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Top 5 Free Agents That Could Fill Holes For Cowboys

Brian Martin

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Top 5 Free Agents That Could Fill Holes For Cowboys 5

The Dallas Cowboys have already filled quite a few holes to the roster so far in free agency, but that doesn't mean they are done just yet. They will continue to bargain shop and there are several quality free agents still available on the market that could come in and upgrade the roster at several positions of need.

The Cowboys have already pretty much cover themselves with their recent signings that they now can feel pretty good at approaching the 2017 NFL Draft without any glaring needs. However, they could put themselves in an even better position by finding a few more low-cost free agents.

Below are the top 5 available free agents that I think the Dallas Cowboys could add to improve the roster for the upcoming 2017 season.

Jonathan Hankins, DT

DT Jonathan Hankins

The Dallas Cowboys lost Terrell McClain in free agency to their division rival, the Washington Redskins. They didn't wait long to find his replacement and signed Stephen Paea. But, that doesn't mean they couldn't add more depth through free agency to the defensive tackle position.

Former New York Giant, Jonathan Hankins, is a defensive tackle that the Cowboys could bring in to upgrade the middle of their defensive line and weaken a divisional opponent at the same time. At 6'2", 320, he would add some much-needed beef to middle of the defense. He is just 24 years old and accumulated 43 tackles, three quarterback sacks, and one forced fumble in 2016 with the Giants.

Hankins isn't quite the pass rusher that McClain is, but he is a better run defender and could help free up things for Maliek Collins to make plays. If an affordable deal can be reached, Hankins could allow the Cowboys to solidify the defensive line and focus on other positions in the 2017 NFL Draft.

Rex Burkhead, RB

RB Rex BurkheadThere is no doubt that Ezekiel Elliott will be receiving the majority of the workload in 2017, but behind him the depth at the running back position should be a cause of concern.

Darren McFadden and Lance Dunbar are both free agents and it is rumored that the Cowboys are trying to trade Alfred Morris. That means they could use a veteran and possibly use a draft pick to address the depth at RB.

Former Cincinnati Bengal, Rex Burkhead, is a player that I think would make a really good addition to the Dallas Cowboys. He probably isn't somebody that you want as a featured back, but he is more than capable of filling in. He is a tough runner and a good receiver out of the backfield. He also plays on nearly all of the special teams units.

McFadden is probably the odds-on favorite to return to the Cowboys, but Burkhead would be a more valuable asset because of all of the different things he can do for the organization.

Jairus Byrd, FS

FS Jairus ByrdThe Dallas Cowboys find themselves a little bit then at the safety position with both Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox departing in free agency. They could try and take advantage of the deep safety class, but there are some veteran free agents that could step in and add depth to the position.

Jairus Byrd isn't the ball hawk he was earlier in his career, but he could probably step and and be a Day 1 starter opposite Byron Jones. He is 30 years old and has struggled with injuries the past few years, but he did manage accumulate 82 tackles and two interceptions in 2016 with the New Orleans Saints.

Byrd's addition to the back end of the Cowboys defense would allow defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli to get creative with his coverages. He would also be an upgrade over both Church and Wilcox in the passing game. Depending on his asking price, he could help solidify the safety position.

Connor Barwin, DE

DE Connor BarwinThe Dallas Cowboys already added Damontre Moore to add depth to the defensive end   position, but he is a longshot to even make the roster coming out of training camp. Moore is unreliable to say the least, which means the Cowboys could use some veteran depth for the 2017 season.

A lot of fans would like to see free agent DeMarcus Ware return, but with his recent injury history and the fact that he is a better 3-4 outside linebacker, I don't really like the fit. Plus, he recently announced that he has decided to retire. Former Philadelphia Eagle, Connor Barwin makes the most sense to me.

Barwin is 30 years old and accumulated 34 tackles, five quarterback sacks, and one forced fumble in 2016 with the Eagles. He has an infectious personality and a relentless motor that Marinelli will fall in love with. He is a great locker room guy and would provide veteran leadership for the defensive end group.

