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5 Free Agents the Dallas Cowboys Should Consider

John Williams

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Terrell McClain
AP Photo/James D Smith

The NFL Draft has come and gone and the Dallas Cowboys will begin gearing up for their rookie mini-camp, mini-camps, and OTAs as they inch closer to training camp. Though the most exciting part of the player acquisition process is completed, there is still work that can be done through free agency to address the holes on the roster.

Here are five free agents that the team could sign to improve the roster.

Johnathan Hankins, Defensive Tackle

Probably the best free agent that fits a need for the Dallas Cowboys, Johnathan Hankins would be a tremendous addition to the Cowboys' defensive front seven.

At 6-3, 320lbs, Hankins immediately becomes your starting 1T defensive tackle, or nose tackle. He would be that big guy in the middle that the Dallas Cowboys desperately need to help their run game.

In the last four seasons, Hankins has only missed eight games, seven of which were in 2015. In the other three seasons, he started 47 out of 48 games and just turned 26 this past January.

In 2014, his second year in the league, Hankins had 7 sacks. Though he hasn't been able to reproduce that number, he's still a force against the run.

It's surprising that a player with Hankins' experience, production, and youth hasn't been snatched up at this point in the offseason, but perhaps teams wanted to see what they were going to do in the draft before going after the former Colt and Giant.

As a Cowboys fan, I remember Hankins being a load for the Dallas Cowboys offensive line to handle. Over seven games against the Dallas Cowboys, Hankins averaged three tackles a game against Dallas' vaunted offensive line.

Terrell McClain, Defensive Tackle

The former Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle, now former Washington Redskins defensive tackle, had the best season of his career in 2016 with the Cowboys. McClain turned that into a four-year deal with Washington, though he only saw one year of the deal.

After breaking out with 39 combined tackles, 2.5 sacks and starting 15 games for the Cowboys in 2016, McClain only started two of the 12 games that he played in 2017.

Recently released by the Redskins, it's being reported that the Dallas Cowboys are looking into the possibility of reuniting with McClain. Given his injury history, I'd be interested in McClain on a one year deal with some incentives for games played and tackles. If he stays healthy and produces, he gets paid, if not, you aren't risking much.

McClain will turn 30 in July, but he has the size and skill to fill in at 1T if needed.

NaVorro Bowman, Linebacker

NaVorro Bowman is still a free agent, though it's unclear if he's planning to play anymore.

As a midseason addition for the Oakland Raiders, Bowman, 30 years old, started 10 games and racked up 89 combined tackles, 1.5 sacks, and an interception.

Though it's unlikely the Dallas Cowboys would sign Bowman with the intention of starting him, he'd be a valuable backup at linebacker with the injury history and risk of the top three linebackers on the depth chart; Sean Lee, Jaylon Smith, and newest Dallas Cowboy, Leighton Vander Esch.

Bowman's experience and versatility would give tremendous insurance to a team that is a contender in 2018, if they get some injury good luck.

The Cowboys have some interesting prospects in the likes of Justin March-Lillard, but if they want to guarantee they don't see a huge drop off with an injury or two, Bowman would be a great addition.

Chargers Handling of Antonio Gates Gives Cowboys Blueprint for Jason Witten?

Los Angeles Chargers TE Antonio Gates, TE Hunter Henry (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Antonio Gates, Tight End

If the reports are true that Jason Witten is retiring to join the Monday Night Football crew, the Dallas Cowboys would have a gaping hole at the tight end position.

Sure, guys like Dalton Schultz, Geoff Swaim, Blake Jarwin, and Rico Gathers have some potential, and as a group could fill the void left by the future Hall of Famer. All it is right now is potential, though.

Antonio Gates is no spring chicken at 38 years old, but could be a nice receiving complement to those guys and a mentor for the tight end room.

Gates wouldn't command a long-term deal at big money, but he could be a nice experienced red zone threat for Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys offense. Even in a part-time role for the Los Angeles Chargers in 2017, Gates caught 30 passes for 316 yards and three touchdowns. Not spectacular, but he provides a threat in the passing game.

If they didn't go this route, I wouldn't blame them. The Dallas Cowboys are getting younger all the time, but Gates could be a valuable addition to the tight end group.

Eric Reid, Safety

Eric Reid is a controversial player around the NFL. The former San Francisco 49er brought a lot of controversy upon himself when he decided to kneel along with Colin Kaepernick during the National Anthem.

Reid started 12 games for the 49ers and ended up with two interceptions and 64 combined tackles.

It's really unlikely that the Dallas Cowboys would pursue Reid without some sort of agreement that he wouldn't kneel during the anthem as a member of the Cowboys, but he would provide nice depth for a safety group that looks only three deep at the moment.

