Fix-it Friday: The Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys have had an interesting few years. After everything seeming to come together last offseason (outside of the Dak Prescott extension) with Ezekiel Elliott’s contract, new head coach Mike McCarthy, and bolstering their offense with WR CeeDee Lamb in the draft, the Cowboys looked set to compete for the Super Bowl.

Then, they got off to a slow start with a record of 1-3. Their season seemingly came to an end in Week 5 against the Giants with Prescott receiving an season-ending injury (despite squeaking out a win in that game). The Cowboys ended the season with a 6-10 record, miraculously barely missing out on he playoffs with just a game behind the NFC East Champions, Washington Football Team.

There is no denying that the Cowboys are one of the most popular teams in the NFL. They always seem to be in the Super Bowl conversation (aided by out-spoken Owner Jerry Jones), yet they haven’t made the Super Bowl since 1995. In fact, they’ve only won 4 total playoff games since their Super Bowl win in 1995.

Head Coach and General Manager:

The Cowboys hired former-Packers head coach Mike McCarthy last offseason. It seemed like a fantastic hire at the time, but even before Prescott’s injury, this team was disappointing on the field. McCarthy made a big deal out of analytics (the way the NFL is moving towards), yet most of his in-game decisions screamed the exact opposite of the correct analytics decision. Too much turnover for a franchise is not good, but if the Cowboys don’t make the playoffs again, they would need to move on from McCarthy.

As we all know, Jerry Jones is not just the owner of the Cowboys, but he’s also the general manager. He’s made some good decisions over the years, but 4 playoff wins since 1995 is just downright bad. At some point, Jones needs to put aside his ego and hire an actual general manager, or at the very least hire a true football guy as an advisor. I don’t see either really happening though, as Jones has gone on record saying that he doesn’t see the point of owning a franchise if he doesn’t get to make all the moves. It’s like owning a fantasy football team, but having someone operate it for you and you don’t really have a say on the roster. Not too much fun, huh?

Cap Space: $20 million

Cut/Trade:

A lot of the Cowboys moves to free up cap space have already been done, but this is the first time I’ve never listed a player to be cut or traded. They have most of their money tied up in their best players, and after that, the rest of the roster doesn’t have that much money. The Cowboys have restructured multiple contracts this week after the Prescott signing, and have somehow freed up $17 million in cap space.

Re-sign:

Cameron Erving, OT

Chidobe Awuzie, CB

Antwaun Woods, DT

The Cowboys don’t have much that they need to re-sign. Most of their free agents either have Pilates below expectations, or just aren’t necessary in being in a position that the Cowboys have depth at. Their offensive line and secondary are weak. Erving won’t cost too much coming off a injury, but Awuzie will cost a bit more, simply because he started at CB last year and he would be in like to start again this year in Dallas.

Free Agency:

The Cowboys are set at most offensive skill positions and linebacker, but that’s about it. They can make additions at every position outside of WR, RB, QB, and LB.

Tier One:

Joe Thuney, G

Matt Judon, EDGE

Hunter Henry, TE

Shaquill Barrett, EDGE

Tier Two:

Melvin Ingram, EDGE

Mike Pouncey, C

Keanu Neal, SS

Corey Linsley, C

Bud Dupree, EDGE

Patrick Peterson, CB

Russell Okung, OT

Yannick Ngakoue, EDGE

Alex Mack, C

Markus Golden, EDGE

Jadeveon Clowney, EDGE

Alejandro Villanueva, OT

Jason McCourty, CB

Leonard Floyd, EDGE

Jared Cook, TE

Mike Hilton, CB

Olivier Vernon, EDGE

Desmond King, CB

Tier Three:

