extremely confident in, and given how much the Cowboys learned how valuable reinforcements can be with Tank a year ago, having depth at such an important spot could be very valuable.

It may be the usual early March days of dreaming here, but maybe the Cowboys somehow wind up with Von Miller in a week’s time.