The Dallas Cowboys head into the 2018 offseason with some questions to answer about their team, and some difficult decisions to make. While the offense was good, at times, throughout the 2017 season, especially when Tyron Smith was in the game, there was a glaring need for this team. A wide receiver who could stretch the field and open up the underneath throws for players like Jason Witten and Cole Beasley.
There are definitely some intriguing names in this year's draft class, but Will McClay & Co. usually looks to address team needs in free agency so they can go into the draft without having to select players based on needs.
Before we look at the potential wide receivers on the free agent market, let's talk briefly about some of the guys on the team first. We can assume Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, and Ryan Switzer will be on the roster in 2018.
- I don't think they are as down on Dez Bryant as much of Cowboys Nation.
- Terrance Williams' contract, according to Spotrac.com, is such that Dallas can't move on until next offseason. The Dallas Cowboys would take on $7-million-and-change in dead money if they were to release Williams this offseason.
- Switzer made some strides in the return game, and deserves a shot at a more substantial role in 2018.
- 2018 is the last year of Cole Beasley's deal and would get you $3.25 million dollars in savings against the 2018 cap, with only $1 million in dead money. With Switzer waiting in the wings, Bease could be the odd man out. That's another discussion for another time though.
As we look through wide receivers in free agency, it's important to note the Cowboys don't want to spend a lot of money in free agency. They also prefer to go after younger veterans with upside than veterans who are in the late part or past their prime.
Therefore, we can cross names like Allen Robinson and Jarvis Landry off the list because of the money they'll command in free agency. Names like Mike Wallace can be crossed off the list as well because of age.
There are three guys who I think could fit what Dallas likes to do in free agency.
WR Paul Richardson, Seattle Seahawks
Paul Richardson will turn 26 this offseason, and he posted the best season of his career becoming a tremendous downfield threat for Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks.
Richardson, who ran a 4.40 at the NFL Scouting Combine in 2014, posted career highs in targets (80), receptions (44), yards (703), yards per reception (16), and touchdowns (6).
According to Spotrac.com, he could command an average annual salary of $6.5-million, which could be a little rich for Dallas. But for someone who has the downfield ability and the hands to match, it could also be a bargain for the potentially missing piece to the Cowboys offense.
WR Donte Moncrief, Indianapolis Colts
After a couple of sub-par seasons and difficulty staying on the field, Donte Moncrief is the polar opposite of Richardson.
While Richardson posted career highs across the board, Moncrief suffered the worst season of his career when it comes to receptions and touchdowns. He did have a career best 15 yards per reception this year, however.
Some of his struggles could be related to playing with Jacoby Brissett in 2017, and not having a healthy Andrew Luck in 2016. His best season was 2015, when he posted 64 receptions on 105 targets for 733 yards and six touchdowns.
Like Richardson, Moncrief flashed 4.40 speed at the combine at age 20, and will be only 25 in August. After a couple of sub-par seasons, his price tag shouldn't keep this front office from taking a look at him.
WR Albert Wilson, Kansas City Chiefs
Another intriguing name is Albert Wilson of the Kansas City Chiefs, who put up career bests in every receiving category except yards per reception. He averaged 13.2 in 2017, and averaged 16.3 his rookie season in 2014.
After only playing in 13 games for the Chiefs, he had three touchdowns and 554 receiving yards for the season, which were good for third on the team behind Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce.
Wilson ran a 4.43 at the NFL Combine and, like Moncrief, shouldn't command a ton of money on the free agent market.
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The Dallas Cowboys won't make a big splash in the wide receiver pool of free agency, and I tend to think they won't draft a wide receiver early in the draft either. They need to add some speed to the roster to put more pressure on opposing defenses.
One of these three guys could be the missing piece to an elite running game and efficient passing game.
Cowboys Trade for FB Jamize Olawale from Raiders
Less than a week after the Cowboys lost fullback Keith Smith to the Raiders in free agency, the two teams have worked out a trade to send FB Jamize Olawale from Oakland to Dallas.
Fullback trade! The #Raiders are sending FB Jamize Olawale to the #Cowboys, sources say. Dallas has its fullback, one who was with Oakland since 2012.
To facilitate the trade, the Cowboys will send their fifth-round pick (173rd overall) to the Raiders for their sixth-round pick (192nd), moving back just 19 spots.
In return, Dallas not only brings in a veteran replacement at FB but a player they already know.
Jamize Olawale was an undrafted rookie free agent of the Cowboys in 2012. Despite a strong showing in that preseason, Dallas did not have room for him on the roster. He was on the team's practice squad until December, when Oakland poached him.
Since then, Olawale has been a regular roleplayer in the Raiders' offense. He's missed just six games since 2013.
Jamize brings more offensive firepower to the FB position than Keith Smith had. He's scored at least one touchdown in each of the last three seasons. He can be effective both running and receiving.
Through the trade, Dallas picks up the final year of Olawale's current contract. It calls for a $1.5 million base salary in 2018.
Dallas Cowboys to Re-Sign Long Snapper L.P. Ladouceur for 2018
Continuity is the key to good special teams play in the NFL. Already losing long-time Special Teams Coordinator Rich Bisaccia to the Raiders - who promptly snatched ST aces Keith Smith and Kyle Wilber in free agency - the Dallas Cowboys have announced their intentions to re-sign Long Snapper L.P. Ladouceur for the 2018 season.
Returning on a one-year deal, the fan favorite Ladouceur will be back to do what he does best in cleanly executing almost every special teams snap for Chris Jones or Dan Bailey to handle.
Long snapper L.P. Ladouceur will re-sign with the Cowboys on Monday, according to sources, on a one-year deal. He will be in his 14th season with the franchise. Only Jason Witten, Ed "Too Tall" Jones, Bill Bates and Mark Tuinei will have more years of... https://t.co/yTQbMYyrIv
While Jones has improved as the Cowboys' punter with each passing season, Kicker Dan Bailey actually enters 2018 as another question mark on this unit. With the general belief around the team being that Bailey will be just fine moving forward, the Cowboys will no longer have to worry about who handles long snaps next year either.
L.P. Ladouceur is back in the silver and blue, and in this moment, everything can be alright with the world.
Report: Raiders Sign Former Cowboys LB Kyle Wilber
A Free Agency period filled with departures continued for the Dallas Cowboys today, as the Oakland Raiders have reportedly signed the now-former Cowboys LB Kyle Wilber.
The Raiders have signed LB Kyle Wilber: https://t.co/TaC6cqjval
Wilber has been with the Cowboys since 2012, and has played in all 16 games four of the past five seasons. Most of his time has come on special teams, but he did provide solid linebacker depth for the Cowboys since joining the team.
Dallas has now lost both Wilber and Anthony Hitchens, depleting their linebacker depth even further over the last couple weeks.
The Raiders have now signed two key special teams contributors for the Cowboys in Keith Smith and Kyle Wilber this offseason. Hopefully Dallas can replace these types of "replacement level" players throughout the rest of the offseason, especially during the NFL Draft.
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