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.