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Cowboys news: Even with all the moves being made, team still has plenty of cap room to add more talent

The latest news and notes surrounding the Dallas Cowboys.

Dallas Cowboys Introduce Head Coach Mike McCarthy Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Cowboys cap update after Brandin Cooks restructure indicates more moves are coming - Jerry Trotta, The Landry Hat

After restructuring Cooks contract, are more splashes in free agency incoming?

Hours after the Cooks trade was made official, Dallas renegotiated the wideout’s contract, turning $8 million of his $12 million salary into a signing bonus. He will now count just $6 million against the cap in 2023, but he’s still making the $18 million he was guaranteed with Houston agreeing to pay $6 million.

It essentially becomes a two-year, $20 million contract, and means Cooks will make WR2/3 money instead of low-end WR1 money.

In 2024, Cooks’ salary dropped from $16.5 million to $8 million with a cap charge of $10 million. That’s where the big change comes in, as it makes it more likely Cooks is on the team next year, gives them a potential out of Michael Gallup’s contract, and gives Dallas more cap flexibility this offseason.

According to Over The Cap, the Cowboys now have $16.2 million in cap space. This accounts for all of their offseason transactions before Tuesday, including re-signing Donovan Wilson, Leighton Vander Esch, Cooper Rush, and C.J. Goodwin, and trading for Cooks and Stephon Gilmore.

The question is what does Dallas do with this newfound cash?

Cowboys: Recent news may have tipped team’s hand - Cole Patterson, A to Z Sports

Is Dallas taking a tight end in this year’s draft, or are they confident with what they have already on the roster?

The Dallas Cowboys have made additions to the roster this offseason. Which includes re-signing players already on the roster and by trading for other talent around the league.

However, they have also seen players sign elsewhere. Most recently, tight end Dalton Schultz will be wearing a different uniform for the first time in his career next season. He will remain the Lone Star State but will be playing for the Houston Texans.

It was an expected move to happen, and the Cowboys aren’t hurting at the position. Still, it may have tipped the team’s hand in regards to what they are thinking for the upcoming 2023 NFL Draft.

Jake Ferguson and Peyton Hendershot are capable options at the position. Both flashed the ability to be reliable targets in the offense when Schultz was sidelined with injury last season. It stands reason to believe that those two can hold things down just fine.

Maybe the Dallas Cowboys are ready to unleash the duo of Ferguson and Hendershot. Or perhaps they just showed their hand with just one month until the 2023 NFL Draft kicks off.

Jerry Jones — The (finally) evolving mindset of the Cowboys’ executive leadership - Richard Paolinelli, Inside The Star

The evolution of the Cowboys front office could certainly pay dividends for not only this upcoming season, but in future seasons as well.

How else do you explain turning a pair of fifth-round picks in 2023 — and a sixth-rounder in 2024 — into Stephon Gilmore and Brandin Cooks?

Two players who have played in the Super Bowl, with one winning it all (Gilmore). That kind of experience isn’t going to be found in the late rounds of a draft.

They let players with big contracts walk away — Ezekiel Elliott and Dalton Schultz — and reworked other contracts to keep key defensive players.

Cooks’ contract was reworked. Somehow they got his former team to eat a third of it and further reduced his contract hit from $12 million to $4 million this year.

In a matter of a week, the Cowboys have gone from over the cap to money to burn.

Over that same time period, the Cowboys have gone from perennial divisional-round losers to a team that has a legitimate chance to win it all. And there are still plenty of free agents out there to pursue.

10 late-round sleeper prospects for Cowboys to consider in 2023 draft - Matt Owen, Cowboys Wire

The proof is in the pudding as Dallas drafts well, especially in the later portion of the NFL’s Annual draft.

The Cowboys scouting department, led by Will McClay, have done a great job of identifying talent that may have slipped under the radar of fans, draft enthusiasts and other NFL scouting departments. While the top prospects get the lion’s share of the attention, Dallas been able to find multiple starters and key contributors in the later rounds of the draft. Franchise quarterback Dak Prescott and lead running back Tony Pollard were both picked on Day 3 of the draft.

