The expectations for the 2019 Dallas Cowboys were arguably the highest they'd been during the Jason Garrett era. Unfortunately, the disappointing season ended with unmet expectations, leading to the biggest overhaul of the coaching staff the Cowboys have experienced in more than a decade. In hiring Mike McCarthy, the Cowboys front office went for the most experienced and successful coach on the market.
They only brought in two men for interviews; McCarthy and former Cinncinati Bengals Head Coach Marvin Lewis. Though many have characterized the hire as a safe pick, the Dallas Cowboys were anything but in targeting McCarthy to run the franchise for the foreseeable future. Jerry Jones and Stephen Jones found their guy and worked quickly to lock him in for a five-year contract with the hopes of maximizing the most encouraging aspect of the 2019 team; the offense.
Well, the Cowboys need to double-down on the changes that were made and wade into the 2020 offseason with a similar aggressiveness as the approach long-term contract discussions with their own players and venture into free agency.
With needs on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball, the Cowboys front office can't expect to be ready to roll come September dependent on hitting on their draft picks.
Last offseason, the Cowboys were in prime position to set their team up for contention, but in free agency failed to take any big swings to bring in safety help that could have assisted their secondary. However, they made a splash in acquiring Robert Quinn for a sixth-round draft pick and that move proved to be the steal of the offseason in 2019.
Quinn went on to have 11.5 sacks and be a terror off the right edge for the Cowboys defense. Now he's looking at turning that incredible first season with the Cowboys into a multi-year contract for potentially big money.
Those are the kinds of moves the Dallas Cowboys need to continue to look into, but they also need to head into free agency ready to be aggressive as well.
With the group that the Cowboys have returning on offense (potentially 10 of 11 starters), the Cowboys have a great opportunity to build off of last year's big step forward. One thing that would help tremendously is creating a defensive unit that can help the Cowboys get more takeaways and a special teams unit who will actually make something happen in the return game.
For as good as the Cowboys offense was in 2019, it's unreasonable to them to go on average 74 yards a drive again in 2020. Providing the offense with better field position through takeaways and in the return game will make the Cowboys offense even more efficient moving forward.
Despite the failure that was the 2019 season, this Cowboys team still has the opportunity to be great in 2020. They aren't far from contending for a Super Bowl and if the Kansas City Chiefs are an example to follow, finding players in free agency that can make plays for your team is huge.
Their team MVP for 2019 was Tyrann Mathieu, who they added last offseason. Former Cowboys Anthony Hitchens, Damien Wilson, Morris Claiborne, and Charvarious Ward all played huge roles for the Chiefs in 2019. Sammy Watkins who made several huge plays in the Super Bowl and throughout the playoffs was a free agent signing from 2018.
It's vital that the Dallas Cowboys take a similar approach to free agency and make a splash where they're able and find key role players to fill out their defense. They can't afford to shop in the second and third wave of free agency and expect that to be good enough moving forward. Though the narrative out there is that the Dallas Cowboys will be up against the salary cap, they can find ways to make some things happen in free agency and through the trade market to upgrade their roster heading into 2020.
If they have any hopes of contending this season and ending their own Super Bowl drought, they need to get aggressive in every form of player acquisition, including free agency. Now's the time for them to make their move.