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Cowboys Decline RFA & EFRA Tenders on Gifford, Bernard, Hyatt

The miserly Cowboys are pinching pennies wherever they can this and even near the bottom of the roster. Linebackers and and may now become unrestricted as Dallas is declining to give them the possible restricted and exclusive rights tender offers.

Under the current , players with only three accrued seasons in the NFL and no contract don't qualify automatically for true . They are “restricted” in that their current team has a right to keep them on a one-year deal worth a set amount of money depending on the level of protection the team is willing to pay for.

Luke Gifford falls into this category in 2022. He was an undrafted in 2019 and has appeared in at least six games or more for Dallas each of the last three years.

The lowest-level RFA tender this year was $2.4 million, giving the original team the right to match any contract that another club might offer. But with their salary cap already forcing tough choices to be made with star players, Dallas apparently doesn't feel tying up that much money in Gifford is worth the cost.

With many free agents already at such as and , the Cowboys will supposedly be working on bringing Gifford back but on more affordable contract.

With only two accrued seasons or less, LB Francis Bernard and OT Mitch Hyatt qualify as “exclusive rights” free agents. This means Dallas only has to offer them the league minimum of $895k for two years of service. As long the Cowboys are offering these contracts, neither player has the ability to negotiate or sign anywhere else.

It's rare that a team doesn't tender its EFRAs given the low cost. It doesn't save any money, so Dallas' decision to allow Bernard and Hyatt become unrestricted free agents feels more like they're just deciding to let these guys go.

It's especially odd given the issues at both their positions. We already mentioned linebacker, where currently and are the only consequential players with contracts for next season. Bernard would seem a candidate to least compete for a backup role there.

Offensive isn't quite so bad as , , , and are all signed up for 2022. Hyatt would be unlikely to make the but, after two years of development, you'd think he might be back as a camp body.

The coaches and know these players, and especially these lower-tier guys, better than we do. For whatever reasons the Cowboys aren't willing to utilize the RFA and EFRA tenders to retain them. For Francis Bernard and Mitch Hyatt, that probably means the end of their short runs in Dallas.

For Luke Gifford, it may not the end just yet. We'll see if he gets a chance to return and still compete for a role at linebacker.

Jess Haynie
Jess Haynie
Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

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lonewolfz28

I hope this is a Dan Quinn and Joe Philbin decision.

Biggest issue with all three was an inability to stay healthy. All of them have missed significant portions of camps and/or seasons. Hard to develop when you’re on PUP or IR.

Would have liked to keep one or the other of the LB’s for depth as you said. Gifford has the most experience, such as it is, of the two. Bernard is the more athletic.

Hyatt was always a long shot. The knock on him coming out was heavy feet. He didn’t prove the scouts wrong.

Not really going to shed any tears over any of them, but I do hope Quinn and Philbin were on board and have a plan.

gary b

Not sure how they plan to address the impending thin LB situation. Plus LBs are used frequently on spec teams. MP is the only one under contract, and he only plays that when he isn’t designated pass rusher. I hope they don’t, but they might bring LVE back on a cheap contract. Need to address the position in free agency and the draft. I think the trenches need to be the focus in the draft, but if the right players don’t fall to them, LB is a possibility in the 1st or 2nd round.

lonewolfz28

They have Jabril Cox under contract, although he is recovering from an ACL. Devante Bond has a 1-year contract for 2022, but he’s hurt more than he’s healthy and not that great when he is healthy.

I think they plan on getting Keanu Neal to come back on another reasonable, short term deal since Quinn is staying.

That would give them 4, still a bit thin. They’ll probably go dumpster diving for a little more depth/camp bodies and hope to land one or more in the draft.

I’d still like to see them convert Tyler Coyle to a Keanu Neal type LB. They may also plan on using a lot of three Safety looks with a re-signed Jayron Kearse and a healthy Mukuamu.

It’s getting to the point where teams have a few “traditional” LB’s and a bunch of converted Safeties as undersized, but speedy LB’s. I’d still like to see them re-sign Gifford as more “traditional” LB depth.

gary b

My bad, forgot about Cox. I’m excited to see what he can do. Seems to have good tools. I don’t think they were all that impressed with Neal, who is one of those bulked up safeties u mentioned. I would love to have Kearse back though, but he could be pricy after the season he had.

I think ur right, the modern LB is smaller and better in coverage, which is needed in this passing league. The downside is more susceptible to the running game, which had been a big weakness for us. Lack of a run stuffing DT and smaller LBs invites opponents to run on us. We desperately need a run stuffing pocket pusher. J Davis the stud DT from Georgia is a guy I would consider trading up for, as it’s doubtful he will be there at 24.

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