Though it was the unofficial start of free agency Monday, the NFL provided a ton of drama, which in a way helped to distract from the news cycle that is rightfully fixated on the COVID-19 pandemic. While a lot of team in the NFL were busy making trades and signing free agents, the Dallas Cowboys worked to take care of — almost — all of their own free agents letting other teams take a dive into the free-agent pool.
Let's take a look back at everything that went down on Monday.
Franchise Tag Applied to Dak Prescott.
As was long-rumored and almost expected, the day started with the Dallas Cowboys officially placing the exclusive franchise tag on Quarterback Dak Prescott. This provides Prescott's representatives and the Dallas Cowboys' front office more time to work out a long-term contract that looks to keep Prescott under center for the Cowboys for the foreseeable future.
Now the Cowboys and Prescott have a soft deadline to get a deal done by the time players report for the beginning of offseason workouts. With a report per Adam Schefter, however, those workouts may not happen any time soon with the NFL putting everything else on hold aside from free agency.
The deadline to reach a contract extension before Dak Prescott has to play on the franchise tag for 2020 is mid-July. If a deal isn't reached, the Cowboys would guarantee 100% of Prescott's 2020 salary, which is projected to be a little more than $31 million.
Blake Jarwin Gets Contract Extension
Like it wasn't all that surprising to see Dak Prescott get the franchise tag, it wasn't a shock to see Blake Jarwin get a contract extension either. The Dallas Cowboys and their new number one tight end agreed to a new deal that would add three years onto the original second-round restricted free agent tender they placed on Jarwin earlier this month.
The total length of the deal is for four years and a little more than $24 million. His average annual salary would rank him 16th in the NFL at the position. It's a significant increase from the restricted free agent tender that would have paid him just over $2 million in 2020.
With the move, the Cowboys express their intentions to go into 2020 with Blake Jarwin as their number one tight end.
After a really nice season in a reserve role that saw him play less than 40% of the offensive snaps, many were clamoring to see what Blake Jarwin could do in a starting role. Well, under new Head Coach Mike McCarthy, Jarwin's going to get that opportunity.
Byron Jones Heading to South Beach
Again, if you've been reading InsideTheStar.com or any other Dallas Cowboys media source, then you aren't surprised by the departure of Byron Jones in free agency to the Miami Dolphins. It seemed to be a foregone conclusion after comments made by Will McClay, Mike Nolan, and Stephen Jones seemed to indicate they didn't place a whole lot of value on Jones.
After meeting at the NFL scouting combine, it was reported that the Cowboys and Jones' representatives agreed that it would be best for Jones to test the free-agent waters. Well, on the first unofficial day of free agency, Jones went out and landed a whale of a contract with the Dolphins. His new five-year deal will make him the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL and pairs him with the second-highest-paid cornerback in the NFL; Xavien Howard.
It's an excellent deal for Jones who the Cowboys never seemed all that interested in retaining, yet, he'll be a player that's sorely missed in the secondary.
Randall Cobb Stays in Texas, Migrates South
Easily the biggest surprise of the day was the trade made between the Houston Texans and the Arizona Cardinals that saw DeAndre Hopkins and a fourth-round pick go to the Cardinals for David Johnson and a second-round pick. In the wake of the trade, the Texans were left with a hole in their wide receiver corp and they quickly filled with former Dallas Cowboys Wide Receiver Randall Cobb.
Cobb, who came to Dallas on a one-year deal was a popular player amongst the fans and the team and it appeared like the Cowboys would have a chance to bring him back in 2020. However, the Texans gave him a three year deal for $27 million. That was likely more than the Cowboys would have been willing to pay to bring back their slot receiver from 2020.
Randall Cobb now goes to the Houston Texans to catch passes from Deshaun Watson.
Amari Cooper, Dallas Cowboys End Monday on a High Note
After watching the rest of the NFL world make splashes on Monday, the Cowboys swooped in at the end of the day and made their splash late Monday night re-signing Wide Receiver Amari Cooper to a five-year $100 million contract. His $20 million average annual value currently puts him second in the NFL behind only Julio Jones amongst wide receivers.
Cooper had long stated that he wished to return to the Dallas Cowboys and play with Dak Prescott. Amongst some, there was a growing concern that Cooper was going to be allowed to walk in free agency, but the Dallas Cowboys' front office came through at the end of the day to lock up their number one wide receiver.
Though he admittedly had a down year in 2019, it was vital to get him re-signed to further perpetuate the growth of your franchise quarterback. The chemistry between Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper has been evident from the jump and as both continue to improve, there's no telling how much more they can grow.
- Robert Quinn is the last big fish the Dallas Cowboys need to figure out. There will be a market there for him if he wants to go find it. Pass rushers who are able to get you 11.5 sacks in a season don't grow on trees.
- Per Field Yates of ESPN, the Dallas Cowboys restructured the contracts of Ezekiel Elliott and La'el Collins. This will free up more salary-cap space, hopefully to do some spending in free agency.
- The Dallas Cowboys still have some significant players from last year's roster that they need to figure out what to do with. Especially Maliek Collins and Anthony Brown who played big roles over the last four years in Dallas. Both should have a pretty sizeable market.
- The Cowboys now have needs to fill at cornerback and slot wide receiver to go along with their need to find a defensive tackle (or two) and a safety.
- With Cooper and Jarwin back, the Dallas Cowboys have three of their four top receiving weapons back for at least the next two years along with Michael Gallup, who will be a free agent after the 2021 season. That should be huge for the Dallas Cowboys offense to have that kind of consistency from year-to-year.