The Dallas Cowboys can't seem to find the happy balance when it comes to their approach to free agency. They have tried bringing in the big money free agents only to fail, and they have tried the thrifty spending approach, only to fail again. Something needs to change.
I'm personally hoping that that change comes this offseason. The Dallas Cowboys have a talented roster, but they also have a lot of holes that need filled.
The good news is, the Cowboys have been excellent building through the draft these last several years. They look to have added several cornerstone players, who will play key roles in the teams success for several years. But, saying the same thing about free agents is something else entirely.
With the start of free agency first, the Cowboys have to find that happy balance. They still have to be frugal with their spending, but not to the point where they are bringing in players who pretty much just become camp bodies.
Below I've decided to share with you three reasons why I think the Dallas Cowboys will change their approach to free agency for the better this offseason. Let me know what you think in the comment section located at the end of the article.
"Bargain Shopping" Isn't Working
The Dallas Cowboys haven't been very active in free agency these last several years, instead they have tried to plug holes in their roster with the "bargain shopping" strategy. Unfortunately, digging around in the scrapheap hasn't paid off.
If you were to scan over the Cowboys current roster, you would be hard-pressed to find a free agent the Dallas Cowboys have signed in the last couple of years. That's because the majority of them have fizzled out in Dallas or been replaced with younger more talented players.
The last two "big-money" FAs, Cedric Thorton and Nolan Carroll, were supposed to come in and compete for starting jobs, but weren't even able to play out their contracts. Carroll couldn't even make it to mid-season.
These are the kinds of players the Cowboys have been bringing in through free agency, but they've actually done more harm than good. Their contract still count towards the salary cap, which creates more dead money. It's time to stop shopping in the bargain bin and upgrade to players who can actually contribute, even if it does cost a little bit more.
Jerry Jones' Ego
The 2017 season couldn't have ended in a worse fashion for Dallas Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones. No, I'm not talking about the disappointing season the Cowboys put together. I'm talking about them having to watch their division rival, the Philadelphia Eagles, win the Super Bowl against the New England Patriots.
We all know what Jerry Jones thinks about the Dallas Cowboys and how egotistical he can be. So, it was kind of a slap in the face to watch the Eagles win the Super Bowl, especially since he truly believes the Cowboys are probably the best team in the NFC East division.
It wouldn't be all that surprising if Jerry Jones were to change that "bargain shopping" mentality and open up his pocketbook to bring in some higher-priced free agents. He saw the Eagles bring in FAs last offseason and how much it impacted their season, so I expect them to follow suit.
He definitely doesn't like being [Philadelphia Eagle] green with envy. He will do everything in his power to upgrade the roster for the upcoming 2018 season and that starts with free agency.
Championship Within Reach
It's not crazy to think that the Dallas Cowboys are an offseason away from competing for a title. Stephen Jones admitted to as much recently. I mean, who would've predicted the Philadelphia Eagles win the Super Bowl this time a year ago.
The Cowboys have just as much talent on the roster as the Eagles, but unfortunately they don't have the depth, which was proven in 2017. It's definitely not going to be an easy task to accomplish, but the Cowboys are within reach of a championship.
They came close in 2016, but injuries and suspensions this past season hurt them in a big way. But, things could change this upcoming season if everything goes right in regards to the moves and decisions they make in the offseason.
First off, they are going to need a really good draft to continue to build the team the right way. But, that's not going to be enough on its own to fill all the holes in the roster. That means free agency becomes even more important.
The Cowboys don't have to go on a big spending spree, because they can't really afford it. But, they have to become more active and find free agents who can actually contribute and provide much-needed roster depth.
They only have so much time to do that before they have to pay Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott quite a bit more money. Their window is closing.
Do you think the Cowboys free agency approach should change?
WR Randall Cobb Named Cowboys “Surprise Standout” for Offseason
NFL teams have wrapped up their offseason activities with the close of OTAs, especially where the players are concerned, and await the start of training camps next month. In reviewing the last few months, ESPN had their local reporters each pick a surprise standout from their team's practices. Todd Archer, who covers the Dallas Cowboys full time, selected veteran receiver Randall Cobb.
Cobb is in his first season with Dallas after signing as a free agent last March. He's spent the last eight years with the Green Bay Packers and was a Pro Bowler in 2014, but has struggled with injuries the last few seasons.
Here were Archer's observations on how Randall is doing so far with the Cowboys:
Normally a player with Cobb's résumé -- 470 catches for 5,524 yards and 41 touchdowns during his career -- would not be considered for a category like this. But injuries limited him to only nine games and 38 catches for Green Bay in 2018, and it was hard to know what the Cowboys were getting in the veteran receiver.
