The Dallas Cowboys are one of the most profitable and recognized teams in sports. However, real success hasn’t been achieved by the Cowboys in nearly a quarter-century. If Jerry Jones wants to bring another Super Bowl trophy back to Dallas, this offseason will be crucial for the Cowboys.
The offseason is of greater importance for the Cowboys, given their free agents. While Dallas might have $70 million in cap space, it also faces critical decisions on Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, Byron Jones and Robert Quinn.
Taking care of Dak: No matter what else happens, the Cowboys can’t let Prescott hit free agency. Placing the franchise tag on him is the worst-case scenario, but it’s a result that still keeps him in Dallas.
The Cowboys missed the opportunity to sign Prescott when he was in a far better mood. Now their franchise quarterback is fed up over contract talks. The window to potentially sign him to a hometown discount is gone, Prescott will get paid this offseason.
It’s time for the Cowboys to prove Dak is really their No. 1 priority. As a result, Jerry Jones will need to exceed Russell Wilson’s four-year, $140 million contract. We could easily be talking about a five-year, $190 million deal.
Dallas could have likely landed him at a cheaper rate before the 2019 season. Coming off a year in which he accounted for 33 total touchdowns with 4,902 passing yards, the cost is now even higher.
Contracts talks between both sides are clearly going to take more time, so the Cowboys might need to apply the franchise tag. It’s a move that will add to the tension, but at least ensure Prescott returns in 2020.
Taking care of their own: While the Prescott deal will eat into a chunk of Dallas’ cap space, there is still enough to take care of some of their free agents.
- Amari Cooper – If the Cowboys don’t use the franchise tag on Prescott, they could apply it to Cooper. However, the transition tag might be a better fit in this scenario. The transition tag allows Dallas to match any offer Cooper receives, though they won’t receive compensation in return if they refuse to match it.
- Randall Cobb – He filled a productive role for the Cowboys this past season and might like to be coached by Mike McCarthy again. A one-year, $4 million deal could work for both.
Sean Lee and Jason Witten both mean a lot to this organization and provided fans with cherished memories. However, their age and declining play likely push them out the door unless they sign very team-friendly deals.
Dallas would certainly love to bring Byron Jones and Robert Quinn back next season. However, both are expected to leave as they head into markets with plenty of suitors looking to spend.
Finding value in free agency: Bringing back Prescott and Cooper will wipe out a chunk of money, so Dallas must be smart with its remaining cap space. Fortunately, plenty of valuable options are available.
- Tyler Eifert – Dallas needs more help at tight end and Eifert could be the perfect complementary addition for this team. THe 29-year-old’s injury history might force him to take a one-year deal, which is perfect for the Cowboys. He remains a gifted player and at a bargain price, would fit perfectly into McCarthy’s offense.
- Mike Daniels – Another reunion for McCarthy and one of his former players. Daniels is no longer the Pro Bowl player we saw with the Green Bay Packers in 2017. But he can make an impact when healthy. Capable of creating interior pressure and able to help against the run, a prove-it deal to play for his former coach is the ideal landing spot for Daniels.
- Adrian Phillips – The Cowboys have needed help at safety for years, perhaps they will finally address it now. Phillips is steady in coverage, handles himself very well against the run and excels on special teams. The 27-year-old might want to rebuild his value after missing nine games with a broken arm, too. Another perfect fit for both player and team.
None of the additions are players that will grab headlines or get everyone excited. However, moves like this maximize the Cowboys’ cap space and fill key areas of need. Dallas would also have additional cap room if they wanted to add depth along the offensive line or at linebacker.
Stephen Jones’ time to shine: The Cowboys have enjoyed plenty of success in recent seasons with their draft picks and credit must go to Stephen Jones. If he wants to win a ring, though, he must hit on his draft picks again.
- 1.17 – Grant Delpit, Safety – Delpit slid right to the Cowboys in the latest mock draft and it’s a move they would celebrate in Dallas. LSU’s star safety brings an edge to the field and the type of versatility that defensive coordinator Mike Nolan will love. If he cleans up his tackling, we’re talking about an All-Pro level safety in his prime.
- 2.51 – Bryce Hall, cornerback – Dallas will need to find its replacement for Jones and Hall could be that guy. Given Nolan’s desire to add playmakers to his secondary, this will be one of his top targets. A combination of length, physicality and elite ball skills are a perfect addition to this secondary.
- 3.82 – Darrell Taylor, EDGE – A defensive-heavy draft is the right way to approach this for the Cowboys. Of course, that decision is made easier when a player of Taylor’s caliber is available. He brings a size-speed combo off the edge that is tough to match in this class and his motor makes him even more compelling to coaches. The Cowboys have already built a great coaching staff, which puts Taylor in a position to thrive and potentially become a star.
- 4.113 – Devin Duvernay, receiver – It’s only right to keep Duvernay in Texas. He spent his life growing up there, then went to Austin and made plays like this for the Longhorns. Duvernay stands out as an impressive slot receiver with the speed to make big plays deep. He could be the heir to Randall Cobb and would be another nice weapon for Prescott.
Defense, defense, defense. The Cowboys must come out of the 2020 NFL Draft with young talent to help Nolan’s scheme. These first three picks are the perfect scenario that would set this team up to become well-rounded for next season.
The bottom line: The Cowboys are always going to be one of the most discussed NFL teams. They’ll draw even more attention this offseason given the storylines surrounding their top free agents.
Losing Jones will be a blow for this defense, but the moves made here make up for it. Delpit will be a weapon in the new scheme and Hall should immediately help create turnovers. Meanwhile, Phillips adds a reliable veteran who executes his assignments and rounds out the secondary.
Dallas will still be able to create pressure on opposing quarterbacks, too. DeMarcus Lawrence is an unstoppable force and he’ll now have some help inside and could gain even more reinforcements on the interior with additional moves.
As for the offense, it will be ready to rock and roll in 2020. McCarthy will get the most out of Prescott and offensive coordinator Kellen Moore has already proven his brilliance.
Finally, the pieces will be in place for this team to take advantage of all its talent. Great coaching paired with these playmakers on both sides of the ball can help the Cowboys contend for Super Bowl LV.