The Dallas Cowboys, like every NFL team, are readying for free agency to begin. Monday will be the opening of the official tampering window (surely nobody is tampering right now!) and Wednesday the official start of the new league year that will allow proverbial pens to hit proverbial dotted lines.
It has seemed for some time now that the Cowboys were interested in making some rather significant changes to their roster that we thought was good enough to win it all last season. Talks have seemingly cooled on a DeMarcus Lawrence departure, but it feels almost inevitable for Amari Cooper to leave, and potentially even yielding some draft capital on his way out.
Things are heating up as free agency draws closer which means we have some new rumors to discuss.
La’el Collins is likely to be cut if not traded, Dallas has given him permission to seek a trade
Despite any opinions about what La’el Collins contributes to the team, it seems clear that this particular coaching staff has not exactly fallen in love with him. Their first season in Dallas was 2020 and Collins missed that entire season after things never even got off the ground for him. He returned in 2021 dedicated to improving and was suspended for five games right after the season opener. The divide between he and the staff became abundantly clear after that as he did not immediately win his job back from Terence Steele.
All told it is obvious that Collins is not this staff’s favorite player. There is an argument to be made that teams should keep the best players regardless of how they feel about them, but the point is it isn’t difficult to see how this group would not feel heartbroken about moving on from Collins. And according to the latest report, it seems like that is destined to be the case.
Collins would only save the Cowboys $1.3 million on this year's cap if cut or traded. But he'd save them $10 million if they designated him as a post-June 1 cut. https://t.co/lqJsYqhFIZ— Dan Graziano (@DanGrazianoESPN) March 12, 2022
On the subject of arguments there are a lot to be made surrounding Collins. The Cowboys have a problem at right tackle if he is gone, although Terence Steele has indeed been serviceable and does have the trust of the staff, but he also represents a potential solution. Dallas has a need at left guard with Connor Williams set to hit free agency and Collins played there early in his career. Collins represents a few potential solutions but even considering that the Cowboys don’t seem intent on exploring any of them.
Collins finished 2021 as PFF’s 15th-best tackle as far as offensive grading is concerned which is very impressive considering he missed all of 2020 (there were also weird rumors of him potentially retiring last offseason for what it’s worth) and time at the beginning of the season when he was suspended.
Obviously it would be better for the Cowboys to get something for him by way of trade as opposed to releasing him, but time will tell how desperate another team is for tackle help (it’s not like tackle depth is precious or anything!).
“At least five teams” have had discussions about Amari Cooper
Another player whom the Cowboys seem determined to separate themselves from this offseason is wide receiver Amari Cooper. His value to the team has been difficult to properly quantify ever since Dallas traded a first-round pick for him during the 2018 season, but it seems that the value has reached a tipping point for him in their eyes.
Friday brought news that the Cleveland Browns were in on potentially trading for Amari and that Dallas wanted a third-round pick in exchange for him but could potentially settle for a fourth. While that might be a lower return than anybody would like it is obviously - like with Collins - better than nothing and all the Cowboys need is for multiple teams to be interested to create some sort of rise in price.
On Saturday morning it was reported by ESPN that at least five teams have inquired about Cooper. This could obviously create the situation that Dallas wants.
At least five teams have discussed #Cowboys receiver Amari Cooper's availability in a potential trade or release, per source. Teams in the receiver market leading up to free agency are at least checking on Cooper's value and contract situation.— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) March 12, 2022
With free agency beginning next week teams are going to prioritize acquiring players that won’t cost them draft capital which is why the Cowboys seem content to wait the situation out. The $16M that Dallas is looking to shed with Cooper does not become guaranteed until the fifth day of the new league year (which is next Sunday, March 20th) which means that the Cowboys can wait and see if Team X does not get the receiver that they want in free agency and is then at a point where they will trade for Cooper.
As the time for things to start legitimately happening draws closer it appears that the Dallas Cowboys do have some sort of plan that they are executing. Whether or not it is a sound one is up for debate, but they are clearly doing things that they have been laying the groundwork for a while on.