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Cowboys flush with salary cap space even after they sign the 2023 rookies

Will Dallas stay aggressive in free agency between now and training camp?

NFL: Dallas Cowboys Training Camp Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

While March and April are the typical hot points of NFL free agency, there’s still plenty of time for teams to add more talent for the upcoming season. The 2023 Dallas Cowboys still have plenty of salary cap space to work with, and more on the way, so could we see them stay unusually aggressive in these later waves of free agency?

According to Spotrac, Dallas currently sits at $16.65 million in cap space. Their 2023 rookies are projected to count about $4.88 million against the offseason (top 51) cap, leaving the Cowboys with a little under $12 million to work with. That alone would allow them to make at least one significant signing if not a few more.

But wait, there’s more! After June 1st, the release of RB Ezekiel Elliott finally becomes effective from a cap standpoint. Dallas will receive another $10.9 million in space, taking them to roughly over $22 million in space even after signing their rookies.

It’s widely speculated that this money could be going to contract extensions for a couple of young stars from the Class of 2020, WR CeeDee Lamb and CB Trevon Diggs. While Dallas did exercise its fifth-year option on Lamb for 2024, the thought is to get ahead of general NFL inflation and lock these players into long-term deals now at a cheaper price.

Staying ahead of the market could also prompt the Cowboys to make a preemptive strike on QB Dak Prescott’s next deal. He’s set to become a free agent after 2024 and, depending on how the next two seasons go, could be looking for league-leading money. This might be a chance to buy low on Prescott for the next several seasons.

Nobody could fault Dallas for taking a long-term view with this cap space, but some would prefer they go all-in on the upcoming season. That would also feel more in keeping with their approach to the 2023 offseason so far; an unusually aggressive Cowboys team that traded draft picks for veteran talent and went into the draft without any gaping holes.

While Dallas did hit some needs with DT Mazi Smith, TE Luke Schoonmaker, and LB DeMarvion Overshown, there are still points of concern lingering after the draft. Offensive line depth is still a worry, as is firepower at wide receiver. At least one more reliable linebacker would be nice, and so would another kicker to compete with Tristan Vizcaino.

Unfortunately, the position with the most available veteran free agents is one where the Cowboys are already set with edge rushers. Major names like Frank Clark, Jadevion Clowney, and Leonard Floyd are out there but Dallas is already loaded at DE, especially now that Micah Parsons has officially switched positions.

Still, some known talents like OTs Taylor Lewan and Isaiah Wynn, G Dalton Risner, LB Deion Jones (another Dan Quinn guy), and K Robbie Gould are out there. And if Dallas wanted to stick with familiar faces, WR T.Y. Hilton, OT Cam Fleming, and LB Anthony Barr remain available.

There’s also that Zeke Elliott guy, not to mention Leonard Fournette, Kareem Hunt, and some other experienced running backs if you’re still concerned about options there.

There’s also the pool of talent from the XFL and USFL. Dallas tapped into it last year with return man KaVontae Turpin and could do so again. The XFL is getting ready to have its championship game next weekend while the USFL season is just getting started and will run until July.

Again, this cap space may already be earmarked for new contracts for existing stars. But given how the Dallas Cowboys have attacked this 2023 offseason so far, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them add at least a few more veterans for depth or even starting competition. They have the resources to do it, and their desperation to finally advance beyond the second round of the playoffs has never been higher.

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