The Dallas Cowboys haven't been very active in free agency over these past several years, but you never know when that will change. There are several positions that will need to be addressed after the season, and they all can't be filled through the draft. Free agency is there for a reason, which is why I decided to put together a wish list of the 2018 free agents for the Cowboys.
There is no way of knowing how active the Dallas Cowboys will be in free agency or which position they might like to target, but below are some of the players I think they should target. As always, please feel free to share your own thoughts and opinions in the comment section at the end of the article.
The odds are Josh Gordon becomes a free agent after the 2017 season. But, the Cleveland Browns could decide to place a tender on him making him an exclusive-rights free agent because Gordon doesn't have enough accured seasons. Depending on his availability, I believe he should be at the top of the Dallas Cowboys wish list.
There has never been any denying that Josh Gordon is one of the more talented wide receivers in the NFL. Unfortunately, his downfall has been his off the field issues that has kept him off the field. Gordon would be an immediate upgrade to the Cowboys receiving core and likely step in as the #1 WR. Due to his checkered past, Gordon likely wouldn't break the bank to bring in. Sounds like a win-win for the Dallas Cowboys.
Davante Adams is another WR that could come in and upgrade the Cowboys receiving core. He has been stuck behind Jordy Nelson in Green Bay, but is likely looking to be the top dog wherever he ends up. The Dallas Cowboys might not be his top choice because of that, but that could depend on Dez Bryant's future with the team.
Adams has developed into one of the top WRs and would be looking to be paid like one. The Dallas Cowboys have shied away from spending big money on free agents, but it certainly looks as if Dak Prescott could use another toy at his disposal in the passing game. Plus, signing him away from the Packers would weaken a conference opponent who has been a thorn in the Cowboy side.
Unlike Davante Adams, Sammy Watkins might end up being in the Dallas Cowboys price range due to his history of injuries since entering the NFL. But, despite his injuries, Watkins is still considered to be one of the most talented WRs in the NFL.
Watkins is able to take the top of the defense with his speed, something the Cowboys offense is lacking right now. He also possesses the talent to high point the ball and win the majority of the time in those contested catch situations. The talent is there to become a true #1 WR, but he has to remain healthy first.
The Dallas Cowboys were high on Paul Richardson coming out of Colorado, but the Seahawks snatched him up first. Richardson isn't what you would really consider a #1 WR, but he has elite speed that scares opposing defenses. He would likely be a compliment WR in Dallas, but would definitely be an upgrade over what is currently on the roster. He should be able to be acquired at a favorable price.
The Dallas Cowboys will be extremely thin at the RB position after the 2017 season. Both Darren McFadden and Alfred Morris will be gone, leaving Rod Smith as Ezekiel Elliott's primary backup. That is why I believe Rex Burkhead should be at the top of the Cowboys wish list. In fact, I wanted to bring him to Dallas last off-season.
Burkhead to me is the ideal backup. He is capable of running the ball successively between the tackles and also has the speed to capture the corner. He is also an excellent receiver out of the backfield and a core special-teams player. Those are exactly the kind of tools you look for in a backup RB. I personally believe he would be an upgrade as a backup RB.
DeMarcus Lawrence is a free agent after the 2017 season and it's unlikely the Dallas Cowboys let him get away, but nevertheless, Ziggy Ansah should still be on their wish list. Pairing Lawrence with Ansah would give the Cowboys a dynamic pass rushing duo and immediately upgrade the defense. Of course, it all comes down to the price tag which could be out of the Cowboys range. But, Ziggy likely won't be in the top tier of FAs because he is never quite developed like many believed. That could work in the Cowboys favor.
It's no secret that the Dallas Cowboys need more help that the linebacker position. It is probably the top draft need, but going after the best FA LB should be examined closely. Zach Brown would immediately step in and upgrade the LB position for the Cowboys and provide some much-needed depth. Sean Lee simply can't stay healthy and no one really knows what to expect from Jaylon Smith yet. Of course, the Cowboys could choose to resign their own and keep Anthony Hitchens.
Last off-season one of the biggest needs was at the safety position, and nothing has really changed nearly a year later. The Cowboys hoped Jeff Heath could improve and lock down the other starting safety position, but that has been a failure to say the least. Eric Reid comes with baggage and hasn't quite lived up to his draft pedigree, but a change of scenery might be all he needs. He has the talent to start in the NFL and be a difference maker, which is why I believe the Cowboys should have him on their wish list.
