For the next two weeks, all eyes will be on the NFL draft and the undrafted free agents that come after it. The free agent market has slowed down dramatically as teams wait to see what they will still need once the draft is completed. The Dallas Cowboys are no different.
As my esteemed colleague OCC pointed out, teams will wait for the Monday after the draft to get any “name” players that might get a decent-sized contract because at that point they won’t count against the compensatory draft pick formula.
It’s hard to project who the Cowboys may target at that time because we don’t know how the draft will play out. Obviously if they draft a wide receiver in the first round, it’s far less likely they will sign anyone of significance at the position after the draft. The same goes for other positions.
Since it’s hard to project exactly, let’s take a look at positions that seem to be on the list of needs for Dallas and group some possible players that could fill the spot.
We’ll start with the biggest hole, guard. We previously looked at four free agent guards that could still help solidify that position. We’ll re-list them here as part of this exercise.
Ereck Flowers | Age: 28
Daryl Williams | Age: 30
Quinton Spain | Age: 31
Trai Turner | Age: 29
Because of his age and recent success, Ereck Flowers seems like the best bet here, although Daryl Williams could provide much-needed versatility at guard and swing tackle. If the Cowboys pick up a Kenyon Green or Zion Johnson in the first round, then the likelihood they will spend resources here goes down dramatically. But if the Cowboys go elsewhere in the first round, then adding some competition for whoever they do pick in the second round or further down becomes more important.
Another position that has been generally declared a ‘need’ in this cycle is wider receiver, especially with the uncertainty around Michael Gallup’s recovery.
Potential WR candidates:
Jarvis Landry | Age: 29
Will Fuller | Age: 28
TY Hilton | Age 32
Emmanuel Sanders | Age 35
Jarvis Landry is going to end up somewhere, and will likely demand a big contract. The Cowboys might not want to play in that high of an arena. But an aging veteran like T.Y. Hilton or Emmanuel Sanders on a one-year deal might be palatable.
The Cowboys are very thin at linebacker. They do have two starters there, but will need to add depth. While this is a position they will probably take a couple of shots at in the draft in the mid-rounds, they could pick up a vet to round it out.
Potential LB candidates:
Anthony Barr | Age: 30
Dont’a Hightower | Age: 32
Kyle Van Noy | Age: 31
Anthony Hitchens | Age: 30
While Dont’a Hightower is a good option if they want a downhill thumper for the run game, he is a liability in pass coverage. The Cowboys could go for the familiar and bring back Anthony Hitchens for a second run as a veteran reserve at the position.
Defensive line has also been mentioned as a place where some help is needed, especially after Randy Gregory left. There are reasons for edge and defensive tackle spots to be on the table at the draft, but it doesn’t seem like the cards are going to line up for a first-round pick in this area. We’ll break the position apart and look at edge players and interior.
Potential EDGE candidates:
Jadeveon Clowney | Age: 29
Trey Flowers | Age: 29
Jason Pierre-Paul | Age 33
Justin Houston | Age: 33
The Cowboys have some options at the position, but maybe trying to resurrect the career of someone like Trey Flowers could be interesting. Flowers has had injury issues lately but once had a run of solid seasons. Plus he is still relatively young.
Potential DT candidates:
Akiem Hicks | Age: 32
Sheldon Richardson | Age: 31
Larry Ogunjobi | Age: 28
Eddie Goldman | Age: 28
Someone like Eddie Goldman would be attractive based on age and potential, but he may be asking too much. That same principal could apply to Larry Ogunjobi who failed a physical with the Bears this offseason. Would either work on a one-year, prove-it deal in 2022?
These are just some of the options still available in free agency. The Cowboys can patch holes without forcing need in the draft if they are willing to attack some of these spots in free agency post-draft. We know it’s usually not how they operate, but given they wouldn’t be losing anything in draft compensation, maybe one or two “name” free agents could still end up in Dallas this season