Austin Pasztor, OT

OT/G Austin PasztorDoug Free's retirement creates a hole at the right tackle position for the Dallas Cowboys.

As things stand right now, Chaz Green is a favorite to be the starter in 2017, but his reoccurring injuries is concerning to say the least. The Cowboys could stick with the status quo and let Green compete with Emmett Cleary or they could look for some veteran help outside the organization.

Veteran free agent tackle/guard Austin Pasztor could be an affordable option with position flexibility to come in and provide depth for the Cowboys in 2017. Pasztor is 6'7", 308, and started 16 games at right tackle for the Cleveland Browns in 2016. He is just 26 years old and could come in and provide competition at right tackle or at the very least provide depth at both guard and tackle because of his position flexibility.



Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

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8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Jess Haynie

    Jess Haynie

    March 14, 2017 at 7:16 am

    I think we’re already done at defensive tackle. They’ve added Paea to join Crawford, Collins, and Thornton. They still have Irving who can play inside. I wouldn’t tie up cap space in anyone else.

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      March 14, 2017 at 8:52 am

      I agree, but with the exception of Thornton, I think everybody else is probably better as a 3-tech. They really don’t have that big body in the middle that can eat up space and keep the linebackers clean. I think Hankins would definitely be an upgrade, although probably a luxury at this point.

  2. Bogart

    March 14, 2017 at 10:32 am

    Terrible “take” on Burkhead. Every bit an every downer (see week 17 2016) and dude is built stout. He needs to sign else where.

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      March 14, 2017 at 11:16 am

      I said he is in every down player, but probably not a RB teams will want as their featured running back. I think he would be a great fit behind Ezekiel Elliott in Dallas.

      • Bogart

        March 15, 2017 at 1:59 pm

        FYI…huge Buckeye guy here and Zeke fan…But anyhow, I think we should ask the patriots and what they gave Burkhead what they thing of him………..and my bad u saying this thru me off : “He probably isn’t somebody that you want as a featured back, but he is more than capable of filling in. He is a tough runner and a good receiver out of the backfield. He also plays on nearly all of the special teams units.” ….That doesn’t scream you thought he was every down guy, makes it sound as if u think good back up only. Silly me.

        • Brian Martin

          Brian Martin

          March 15, 2017 at 3:13 pm

          I do think of him as an every down back, just not somebody I think NFL teams would want to be their featured back for a 16 game season. With the Patriots he’ll be in a rotation, which is what I think he is best suited for. They will use him in creative ways because he is a versatile offensive weapon. That is why I wanted him in Dallas.

          • Bogart

            March 16, 2017 at 8:46 am

            You heard it here folks from me…Burkhead will be main back for Pats and with 70% o the snaps……….Thx Brian, it’s been interesting.

          • Brian Martin

            Brian Martin

            March 16, 2017 at 8:54 am

            70% seems little high to me, but I do believe he will be the lead back. I’m looking forward to see what he could do with more playing time.

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Star Blog

2018 In Review: Byron Jones Emerges As CB1

Kevin Brady

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Byron Jones

Heading into the 2018 season Byron Jones was being asked to prove himself. The former first round pick had fallen out of the coaches' good graces during his third season, though many of his struggles could be attributed to those very coaches which were then questioning his ability.

Being asked to play out of position, or at least in a spot which did not maximize his natural ability, Jones struggled in 2017. Too often he was playing in the box as a safety where his lack of physicality was exposed by the opponent's run game. This was mostly due to the coaching staff falling in love with his tight-end-erasing ability in man coverage, but backfired when overused as a safety.

Once hired the following offseason, Kris Richard and company decided to move Byron Jones to cornerback full time, allowing him to utilize his excellent coverage skills and athletic ability to the fullest, rather than putting him at a disadvantage in the box.

The results? Well, Jones had one of the best seasons of any cornerback in football, earning All Pro and Pro Bowl honors for the first time in his young career.