The Dallas Cowboys could use some veteran experience in the secondary and Kyle Fuller could definitely provide that. I kind of doubt Orlando Scandrick remains with the Cowboys after the 2017 season, so that would leave a lot of youth at the cornerback position. Fuller is a talented player but has never really lived up to his potential. I think he would come in and start on the outside for the Cowboys, while also providing valuable depth/leadership at the position.
The Dallas Cowboys definitely need to upgrade the defensive tackle position. Out of necessity, Maliek Collins has been playing at the 1-technique, but that's not really his best position. The Dallas Cowboys need a big bodied, space eating DT and Dontari Poe fits the bill. Poe has the size 4-3 defensive teams look for in their DTs, but he has rare athletic ability that most players his size don't. He could be a difference maker on the interior of the Cowboys defensive line.
Will any of these players end up in Dallas?
Could Loaded FA Safety Market Drive Down Earl Thomas’ Value?
It's no secret the Dallas Cowboys and Earl Thomas share a mutual interest in one another. Thomas has publicly stated his desire to join America's Team and the Cowboys did their darndest to make that happen last offseason. Nothing ever materialized a year ago, but it's looking as if the stars have finally aligned and a union between the two could merely be just weeks away.
Surprisingly enough, the Dallas Cowboys may have dodged a bullet last year when the Seattle Seahawks refused to part ways with their All-Pro safety. Not only would they have had to surrender a high draft pick, but they would've also had to extend Thomas' contract. Fortunately, timing is everything and now the Cowboys might just have to do the latter.
A potential contract between the Cowboys and Thomas is of course what I want to dive in today. I'm not going to get into numbers right now, because it's nearly impossible to project any kind of contract for any safety this offseason, especially for the former Seahawk, Earl Thomas.
Right now, it's a little difficult to know who might have the advantage in contract negotiations, Earl Thomas or the Dallas Cowboys. A lot of times the one that has the leverage, however slight, is the one that gets the better of the deal. As surprising as it may be, the Cowboys might just have the advantage here and I'll tell you why.
First off, this year's market for free agent safeties is pretty stacked with starting caliber players. See below:
- Earl Thomas
- Landon Collins
- Lamarcus Joyner
- Tyrann Mathieu
- Adrian Amos
- Clayton Geathers
- Ha-Ha Clinton Dix
- Glover Quinn
- Tre Boston
- Kenny Vaccaro
- George Iloka
- Jimmie Ward
- Adrian Phillips
Earl Thomas is obviously the headliner here amongst the free agent safeties, but having so many starting caliber players available could drive down Thomas' market value just a bit. This is especially true when you take into consideration the market for FA safeties just a year ago. It was almost a complete standstill last year, with only Kurt Coleman signing a three-year $16.5 million deal with the New Orleans Saints. Not even the "Honey Badger" Tyrann Mathieu could get more than a one-year deal.
With all of these safeties available in free agency, we could be looking at another stingy market. This of course could be good or bad news for the Dallas Cowboys, especially as it pertains to Earl Thomas. Since he is the top FA safety available, everything could once again be at a standstill until he is signed.
Of course, we all know this will ultimately come down to determining Earl Thomas' market value. There is no denying he is still arguably the best free safety in the game today, but there are concerns about his age (30) and the two lower leg injuries he's sustained in the past three years.
Even with the loaded free agent market of starting caliber safeties and Thomas' age and recent injury history, he's still likely to receive a contract that earns him $10 million annually, give or take. It wouldn't surprise me at all if he gets another four-year deal worth $40 million, $25.7 million guaranteed, with a $9.5 million signing bonus like he signed with the Seahawks back in 2014.
The Cowboys of course would probably find a four-year $40 million deal for Earl Thomas acceptable. They would more than likely frontload the contract with a lot of protection in the details. They have the cap space to make this happen and still be able to sign their own, so money shouldn't be a problem.
Now, whether or not Thomas' market value may dip a little due to all of the above mentioned reasons will be something we will have to wait and find out. Regardless, I'd be a little shocked if Earl Thomas doesn't finish his career with the Dallas Cowboys.
Do you think Earl Thomas' market value will take a little hit this offseason?
Acquiring Brown Will Give Dallas Twin Turbo Terrors
What a difference a receiver makes, right? As Dallas fans, we know the impact of a player who can shake coverage, get open, and catch the ball. How was the season going before the Cowboys pulled the trigger for Amari Cooper in the deal with the Raiders? Cooper proved to be the lightning rod and a turning point in a season that was growing increasingly dismal. Dak Prescott and Cooper went together like peanut butter and jelly, while the Cowboys stormed to a division title and a postseason berth.
