Just in case anyone was missing info on who the free agents are this year, here's a list as taken from DC.com.
The Cowboys face some tough decisions with regards to each of these players, and considering the team has some solid needs at certain positions, look for the Cowboys to make some moves that most of us won't agree with.
|UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS||RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS|
* OG Joe Berger
* WR Miles Austin
* Number one in that category would probably be Cory Proctor. His abysmal play in 2008 cost us many things, but above all it taught us that Kosier was sorely missed, and then that Holland was almost as missed as Kosier was. Behind Kozier the Cowboys didn't lose this year, though that's not saying much since he only played in three regular season games.
Cory Proctor is the first backup at center behind Pro Bowler Andre Gurode, and for his ability to play at both positions, Proctor will likely be retained assuming his price doesn't climb too high. Something tells me teams won't be breaking the bank for this guy. Holland played much better than Proctor, but again, a backup center with experience is still needed even after Holland is resigned.
* Another one of the concerns is backup quarterback, and while Brad Johnson is not a free agent, it's almost safe to say that he will be sometime in the coming months after such miserable play. So that leaves Brooks Bollinger, a younger quarterback with backup written all over him. He too lacked any real production during Romo's three game sit, but he was better than Johnson. Bollinger managed to drive the team to a touchdown against the Giants in week 9, which was the only time he looked comfortable behind center.
There are a lot of quarterbacks available in free agency this year, and few available within reach in the draft, but the free agents are mostly guys looking for a chance to start, which is virtually impossible here given Romo's contract and performance. So I think the Cowboys are going to take a look at each available quarterback before the draft, and if another backup to go with Bollinger isn't found, they'll draft one in the later rounds. In either case, I believe the team will resign Bollinger since he did show some marked improvement once he got more practice snaps with the first team.
* Chris Canty has been an issue all off-season. Talks have been on-going throughout the past year between the Cowboys, Canty, and his agent, to work out a contract extension for him, but most of us are aware of his agent's words that he wants Tommy Kelly kind of money. It's no question that he contributed to the defense in 2008, just as it's no question that he isn't deserving of the kind of money he's looking for.
To make matters worse, he spoke publicly recently and said that he has always been and will always be a Parcels kind of guy, which seems to point toward Canty actively pursuing a spot with the Dolphins. No matter what though, given that the contract talks have basically stalled here, he will test the market to see what he can get.
* Keith Davis, who last year departed the Cowboys for the Dolphins in a similar situation to Canty's, returned to Dallas after losing out on the starting job in Miami. Upon his return he was immediately named a team captain and resumed his roles as the special teams leader and backup strong safety. Injuries thrust him into the starting line up by week 5, and he started all but three games after that. This includes the end of the year when he suffered a third degree sprain of his MCL without missing a full game from the injury.
His strength is as a role player, special teams ace and backup safety, and his abilities in both aspects warrant signing him to a long term deal. I expect him to test the market once more though before settling for his role in Dallas.
* Miles Austin is another concern for the club, but only because they have to wait and see who offers what for him. the Cowboys are expected to place a second round tender on Austin, giving them the right of first refusal should another team make him an offer, and if the Cowboys choose not to match the offer, they would receive a 2009 second round pick as compensation. His inability to stay healthy last year is an issue, but he will most likely be resigned. His upside is still substantial and he should make an impact and a bid for more playing time in 2009 as long as he can stay healthy.
* The only other real concern lies at the middle linebacker position since both Zach Thomas and Kevin Burnett are unrestricted free agents come February 27th. Thomas stated after the season ending loss to Philly that he didn't feel comfortable at his position, the Will linebacker, since he had played his entire career as a Mike linebacker, the spot currently held by should-be Pro Bowler Bradie James. Look for the aging Thomas to explore his options in free agency, though don't rule him out to return next year.
Dallas Cowboys 2019 Offseason Preview: Defensive End
If quarterback is the most important position in football, then the guys who hunt them down might be second. As such, the Dallas Cowboys face a major offseason decision in 2019 when it comes to the free agency of Defensive End DeMarcus Lawrence.
This will be Lawrence's second year as an unrestricted free agent, with Dallas retaining him last season using the franchise tag. Even though he accepted it in 2018, DeMarcus swore all the way back in that summer that he wouldn't play for the Cowboys in 2019 if franchised again.
