After watching the offense of the Dallas Cowboys sputter down the stretch of the 2022 season, many are hoping for some changes. We’ve already been hit with one of those changes as Kellen Moore will no longer be calling plays for the offense and that responsibility now goes to Mike McCarthy.
The team should also look to improve their receiving group by finding a good receiver to package with CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup. While there will be many names that grace our screens over the next few months, we wanted to narrow our search to a specific type of receiver - the separator.
The Cowboys' wide receivers were not good at this last season. Lamb was the best at it as he created an average of 3.1 yards of separation ranking him 36th in the league for wide receivers. Gallup was not a good separator, averaging just 2.4 yards (80th) and Noah Brown only averaged 2.3 yards (84th).
Earlier, we went through the Cowboys' wide receiving overhauls in recent years as we tried to identify how they were gearing the offense to Dak Prescott. For Prescott to be successful, they not only need to get him more help at receiver, but they need to find a receiver who can create enough of a cushion to where Prescott feels comfortable looking his way.
That will be the focus of today’s article as we take a look at some of the top separating receivers who could be available this offseason. Here are the top 18 receivers in terms of average yards of separation (stats courtesy of NextGenStats).
THE ROUTE RUNNER
First off, it must be said that Jeudy is not a free agent this offseason. He’s in the last year of his rookie deal with the possibility of having a team pick up his fifth-year option (cost of $13 million). The reason he’s listed here is that the Cowboys reportedly made an offer for his services last year near the trade deadline. Now, we have no idea just what the front office was willing to part with, but Jeudy’s asking price was in the neighborhood of a second-round pick last year. The asking price should be a little less now, but the Cowboys would only be looking at a possible one-year rental as the team wouldn’t likely commit future cap resources his way when a Lamb extension is on the horizon.
Jeudy would instantly make the Cowboys passing attack lethal as he’s one of the game's best separators, but this move would be costly.
Likeliness: Extremely low. The Broncos might find their trade partner for Jeudy, but it will be a team that has a long-term plan for him.
There was a time when the Chargers' star receiver was labeled as “great if he could just stay healthy” after missing action in each of his first four seasons. That label turned out to be true as he only missed three games over the next five seasons, and oh by the way, they were all Pro Bowl seasons as he averaged over 1,180 yards and over 100 catches during that span. Unfortunately, bad health caught up with him last season as a hamstring injury caused him to miss seven games. At 31-years-old and with a huge base salary for 2023, Allen could end up being a cap casualty this offseason.
Allen is an elite separator as he puts on a route-running clinic. He doesn’t have great speed or the ability to stretch the field anymore, but he’s one of the game’s best possession receivers who will be where he’s supposed to be. While he won’t command the $15 million the Chargers are set to pay him this year, his services still won’t come cheap.
Likeliness: Extremely low. The Chargers releasing him is a very real possibility, but he’s still going to appeal to a team who is willing to throw a good chunk of change his way. The Cowboys aren’t likely to be one of those teams.
While Allen and Jeudy are the big names on this list, someone who could be a nice get for a team is the Colt’s Parris Campbell. He has not come close to living up to his second-round expectations as he’s struggled to stay healthy for most of his career. Campbell missed 69% of games over his first three years in the league. He was healthy last year and made it count as he had a solid 63 catches for 623 yards this past season.
Our own David Howman has already identified Campbell as a possible option as he has great speed and is still young. His elite separation would definitely be an asset to the Cowboys' offense if he can stay on the field. He looks to be a mid-level signing that should come in around $6 million per year. If the receiving market dries up, it’s possible the team could scoop him up for a price they are comfortable with.
Likeliness: Slim. His upside could make him a great risk/reward sign, but for a team that values availability, he’s not someone that would appeal to the Joneses.
So, three receivers were listed, and none of them are viewed as having a good chance of going to Dallas. What’s the point of that? That’s a fair question, and it’s also a good time to remind ourselves to prepare for disappointment. The Cowboys aren’t big splashers in free agency and even having a need at wide receiver won’t change that.
And you may notice that Odell Beckham Jr. wasn’t mentioned, and that’s not because he didn’t play last season and doesn’t have separation stats. It’s because he hasn’t been a good separator in recent years. He can highpoint the ball, and he can make contested catches, but creating space hasn’t been his forte.
But just because we don’t think these guys are in the mix, doesn’t mean the team won’t look for a free agent who can get open. Stay tuned as we offer up three separators who are more realistic options for the Cowboys this offseason.