The Dallas Cowboys entered the 2020 NFL season with the hope that a new coaching staff and offensive game plan could lead them to the kind of postseason success that has eluded them for nearly three decades. Led by exceptional talent on both sides of the ball, the Cowboys’ leaders felt the club was just a few adjustments away from contending for the championship.
Fortunately, the team didn’t even qualify for the postseason.
With a team suffering from injuries and inefficiency, Dallas is at a crossroads. With Dak Prescott’s impending free agency and a career-altering leg injury, the Cowboys may have an interest in reshaping their team in search of a stable, long-term answer at the quarterback position. And while this will inevitably lead to the club making a bid for next season in 2021, it will once again have to overcome the financial hurdles that the organization would otherwise face.
While most other teams would almost certainly choose this route, Jerry Jones expressed that he would like to see the Cowboys do a postseason game as soon as possible. For an organization with such a mandate, it is doubtful that Dallas would attract any fire, regardless of the issue.
In doing so, the Cowboys need to weave the needle between selection and draft picks to get players who can contribute in the short term and maximize the space in their caps to contract long-term players. With less than two months to go before the start of Free Agency, here are three of our players the Dallas Cowboys should focus on by going back to propaganda.
3. Prescott Duck
The most obvious target for Dallas is also two-fold, as it will dictate the organization’s plans for the rest of the offseason. While one may doubt Prescott’s ability to regain the form that made him a valuable asset to the Cowboys, there is no denying that the QB always has a higher cap than any other player the team could find on the market or with the tenth pick of the draft.
But how the team brings Dak home will be just as important as his return.
With the uncertainty surrounding Prescott, the most obvious decision for the Cowboys would be to pick a franchise signee for next year. Given the nature of the rule, the tag could mitigate the long-term risk to the club if Dak does not return to its previous level of success. Additionally, the substantial salary a move would entail – estimated at more than $37 million for a QB in 2021 – would mean Prescott would feel alienated from the franchise, opening the door for a future contract extension between the two parties.
The problem for the Cowboys is that the franchise tag on Prescott will limit the addition of free agents. With the team in play through next year’s franchise calculations, the Roof franchise could mean the difference between zero operating space and tens of millions of dollars more. None of these options are ideal for a franchise that has a lot of holes to fill.
The only remaining option for Dallas would be to sign a multi-year deal that would bring his average down to a manageable level while giving Prescott financial security should the worst happen due to a leg injury. While neither side is happy with this arrangement – the Cowboys have to do without a long-term player with real question marks and Dak is forced to spend millions that he would have otherwise made up for – choosing the middle ground is in the best interest of both parties given the current circumstances.
With the Franchise Day deadline set at 7. As February draws to a close, signing Prescott will be Dallas’ first and most important decision in the next nine months.
2. Trent Williams
It’s not as loud as Prescott’s, but the injuries to the Cowboys on the offensive line were just as consistent as Prescott’s. In addition to the end-of-season injuries to La’el Collins and Zach Martin, the loss of Tyrone Smith’s left tackle helped dash Dallas’ hopes for a successful offense.
Although the former USC player is expected to make a full recovery from the neck surgery he underwent in October, the unpleasant reality for the Cowboys is that Smith will not be able to play the entire season. Although he only missed one game in his first five seasons in the NFL, the tackle missed at least three games in the next five years due to various ailments.
Now in his late 30s, Smith is unlikely to suddenly regain the solidity that made him one of the most reliable left tackles in Cowboy football.
Enter Trent Williams as a target for the Cowboys. After remaining a member of the Washington football team for the entire 2019 season, Williams returned to action as a member of the San Francisco 49ers. With his athletic ability and ability to work in space, Williams has proven to be one of the most adaptable offensive linemen in the game today. Watch a clip of him defending the quarterback in the passing game, and what definitely stands out is his lateral quickness against opponent rushes, his deep stance, and his active hands that keep the pocket from collapsing on the blind side.
While the Niners will certainly try to retain him for the upcoming season, the Cowboys would be remiss if they didn’t try to discourage him. While it’s a difficult proposition, it won’t be impossible for Dallas to sign a tackle if the league and players’ union agree to raise the salary cap above $190 million. In this scenario, as long as the Cowboys fix the aforementioned quarterback situation, the club should be able to get near the annual average Williams could ask for in Free Agency.
Targeting the best cowboys
1. Marcus Maye
The question is not whether Dallas will spend money this season to improve its defensive unit, but where and how much. A second obvious area could prove economically beneficial to the Cowboys, who spend some of their capital on some of the League’s cornerstones. As for the fail-safe position, look no further than Marcus May.
Marcus Williams and Anthony Harris don’t have the safety ceiling of their teammates, but May more than makes up for it with his incredible versatility and ability to work anywhere the team needs him. Against the Buffalo Bills in the first game of the 2020 season, Maye not only played as a deep defender, but also worked from the line of scrimmage and lunge, grabbing two sacks, two pass breaks and a forced awkwardness (!).
With the Cowboys defending in the bottom third of the championship by nearly every measure available, the team’s ability to add differentials that can affect different aspects of the game will be crucial. I don’t think they can do any better than Marcus May.
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