If the offseason work is any indication, they have found a replacement for Cole Beasley. Cobb's versatility can expand the offense for others, such as Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup. Cobb looked quick in and out of his breaks and fast enough to make plays down the field. Will he put up the 1,287 yards he had in 2014? No, but he gives Dak Prescott a security blanket in the slot who can turn a small gain into a big one.
The notion of Cobb replacing Beasley is a big one. While we'd like to think that Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup will provide plenty of firepower for the Cowboys offense, Dak Prescott has enjoyed a reliable threat from the slot position since he arrived.
Randall Cobb, when healthy, can do more than just make clutch catches. He has good run-after-catch skills and perhaps bring more big play potential than Beasley did.
If Cooper and Gallup do emerge as a dangerous starting duo on the outside, Cobb should have even more opportunities to punish defenses than Beasley did.
If nothing else, it's very encouraging to hear that one of the Cowboys' few 2019 free agent moves is already reaping benefits. Cobb still needs to bring it over a full season to really justify the move, but these early reports are cause for excitement.
BREAKING: Cowboys TE Rico Gathers Receives One-Game Suspension
Tight End Rico Gathers already had an uphill climb to return to the Dallas Cowboys' 53-man roster in 2019. But that climb just got even steeper; the NFL handed down a one-game suspension to Gathers today for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.
If he does make the team this year, with Dallas or anyone else, Rico will have to sit out Week One of the season without pay.
Cowboys TE Rico Gathers is suspended without pay for the first game of the 2019 regular season for violating the NFL's policy and program on substances of abuse. This is from his arrest in 2018 for marijuana possession.
Gathers' chances of returning in 2019 were already hurt by Jason Witten's reversed retirement. He dropped to fourth on the TE depth chart behind Witten, Blake Jarwin, and Dalton Schultz, and Dallas only kept three tight ends last year.
The Cowboys also added Codey McElroy as a developmental player during the offseason.
While the suspension is news, the incident that led to it is not. Dallas already knew about the arrest, which occurred in early September of 2018, and have kept Gathers around up until now.
The NFL's substance abuse system is pretty formulaic, so the Cowboys likely anticipated this suspension all along. This may not change anything about how they value Rico Gathers for the 2019 season.
Nevertheless, a player who can't help you in Week One and is a liability for ever longer suspensions down the road is definitely a red flag against Gathers' job security.
Antwaun Woods: Cowboys DT is Just Getting Started
Antwaun Woods went undrafted in 2016 coming out of USC. After two years with the Tennessee Titans, he would only see one game of action. In May of 2018, the Cowboys signed Woods to a two-year contract worth 1.05 million. Probably seen as nothing more than a practice squad guy, Woods would quickly show he was much more than that.
The newly acquired Woods started his climb to stardom in Oxnard during training camp, and not for making plays. One day during practice he got into a friendly game of fisticuffs with All-Pro Center Travis Frederick. The team even posted the video on social media, which had fans buzzing and wanting to know who he was.
All-Pro Running Back Ezekiel Elliott echoed those thoughts when he saw Woods during camp. "Honestly, when we first got him, we were like, 'Who is this guy?'. He was giving Travis Frederick, one of our best players, hell all camp. Just trying to figure out where this guy came from," Elliott said.
Once the regular season started it was clear the Cowboys had found a hidden gem. Although the sack numbers won't dazzle you, seeing as he only registered 1.5, you could forget about running the ball anywhere near him. Woods has amazing quickness for a 300 pounder which allows him to extend his arms before offensive lineman can get a hand on him.
How significant is that? It becomes that much easier to bull rush and blow running plays up in the backfield.
When you can get your hands on an offensive lineman immediately when the ball is snapped, he's basically under your control. You can move him around like a puppet on a string. Essential for a 1-technique nose tackle. With that being said, there should be no surprise the Cowboys finished fifth against the run in 2018 with Woods manning the middle.
Woods draws a lot of double teams, and he handles them well. Having the ability to take on multiple linemen frees up your other playmakers. As the anchor in the middle, Woods made life a lot easier for not only his fellow defensive linemen but the team's two young star Linebackers Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch. Allowing them to roam freely like Lions in the Serengeti makes running backs essentially Zebra's carrying the ball, cooked food. So much so that both tallied over 120 tackles and were the only teammates in the NFL to rank in the top 15 in that category.
There's nothing but upside with Antwaun Woods. He's only had 18 games of experience in three years. He's already a stud, but with limited snaps, it can only mean he'll be even more formidable going forward.
The Cowboys have a loaded defensive lineman group with around 15 bodies, plenty of competition. All signs point to him remaining the starter, but it's not guaranteed. Even with that being said I don't expect a complacency from Woods, especially with DeMarcus Lawrence and Robert Quinn looking like the only sure starters on the defensive line. Plus this is a contract year for him, so you know he'll be even more motivated as he tries to maximize his dollars. We've only seen the tip of the iceberg from this raw talent, setting up for a potential breakout year for him in 2019.
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