The Dallas Cowboys have been busy this offseason. It may not be the exact type of busy that you prefer, but they have certainly been hard at work.
So far the Cowboys have brought back a dozen of their own players and landed two external free agents. This doesn’t take into account that the Cowboys also managed to bring back both coordinators in Kellen Moore or Dan Quinn. We all know how important continuity can be on a coaching staff.
While there are an extenuating number circumstances that went into each of these things (you may view one or many as the Cowboys getting fortunate or something else not going their way) the reality is that they ultimately wound up coming to pass. Better to be lucky than good as they say.
Tony Casillas and I discussed the best things that we think have happened to the Cowboys this offseason on the latest episode of The 75O on the Blogging The Boys podcast network. Make sure to subscribe to our network so you don’t miss any of our shows! Apple devices can subscribe here and Spotify users can subscribe here.
Let’s lay out a few of them here.
DeMarcus Lawrence is still on the team
For a little while it seemed like the Cowboys were going to give DeMarcus Lawrence the same treatment that they gave Amari Cooper. Both are talented players but were making money that the organization did not feel comfortable carrying.
Obviously Dallas wound up trading Cooper away but was able to negotiate a new deal with DeMarcus Lawrence. There is a debate around Lawrence being overrated and not worthy of top-tier money because he does not have the highest sack numbers in the league (a topic Dave Halprin explored recently here at BTB), but he is an elite run defender and staple on the defense as a whole. While the team did not suffer without him this past season. having to play regularly without him would be a very difficult thing, especially with Randy Gregory now a member of the Denver Broncos.
If you were ranking the best defensive players on the Cowboys then Micah Parsons would easily take the cake for the number one spot, but there is a very strong argument that Lawrence makes the second-biggest impact and therefore would have left the second-biggest possible void. The fact that he was able to be brought back, with a lower salary cap charge at that, is a huge win.
Jayron Kearse is returning this season
Jayron Kearse is the best Dallas Cowboys safety (speaking generally) since... who? Legitimately asking here.
We tend to gloss over Roy Williams when we have this conversation and rush straight to Darren Woodson. While Woody is amazing and belongs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, there was a point in time where Williams was certainly more than serviceable. But that is a different talking point.
Back to the present, Kearse brought a high level of stability to the back end of the Cowboys defense last year that was sorely needed. Originally thought to be just another journeyman free agent whom the Cowboys took a chance on, he flourished under Dan Quinn. It seemed like he and the team might go their separate ways once free agency began, but thankfully he was retained on a two-year deal.
An argument can be made that Kearse was the most important player whom the Cowboys brought back (as far as players on expiring contracts). Not that the Cowboys should continue to ignore the position forever, but his presence allows them to prioritize other spots throughout the rest of the offseason.
Dan Quinn is back running the defense
It goes without saying that if two defensive forces are being brought back that Dan Quinn’s return would also be lumped in the group. Not that the Cowboys defense would be lost without Quinn or anything, but there is no rush from any of us to find out whether or not that would be the case.
Last season saw the Cowboys defense completely turn things around and finally reach their full potential as a group. While Micah Parsons’ emergence was the catalyst for much of it so was Dan Quinn’s impact on the group.
It is fair to expect a natural regression to the mean from this defense as far as takeaways and overall performance (consider how Washington’s defense regressed from 2020 to 2021 as just one recent example) are concerned, but the floor is not as low because Quinn is returning. Consider that it has been a minute since the Cowboys had a defensive coordinator serve in the main chair for two straight seasons. Even looking back to the days of Jason Garrett as head coach saw Rod Marinelli and pseudo defensive coordinator Kris Richard somewhat share responsibilities.
This is the most important thing that happened to the Cowboys this offseason.