The Dallas Cowboys continue to shape their 2019 offseason roster. After re-signing two of last year's defensive reserves, the team is reportedly planning to hang on to three key offensive role-players in Guard/Center Joe Looney and Wide Receivers Tavon Austin and Allen Hurns.
For Hurns and Looney, retaining them involves exercising team options on their contracts for this season. For Austin, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent, it means signing him to a new deal.
Looney was a huge part of the Cowboys' playoff-reaching success last year, filling in admirably as the starting center when Travis Frederick missed the entire season. He will count $1.6 million against Dallas' salary cap.
That's a bargain for a player with Joe's value. He can play guard or center and both at a winning level.
Even with all signs positive for Frederick's return in 2019, Looney is still a great asset to have and the team is wise to retain him.
Scoop: Not only do #Cowboys plan on picking up Allen Hurns 2019 option ($4M base) between now and March 12 … @A1hurns , despite that gruesome ankle injury from Jan 5, is back on field here at The Star working out. Wow! pic.twitter.com/PHOVDcco2h
However, according to reports, this move may be nothing more than a risk-free insurance policy. If Dallas ultimately decides to release Hurns, it would only cost them $1.25 million in dead money against the cap.
If he sticks, Allen will have a $4 million base salary along with other incentives. He could count up to $6.25 million against the 2019 cap by the end of the season.
Hurns has talent, having been a 1,000-yard receiver once in Jacksonville. If he can find a groove in Dallas, it gives them three starting-caliber players along with Cooper and Michael Gallup. He also has the ability to play out of the slot, potentially replacing Cole Beasley.
It doesn't seem likely that Dallas and Cole Beasley will come to terms on a new deal, with Beasley wanting both a larger role and the money that should come with it. The Cowboys are clearly committed to Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup as their starters going forward.
With both Austin and Hurns coming back, it would appear Dallas is fully prepared and even expecting to lose Beasley to free agency.
These moves also suggest that the team is hoping that it's change in offensive coordinator, dropping Scott Linehan for Kellen Moore, will be the spark that they need. They don't seem to be adding more firepower, but focusing on getting better use out of their weapons.
We'll see how this strategy plays out, or if the rest of the offseason activity changes this perception.