The Dallas Cowboys and the rest of the league can now start contract negotiations with the representatives of unrestricted free agents, better known as the legal tampering period. However, signings cannot become official until the start of the 2021 new league year (March 17).
It’s going to be really interesting to see just how active the Dallas Cowboys are in free agency this year. They have a lot of holes to fill on their roster, especially on the defensive side of the ball. How they go about navigating free agency will go a long ways in how they fill those holes prior to the 2021 NFL Draft.
Today, I wanted to take the opportunity to share with all of you some of the free agents I think the Dallas Cowboys could possibly be interested in. I tried to put on my GM hat to identify FAs the Cowboys could realistically be interested in based on team needs and affordability. Below are the 10 players I believe makes sense.
LB Nicholas Morrow
Nicholas Morrow has gone from an undrafted free agent from a Division III school to a starting caliber three-down LB in just a few years with the Raiders. He’s played all three LB positions, but is at his best as a WILL in a 4-3. He was rated as the 26th ranked off-ball LB last year by PFF and at 25 years old he would give the Cowboys a versatile, young player to provide much-needed depth.
LB K.J. Wright
K.J. Wright has been linked to the Dallas Cowboys on a number of occasions this offseason due to his previous connection with Dan Quinn and it makes sense. Dallas needs more LB depth and Wright would be a perfect fit at SAM. If he’s looking for his last big payday though he could be out of Dallas’ price range. Spotrac projects a two-year, $14 million deal, which could be too expensive.
DT Malcolm Brown
I was on board with the idea of the Cowboys sending a late-round pick this year to the Saints to acquire Malcolm Brown via trade, but now that he’s a free agent they could get him at a discounted price. At just 27 years old he could be willing to sign a short-term deal in order to cash in in the future when the salary cap is back up. He’d be an immediate upgrade at the 1-tech.
CB Mike Davis
Mike Davis hasn’t played for Dan Quinn, but he did play in a similar system under Gus Bradley during his time with the Chargers. At 6’2″, 195 pounds he fits the size threshold Quinn prefers in his outside CBs and at just 26 years old with 35 games under his belt he makes a lot of sense. He’ll likely fall into the second-tier of CBs in free agency, which could fall in Dallas’ ballpark.
CB Gareon Conley
Gareon Conley is another young CB who I believe makes sense for the Dallas Cowboys. He was a first-round pick by the Raiders before being traded to the Texans and at just 25 years old he could be a bargain signing. I think he could be looking to sign a one-year “prove it” deal after missing all of 2020 with an injury, which could fall right in Dallas’ approach to free agency this year.
FS Malik Hooker
Malik Hooker is the risk/reward kind of free agent signing the Dallas Cowboys like to gamble on. His past injury history is concerning, but it should also make him an expensive. And, if he can overcome all of that he’d be a perfect fit as the rangy, centerfield type FS in Dan Quinn’s heavy Cover 1-3 scheme. Signing Hooker also wouldn’t prevent the Cowboys from drafting a safety early.
SS Kenny Vaccaro
Donovan Wilson’s play last year earns him the right to have first shot at the starting strong safety job, but the Cowboys would be wise to add someone to push/challenge him. Kenny Vaccaro is exactly the kind of free agent signing to do just that. Not only do I believe he’d be an inexpensive signing, but he would provide some much-needed veteran experience and depth to the position.
OLB Tyus Bowser
Tyus Bowser (6’3″, 242) was the Ravens second-round pick in 2017 (47th overall), but never really lived up to his draft status. He was a solid rotational pass rusher and racked up 10.5 QB sacks in that role in his four years in Baltimore. With the Cowboys I think he would play the same kind of role as a situational pass rusher and could possibly play SAM LB as well.
C Nick Martin
All signs point to Tyler Biadasz taking over as the starting center for the Dallas Cowboys in 2021, but that could all change if someone like Nick Martin is added via free agency. Nick, the younger brother of Zack Martin, started 62 games during his four years with the Texans. If not too expensive his valuable experience could be too appealing for the Cowboys to pass up.
OT Cameron Fleming
Prior to serving as the New York Giants starting right tackle last year Cameron Fleming served as the Dallas Cowboys swing tackle for a few seasons. He ended up starting six games as an injury fill-in during his two seasons in Dallas and could be targeted to fill that role once again. If he can’t find a starting job elsewhere a return to Dallas could be mutually beneficial for both parties.