Dallas Cowboys: It’s what Jones wants, not what fans want

ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 05: Rowdy, the mascot of the Dallas Cowboys, cheers with fans during a football game against the Kansas City Chiefs at AT
ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 05: Rowdy, the mascot of the Dallas Cowboys, cheers with fans during a football game against the Kansas City Chiefs at AT /

As Dallas Cowboys fans talk about what the team should do, we all need to remember it is what the Jones family wants, not what we want.

One thing that has long perturbed Dallas Cowboys’ fans is the team not moving in a direction they would like to see in either free agency or the draft. While some moves have been exactly what some wanted to happen, others have left fans scratching their heads. Remember, this is the Jones’ team, and they will do what they want.

This offseason has brought a lot of talk about what will happen in free agency and in the draft. With a 9-7 record and no playoff appearance, the Eagles winning the Super Bowl (ugh I still hate saying that), and some serious questions to the depth on the team. The discussion of what the Cowboys should do has been all over the map. Almost everything has been mentioned except maybe getting a new running back.

This last week has been about Earl Thomas, drafting defensive tackles, and of course, releasing Dez Bryant and getting his replacement in the draft. While all of this sounds good, much of what fans are wanting will probably not happen. There are a few reasons for this, but the Jones family is at the top of the list.

The Jones Family

Let’s be honest here, many fans are not happy about Jerry and Stephen being the GMs of the Dallas Cowboys. They are fine with them being the owners, but wish they would leave football decisions to people who “know football.” As much as fans want this, the Jones family will not be giving up GM duties, even with Will McClay on the staff.

Both have said they would rather sign their players and bargain shop in free agency. Does this mean they won’t look for a way to sign Earl Thomas? No, but it does mean the likelihood isn’t as strong as many fans would like. They feel that they have been burned too much in the past to spend a lot of money on free agents. So unless Thomas can be had at a fairly reasonable cost, it would seem the Joneses are fine with letting him go to another team.

This will probably not make a lot of fans happy, but since when have they listened to the fans? They don’t, as much as sometimes we wish they would. This means in all of the other situations fans are talking about, we shouldn’t hold our breath.

Some of the topics we could see go against the majority of fans is, keeping Dez Bryant (although I do think they should keep him), grabbing a defensive tackle early, keeping Anthony Hitchens, drafting a safety early, and of course going in on free agency.

Deciphering History

No one knows what will happen in the offseason. Sometimes a team will surprise you with how they play free agency and the draft. Just when you think you know what will happen, you are wrong. However, let’s look at a little history to see what is most likely to happen.

The Dallas Cowboys, with Rod Marinelli as the defensive coordinator, do not value a 1-technique defensive tackle. This means the big body clogging up the middle of the line is not something they see as a necessity, regardless of what we fans would like to see. So while this doesn’t take someone like Vita Vea off the table in the first round, it does mean not to be surprised if they don’t pick him in the first.

Elsewhere on defense they love to find guys who can play multiple positions, or as they say, are “versatile.” Finding a safety who can also play cornerback or a linebacker who can play safety is always a possibility in the draft. While this may not make a lot of fans happy (see Byron Jones), it is part of how they have gone the past few seasons.

The other thing they love on both sides of the ball are guys who fell in the draft for certain reasons. This means if there is an injury history or small off the field issues, the Dallas Cowboys are willing to roll the dice later in the draft. They seem to believe in the boom or bust philosophy as the draft wears on. This could mean Maurice Hurst could be had in the middle rounds with his recently diagnosed heart ailment.

On the offensive side of the ball it is clear they do value the offensive line, although not so much in depth. This means value over proven players in free agency, and early in the draft for starters, and very late in the draft for depth. This could mean less likelihood of an offensive line player in the fourth or fifth round and more likely in the sixth and seventh.

All of this really means that they could play less in free agency for starters, grab high in the draft for what they feel they need right now, and pick late in the draft for their backups with the hopes they find a gem. If you are hoping for a starting quality wide receiver or linebacker in free agency, I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Best Guesses

So what does this all mean? Well, technically nothing if we are being honest. However, there are some best guesses just based on what we know over the last few years. Let’s take a stab at this using some logic.

I would expect them to renegotiate several players to free up some cap space, so they can explore depth in free agency. This means that I do not think they will cut Dez Bryant, but will try to redo his contract, along with several other players. This should free up enough space to shop for depth at linebacker, safety, defensive line, quarterback, and offensive line. Maybe not all of those positions will be addressed in free agency, but that is probably where I think they will look.

This would mean in the draft they will say they will go best player available. I would think multiple linebackers are likely, as are offensive line and defensive backs. This would mean at least one defensive tackle and maybe a defensive end in the draft as well for depth and rotational players. With ten picks, a backup running back and wide receiver will be grabbed as well. I would assume a quarterback for depth either very late or as an undrafted free agent.

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I don’t think they will simply let Dez walk without what they view as a real number one receiver. Terrance Williams is not a number one (barely a number two in my opinion), and I don’t see them thinking Brice Butler is a viable number one either, so he won’t be brought back. That means they either have to grab one in free agency or walk into 2018 without a true number one, if they let him go.

Let’s be honest, a rookie in the draft is almost never a difference maker right off the bat. I would expect at least one more year with Dez as part of the wide receiver corps.

To save money, I do believe they will not pursue a running back in free agency, which means I would look for one in the middle of the draft. Ezekiel Elliott is without a doubt the number one and it is safe to think Rod Smith will be the number two. That would mean depth in the draft.

It’s Anyone’s Guess

So will any of this happen? Maybe, maybe not. What we do know is that not everything we want to see happen will and some things we want to see happen actually will. While we can all argue as to what we would like to see, it really is up to Jerry and Stephen as to what will actually happen.

Next: Cowboys Draft: Should versatility be something to avoid?

I do think Will McClay will push some better ideas to the Joneses, but at the end of the day they will do what they want. Just looking at the past few seasons can give us an idea of what they will and will not do. Listening to the wordsmithing they do in interviews will give even more clues. However, we move forward wanting, but we shouldn’t move forward expecting.