Jeff Heath, Kavon Frazier, and Xavier Woods are a nice group, but Reid would make them better. He's good in coverage and could rotate with Woods at the free safety spot.

Reid won't turn 27 until December of this year and could make an impact if the team doesn't acquire Earl Thomas.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

The Dallas Cowboys have done an excellent job through the first part of free agency and the draft to get their team ready for training camp and the 2018 regular season, but as they always say, player acquisition is a 365 day proposition.

There are still moves they can make to help their team. Some of these make sense, while others probably don't.

Are there any free agents that you'd like to see the Dallas Cowboys take a run at?



Dallas Cowboys optimist bringing factual reasonable takes to Cowboys Nation and the NFL Community. I wasn't always a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quick as I could.

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2 Comments
  • Hector Espindola

    Safety it´s the only position Dallas still needs to address with a proven player. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not questioning Woods development or saying he won’t experiment more growing pains, but still I can’t conclude that the FO is satisfied, especially with the safety market so depressed, so they are exhausting Seattle for ET. I know Eric Reid issue, but for me Reid should be the one to be signed for a one-year deal or would he be out ad infinitum? But having Reid filed a collusion grievance vs. NFL seems signing won´t happen.

    I´m all for Johnathan Hankins, a real upgrade, plus he would free roster spots for carrying more than 6 WRs.

  • Will

    Would love to see McClain back. As for S, if it’s not trading for ET ( a longshot at best) or signing Tre Boston, leave Woods, Frazier, and Heath alone

Star Blog

Is WR Cole Beasley Being Underutilized?

Brian Martin

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Is WR Cole Beasley Being Underutilized?

Like any competitor, Dallas Cowboys Wide Receiver Cole Beasley wants to play and be as heavily involved as possible when the lights come on and the game is on the line. He's become accustomed to to being heavily involved in the game plan, that is until WR Amari Cooper arrived in Dallas.

Since the arrival of Amari Cooper, Cole Beasley has seen his offensive role dramatically reduced. He is no longer Quarterback Dak Prescott's favorite target in the passing game and it even looks as if he is taken a stumble down the Cowboys WR depth chart. At best, he is their WR3 now behind Cooper and Michael Gallup.

That's quite a fall from grace for a player who was Dallas' top receiver the last few seasons and the most targeted in the first half of this year. I can almost guarantee he's not happy about not being utilized more in the passing game, but he's a team player and will do what it takes to win.

Unfortunately for Beasley, Cooper's arrival has changed the Cowboys offense. He is back to his old role of working the short intermediate routes now with Cooper and Gallup playing on the outside. Because of that his stats have taken a hit. His targets, receptions, and the chance to help his team win has dropped off significantly.

Cole Beasley

Dallas Cowboys WR Cole Beasley

In the two games before Cooper joined the team, Beasley had 16 receptions for 157 yards and two touchdowns on 19 targets. The six games since he only has 17 catches for 138 yards on 26 targets. That's a huge drop in production and has nothing to do with his performance. It's how he's being utilized.

Beasley has been forced to take a backseat in the Cowboys aerial attack. Amari Cooper has been highly targeted, and rightfully so, and Michael Gallup is seeing more passes thrown his way as well. Not to mention, Ezekiel Elliott has been used more as a receiver also.

There are just too many mouths to feed and unfortunately Cole Beasley is the odd man out. The sad thing is, that might not change anytime soon with the way the Cowboys offense is playing right now. It's one of the reasons why they currently have the league's best winning streak going for them.

It's to hard make an argument for Beasley receiving more looks in the passing game with the way the offense is playing, with the exception of in the red zone, but I do believe he needs to be more involved. After all, he is still one of the Cowboys best WRs and can't be covered by anyone in the league one-on-one.

I don't know about you, but I'm hoping things will circle back around and he will once again be more involved in the passing game. His ability to get open is uncanny and it's a shame to not take advantage of that God-given gift.

What do you think, should Cole Beasley start being utilized more?



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Star Blog

Time to see What Darius Jackson can do as Zeke’s Backup?

Brian Martin

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Will RB Darius Jackson Stick With Cowboys Second Time Around?

I hate to say it because I really like Rod Smith, but I think it may be time for the Dallas Cowboys to reevaluate the running back position as it pertains to Ezekiel Elliott's primary backup. Smith just hasn't been good this year, which is why I think it may be time to see what Darius Jackson can do if given the opportunity.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not suggesting the Dallas Cowboys move on from Rod Smith or demote him right now, but I would promote Darius Jackson from the practice squad to the active roster as insurance in case something were to happen to Zeke. It just seems the right time to make that move after #21's injury scare Sunday afternoon against the Philadelphia Eagles.

You may have forgotten, but Ezekiel Elliott had to spend some time in the medical tent Sunday against the Eagles. He was luckily able to return to the game not long after, but it did shine a spotlight on Rod Smith and the lack of depth behind him.

