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Free Agent Signings Shouldn’t Change Dallas Cowboys 2020 NFL Draft Strategy

It’s really easy to get excited about free agency and the additions the Dallas Cowboys have made in the first few days of the player acquisition period. The Dallas Cowboys have added Gerald McCoy at defensive tackle, re-signed Blake Jarwin, Anthony Brown and C.J. Goodwin, signed Maurice Canaday at cornerback, and added Ha Ha Clinton-Dix at safety.

Despite those signings, they won’t preclude the Dallas Cowboys from spending premium picks at similar positions in the 2020 NFL Draft.

As we’ve seen the Cowboys work in previous offseasons, they often use free agency to fill obvious holes in order to go into the draft with clear eyes — and full hearts — focused on the draft board that they’ve spent months putting together. Free from viewing the board through the lens of filling needs, the Cowboys will be able to add talent in an area that will allow them to upgrade a position this season or fill a future need.

Gerald McCoy is likely the presumptive starter at 3-technique defensive tackle for 2020, but the Cowboys can find a player or two to supplement the interior of their defensive line. Though McCoy’s under contract through the 2022 season, it’s essentially a two-year deal there isn’t so much guaranteed money on his deal that the Cowboys couldn’t move on if they were to draft a Javon Kinlaw in the first round or someone like Justin Madubuike in the second round.

Adding Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is a nice move and if you need him to start for you this season, the Cowboys will be solid in the secondary. However, if, in this deep class of safeties, there’s one Dallas really likes, then they can feel free to draft that player to compete for playing time with Clinton-Dix and eventually take over as the starter in 2021. Clinton-Dix is on a one year deal and the other presumed starter, Xavier Woods, is scheduled to be a free agent next offseason. Though safety doesn’t look like a need right now, in 12 months it becomes a significant need.

Cornerback is the position that still needs some work in the draft. Sure, the depth chart is pretty full with Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, Anthony Brown, Maurice Canaday, and C.J. Goodwin, but there isn’t really a shutdown cornerback in the bunch. They have a nice group of players that can provide solid play and production, but they aren’t so good that the Cowboys can ignore cornerback in the draft. Also, with Awuzie and Lewis set to be free agents in 2021, the Cowboys will still have a need for a starting corner this time next year if they don’t address the position in this year’s draft.

The one thing the Dallas Cowboys are still missing is a slot wide receiver. It’s possible the Cowboys could look to fill that spot from within. Though they don’t have a player that is specifically a slot player, Amari Cooper is a very effective player from the slot. They could use Devin Smith on the outside in three-wide receiver sets and move Cooper into the slot. In turn, they could also deploy Tony Pollard in the slot, where he was very effective in college. Basically, the Cowboys have options that will keep them from forcing something at wide receiver during the draft.


Having freedom in the draft to follow their draft board is a strategy that’s generally worked well for them in recent years. With more than a month to go before the draft, the Dallas Cowboys will continue to solidify their roster from top to bottom to put themselves in a position to find the most talented player at a spot that could be upgraded in 2020 or will be a need in 2021. Though these early free agent moves aren’t blockbusters, they’re important building blocks for the way the Cowboys want to build their roster in 2020 and beyond.

What do you think?

John Williams

Written by John Williams

Dallas Cowboys optimist bringing factual, reasonable takes to Cowboys Nation and the NFL Community. I wasn't always a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quick as I could.

Make sure you check out the Inside The Cowboys Podcast featuring John Williams and other analysts following America's Team.


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  1. Hey I understand that we had filled in some spots. But, Cowboys fans it would be nice to get wide receiver in the first round then a safety in the second. It would be awesome get a young Dez Bryant in the first round like Lamb. We have seven picks in this draft.

    • 4 years ago the Cowboys let their veteran defensive backfield leave to free agency because of the cost to keep them. They drafted 4 defensive backs to replace them. That’s who you see playing now in 2020. Now history repeats itself and Dallas will be looking to 2021 as to who they will pay good money to or let walk in free agency. I hope they get a CB starter and Safety starter in the first 2 picks.
      Any thoughts Cowboy history bufs.

      • You’re absolutely right. This was one of my biggest complaints about letting Byron Jones walk. Secondary had been an issue for most of the last decade. You finally found yourself an elite corner and now you’re letting him walk just so you can rebuild your secondary again?

        Now they likely have to draft two corners and a safety in 2020 to prepare for the potential exit of Jourdan Lewis, Chidobe Awuzie, and Xavier Woods next offseason.

    • I would absolutely love Lamb if the Cowboys could get him. Given the depth at the position, I think it’s possible he could be there at 17. Will they take him though? who knows.

  2. 17

    Kristian Fulton

    , CB


    Grant Delpit

    , S


    Darrell Taylor

    , EDGE


    Quartney Davis

    , WR
    Texas A&M


    Justin Strnad

    , LB
    Wake Forest


    James Lynch

    , IDL


    Scott Frantz

    , OT
    Kansas State

  3. CJ Henderson, CB, Florida
    Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson
    Antoine Winfield Jr, S, Minnesota
    Leki Fotu, DT, Utah
    Jonathan Garvin, DE, Miami (FLA)
    Cole McDonald, QB, Hawaii
    Evan Weaver, LB, California

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