The Cowboys attacked this offseason with an uncommon vigor, making a couple of savvy trades to add veterans in Brandin Cooks and Stephon Gilmore while also paying what it took to keep their most important pending free agents. While their draft class was not the most heralded group, Dallas received solid marks, capping off a pretty impressive offseason all the way around.
What’s next? Rookie minicamp happened, and OTA’s are around the corner. The team has just two open spots left on the roster at the moment, and they’ve put together a team that has them ranked inside the top 10 in most power rankings out there. That’s pretty good, but there are still a couple of line items left unchecked on their to-do list.
Add a veteran kicker
As of right now, the Cowboys only have Tristan Vizcaino on the roster, and they opted not to draft or sign an UDFA kicker this time around. They’ve hinted at adding a veteran kicker already, and there are quite a few good options out there.
Robbie Gould would be a great addition, and is the fan favorite kicker to be added. One of the most reliable kickers in the NFL over the last two decades, Gould is still going strong after turning 40 this past season. He hit 27 of his 32 field goals last year, including a perfect rate on kicks over 50 yards, and made nearly 88% of his field goal attempts in his six seasons with the 49ers.
Mason Crosby is another popular name, mostly because of his connection to Mike McCarthy. Crosby, a Texas native, has also been one of the league’s best kickers over the years. Just three years ago he hit every field goal he attempted, and Crosby made 25 of 29 last season. He’s certainly ripped the hearts out of enough Cowboys fans over the years in Green Bay, so adding him to the team would be a welcome change of pace.
If neither of those guys work out, though, Brett Maher should be next on the list. Jerry Jones has made quite a few jokes at Maher’s expense regarding the kicker’s confusing playoff struggles, but Maher was the league’s best kicker not named Justin Tucker last year. He’s clearly shown what he can do, and refusing to bring him back because of one game that the Cowboys won in a big way just seems strange.
There isn’t a big sense of urgency here, as the Cowboys can afford to take their time and evaluate Vizcaino, as well as try out some other up-and-comers. But they should bring in a veteran to compete for the job by the time training camp rolls around.
Bolster offensive line depth
The Cowboys seem to believe they’ve already got their best five on the offensive line considering they didn't address it early in the draft. The question is who starts where - Tyler or Tyron at left tackle? Steele at guard? and so on - and, perhaps just as important, what happens when Tyron Smith inevitably gets injured again.
Right now, the Cowboys’ offensive line depth seems to consist of Matt Waletzko, Josh Ball, and rookie Asim Richards competing for the swing tackle job while Ball and Richards also compete with Chuma Edoga and Matt Farniok for the top two backup spots on the interior. None of that should be comforting to the Cowboys.
In three games at left guard last year, Farniok gave up a pressure on a team high 12.4% of pass reps. The next highest pressure rate on the team was Ball - who only played 17 snaps across two games - at 11.6%. Edoga only played in one game last year, and he looked solid, but his three years of experience before that (24 total games) saw Edoga with a 9.9% pressure rate. Meanwhile, neither Waletzko or Richards have taken a single snap in the NFL yet.
It’s extremely likely that at least one of these depth guys will end up starting a game at some point in 2023, and that’s not ideal. Dallas should entertain the idea of bringing in a veteran - such as Trai Turner, Justin Pugh, or Dalton Risner - who actually has plus experience as a starter. Jason Peters should also be on the list, assuming he’s still interested in playing football, as he provided valuable depth at three different positions last year.
Get the extensions rolling
The final thing to do for the Cowboys before getting to the actual games is take care of the bookkeeping. That means working out contract extensions for the likes of Dak Prescott, CeeDee Lamb, Trevon Diggs, and Micah Parsons.
An extension for Prescott has already been broached this offseason. With the way the quarterback market continues to grow, it’s financially prudent to extend franchise quarterbacks sooner rather than later. Plus, an extension for Prescott would give the team more flexibility under the cap in the short term.
Both Lamb and Diggs are entering the final year of their rookie deals, though Lamb has a fifth-year option. The Cowboys have already picked up that option, but could work out an extension before that sets in. Either way, Lamb and Diggs have both become some of the top young players at their position around the league, so getting extensions done now would put the team ahead of the eight ball from a market standpoint.
It’s the same logic with Parsons, too. He’s still under contract through 2024, and the team could use the fifth-year option to keep him through 2025 as well. But with Parsons already establishing himself as arguably the best defender in all of football, he stands to make a lot of money very soon. It’s likely that his next deal will make him the highest paid non-quarterback in the NFL. Getting it as early as possible is the best approach.
These four players represent the core nucleus of this team right now, so locking each of them up for the long haul would be one final step towards ensuring sustained success in Dallas regardless of what happens in 2023.