The Dallas Cowboys will look very different in 2018 for many reasons. Guys who were considered key players for years will not be on the team at all. The team clearly has changed and that will show on the field once the season begins. Hopefully the change has been for the better and not for the worse.
Of course, the front office has had to make some very difficult decisions to get to this point. Let’s take a look at the most important ones and the ones that could actually define how the 2018 Dallas Cowboys fare in the upcoming NFL season.
Releasing Dez Bryant
Dez Bryant remains an NFL free agent and will probably remain unemployed until training camp comes around. The veteran wide receiver didn’t really establish a strong chemistry with Cowboys’ young QB Dak Prescott and wasn’t on the team’s plans for the new-look offense.
With an overhauled set of receivers including Michael Gallup and Allen Hurns, the Cowboys hope they can make the passing game work in life after Dez Bryant.
Despite not being the same player that he was in the first four years of his career, Dez still showed up on the field from time to time and was an intimidating presence for opposing defenses. More than letting him go, what the team could end up regretting is not even offering him a pay cut.
Giving Garrett, Linehan and Marinelli Another Shot
After finishing a season in which the Cowboys were among the Super Bowl favorites with a 9-7 record, many fans were ready to see a coaching overhaul at the “top” level. But that wasn’t the case. Instead, the front office kept Garrett and his two main coordinators and wiped out just about every other coach on the team.
The arrival of new coaches will be a good thing for the team but one has to wonder if keeping the “Top 3” coaches was the right call. Recency bias comes into play, of course. Even still, the Cowboys seem to be a roller coaster of success. One bad year, one good year, and so on. This coaching staff should be in the hot seat in 2018.
Not Re-Signing Anthony Hitchens
Anthony Hitchens really improved as a player last season, when he started in every game he played. After drafting Leighton Vander Esch in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft, the Cowboys’ linebacker group seems fine.
Sean Lee, Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch will look terrifying to any quarterback who lines up in front of them. However, there’s no denying that Sean Lee is injury-prone, not to mention Smith and Vander Esch have health concerns of their own.
If one of them goes down at some point in the season, it might hurt to see Hitchens playing for the Kansas City Chiefs.
Not Upgrading the Safety Position
What was considered one of the biggest needs for the Dallas Cowboys, the safety position went completely unattended in the offseason. The team will go into 2018 ready to play Jeff Heath, Xavier Woods and perhaps Kavon Frazier at safety.
It’s not necessarily a bad unit, but it certainly won’t be among the league’s best. However, the offseason featured many of intriguing safety free agents. Today, in July, there are still plenty of available safeties out there. Tre Boston, Eric Reid and Kenny Vaccaro have yet to sign with an NFL team.
We’re still talking about the possibility of the team trading for Seahawks’ All-Pro Earl Thomas, but the team is certainly not in a hurry.
Hopefully, the Cowboys are confident (and right) about the players they have playing at safety.