Despite his sack numbers dropping a bit last season, "Tank" remains one of the top defensive ends in the NFL. He is a total package of pass-rushing and run stopping, and he's now given Dallas two-straight Pro Bowl seasons.
If the Cowboys have any plans to contend for a championship next season then they can't risk losing a player like Lawrence. We've seen what this defense looks like without a premiere pass rusher and it isn't pretty.
Of course, Dallas could try to replace DeMarcus with a different free agent signing. If Jadeveon Clowney or Frank Clark avoid being tagged by their own teams, perhaps the Cowboys can lure one of them over. But don't expect any big difference in compensation between these three players.
Whether it's Lawrence or one of the other premiere pass rushers in free agency, you can expect the Cowboys to make one of them their top offseason priority. The greater mystery is if Dallas will make any other moves to upgrade the DE position, or stick with what they've got.
Dallas finally enjoyed some real production out of Randy Gregory in 2018, whose personal issues nearly derailed the talented pass rusher's career. Gregory posted six sacks last season and was starting to look like the Robin to Lawrence's Batman.
Also in the mix is 2017 first-round pick Taco Charlton, who took a backwards step last year and seemed to be in the coaches' doghouse by season's end. Motivation and attitude seem to be an issue for him, and he'll need to step it up this summer if he doesn't want to wind up at the back of the depth chart again.
One of last year's fourth-round picks Dorance Armstrong also returns. He will hopefully be ready to take on a larger role in his second season and provide another pass rushing threat, plus insurance in case Gregory suffers any return of past problems.
If Dallas doesn't make Tyrone Crawford a salary cap casualty, or chooses to re-sign David Irving, those are two other guys who can play some defensive end for you.
Despite these options, the Cowboys could still look at adding another mid-grade free agent for depth and insurance. They could hope for a bargain on veterans like Ezekiel Ansah, Vinny Curry, or Chris Long. They might hope that Rod Marinelli could work his magic on first-round flop Dante Fowler.
Another guy that Dallas might look at is Benson Mayowa, who was with them from 2016-2017 and is a solid player. He spent the last season in Arizona on a one-year deal and is still just 27 years old.
Don't expect much from the draft, barring a major steal presenting itself. The Cowboys have bigger needs with their limited number of 2019 picks, and they also still need to see how recent selections like Charlton and Armstrong play out.
This offseason is all about DeMarcus Lawrence, or at least one of the other marquee free agents at defensive end. Some supplemental moves are possible, but arguably the biggest move Dallas makes the next few months is either retaining or replacing their top pass rusher.
Offense or Defense, Which Should be the Cowboys Main Offseason Focus?
The Dallas Cowboys offseason should be approached like a puzzle. You have to know what the picture looks like beforehand before you start grabbing random pieces to try to fit them together. Keeping that in mind, I thought it be a good idea if we take a look at the Cowboys offense and defense to try to determine which one needs the most attention.
It may be somewhat surprising, but the Dallas Cowboys pretty much have the entire puzzle almost put together. There is just a few missing pieces they need to add, but for the most part the team that will take the field when the 2019 season kicks off is already in place.
There isn't going to be much roster turnover this offseason. Nearly all of the starters will return for the upcoming season on both sides of the ball, meaning the Cowboys are in good shape as far as having the teams nucleolus in place. In fact, there might be just one or two starting positions up for grabs on offense and defense.
Let's take a look…
Dallas Cowboys Offense
As things stand right now before any moves are made in free agency or through the draft, the Dallas Cowboys offense may have just two starting spots up for grabs. But, even that's just a guesstimate because we still don't really know what the future holds for Center Travis Frederick, even though all signs point to him making a triumphant return to the starting lineup.
The way I see it though, the Cowboys will need to find someone to replace Cole Beasley in the passing game and also add a starting caliber tight end. That's it really as far as the starters are concerned. There is however need for more depth at several positions such as backup running back and offensive tackle, but those aren't necessarily "needs". I'd say they're in pretty good shape offensively compared to years past.
Dallas Cowboys Defense
Surprisingly enough, the Dallas Cowboys really don't have any glaring needs on the defensive side of the ball either. After finishing as one of the top defensive units in 2018, they will have nearly all of their starters returning for the 2019 season. But much like on the offensive side of the ball, there could be two starting spots up for grabs.