Pro Football Focus on Twitter

Byron Jones had a dominant season for Dallas

Pro Football Focus graded Jones as the sixth best cornerback in all of football last season, allowing just 0.79 yards per coverage snap. Despite not having an interception on the season, Jones still earned national recognition as one of the best cornerbacks in the entire league.

Down the stretch of the season, Chidobe Awuzie started to play up to the level which fans had hoped for during the preseason. He had been sticky in coverage most of the year, but now he was making plays on the ball at a much better rate, forcing incompletions. This led to an increase in targets to Jones' side, and though the increase resulted in more catches given up by the number one cornerback, I don't think Jones' play faltered as much as some will have you believe.

The fact is, when you get targeted more you are bound to give up more catches and yards. The key is to force them into contested catches, and make things as difficult for the receiver as possible when targeted.

Byron Jones continued to do this all season long, and fans should be excited for the next step of his growth in 2019.



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Star Blog

Cowboys en Español: Comentando el Tope Salarial

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Time to Stop Making Excuses for QB Dak Prescott?

Por muchos años, el tema del tope salarial ha sido un tema sensible para los Dallas Cowboys. Entre dinero muerto y otros problemas, el equipo ha tenido una situación delicada en este aspecto. Sin embargo, para la temporada del 2019 tienen más espacio de lo que estamos acostumbrados.

Según Over The Cap, los Cowboys tendrán aproximadamente 48 millones de dólares disponibles en 2019. Es importante recalcar que este número no es definitivo y puede cambiar. Año tras año, esta administración ha sido aficionada de reestructurar los contratos de ciertos veteranos para liberar espacio salarial constantemente. Además de esto, hay varios jugadores bajo contrato que el equipo podría decidir cortar para liberar aún más dinero.

Al ver sólo 48 millones disponibles, es complicado imaginar un escenario en que el equipo logre satisfacer todos sus objetivos. Hay bastantes candidatos a grandes extensiones en el equipo, principalmente dos jugadores. En una liga en la que quarterback es la posición más importante, la segunda más importante podría ser la del caza cabezas, cuyo objetivo es ir tras el quarterback contrario.

DeMarcus Lawrence, Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks

Pues en Dallas, hoy dos  jugadores en estas posiciones que hay que extender. El más urgente sin duda es el defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence. Lawrence se puso el jersey del equipo cuando este lo designó a jugar bajo la etiqueta franquicia. Afortunadamente, el atleta de 26 años la hizo de soldado y jugó sin amenazar con faltar a entrenamientos ni pretemporada.

Lo que sí comentó es que no pasaría por lo mismo en 2019. Ahora, el momento está aquí y es tiempo de que los Cowboys lo extiendan. El valor de Lawrence es difícil de predecir, pero es bastante seguro que se acercará a los números de Khalil Mack. Mack hizo historia ganando un contrato que en promedio gana 23.5 millones al año. Si bien no anticiparía que lo supere, la cifra estará cerca al contrato del defensivo de los Chicago Bears.

Además está Dak Prescott, cuyo contrato probablemente estará por encima de los 25 millones anuales. Son contratos caros, pero son piezas fundamentales para el equipo. Definitivamente se les tiene que pagar a ambos. Son pilares que año tras año buscan equipos en toda la NFL.

Además de esto, Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott, Cole Beasley y más podrían tener un impacto en el tope salarial. Algunos buscan un contrato nuevo, otros una extensión. Pero honestamente, me parece que habrá más espacio en el tope salarial de lo que pensamos. Sólo es cuestión de tiempo para que los Cowboys comiencen a reestructurar a sus veteranos para ahorrarse unos cuantos millones para utilizar en agencia libre.

Tyron Smith, Tyrone Crawford entre otros pueden ser buenas opciones para comenzar este proceso. Antes era Jason Witten uno de los candidatos favoritos para este proceso, pero él ya se encuentra comentando partidos para ESPN. En Inside The Star, continuaremos actualizándote con contenido al día de los Dallas Cowboys.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: Comentando el Tope Salarial" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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Can the Cowboys Become Legitimate NFC Conference Contenders this Offseason?