Now, imagine all of that times two… maybe even two and a half if Antonio Brown could be had from the Steelers. Scary right? We understand there’s only one ball to go around but that didn’t stop Kevin Durant from joining the Warriors, did it?
As of this writing, the best online sportsbooks like Intertops, are dealing Dallas as the seventh of 16 choices to win the NFC championship at odds of 12-1. Imagine how those odds would shrink if Brown wore a Cowboys uniform next season, giving Prescott the luxury of not one upper echelon wideout but that plus an elite receiver. Hut, hut, hut and a few clouds of smoke later the Cowboys would be moving the chains or celebrating in the endzone.
Brown and Cooper would be a devastating combination with Ezekiel Elliott coming out of the backfield. Brown was made for Dallas, it gives him an even grander stage than the one he shared with Ben Roethlisberger and Le’Veon Bell in Pittsburgh.
Despite the fact that the 'Boys haven’t won a Super Bowl since Barry Switzer was roaming the sidelines in the mid-90s, America’s Team still resides in Dallas. But we need a game-changer and Brown is just such an athlete. But what do we give in return and will that cost be worth whatever productive years Brown has left after this one? Let’s not forget that the mercurial Miami native will be 31 when the season begins and men who make a living with their legs don’t get better at that age. But Brown is so good and so unique that, even if he drops half a click, he's still amongst the best in the game.
That level of talent is hard to replicate and it could be the missing piece which allows Dallas to be a legitimate Super Bowl contender next season and the year after.
However, up to this point, we’ve been very good at dreaming of a Brown to Dallas trade but haven’t quite worked out the details. It takes two to tango and if we expect to get the Steelers’ attention we need to give them something valuable in return. Dallas surrendered their first-round pick (27th) this season when they traded for Cooper so that’s no longer an asset.
Pittsburgh would be vying for a first-round pick (and likely more) for Brown's services but some have speculated Dallas would consider dealing rookie-standout Leighton Vander Esch.
Wait... what? We know, you’re clutching your pearls, and the words are stuck in your gasp. We get it. The kid was a home run this past season, leading the Dallas defense in tackles and earning a Pro Bowl invitation in his inaugural NFL season. But this would be a Faustian deal.
The Cowboys give up a player who is poised to be a stud for years to come for a playmaker in Brown that could render a Super Bowl in the immediate future. Brown's expiration date will surely turn his milk sour sooner rather than later, but in the here and now, Antonio Brown could be the bell cow who leads the Cowboys to the promised land before he’s put out to pasture.
Just something to think about...
2018 In Review: CB Anthony Brown Bounces Back
To say it's been an up-and-down start to the career of young cornerback Anthony Brown would be an understatement.
As a sixth round pick in 2016, everything Brown contributed during his rookie season was a plus. Due to injury he was asked to step into a greater role as the season went on, and he performed well enough to make the front office comfortable allowing multiple veterans to walk for nothing in free agency the following Spring. Brown looked like a legitimate starting cornerback in the league, and when Dallas brought in Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis during the next draft, the young secondary seemed set.
Then 2017 happened. And Anthony Brown struggled. Really struggled.
These struggles, coupled with the emergence of both Lewis and Awuzie during their own rookie seasons, made Brown's status heading into 2018 rather uncertain. Some wondered if they would trade him for a day three pick, others thought Brown could even end up being cut. Jourdan Lewis and Anthony Brown were slated to compete for the nickel cornerback job in training camp, and as it turned out, all Brown needed was that one extra chance to compete.
Brown won the job outright during the preseason, and began 2018 as the starting nickel. A fan favorite, most thought Lewis would reclaim his rightful spot on the depth chart sooner or later, but Anthony Brown's play (and Kris Richard's preferences) kept Lewis on the bench for much of the season.
Simply put, Anthony Brown balled in 2018, and was the Cowboys' second best corner for most of the year. By the end of the season Chidobe Awuzie had regained form, but Brown and Byron Jones were the most consistently reliable corners on the roster all of 2018.
Brown tallied 44 tackles, 2 sacks, and an interception in 2018, and finished third on the team in pass breakups with 8. As the slot corner Brown had an excellent season, especially for a former sixth round pick.
Now he enters a contract year, and with the Cowboys having so many guys to pay over the next two offseasons, he could find himself as an unrestricted free agent in 2020. And if he can keep up his play from last year moving forward, he could be in for a nice payday that Spring.
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