After being eliminated from the playoffs, the Dallas Cowboys’ offseason has officially begun. The team will have several difficult choices to make as it pertains to their roster.
RB - Ezekiel Elliott
Elliott went from a top-five pick to the top-paid, bell-cow running back, to a short-yardage back for Dallas. If it wasn’t clear before, the injury to Pollard exposed how far the run game falls back when it goes from Pollard or Elliott. The Cowboys’ offensive line was opening holes against the 49er front seven, but the gains that could’ve gone for six to eight yards for Pollard were two-to-three-yard gains for Elliott.
A post June-1cut saves Dallas nearly $11 million on the cap, which just so happens to be around the exact price to tag Pollard.
OT - Tyron Smith
A quality offensive tackle for a cap hit of $17 million isn’t a bad move, especially since he showed he can play either tackle spot well and Terence Steele has an injury concern to start the 2023 season. On the other hand, the Cowboys have plenty of free agents and also multiple roster improvements necessary and could use the cap relief.
If the Cowboys move on from Smith, they can save at least $9.5 million in space and up to $13.6 million. With Tyron Smith in the fold, he can start at LT, with Steele at RT, and Tyler Smith at LG. If Steele isn’t ready to go in training camp, then Tyron Smith can move back to RT, while Tyler Smith moves to LT, and Dallas can figure out LG.
With continual injury problems, the belief that their offensive tackles are secure once Steele is ready, and the team needing cap space, they likely bite the bullet to move on from the future hall of fame tackle. Smith can retire and Dallas will need to worry about LG and swing tackle going forward.
The Dallas Cowboys are in an awkward holding pattern with no formal decision on Kellen Moore’s status as offensive coordinator. Though having a successful offense by the numbers, the offense’s stagnation in the postseason raises questions. Questions Moore must answer for if he still the man in charge.
What’s the Problem?
Once again, in the Divisional round of the playoffs, the offense could only muster 12 points. Granted, it was against the best defense in football, and the problem is, we see the same type of plays run throughout the game.
We see the same curl route to Dalton Schultz and the same first and second down runs for two yards. Yes, Prescott can change things at the line of scrimmage, and honestly, I hear him do it from time to time.
It is hard to find a solid offensive coordinator in this league, and although Moore isn’t ‘hurting’ them, he just isn’t elevating them enough each week. This team becomes inconsistent every other week, which is a huge problem.
Additionally, he has been questionable with his play calling when up big in games. In week ten against the Packers, the Cowboys were up 14 points as they entered the fourth quarter. Tony Pollard averaged over 5 yards a carry, while Malik Davis, the THIRD string, was pumping out over 7 yards. He ran the ball six times and threw it 18 times in the final frame.
The influence of defensive coordinator Dan Quinn has been tangible even in a short time with the Cowboys. Almost overnight, the Cowboys defense has become one of the most productive and fearsome in the entire league. Now, the hope Quinn can influence the roster in another way by luring free agents to Dallas.
Kareem Jackson, SS - Denver Broncos
First things first, the preference is for Donovan Wilson to come back instead of signing someone like Kareem Jackson. Quinn talked about how Wilson was someone he saw having a great season this year, and he wasn’t wrong. No. 6 had a career year and could command a lot of money on the open market.
If Wilson were to leave in free agency, signing a veteran player like Jackson doesn’t create a drop-off in the secondary. Age certainly plays a factor with Jackson, given he’s 34 years old, but he has proven to stay healthy playing a physical position. In 2022, Jackson started all 17 games for the Broncos and totaled 94 tackles. He was a team captain and continues to be one of the hardest-hitting players at his position.
In April of 2022, Jackson signed a one-year, $2 million deal with Denver so the Cowboys could sign him for something similar and still draft a safety in the 2023 draft. Quinn has developed Jayron Kearse into a leader on this defense, and someone like Jackson and his 13 years of experience could continue the three-headed monster in Dallas if Wilson left.
Marcus Peters, CB - Baltimore Ravens
The Cowboys do need more physicality at the corner position. Marcus Peters has all the talent in the world, but he might be one of the most polarizing players in the NFL. Peters has proven to be a ball-hawk at the cornerback position whereever he’s played because he plays with an aggressive edge. Unfortunately, that “edge” can end up with few fines from the league during the season.
After his eighth NFL season, Peters is over 30 years old and hasn’t been entirely healthy of late. He missed the entire 2021 season with a torn ACL and four games in 2022. However, his injury history could keep the price tag low if the Cowboys wanted to offer a one-year “prove it” deal of around $7-10 million.
We knew of nine futures contracts for the Cowboys, but they have added two more. OT Issac Alarcon and TE Seth Green.
While free agency doesn’t officially begin until mid-March, all teams can begin signing players to Reserve/Futures contracts.
The Cowboys have signed 11 players this week, bringing them back from the practice squad.
Among those is offensive tackle Isaac Alarcon, who has been with the team for three seasons on the NFL International Pathway program.
Until now, Alarcon has not counted towards the 90-man offseason roster or the 16-player practice squad. But his eligibility for the program is up, meaning Alarcon will be among the 90 players on the roster and if he makes the team or the practice squad, there will be no roster exemption.
Other players signed to futures contracts this week were: WR Antonio Callaway, TE Seth Green, WR Dennis Houston, OT Alex Taylor, C Brock Hoffman, C Alec Lindstrom, S Tyler Coyle, S Juanyeh Thomas, DB Sheldrick Redwine and WR Dontario Drummond.
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