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4 things that would make Stephen Jones look like a genius for his thrifty offseason moves

Judgment day is coming for the Cowboys chief operating officer, but what will we be judging?

Dallas Cowboys v New York Giants Photo by Al Pereira/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys have money. Thanks to some big offseason moves, many of which were quite controversial, the team suddenly finds itself with a lot of scratch. In less than three months, the Cowboys have gone from 30th to 4th in most cap space for the 2022 season. A large part of this comes from no longer having Amari Cooper or La’el Collins on the books. Another part of this is due to the team not spending very much in free agency.

All in all, the Cowboys have cleaned up their books, which is nice from a financial standpoint, but it still leaves many people questioning their decisions. What would it take for Stephen Jones and company to feel good about their offseason moves and allow themselves to feel validated?

CeeDee Lamb becomes a star

Nobody believes that Amari Cooper is a hack, but it’s heavily debated whether he’s worth the $20 million per year the team had agreed to pay him. Clearly, we know where the Cowboys' front office stands on the matter, but was that a smart move?

If third-year receiver CeeDee Lamb takes the next step and emerges as one of the elite wide receivers in the game, then all will be forgotten when it comes to Cooper. And when you consider they also have Michael Gallup and rookie Jalen Tolbert, who, with Lamb, will all cost less collectively than Cooper did by himself, that’s a pretty good arsenal of receivers. Is it far-fetched to believe this trio of WRs can be every bit as good as what they had with Cooper?

Tackle position holds up

The riskiest move the Cowboys made this offseason was parting ways with La’el Collins. The organization has the belief that Terence Steele is comparable to Collins and can hold down the right tackle spot just as effectively, but at a much cheaper cost.

The bigger issue, however, is what does the team do when Tyron Smith ultimately goes down to injury, because let’s face it, we all know that’s coming. With Steele moving from swing to a starter, that means someone else will need to step up as the backup edge protector. Will last year’s fourth-round draft pick Josh Ball be able to handle that responsibility? Will they call upon this year’s first-round pick Tyler Smith to slide outside?

We don’t know how this situation is going to play out. Any inkling of Steele struggling or Smith going down and his replacement stinking it up will draw the spotlight on what will be viewed as a complete mishandling of the tackle position by releasing Collins. Conversely, should Smith stay relatively healthy, Steele looks sharp, and whoever sees action at swing tackle this year actually holds up under duress, that’s going to make the front office look like they knew what they were doing. That’s a lot of ifs that need to happen, but fingers are crossed.

Edge of tomorrow outperforms Gregory

From the moment any football activities are happening this new year, there are going to be constant comparisons to how well Denver Broncos Randy Gregory is doing versus whatever the Cowboys are throwing out at right defensive end. It’s inevitable.

Even without Gregory the Cowboys have plenty of intriguing options along the edge. Rookie Sam Williams, free agent Dante Fowler, veteran Tarell Basham, and recently extended Dorance Armstrong are all in the mix as potential threats opposite DeMarcus Lawrence. Of course, that’s not even including second-year sensation Micah Parsons, who we know will get his chances as well to attack from the edge.

If the team gets production out of some of these cheaper cost fellas, are we really going to miss Gregory that much? And keep in mind that since entering the league, Gregory has missed more games (63) than he has actually played (50). Granted, a great majority of that was due to multiple suspensions, but he also gets nicked up quite a bit as he’s missed at least five games in each of the last two seasons. Availability is ability and you better believe the Joneses will be scoreboard watching (as will the rest of us) and drawing constant comparisons all year long.

Just win, baby!

While all of these components will be monitored this upcoming season, none of them hold water when compared to what really matters. Winning.

Even if all the things above work out in the Cowboys' favor, it will be lost in the shuffle if this team doesn’t take a big step forwards. Similarly, if some of these changes don’t pan out yet the Cowboys are able to overcome and have success, nobody is going to care. Looking past the results will offer a more accurate assessment of these factors, but who are we kidding? It’s all about the results and winning will cover up a lot of shortcomings. If the Joneses want to feel vindicated by their thrifty front office maneuverings, then they better deliver the dubs!