The Cowboys will have to find someone to replace Damien Wilson as the starting strong side linebacker and potentially a new starting strong safety. That's really the only starting positions I believe are up for grabs on defense. But like the offense, they could stand to add more depth and competition throughout the defense, especially along the defensive line. But again, there really isn't a glaring "need" they absolutely have to address.
Verdict: Cowboys Offense
Even though the Dallas Cowboys offense and defense seems to be pretty evenly matched as to how many starting positions are up for grabs, the offense looks to be the one that needs just a little bit more help. The defense proved in 2018 they are someone to be reckoned with and with the loss of just Damien Wilson, that shouldn't change. The same can't be said about the offense though.
If Cole Beasley does indeed leave via free agency, that's a big blow to the passing game. But, it's not just him. Other than their rushing attack, the Cowboys offense was ranked in the bottom half of the league in nearly every other category. With Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan now gone we can hope that improves, but that doesn't mean improving the offense shouldn't be the Cowboys main offseason focus though.
Of course, this is just my opinion and you are more than welcome to agree or disagree with it. But, when the free agency and NFL draft ball finally starts rolling, I expect most of the Cowboys offseason moves to be on the offensive side of the ball. Improving things around Quarterback Dak Prescott would seem like the wise thing to do after all, especially since he's about to be paid quite handsomely.
Which side of the ball do you think needs more help this offseason?
Dallas Cowboys 2019 Offseason Preview: Quarterback
The Dallas Cowboys have plenty of work to do to restock and refine their roster in the hope of improving of last year's playoff run. We'll be looking at all of the 2019 needs for this offseason in the coming days, and we're going to start with paramount position of quarterback.
Unlike most spots on the team, the quarterbacks don't have anyone with an expiring contract this year. Both Dak Prescott and Cooper Rush will be in the final year of their deals, while Mike White still has three years left on his rookie contract.
Despite this, Prescott's contract is still one the hottest issues the Cowboys face this offseason. They must decide if they want to go ahead and lock him up now to a long-term extension, or wait and see how Dak performs in his fourth season.
It's a real dilemma for Dallas. One the one hand, Prescott already has two Pro Bowls, two division titles, and all winning seasons on his three-year resume. However, he's also had ongoing accuracy issues and problems with consistent productivity in an increasingly pass-focused league.
Given what he's already accomplished, Dak can command a pretty sizable contract in current negotiations. Just within the week he's already commented on not planning to give the Cowboys a discount in his next deal.
If Dallas waits another year then they risk that price tag going up. They could be competing with the open market, or what if Prescott leads the team to the NFC Championship or beyond in 2019?
If Dak's camp is already going to be aggressive in contract negotiations this year, then there's a case to be made for just waiting. Let him play on his bargain $2.14 million cap hit and use the savings to load up on talent for a championship run. The team will still have resources to re-sign Prescott in 2020, or even franchise tag him, if that's their choice.
However that situation goes, we know that Dak is the starter in 2019. But even though Cooper Rush and Mike White are both due to return next season, should the Cowboys be satisfied with that QB depth chart?
As I wrote about earlier this week, Dallas has good reason to look at adding a veteran passer to the mix this offseason. If Rush and White beat him out, that's great. But if not, it adds an experienced voice to help Dak Prescott in this critical upcoming year.
You can go a few different ways. Some of the projected free agents can match Prescott's mobile style, such as Tyrod Taylor, Trevor Siemian, or Robert Griffin III. Others give you the experience edge such as Ryan Fitzpatrick, Josh McCown, or Matt Schaub.
It doesn't seem likely that the Cowboys would draft another QB after just taking Mike White last year with a fifth-round pick. Unless they are moving to a completely different philosophy, Dallas will likely give White at least another year or two to develop as a mid-round selection.
Ideally, at least one of White or Cooper Rush will show some growth this year and inspire confidence as the immediate backup. But adding a veteran for competition certainly couldn't hurt, and Dallas has the cap space to do it.
Thankfully, everything that Dallas might have to do this offseason at quarterback is optional. They can choose whether or not to redo Prescott's contract, or whether or not to pursue upgrades behind him. There is no gaping hole being created by a potential free agent departure.
The Cowboys have the power now, but that can quickly change next season once Dak's a free agent. That's why they still have a big decision to make in 2019.
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