Josh Norman, CB

Ryan Kerrigan, EDGE

Dalvin Tomlinson, DL

Everson Griffen, EDGE

Austin Blythe, G

Jimmy Smith, CB

Matt Skura, C

Quinton Dunbar, CB

Shelby Harris, DL

Tedric Thompson, S

Jason Verrett, CB

Tyler Kroft, TE

Sheldon Rankins, DL

Shaquill Griffin, CB

John Johnson, SS

Ndamukong Suh, DL

Levi Wallace, CB

Draft:

Round One:

10th Overall:

Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern

Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech

Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama

Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech

Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami

The top two needs for the Cowboys is very simple: offensive line, and secondary. Tackle and cornerback are more important, and higher on my big board, so it’s very easy to plug in these four guys listed above. They also need to solve the weakness at edge rusher that has been there since DeMarcus Ware left Dallas.

Round Two:

44th Overall:

Liam Eichenberg, OT, Notre Dame

Landon Dickerson, IOL, Alabama

Tyson Campbell, CB, Georgia

Jayson Oweh, EDGE, Penn State

Jevon Holland, S, Oregon

The priority here should still be offensive tackle or cornerback, but there is value here with either Dickerson or Holland. Edge rusher is obviously still in play here, with Oweh being great value with this pick.

Round Three:

75th Overall:

Walker Little, OT, Stanford

Josh Myers, IOL, Ohio State

Asante Samuel Jr., CB, Florida State

Rashad Weaver, EDGE, Pitt

Marvin Wilson, DL, Florida State

Hunter Long, TE, Boston College

Andre Cisco, S, Syracuse

Along with the usual positions from before, the Cowboys need more depth along the defensive line, not just edge rushers. That positions has been somewhat of a revolving door for them the past few seasons, so a rookie who can start in a year or two is much needed.

99th Overall (compensatory pick):

Ifeatu Melifonwu, CB, Syracuse

Jordan Smith, EDGE, UAB

Tommy Tremble, TE, Notre Dame

Talanoa Hufanga, S, USC

Tyler Shelvin, DL, LSU

The Cowboys should’ve taken an offensive lineman (or two) by now, so I’ve removed them from now on. They really should hit the defensive secondary before now, or now, with the help of this compensatory pick. The Cowboys offense should put up a lot of points, which means their opponents will be throwing the ball a lot.

Round Four:

115th Overall:

Cameron Sample, EDGE, Tulane

Richie Grant, S, UCF

Kenny Yeboah, TE, Ole Miss

Tedarrell Slaton, DL, Florida

There are other positions the Cowboys can look at a little later to add depth at strong positions, but they still need to be targeting these four positions (after already addressing offensive linemen and a cornerback).

138th Overall (compensatory pick):

Wyatt Hubert, EDGE, Kansas State

Hamsah Nasirildeen, S, Florida State

Noah Gray, TE, Duke

Milton Williams, DL, Louisiana Tech

Cornell Powell, WR, Clemson

The Cowboys are loaded at receiver, but you can also take a shot one someone deep in the draft. Powell was buried in the depth chart at Clemson, but he showed brilliant flashes when given a chance this past year. Amari Cooper costs a lot, and Michael Gallup’s contract is coming up.

Round Five:

179th Overall:

John Bates, TE, Boise State

Bobby Brown III, DL, Texas A&M

Josh Imatorbhebe, WR, Illinois

Rhamondre Stevenson, RB, Oklahoma

JaCoby Stevens, LB, LSU

The Cowboys have Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard under contract at running back for the next few seasons. Same with Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylen Brown at linebacker, but every position needs depth; you never know when the worst can happen and your strongest position becomes your weakest.

Round Six:

194th Overall:

Tre McKitty, TE, Georgia

Ta’Quan Graham, DL, Texas

Tyler Vaughns, WR, USC

Chris Evans, RB, Michigan

Anthony Hines, LB, Texas A&M

The Cowboys can wrap up this draft with any of these positions that they haven’t already addressed. I like the sixth and seventh round prospects more in this draft class than usual. It wouldn’t surprise me, especially in this year with much less information than normal for teams, if there are some serious gems in the last few rounds.

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