Seven of the club’s projected 2023 starters came from Day 3.

DE Dorance Armstrong is coming off a career year where he notched 8.5 sacks.

RB Tony Pollard received the franchise tag and will be the lead back for the Cowboys after rushing for 1007 yards and 12 total touchdowns.

S Donovan Wilson started 17 games, recorded 101 tackles, five sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception.

C Tyler Biadasz was named an alternate to the Pro Bowl in 2022.

TE Jake Ferguson is projected to start this year and the team averaged .51 more rushing yards per carry with him on the field.

CB DaRon Bland led the team in interceptions last year as a rookie with five.

LB Damone Clark is projected to start at linebacker this year after starting five games with 47 tackles and two forced fumbles in 2022.

2023 Linebacker sleepers

LB- Dorian Williams, Tulane- 6-foot-1, 228 pounds Ran a 4.49-second, 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. Williams had 97 tackles, six sacks, two forced fumbles and two interceptions in 2022. One of the best coverage linebackers in this draft with the speed to play sideline to sideline.

2023 Defensive Tackle sleepers

DT- Jerrod Clark, Coastal Carolina-6-foot-4 334 pounds Converted TE with 1-Tech size. Good motor, quicker than his size would indicate, effective on stunts. Sit him in the middle of the defense and he can help shut off the middle in the run game. Generated 10 sacks over the last three seasons.

2023 Wide Receiver sleepers

WR- Puka Nacua, BYU- 6-foot-2 201 pounds Had 48 receptions 625 yards and five touchdowns last season. Averaged 7.4 yards after the catch and only dropped three passes. Runs crisp routes and does a nice job of setting defensive backs up. Really nice balance and able to make impressive sideline catches. Offers special teams value.

Chiefs’ Travis Kelce says bad Combine meeting may have kept Cowboys from drafting him - Pete Grathoff, The Kansas City Star

Oh, what could’ve been...

Travis Kelce was the fifth tight end selected in the 2013 NFL Draft, which seems ludicrous when viewed a decade later.

The Bengals selected Tyler Eifert with the 22nd overall pick, and Zack Ertz was taken in the second round by the Eagles. Two other tight ends were picked in the second round: Gavin Escobar (by the Cowboys) and Vance McDonald (49ers).

With the 63rd overall pick, the Chiefs chose Kelce. And that was a surprise to Kelce.

Kelce estimated that he talked to about 10 teams at the Combine, which is held a month before the NFL Draft. One in particular went south quickly.

It was with the Dallas Cowboys, who asked early on about Kelce having his scholarship at Cincinnati taken away after he failed a marijuana test.

“I basically just said, ‘If you guys think I’m, you know, gonna be that kind of guy or you’re questioning if I’m still that person after everything that I’ve kind of battled through to get to where I am now from missing a season, then you guys probably go somewhere else and pick somebody else,’ and that is exactly what they did,” Kelce said.

Kelce laughed as he told the story. As noted, Dallas took San Diego State’s Escobar in the second round with the 47th overall pick, and Kelce was selected by the Chiefs in the third round.

“They were trying to find the (successor) for Jason Witten. Yeah, and I botched that interview. And yeah, well, I lost a few dollars,” Kelce said, noting his draft position. “Not to say that they didn’t think Gavin was a better player going into that interview. Who knows what it really was? But I know I didn’t help myself with that. All the other meetings I stayed a full 15 minutes.”

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Also here is something from Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors, in case you missed it.

On the way in to Wednesday night’s game against the Dallas Mavericks he wore a number 89 jersey to honor former Dallas Cowboys tight end Gavin Escobar, who tragically passed away back in September at the age of 31.

He and Thompson were friends, and Thompson honored his friend by wearing his number.

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