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?
Noah Brown Takes to Twitter to Call Out ESPN
ESPN has long been considered "The Worldwide Leader in Sports," and for a long time that title was justified. If you wanted your national sports news, where did you turn to but the cable sports channel to watch that day's episode of SportsCenter. But over the last few years, it's become more and more clear that it's "The Worldwide Leader" in name only.
The ratings are dropping and the network has had to make a lot of business decisions as it relates to much of their on-air talent over the last several years. With their latest under 25 starting 22 -- ahem, troll job -- they seem to have finally come to terms that they are basically First Take.
Noah Brown put it best in his reaction to the ESPN "Insider" voting that led to Saquon Barkley being named to the starting 22 ahead of Ezekiel Elliott. Brown, Elliott's teammate when both were at Ohio State University, came to his defense upon seeing the list.
And here is the ESPN list:
43 of our NFL Insiders voted. Here's their best starting roster under the age of 25.
I'm sure there could be debates about different positions on the squad. Personally, quarterback is one where an argument could be made for Carson Wentz or Dak Prescott over DeShaun Watson, but that's for another time.
But to have a rookie, who has never played a down in the NFL ahead of the NFL's league leader in rushing for 2016, Ezekiel Elliott, is laughable.
The fact that they had 43, again I use the quotations, "Insiders" vote on this and Ezekiel Elliott wasn't listed as one of the two running backs just shows you how far they've come as a network.
Let's remember that Ezekiel Elliott has averaged a touchdown a game -- receiving and rushing -- in his 25-game career. No running back has more rushing yards than Elliott does over the last two years, including 2017 league rushing leader, Todd Gurley. No running back has more rushing touchdowns than Elliott's 22 rushing TDs.
Ezekiel Elliott's yards per carry is a healthy 4.63. Todd Gurley sits at 3.93. No player with more than 1,800 rushing yards over the last two years has a better yards per attempt than Ezekiel Elliott.
I get that you'd vote Todd Gurley in there, but to not have Ezekiel Elliott, arguably the game's best running back on your Under 25 starting 22 just makes you look like Skip Bayless or Stephen A. Smith. Not a sports journalism entity worthy of people throwing money at for "Insider" access.
I won't say that I never or will never watch ESPN, because where else am I gonna go for Monday Night Football, Todd Archer, or the NCAA Men's Lacrosse Championships? When I'm at my father-in-law's, I'll watch SportsCenter first thing in the morning, because it will be on and you don't change another man's television.
"The Worldwide Leader," however, loses credibility when they promote a list like this that has such a glaring omission.
Perhaps, maybe the goal wasn't to put out an accurate list. Maybe the goal was to get us talking about their list, just like when NFL Network releases their Top 100 players list. Like they say, there's no such thing as bad publicity.
This troll job from ESPN has certainly gotten them some publicity, or should I say, notoriety.
Cowboys DE Randy Gregory Reinstated, Will Join Team for Training Camp
The Dallas Cowboys patience with Defensive End Randy Gregory has paid off. Suspended for the better part of 2016 and all of 2017, Gregory has officially been reinstated to join the team for their 2018 training camp. The projected starter at RDE, Gregory will report to Oxnard with the rest of the team on July 25th.
From here, it will be all hard work for Gregory to reconnect with Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli and get his promising career back on track. The last time Gregory suited up for the Cowboys, he managed to sack Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback Carson Wentz in a week 17 win. The Cowboys will be expecting much more of this from a player they've supported through multiple violations of the league's heavily criticized substance abuse policy.
Cowboys pass-rusher Randy Gregory's petition for reinstatement was not opposed, according to lawyer Daniel Moskowitz. He's back. "I've never been more proud of any individual in my life. I'm very excited for Randy and his daughter and the rest of the his family.
Among this support staff for Gregory were a number of teammates that wrote formal letters to the NFL as part of his bid for reinstatement. These last few days of preparation before the Cowboys are together again as a team will surely be uplifted by Gregory's presence.
They say no news is typically good news at this point in the offseason, something the Cowboys have come to realize far too often. Today's news shouldn't be confused with a pleasant surprise however, rather something the Cowboys were committed to in getting another premier pass rusher on the field.
Here is the NFL's official press release on their reinstatement of Randy Gregory:
Cowboys, Elliott Should Keep Close Tabs on Le’Veon Bell’s Situation
The deadline for reaching an agreement with franchise tagged players came to an end last Monday, in what turned out to be a pretty uneventful day all around the league. No agreement was reached by any of the teams with their respective players, including the Dallas Cowboys and their promising "War Daddy," DeMarcus Lawrence.
But the Cowboys' front office have something to learn in this process that doesn't involve a player of their own. Something that both the front office and Ezekiel Elliott should be keeping a close eye on.
The Pittsburgh Steelers also failed to secure their franchise tagged player: Running Back Le'Veon Bell. Really, no one expected a deal to be reached among the two parties. The 26-year old football super star is asking for too much money, which has led to the Steelers tagging him twice in consecutive years.
Bell, conscious of his abilities on the field, is asking for a lot of money from his football team. In 2018, he's set to earn over $14.5M under the tag. That's more than twice the money that Devonta Freeman averages per year - 8.25 million - who's next on the list of highest paid running backs in the league and the highest paid on a long-term contract.
Just to clarify: Steelers' offer to Le'Veon Bell last year averaged $13.3 million per year. Steelers' offer to him this year averaged $15 million per year. But Bell does not believe he should be paid as a RB; he believes he should be paid as an elite offensive weapon.
Le'Veon, whose agent has said 2018 will likely be his last season playing as a Steeler, was reportedly offered $15M per year but that wasn't enough for him. Bell wants to get paid as an elite offensive weapon, which he is. But it turns out he's also... a running back.
It's a complicated situation and one that, if it turns out well for him in free agency next year, could revolutionize the entire running back market in the NFL. If it doesn't, he might end up regretting passing on the Steelers' offer for he won't easily find that kind of money with a team that seems to be a Super Bowl contender on a yearly basis.
The Dallas Cowboys' priorities will rely on other players during the next couple of years, but that shouldn't keep them from keeping close tabs on these events since they could be dealing with a similar scenario when Ezekiel Elliott's turn for a new deal comes around.
Fairly assuming that the fifth year option on Zeke's contract will be picked up after the 2018 season, locking him up through 2020, it's a problem that will be down the road for the Cowboys. But it will have to be dealt with at some point.
When his time is up, Elliott should undoubtedly be looking to become the highest-paid in the game, but the amount of money he gets will depend on the outcome of this whole Le'Veon-Steelers thing. David Johnson and Todd Gurley will also play an important role in determining the future of the running back market.
While Elliott hasn't been used as a receiving threat during his first two seasons in the league, he's still an elite offensive weapon for the Cowboys. The team's offense is based around Zeke and the running game, so it will make sense if his demands are somewhat similar from those by Bell.
Elliott might even be franchise tagged once or twice by the Cowboys if things get complicated in the future. Unlike DeMarco Murray in 2014, surely they won't be willing to let him walk in free agency once his contract comes to an end.
For now, it won't be just the Cowboys who will be keeping close tabs on this situation, but also Ezekiel Elliott and his agent. Hopefully, both parties will manage to handle things better than what we're seeing right now in Pittsburgh.
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