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Dallas Cowboys mailbag: Questions about 2023 free agency

People have questions about the Cowboys, and we strive to provide the answers.

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones... Photo by J. Conrad Williams Jr./Newsday RM via Getty Images

Every week, we will be taking questions on Twitter about Dallas Cowboys players and other questions surrounding the team. So let’s get right into it.

@DallasFan2023: Why don’t we [Jerry Jones] ever spend to win?

Brandon: It’s becoming tougher to argue against, with the previous two Super Bowl winners making big moves for their Lombardi Trophy and the Eagles making it this season by doing the same. The Cowboys used to be the team that would hand out large contracts, but it would always be for the wrong people, and they got burned for it. I loved Brandon Carr, but he was not worth what the Cowboys paid him.

What works is building through the draft and handing out larger contracts to their own guys with one to two-year deals for veteran free agents. I also wouldn’t say Jerry Jones hasn’t tried either. He went after OBJ mid-season and tried trading for Brandin Cooks, but it didn’t work in their favor.

Give the Cowboys a chance to do something this offseason and at the trade deadline, and you might be surprised what names they pull out of their hat.

Mike: As a Cowboys fan it can be frustrating when free agency opens and we see all the talent get gobbled up by other teams, especially division rivals. But Jerry has explained his position on his business ethics when it comes to building the roster and always planning for the future. In one way it does makes sense as money isn’t tied in over-paying for talent, which teams have to on free agent players. But also for Jerry, he never forgets past problems where he’s overpaid and the talent failed to produced, which then left him in cap turmoil as a result. These are the reasons why Dallas sits so quiet during the early free agent period, and by Jerry’s recent comments that doesn’t look to change.

@JasonTaylor: Pick up Stefon Diggs at wide receiver? Cornerback in the first round? Thoughts on both points?

Brandon: The answer is no for Stefon Diggs because the cap hit would be too much for the Cowboys to take on, especially with CeeDee Lamb coming up for a new deal. If he were to become a free agent next season, I would say it’s a stronger possibility he would come to Dallas at that point.

I think Dallas will likely go after a cornerback in the first round of this year’s draft. The Cowboys have a few decisions to make on the position—do they re-sign Anthony Brown, and what is their long-term future with Trevon Diggs? If they don’t see either with the team past 2024, take a chance on a young cornerback. My favorite is Emmanuel Forbes from Mississippi State. He’s on the slighter side at 6’0’’, 180lbs, but he is willing to tackle and gets his hands on the football.

He holds the FBS record with six pick-sixes and had six interceptions in 2022. If Donovan Wilson were to leave, No. 6 would be a natural fit for him.

Mike: Stefon Diggs at Dallas would be a dream come true. Going off social media it seems Trevon does try hard to recruit his brother, and we have heard conversations about the desire for the Diggs tandem to play together. But Stefon isn’t cheap, there are some major contracts to dive into at the end of next season, with Trevon being one of them. Having CeeDee Lamb and Stefon Diggs would be an unfair and unstoppable duo.

Cornerback in round one of the draft, that’s most definitely one of the teams top priorities. With Anthony Brown’s unknown future, Jourdan Lewis looking likely to have finished his time at Dallas, and then questions on development from the depth players at the cornerback position means the Cowboys need more bodies here. The good news is that there are plenty of defensive back options on day one the Cowboys could draft, even day two options. I expect, depending how players fall to Dallas in the draft, that a cornerback is coming in one of the first three picks.

@JörgenVeisland: Could inconsistency be the problem with the offensive line?

Brandon: Yes, it is. The Cowboys’ coaching staff did a great job getting the players to be at their best, allowing for just 27 sacks. There are some questions entering this season, but they could be solved by drafting a few players or bringing in one free agent. Tyler Smith showed he is the future at left tackle, Tyler Biadasz and Zack Martin will be back, and Terence Steele is a restricted free agent.

That leaves Connor McGovern and Tyron Smith as the only uncertainties. Dallas could let McGovern walk and Smith retire, and drafting a guard in the first round solves the problem. The team believes Matt Waletzko to be a future tackle, so he could become the swing, and all of the issues are solved.

Mike: Much can be said about the health of the Cowboys offensive line last year. At one point they were one injury away from Josh Ball being a starter on the line. There was plenty of shuffling on the line all season, so much that the line would even shuffle during the game. This shuffling can have an effect on offense. Once Terence Steele was lost for the year, the running game clearly took a stumble and both Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott saw their efficiency go down. As a result the team started to throw more which made them more predictable. All that complicates the playbook and opens the door to inconsistencies, but to blame all of the issues on the line would be incorrect. There was a number of moving parts to the inconsistent play on offense, but the offensive line certainly played its part.

@CraigSykes: At wide receiver, can we expect a better performance from Michael Gallup? And will Simi Fehoko and Jalen Tolbert make improvements to get on the field, or is it time to cut the losses and move on?

Brandon: There was a lot of pressure on MG13 to be perfect last season because of the Amari Cooper trade and his contract. If he wasn’t coming off an injury and Gallup just played poorly, there would be a concern heading into 2023. However, with an entire offseason to prepare and work out, I think Gallup will be much better.

For Fehoko and Tolbert, the one who’s probably the safest is Tolbert. He is the more recent draft pick and at a higher selection. Fehoko needs to be great on special teams and beat out someone like Kelvin Joseph for the role. He had a great training camp before being placed on IR at the start of the season, so there was no chance to see him play with Dak Prescott. If the Cowboys draft a receiver in the first three rounds, that might be the end of Fehoko’s time in Dallas if he can’t make it back to the practice squad.

Mike: A lot of Michael Gallup’s issues can be placed on the injury. It diminished some of his athletic ability, but the other part is also chemistry and cohesion with Dak. Because Gallup spent time rehabbing rather than working with Dak, that meant a lot of his training time got lost with his quarterback. That led to Gallup in games being out of position sometimes, misreading throws or timing his jumps wrong. A year removed from the ACL injury and more time practicing with Dak should help put Gallup back on track and be that traditional outside threat we’re used to.

Jalen Tolbert still has some work to. I foresee him taking a step up to have more significant snaps this upcoming season. Some players hit the ground running, some need time to work it out. More than one year is needed, to be fair to him, before calling him a cut candidate. For Simi, this is his third year and needs to show he’s a guy to keep around longer than his rookie contract. He’s done his part on special teams and has shown he can contribute there, but more is needed on offense to be worthy of retaining beyond his final contact year.

Be sure to check @kenfigkowboy and @brandoniswrite on Twitter for the weekly post, asking you for your questions for the weekly mailbag

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