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Can the Cowboys Become Legitimate NFC Conference Contenders this Offseason? 2

Super Bowl LIII is in the books, and the Dallas Cowboys can look back on a better-than-expected 2018 campaign. Having won the NFC East with a 10-6 record and bowing out to eventual finalists Los Angeles Rams, the Cowboys' young team can look ahead to 2019 as a chance to take another step forward.

The offseason is now upon us, with the NFL free agency period opening in the middle of March and the NFL Draft coming around at the end of April. Until those times, experts, pundits, and fans are left to assess their teams and predict their activities in the running to the start of next season.

The Dallas Cowboys are in a precarious position, with the team exceeding expectations, still being very young and having plenty of cap space, but also having many top-end players set to become free agents and being without a first-round pick in this year’s draft. There does, however, appear to be a way for the team to make improvements and solidify their place atop the NFC East and potentially go on to win in the Conference Finals.

Lock Down the Big Guns

Can the Cowboys Become Legitimate NFC Conference Contenders this Offseason?

@Randy81MossRetires, via Twitter

Many see DeMarcus Lawrence as the top potential free agent this spring, so the Dallas Cowboys need to do everything in their power to lock down the 26-year-old defensive end.

Vice President Stephen Jones has emphasized the team’s target of retaining their own stars, per Star-Telegram, with Lawrence, Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott, and perhaps Byron Jones being in the discussion for long-term deals.

As it stands, the team will have roughly $48.5 million in cap space for next season, which leaves plenty of space to re-sign their top players. They look set to let go of Tavon Austin, David Irving, and quite possibly Cole Beasley, among others, leaving a need to add reinforcements.

Adding New Talent

Can the Cowboys Become Legitimate NFC Conference Contenders this Offseason? 1

@brkicks, via Twitter

One of the most heavily rumored moves for Dallas in this free agency is picking up native Texan and former Legion of Boom linchpin Earl Thomas, per Forbes.

Against the Rams in the playoffs and throughout the season, the Cowboys lacked a defenseman who could make plays on the pass. Thomas is one of the notorious ball hawks in the league, boasting 28 career interceptions, three of which came in just four games of last season.

If the Cowboys can re-sign their stars while keeping some space for an Earl Thomas-sized contract, which clocked in at $10.4 million in 2018 for the Seattle Seahawks, their odds of going all the way next season will significantly increase.

Right now, the expected names of the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs lead the odds to win the next Super Bowl at +750. Behind them, the Rams sit at +900 having suffered a suffocating defeat in this year’s Super Bowl. Much further down are the Cowboys at +2500 right now with redbet. If they re-sign Lawrence, pay their young stars, and bring in Thomas, they’ll shoot up the table of favorites.

Then, there’s also the additions in the draft to consider.

The Cowboys may be without a first-round selection, but that may end up working in their favor. Round one of the 2019 NFL Draft is set to be laden with defensive selections according to most mock drafts, with a few quarterbacks sprinkled around and a minimal selection of offensive weapons. If the Cowboys re-sign Lawrence, they’ll be looking good at defensive end, so should then turn to giving Prescott another weapon in the passing game, which will also help to keep defenses honest and give Elliott more room to operate.

As stated, the NFL is a passing league, and Prescott exploded once he was given a viable option in Amari Cooper. Michael Gallup is expected to take another step forward next season, but just in case, the Cowboys can add another strong receiving option in the draft thanks to the strength of the defensive class. A.J. Brown of Ole Miss will almost certainly go in the first round, but exciting talents in D.K. Metcalf, Parris Campbell, Marquise Brown, and Deebo Samuel could all still be available when Dallas rings in during the second round.

Improving Dallas' pass options and pass defense will go a long way toward improving the team and allowing them to push on to a bigger and better campaign in 2019.



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