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Why the Cowboys will go bargain hunting in the next wave of free agency

On Monday after the draft, the Cowboys and all other teams can start signing unrestricted free agents - without compromising possible compensatory picks in 2023.

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Womens Indiv 1/16 Elims Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

For years, June 1 was an important date for NFL teams, because after June 1, unrestricted free agents signed by other teams didn’t count against a team’s compensatory draft-pick formula. Since 2015, that date has progressively been moved forward, and is now the Monday after the draft which this year is May 2nd.

The move was made to incentivize teams to sign veteran free agents shortly after the NFL draft instead of waiting until shortly before camp, as many teams had done in the past. The thinking was that those veterans would then be able to participate in a team’s OTAs and offseason program instead of sitting on their couch and waiting for a call in July or August. Ultimately, this change resulted in a “next wave” of free agency, where teams picked up their free agency activity again right after the draft.

For the Cowboys, that date holds a special significance this year, because they stand to get three, maybe four, compensatory picks in the 2023 NFL draft. Randy Gregory will likely net them a fourth-round pick, Connor Williams and Cedrick Wilson currently look like each will bring a sixth-rounder, and the fourth compensatory pick depends on the size of the contract Keanu Neal’s signed in Tampa Bay (unknown at present).

That potential comp pick haul may have been one of the reasons why the Cowboys were slow as molasses in signing outside free agents this year - they didn’t want to jeopardize their 2023 comp picks.

But all of that ends Monday after the draft at 4:00 pm ET.

The team has repeatedly emphasized that roster building is a year-round activity, and there are still some big-name free agents available, like DE Jadeveon Clowney, S Tyrann Mathieu, or OC J.C. Tretter, to name just a few.

But while free agents like Clowney or Mathieu might provide the type of big-name signings many Cowboys fans crave, the Cowboys haven’t traditionally brought on big-name free agents at any time in free agency, but they did bring in the occasional veteran.

2019: Alfred Morris (July)

2020: Andy Dalton, Cam Erving (both May), Everson Griffen (August)

2021: Malik Hooker (July)

This year, the Cowboys sat on their hands in terms of outside free agency and every mock draft shows us that it’ll be impossible to address all needs via the draft. So is this the year the Cowboy go bargain hunting in this next wave of free agency?

Would you go bargain hunting this year, even if the list of remaining free agent veterans is slim pickings? Which position would you target, and who would you bring in?