With training camp just a few weeks away, it’s highly unlikely the Dallas Cowboys make any significant roster moves between now and then. That doesn’t mean they can’t stand to upgrade the roster by adding a few experienced veterans to the mix via free agency. It just means they will likely wait to see how things play out in training camp first.
While the Cowboys may be taking a wait-and-see approach in training camp before exploring the free agent market again, they should be preparing ahead of time if/when that time does come. With that in mind, we are going to take a look at a handful of free agents who Dallas should have on standby for when they do decide to strike.
LG Dalton Risner
The only thing we really know right now about the left side of Dallas’ offensive line is that Tyler Smith will start at either left guard or tackle. Considering he was drafted to do be Tyron Smith’s eventual replacement at LT, the ideal scenario would be for him to go ahead and take over that role full-time entering Year 2 with the Cowboys. That however leaves a vacancy at LG.
This is were Dalton Risner comes into play. He is a former second-round pick of the Denver Broncos and the best interior offensive lineman available on the open market. He would be a plug-and-play starter from Day 1 with the Cowboys and would help stabilize their entire OL. Dallas would be wise to have his number on speed dial if/when the need arises for them to get a bona fide starter at LG.
TE Cameron Brate
As things stand right now, the Cowboys are going younger and cheaper at tight end heading into 2023. Jake Ferguson and Luke Schoonmaker are expected to battle it out as the replacement to former starter Dalton Schultz, with Peyton Hendershot and possibly Sean McKeon rounding out the depth at the position. Due to the lack of proven experience though, adding a veteran presence to the mix might not be a bad idea.
The former Tampa Bay Buccaneers TE Cameron Brate could be on the Dallas short list. He is a solid player who has proven he is more than capable of being reliable as both a blocker in the running game and as a receiving threat in the passing game. If the youth movement at TE raises any concern at any point throughout training camp or preseason, Brate is someone the Cowboys should absolutely have on standby.
LB Deion Jones
Much like the tight end position, linebacker is one in which the Cowboys could stand to add a proven veteran with actual NFL game time experience. Outside of Leighton Vander Esch, and a handful of starts by Damone Clark last year as a rookie, Dallas’ LB position leaves much to be desired as far as starting experience in the league is concerned. Because of that, signing a vet for depth is a real possibility.
Although there are several veteran linebackers the Cowboys can choose from still available via free agency, Deion Jones’ connection with Dan Quinn during their time together with the Atlanta Falcons could put him at the top of their free agent LB list. He was a Pro Bowl player under Quinn in Atlanta, however, hasn’t played up to that level since then. Despite that though, he could be a perfect fit in Dallas as an insurance/depth piece.
K Robbie Gould
One of the biggest concerns about the Cowboys roster right now is who is going to be the placekicker in 2023. Tristan Vizcaino is currently set to battle the recently-signed USFL standout Brandon Aubrey. Neither of these two inspires much confidence heading into 2023, which is why Dallas should still leave no stone unturned to find a better and more proven option to upgrade the position.
As things stand right now, Robbie Gould is the best kicker available on the open market. He’s been one of the most reliable kickers in the league throughout his career, and despite getting up there in age with a few injury concerns of the past few seasons, he would no doubt be an upgrade in Dallas. The Cowboys can’t wait too long if they don’t like what they see at the kicking position in training camp, otherwise Gould may slip their fingers.
RB Ezekiel Elliott
From Tony Pollard coming off a season-ending injury and taking on the RB1 role, to the battle behind him to become his primary backup, the Cowboys running back position heading into training camp will be one all eyes will be fixated on. Pollard looked like the real deal last season, however, considering he’s never been a full-time starter in college or the NFL, raises a bit of concern. That makes the backup position behind him even more important.
The running back position will be heavily scrutinized throughout training camp and preseason. If the Cowboys don’t like what they see from the current options behind Tony Pollard, they would be wise to have a Plan B in place. That backup plan could very well be a familiar face, Ezekiel Elliott. He may no longer be the RB he once was, however, he would be an excellent backup who would complement Pollard almost perfectly.