Despite how much I like Rod Smith, and I do, he just hasn't been the same player this season as he was last year as Zeke's fill-in. He is just not running with any kind of authority and has been too apt to run east and west instead of north and south. I think it's one of the reasons why the Cowboys have continued to give Zeke such a heavy workload, despite him being banged up.

Rod Smith

Dallas Cowboys RB Rod Smith

Now, Rod Smith did look a little better against the Eagles, but I still believe it would be wise for the Cowboys to promote Darius Jackson to the active roster. Having more depth at such a physically demanding position is just smart football.

With the Dallas Cowboys playoff spot all but secured, it might be time to start thinking about lightening Ezekiel Elliott's workload just a little bit. Whether it's Rod Smith or Darius Jackson, the Cowboys have to find someone who can step in and be productive.

Rod Smith has had his opportunities this year, but hasn't really been able to capitalize like we believed he could. It might be time to turn to Darius Jackson, a fan favorite, who unfortunately just hasn't been able to prove what he can do as of yet in a meaningful game. I think it's time we change that.

As much as I like Rod Smith, I might like Darius Jackson just a little bit more. I think he is kind of like a poor man's Ezekiel Elliott. He is just as athletically gifted and can be a threat as both a runner and a receiver out of the backfield. He just needs the opportunity to prove it.

There's really no way of knowing if I'm right or wrong about this, but I believe he is worthy of a roster spot on game day if nothing else. I'd rather have him and not need him then need him and not have him.

Do you think it's time to see what Darius Jackson can do?



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Star Blog

Cowboys Lassoing NFC East Title as NFC Dark Horse

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Cowboys Lassoing NFC East Title as NFC Dark Horse

Well don’t look now but the Dallas Cowboys are in control of their division and anything short of a catastrophic collapse will see them hosting the first round of the playoffs. Dallas strengthened their grip on the NFC East by knocking off a divisional rival and the reigning Super Bowl champions with a 29-23 overtime win over the Eagles.

Those who have a favorite online sportsbook and wagered on the Cowboys were ecstatic to see Dak Prescott hit Amari Cooper for a 15-yard touchdown pass in overtime, thus covering the 3 ½ point impost that oddsmakers hung on Dallas.

The Cowboys have now won five consecutive games, with three of those over divisional opponents Philadelphia (twice) and Washington. But before we celebrate, we must consider that there's still a mathematical possibility of either Philadelphia or Washington stealing the division crown away from the Cowboys.

The Giants' only hope is an outside shot at a wildcard berth if they win outright but they've been eliminated from contending for a division title due to their 1-4 record against NFC East teams.

Essentially, all the Cowboys must do is win one of their three remaining games in order to celebrate a division crown. If Philadelphia or Washington loses any of their three games they will be out due to tie breakers that go in the Cowboys’ favor.

As of this moment, the Redskins are a disaster with no one under center to captain their rudderless ship, and the Eagles must defeat the Rams in LA, which would be considered a stunning upset seeing as any reputable online sportsbook is offering the Rams as 9 ½ point favorites as of this writing; then they must win at home against Houston and on the road against the Redskins.

Of course, the Cowboys are counting only on themselves to reel in the division title and with games at Indianapolis, home against the Bucs, and wrapping their season in New Jersey against the Giants, at least one win seems likely.

The addition of Amari Cooper to the Dallas offensive arsenal has been a game-changer as the former Oakland Raider hauled in 10 of 13 targets for 217 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winner last Sunday against Philadelphia. He was the top-tier receiver Prescott had been lacking and his presence on the field improves both the passing game and running game by virtue of his dynamic playmaking abilities. Ezekiel Elliott has eclipsed the century mark in rushing yards in four of the six games since Cooper has been on the Cowboys roster.

Furthermore, Dallas has averaged 24.4 points per game over their last five wins with Cooper in the lineup, which is more than five points improved from where they were prior to their winning streak without him in a Dallas uniform.

In addition, Prescott has morphed from a game manager at 202 passing yards per game to a game breaker as evidenced by his 285.7 passing yard average in six games with his new target at his disposal.

Ultimately, the Cowboys will be tasked with turning all of this good mojo into a deep run into the postseason. We can now confidently say that there is one other team to consider besides the Rams, Bears, and Saints as this year’s NFC entrant into the Super Bowl. However, Dak Prescott will need to eliminate turnovers and interceptions if Dallas is truly going to contend against the powerhouses they will face in the playoffs.

Last Sunday, Prescott caught fire in the fourth quarter and ended with 455 yards passing, connecting on 42 of 54 passes with three touchdowns, but his two interceptions were converted into nine points by Philadelphia. As we move forward, Prescott will need to lead right from the get-go and understand that one poor decision can cost his team what is now a realistic shot at a championship season.



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