Odds are you have not been surprised by how the Dallas Cowboys have approached this offseason. To be clear, just because nobody was surprised does not mean that they were not allowed to be frustrated. Watching other teams open new toys throughout free agency can strike a sense of envy in any football fan, but processes must be trusted, or something like that.
The Dallas Cowboys prefer to build their team through the draft. Whenever they do use free agency they use it as an outlet to improve their largest weaknesses so that they are not entering the draft with a need that has had absolutely no help thrown its way. Feel how you will about this particular strategy, but they are coming off of a 12-win season at the moment and this disposition has yielded solid (admittedly not ‘solid’ enough) returns in the past.
With this being the case it has made sense to see Dallas address receiver and defensive end by way of their returning players and two new additions. It has also been logical for them to bring back other contributors so again that they are not caught in a bind in one particular place.
Going along these lines there is one spot that we have yet to see any real commitment and it is a rather important one.
The Dallas Cowboys have addressed all but one of their major needs this offseason
On Sunday we took a look at everything the Cowboys have done throughout the offseason to date (excluding the returns of Kellen Moore and Dan Quinn, although those things are important). You can see who they have brought back, lost, and landed as new players all right here. We also have the highlights available in this nifty graphic.
Putting the all-important position of kicker to the side for the purposes of this conversation you can do the basic math and see how they have ‘replaced’ (using that term very loosely here) the production that they have lost. Two wide receivers are gone in Amari Cooper and Cedrick Wilson and two have been addressed in the return of Michael Gallup and addition of James Washington. Similarly Randy Gregory left out the door leaving a hole at defensive end and the Cowboys turned around and signed Dorance Armstrong and Dante Fowler to give them help.
None of this is to say that players X or Y can replace the production of A or B and for all we know the Cowboys could address wide receiver or defensive end at the top of the 2022 NFL Draft. The point to their process is that if they don’t they have somebody who they feel is qualified to handle things while they address needs that have arisen elsewhere.
Doing the ‘math’ though you will see that the Cowboys are in the red on one major position and that is along the offensive line. Connor Williams left for the Miami Dolphins in free agency and after he was released La’el Collins wound up with the Cincinnati Bengals. Dallas has ‘lost’ two offensive linemen that have started a lot of games for them over the last four years. They have yet to bring in any new linemen to make up for that, though.
As it stands offensive line is the biggest position of need for the Cowboys and the best answer for that might in fact come during next month’s draft. This week we launched a series on the Blogging The Boys YouTube Channel (make sure to subscribe which you can do right here) called ‘Mock Draft Monday’ (a name that nobody has ever used before!) where we run through mock drafts to figure out options that would work well for the Cowboys.
When Dallas was on the clock we were fortunate enough to be sitting in a spot where Tyler Linderbaum, Kenyon Green, and Zion Johnson were all there. Obviously this was just one exercise and one of many ways that things could play out a few weeks from now, but seeing a world where Dallas has options should make us all feel better about the glaring need at left guard at the moment.
It is possible that the Cowboys do still look to add a veteran to their offensive front in line with how they tend to approach free agency in general. The initial waves of the acquisition period are over, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t find someone like they did Ty Nsekhe last year (although that was a bit earlier in the process than now).
If history is any indication the Cowboys will add an offensive lineman at some point before the draft. Time will tell.