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Cowboys free agency 2023: 3 Cowboys’ free agency would you rathers

An early look at some decisions Dallas will have to make on their impending free agents.

NFL: Chicago Bears at Dallas Cowboys Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys have a lot of work to do this offseason. Dallas has 22 impeding free agents, many of which played key roles on their team last season. With that in mind, today we answer some free agency ‘would you rather’ questions. Let us know which players you would keep in the comments section.

NFL: NFC Wild Card Round-Dallas Cowboys at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Would you rather keep Donovan Wilson or Leighton Vander Esch?

Leighton Vander Esch and Donovan Wilson are Dallas’ two best impending free agents on the defensive side of the ball. Vander Esch, who was healthy enough to play in 14 or more games for just the second time in his career, had a very solid season after betting on himself last spring. The linebacker recorded 90 total tackles, 54 solo, 33 stops, and 4 TFL. Vander Esch’s Pro Football Focus defensive grade of 73.1 was by-far his highest grade since his rookie year back in 2018.

Like Vander Esch, Wilson was one of Dallas’ biggest contributors on defense this season. The safety played many different roles and was successful in whatever the coaching staff asked of him. On the season, Wilson recorded 101 total tackles, 77 solo, to go with nine QB Hits, seven TFL, five sacks, and two forced fumbles.

With all their other needs, it’s unlikely the Cowboys will be able to bring back both Vander Esch and Wilson. While Wilson did have a very good year in 2022, the Cowboys do still have Jayron Kearse and Malik Hooker under contract at the safety position next season. Dallas has far more questions at the linebacker spot next year, making Vander Esch the pick here.

The Verdict: Keep Leighton Vander Esch

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Would you rather keep T.Y. Hilton or Connor McGovern?

Despite playing in just five games, T.Y. Hilton had some impressive moments during his short time as a Cowboy. Hilton caught seven passes for 120 yards, five of which went for a first down. Against the 49ers, Hilton appeared to be open on a number of occasions but did not get the ball thrown in his direction.

After a shaky 2021 season, Connor McGovern was one of the only constants on Dallas’ offensive line this season. The 25-year-old guard/center played in 15 games and put up a pretty solid year. McGovern allowed one or fewer pressures in 10 of his 15 games and allowed just one in two playoff starts.

With Michael Gallup’s disappointing season and lack of offensive talent outside of CeeDee Lamb, retaining T.Y. Hilton would be very beneficial for Dallas’ offense. On the flip side, the Cowboys have too many question marks on their offensive line to let McGovern go. Terence Steele is a free agent and Tyron Smith’s future status is unknown, so Dallas could benefit from bringing McGovern back and letting him stay locked in as their starting left guard.

The Verdict: Keep Connor McGovern

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Dallas Cowboys Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Would you rather keep Carlos Watkins or Anthony Brown?

After being released by the Cowboys and signed back to the practice squad at the end of last August, Carlos Watkins bounced back with a solid 2022 campaign. The 29-year-old defensive tackle was one of Dallas’ best defenders against the run and played 24 or more defensive snaps in four of Dallas’ last six games.

After having plenty of ups and downs through Dallas’ first 13 games, veteran cornerback Anthony Brown suffered a torn ACL in the Cowboys’ Week 13 matchup against the Colts. While no one was going to say Brown was an All-Pro, the Cowboys’ struggles in the secondary after his season-ending injury showed that he was a pretty integral part of the defense.

The Cowboys have plenty of question marks at the defensive tackle at cornerback spot heading into next season, but after the way Dallas’ cornerbacks played down the stretch the need at corner seems more pressing. Coming off an injury, Dallas could likely sign Brown back on a team-friendly, one-year deal, giving them a veteran option at corner if the young players disappoint again.

The Verdict: Keep Anthony Brown

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