The Dallas Cowboys once again finished the regular-season with a 12-5 record, but unfortunately couldn’t make it past the Wild Card round, resulting to yet another early exit from the playoffs. By most accounts 2023 should be considered a successful season for the Cowboys, however, their continued lack of postseason success has cast a dark cloud around the organization
The 2024 offseason will be crucial for the Cowboys to not only make it back to the playoffs, but also to figure out some way to be the last team standing in the end. Changes are already underway to Dallas’ coaching staff with Dan Quinn joining their division rival, the Washington Commanders, as their next head coach, but whatever other changes are to be made has yet to be determined.
If we are to believe Jerry Jones, the Cowboys will be “all-in” this offseason. What that means is anyone’s guess, but for now we will try to take him at his word. We know they have several over their own they want to extend/re-sign, but maybe going “all-in” means they will be more aggressive in free agency. If that’s the case, this offseason could shape up to be an interesting one.
With all of that in mind, we are going to put together a “how-to” off-season guide for the Dallas Cowboys that will take us through free agency, the 2024 NFL Draft, and will ultimately build the roster for the upcoming season. Let’s start by determining some of their pending free agents they should definitely re-sign, and some veterans they should release.
3 contracts to renew, 3 to let go
Players to Re-sign
- LT Tyron Smith
Tyron Smith proved he is still one of the best left tackles in the league in 2023. Unless he plans on retiring, Dallas would be wise to re-sign him. They won't find a better replacement at LT in free agency or via the draft, and it would allow Tyler Smith to remain at LG.
PFF Contract Projection: 1-year, $10 million
- CB Stephon Gilmore
Re-signing Stephon Gilmore is a no-brainer if his asking price isn't too high. He was a godsend for the Cowboys last season after Trevon Diggs went down with a season-ending injury. The CB trio of Gilmore, Diggs, and Bland would give Dallas a scary secondary.
PFF Contract Projection: 1-year, $10 million
- LS Trent Sieg
An underrated re-signing, Trent Sieg was an important part of the Cowboys special teams as their long snapper in 2023. His consistency helped Brandon Aubrey and Bryan Anger play like one of the best of the respective positions last season.
Players to let go
- WR Michael Gallup
Sadly, Michael Gallup is no longer the player he once was and has become a progress stopper for the younger WRs behind him on the depth chart. Designating him as a post-June-1 cut would save the Cowboys $9.5 million.
- QB Cooper Rush
Cooper Rush had a good run as the Cowboys QB2 behind Dak Prescott, but unfortunately for him that time has come to an end. Trading for Trey Lance has made him expendable and Dallas can save $2.2 million by cutting him this offseason.
- LB Leighton Vander Esch
Leighton Vander Esch's most recent injury could possibly end his playing career. But even if it doesn't, he can no longer be relied upon to stay healthy. If he doesn't retire, the Cowboys can save $2.1 million by releasing him.
Free agent moves to make
- DT Chris Jones
Jerry Jones said the Cowboys are "all-in" this offseason and signing Chris Jones could be the one move that makes that statement true. This could be similar to what Dallas did when they brought Charles Haley in back in the early 90s. He was thought to be the "final piece" that helped propel them into a Super Bowl contender and Chris Jones could have a similar impact. He'd take Dallas' defense from good to great.
PFF Contract Projection: 4-years, $120 million ($80 million guaranteed)
- RB Antonio Gibson
Antonio Gibson is a borderline starting running back in the NFL and he is surprisingly similar to what the Cowboys had in Tony Pollard. He's just as explosive as both a runner and receiver as Pollard, but a little bit bigger at 6'2" 220-pounds. He could give them similar production at a fraction of the price. Add a rookie RB via the draft and Dallas' running game should be just as good, if not better.
Spotrac Contract Projection: 1-year, $3.6 million
- LB Bobby Wagner
Bobby Wagner is an ageless wonder. At 33 years old he may not be the player he once was and might have lost a slight step, but he is still one of the best middle linebackers in the entire league. He would bring some much-needed leadership and experience to the Cowboys defense and would help groom their young LB core. His addition to the roster would be invaluable both on and off the field.
PFF Contract Projection: 1-year, $4 million
2024 mock draft after offseason moves (PFF simulator)
Round 1, Pick 24- TRADE
Cowboys send 1.24 to Ravens for 1.30 & 3.93
- Round 1, Pick 30 - IOL Graham Barton, Duke (6'5", 314)
Graham Barton has five position flex, but would be a plug-and-play Day 1 starter as Tyler Biadasz' replacement at OC with the Cowboys. By re-signing Tyron Smith and adding Barton, Dallas' starting five would return to be one of the best in the league.
- Round 2, Pick 56 - DT T'Vondre Sweat, Texas (6'4", 362)
T'Vondre Sweat is a dancing bear. The 360+ pound DT plays with tremendous strength/power, but it's his rare athletic ability for a player his size that makes him unique. He would upgrade the Dallas defensive line rotation.
- Round 3, Pick 88 - RB Jaylen Wright, Tennessee (5'10", 210)
Jaylen Wright is one of the more complete and explosive RBs in the entire 2024 draft class. He is a three-down back capable of taking it to the house any time he touches the ball. Pair him with Antonio Gibson and Dallas would have an explosive RB duo.
- Round 3, Pick 93 (from Baltimore) - WR Malachi Corley, Western Kentucky (5'11", 215)
Malachi Corley is a RB-to-WR convert and it shows on film. He is still raw from a technical standpoint, but is one of the best yards after catch (YAC) WRs in the draft class. He has some Deebo Samuel-like traits and would make Dallas' offense more explosive.
- Round 5 (Comp pick for Connor McGovern) - OT Brandon Coleman, TCU (6'4", 316)
Brandon Coleman is an intriguing developmental OL prospect who has experience starting at both LT and LG. He has the mental makeup and skill set to play at either spot at the next level. Dallas loves that kind of versatility in their OL prospects.
- Round 6 (Comp pick for Dalton Schultz) - LB Darius Muasau, UCLA (6'1", 230)
Even with DeMarvion Overshown returning from a season-ending knee injury and signing Bobby Wagner, Dallas could use more depth at the LB position. Darius Muasau is an intriguing prospect with starting potential. Getting him in the sixth-round would be a steal.
- Round 7, Pick 234 - S Mark Perry, TCU (6'0", 215)
Mark Perry is a versatile safety prospect capable of playing in the slot or in deep coverage. He shows good eyes/instincts in coverage and is a solid tackler. The Cowboys have already met with him at the Senior Bowl, so we know there is some interest there.
- Round 7, Pick 245 - EDGE Jalyx Hunt, Houston Christian (6'3", 250)
Jalyx Hunt is an intriguing developmental EDGE prospect for the Cowboys. He has the size, athleticism, and length to develop into a starting caliber player. He’d provide much-needed depth at DE with Dorance Armstrong and Dante Fowler likely exiting via free agency.