Today, March 11, teams around the NFL can start negotiating with Unrestricted Free Agents, but can’t officially put ink to paper until this Wednesday, March 13, when the official league year starts. For those of us around Cowboys Nation, this means we might finally start to see some resemblance of a plan to the Dallas Cowboys approach to free agency and the 2019 NFL Draft.
With that in mind, I thought I would put together a list of several realistic and cost-effective free agent possibilities the Dallas Cowboys should sign before the draft. We all know they like to address as many needs as possible through free agency so that they can approach the draft without any glaring needs. That has been their approach the past several years and will more than likely continue to be so this year.
Below I’ve listed five free agents I would personally sign if I were the Dallas Cowboys. I think each and every one of them are a realistic possibility and won’t break the bank. If things play out the way I hope they do, the Cowboys could enter into the draft and truly take the best player available.
Without further ado, here are the five free agents I think the Dallas Cowboys should sign before the draft…
RB, T. J. Yeldon
It was rumored the Dallas Cowboys have/had an interest in trading for Cleveland Browns Running Back Duke Johnson, but I for one didn’t understand why considering T. J. Yeldon is available on the open market. Don’t get me wrong, I like Duke, but I didn’t like the idea of the Cowboys having to absorb his contract and give up a draft pick to acquire his services. Yeldon is the more cost-effective option and has the same kind of versatility.
According to sportrac.com, the Cowboys could sign Yeldon to a three-year deal that pays him somewhere between 3.5 to $4 million per season. For comparison sake, that’s pretty much what the New England Patriots paid Rex Burkhead (3 yrs, $9,750,000, $3,250,000 annually). It’s a little more than they’d have to pay a rookie RB, but Yeldon’s versatility as a runner and receiving ability out of the backfield would definitely be an upgrade behind Ezekiel Elliott.
DE, Bruce Irvin
It’s no secret the Dallas Cowboys could be looking to add more depth at the defensive end position after Randy Gregory’s most recent suspension. They could wait and try to draft a pass rusher, but we all know rookies generally take a few years before they can to get accustomed to the speed of the NFL. That’s why I believe the Cowboys would be wise to sign Bruce Irvin ahead of the draft. He shouldn’t cost much and can literally hit the ground running.
The Cowboys could probably sign Irvin to a contract similar to what he signed with the Atlanta Falcons last year. He played under a one-year, $3.2 million deal in 2018, which is a bargain in my opinion considering he still more than capable of accumulating 6 to 8 sacks a year. He could even be a little cheaper considering he turns 32 in November. Anyway you slice it though, he would be a great addition, especially considering he has a history already with Kris Richard.
S, Adrian Phillips
Adrian Phillips isn’t the safety a lot of Cowboys Nation was hoping for, but he could be the safety the Dallas Cowboys need. He isn’t one of the bigger names amongst the free agent safeties this year, but he is one of the more versatile. With the Los Angeles Chargers he was a Swiss Army knife if you will and played a variety of different roles for them. He played strong safety, free safety, dime linebacker, and nickel linebacker. And that’s not even mentioning he’s also a Texas native (Terrell, Texas) and played at the University of Texas.
Phillips is a cost-effective versatile safety who could come in and be an immediate upgrade over Jeff Heath. He’s already played in a similar defensive scheme under Gus Bradley with the Chargers and would give the Cowboys two interchangeable safeties alongside Xavier Woods. Last year he played under a one-year, $1.5 million deal and probably wouldn’t command much more this season considering how plush the safety market is. I think that is the definition of a bargain deal, especially considering he won’t be 27 years old until March 28.
TE, Tyler Eifert
The Dallas Cowboys may have re-signed Jason Witten, but that shouldn’t keep them from upgrading the position further. Witten should be considered nothing more than a serviceable stopgap player in 2019, meaning they need a starting caliber tight end still for the future. If healthy, Tyler Eifert could be that guy and it shouldn’t take much to bring him aboard.
According to sportrac.com, the market value for Eifert is a one-year, $6.4 million deal. I have a hard time seeing him receiving a contract of that type considering his injury history. A contract similar to what Witten ($3.5 million with incentives) just received from the Cowboys seems much more reasonable. If Dallas were able to add Eifert to the mix with Witten, Blake Jarwin, and Dalton Schultz on a heavy incentive-based contract, the TE position suddenly becomes a strength with a healthy dose of veteran leadership and youth.
OT, Ty Nsekhe
The Dallas Cowboys could try to re-sign Cameron Fleming to another one-year, $2.5 million contract like they did in 2018, but if it was me I’d go after Ty Nsekhe. Nsekhe has been the Washington Redskins swing tackle for the past several years and played under the second-round tender ($2.91 million) last season. The Cowboys could probably sign him to a similar deal like they gave Fleming last year, possibly even cheaper since he’s turning 34 years old in October.
Nsekhe is capable of playing either on the left or right side and could possibly come in and challenge La’el Collins for the starting RT position. What I really like about him though is the fact he’s used to filling in as an injury replacement. It’s something he’s done quite a bit of for Trent Williams, who like Tyron Smith, has had to miss a few games here and there the past few seasons due to reoccurring injuries. At worst he would be an upgrade at the swing tackle position, but with starting ability.