Dallas Cowboys free agent targets this offseason could very well be limited to mid-market players due to their cap situation. Dallas currently finds itself $7.62 million over the 2023 NFL salary cap.
Even then, we’ve seen owner Jerry Jones and Co. push back said cap problems to create room for external additions in the past. With Dallas coming off another premature exit in the NFL Playoffs, that could be in the cards once free agency opens.
There are a number of needs in Big D right now, including along the interior of the Cowboys’ defensive line as well as wide receiver. Below, we look at five Dallas Cowboys free agent targets that could help make them a legitimate conference title contender in 2023.
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Fletcher Cox, defensive tackle
Cowboys defensive tackles Johnathan Hankins and Carlos Watkins are slated to hit free agency. Neither really did much a season ago with Hankins recording just seven tackles in five games after coming over in a mid-season trade from the Las Vegas Raiders. Watkins had 26 tackles without a quarterback hit in 12 games.
In reality, the interior of Dallas’ defensive line created very little pressure against opposing signal callers. Osa Odighizuwa led that group with just four sacks. Dating back to his days with the Seattle Seahawks and Atlanta Falcons, defensive coordinator Dan Quinn has relied on pressure from this area.
Why not try to pry this six-time Pro Bowler from the division-rival Philadelphia Eagles? At 32, Cox is likely looking at a shorter-term contract. That fits what Jerry Jones and Co. could have budgeted heading into free agency.
He recorded a solid 14 quarterback hits and seven sacks a season ago. With fellow defensive tackle Javon Hargrave set to hit free agency, Philadelphia might focus on him instead of an aging Cox. Dallas should pounce.
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David Long, linebacker
Linebacker was somewhat of an issue for the Dallas Cowboys’ defense last season. Anthony Barr yielded an 83.3% completion when targeted. Leighton Vander Esch played well, but he has a history of injuries. Both are slated to become free agents.
If Dallas is going to use its limited cap room on a big-ticket item, someone of Long’s stature could make sense. The former sixth-round pick out of West Virginia is still only 26 years old and has morphed into a solid starter with the Tennessee Titans. Last season saw him record 86 tackles with five passes defended and two interceptions. He was also exceptional in coverage, giving up a 74.1 QB rating.
Spotrac has Long’s market value at roughly $5 million per season. Even if it were to come in a bit higher, this could very well be within the Cowboys’ price range.
Foster Moreau, tight end
Speaking of Dallas’ price range, there’s a decent chance current starting tight end Dalton Schultz will surpass that. He’s likely looking at the equivalent of top-five tight end money in free agency. It’s also highly unlikely that Schultz will be handed the franchise tag for a second consecutive season with Tony Pollard in line to receive it.
The Cowboys have to make some financial decisions. Moving off Schultz while hoping the likes of Jake Ferguson and Peyton Hendershot continue to step up makes a ton of sense. In this scenario, targeting a young and cheaper player on the open market could be an option. Moreau is only 25 years old and has performed well over the past two seasons in part-time action (63 receptions, 793 yards, 5 TD).
Related: Bold predictions for NFL free agency
Odell Beckham Jr., wide receiver
Dallas flirted with the idea of signing OBJ this past season. Unfortunately, it became clear in December that the three-time Pro Bowler wouldn’t be ready to return from the torn ACL he suffered back in February of 2022. None of this means that Dallas won’t kick around that idea once again during the spring. In fact, the Cowboys’ brass spoke open about their interest in Beckham Jr. late last season.
“Odell’s going to join us. There’s a good chance he will, with the complete goal of getting ready for a playoff game or two, and then I’ll look to the future. But most of it being about now,” Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones on OBJ back in December.
There’s certainly a need behind CeeDee Lamb at wide receiver in Big D. Noah Brown is slated to become a free agent after a breakout 2022 campaign. Michael Gallup still has not completely overcome the torn ACL he suffered late during the 2021 season. Adding Beckham Jr. to the mix with Lamb and Gallup would be a real win for the Cowboys. It’s going to be all about the finances.
Related: Dallas Cowboys NFL salary cap situation
Jonathan Jones, cornerback
Even at 5-foot-10, Jones has proven throughout his career that the veteran can play on the outside. He recorded a career-high four interceptions while giving up a mere 52.7% completion in that role with the New England Patriots last season.
With that said, there’s a scenario in play that suggests Jones will be valued more as a corner guy once NFL free agency opens. That’s where Dallas comes into play. It has a need with Jourdan Lewis coming off an injury-plagued 2022 season and struggling in coverage the two years prior.
To be clear, this is the type of signing Dallas would only be able to make if it went all in for free agency. But Jones would be an absolutely perfect fit with the likes of Trevon Diggs, Kelvin Joseph and DaRon Bland at cornerback for the Dallas Cowboys.