Every offseason is important for teams looking to contend. The moves made during free agency and the draft can go a long way toward solidifying your place among the NFL’s best. The Cowboys struck out last offseason with free-agent signings that never really made an impact. Heading into the 2021 offseason, with free agency scheduled to open in the middle of March, the Cowboys can’t afford to miss on their free-agent signings this offseason.
Last year, the Cowboys found value deals on players like Gerald McCoy, Dontari Poe, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Cam Erving, Blake Bell, and Maurice Canady. Unfortunately, the collective impact of that group of players was next to nothing. McCoy (injury), Clinton-Dix (released), and Canady (opt-out) never played a snap for the Cowboys. Poe played but was so underwhelming the Cowboys were willing to part ways with him midway through the season. Erving was arguably the best free-agent signing for the Cowboys, but his injury situation limited him to just six games in 2020.
The Cowboys have an offense that is ready to contend with the best teams in the NFL if they’re fortunate on the injury front this season. However, that is a big if. If there were an offseason to be a little more aggressive, this would be it.
The defense needs some help at defensive tackle, cornerback, and safety. While they can certainly address some of those issues in the draft, they need to get aggressive at one or two of them to make sure they land a guy that can be a game-changer this year. Development happens, but the Cowboys’ window for contention is right now, so they can’t waste years waiting on players to develop at every position.
Their spending patterns in free agency take on the low-risk, low-reward approach. And sometimes it works, as it did with Aldon Smith and Blake Bell. But as the adage goes, you get what you pay for. When you target the low-cost free agents during the offseason, there’s a greater chance you’ll miss on those guys. Not that spending big is a guarantee, but there’s a reason those players demand more on the free-agent market. Usually, it’s because they had a recent history of good to great production. And while the Cowboys won’t go into the offseason looking to hit a home run at every position of need, they should certainly target a spot and get aggressive to make sure this free agency period isn’t a bust like last year’s.
With names like Dalvin Tomlinson at defensive tackle, Patrick Peterson and Richard Sherman at cornerback, and Anthony Harris and Justin Simmons at safety, the Cowboys could find a player or two that could provide an immediate impact for their defense.
Much like I wrote last year, this is another offseason where the Cowboys need to get aggressive and set their team up for a run in 2021. They can’t have another season where they get next to nothing out of their free-agent acquisitions.