The Dallas Cowboys have a minimum of 21 decisions to make this offseason. That’s how many free agents Dallas has to decide on their future and where it stands with the franchise.
From there, the decision-making can go all over the place—does Dallas apply the franchise tag to Tony Pollard? Do they release veterans like running back Ezekiel Elliott and left tackle Tyron Smith? Where are their priorities in the upcoming draft?
According to Daniel Jeremiah of NFL Network, Jerry Jones and the front office should start by adding some help on offense under a new play-caller in Mike McCarthy.
“Well, he’s [Jerry Jones] got a head coach that’s taking over the offense and usually when that happens, ya get another weapon to play with,” Jeremiah said on NFL Total Access. “When you look at free agency, you just mentioned Dalton Schultz, to me another playmaker I would love that for this offense. I know the numbers were great last year, Dak [Prescott] turned it over a bunch—I think somebody that can get him some easy completions on the outside to complement what they have there in CeeDee Lamb would make some sense.”
Some big names already linked to the Cowboys have been Odell Beckham Jr., Brandin Cooks, and potentially a first-round receiver in Jaxon Smith-Njigba. All three would be a welcomed upgrade to a Cowboys offense needing more playmakers. Beckham and Cooks were two targets Dallas reportedly went after around the trade deadline, but couldn’t finalize a deal.
Tight end Dalton Schultz is set to hit free agency for the second time in as many seasons and could price himself out of Dallas to another team. Second-year tight ends Jake Ferguson and Peyton Hendershot showed glimpses of what they could be but is that enough confidence for the front office not to go after another veteran free agent like Hayden Hurst?
Jeremiah’s other priority for Dallas is addressing a position that fell apart in the back half of the season due to injuries.
“I also think corner is an area they can go and just be a little bit more sure on the back end and try and sure that spot up.”
It looked great when the Cowboys’ defense had cornerbacks Trevon Diggs, Anthony Brown, and Jourdan Lewis on the field for the first part of the season. Football Outsiders had Dallas as the top-ranked DVOA pass defense from Week 1 to Week 7 at -43.3 percent.
It’s no coincidence when Lewis and Brown were gone for the season by Week 14, Dallas dropped to 30th in DVOA for pass defense at +37.9 percent. Rookie corner DaRon Bland was great in the slot by the end of 2022, but it seemed like Dan Quinn was putting in a new outside corner opposite Diggs weekly. Kelvin Joseph, Nahshon Wright, Trayvon Mullen, Xavier Rhodes, and Israel Mukuamu all got their chance come the playoff game against San Francisco.
Tony Catalina has the Cowboys drafting cornerback Eli Ricks from Alabama with their second-round pick in his latest mock draft. Other corners in the draft Dallas could target in the first round include Deonte Banks from Maryland and Joey Porter Jr. of Penn State.
The front office could also resign Anthony Brown, a free agent, to a one-year veteran minimum deal that provides depth as he recovers from his Achilles injury.
Jeremiah was an NFL scout for a long-time, so if he says wide receiver and cornerback are of concern, his evaluation could be spot-on. Given the Cowboys’ struggles at both positions in 2022, it’s hard to argue against him, and hopefully the front office can address those needs before traveling to Oxnard, CA, in July.