Dallas Cowboys: What should we expect from free agency?

ABC commentator Al Michaels talks with Dallas Cowboys CEO Stephen Jones November 14, 2005 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. The Cowboys defeated the Eagles 21 - 20. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
ABC commentator Al Michaels talks with Dallas Cowboys CEO Stephen Jones November 14, 2005 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. The Cowboys defeated the Eagles 21 - 20. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images) /

With free agency on the horizon and the Dallas Cowboys not expected to be very active, we should probably look past free agency, right?

Over the past few weeks the top two executives for the Dallas Cowboys, Stephen and Jerry Jones, have repeatedly stated that they will not spend a lot in free agency and they will maintain the philosophy they have had the past few seasons. Does this mean we should just start looking past free agency? Well, the answer is not so easy.

Looking at the past few offseasons for the Dallas Cowboys, it is hard to get excited for another free agency period. They will sign players they feel are valuable, and maintain a roster that won thirteen games two seasons ago. Unfortunately, coming off of a poor 2017, it is hard to buy into this team not needing any upgrades.

Sure, we can say they will find an upgrade or two in the draft, and they might find a little depth as well, but can we say this team will be better than 2017? Just a quick look at the roster, the needs seem to be (in no particular order), guard, safety, linebacker, running back, quarterback, defensive tackle, defensive end, tackle, tight end, and wide receiver.

Now, we know running back, quarterback, and tackle are more depth than anything. Wide receiver is interesting, since many fans want to see Dez Bryant gone, but he will most likely be here, so it will be his eventual replacement (and maybe if we are lucky, Terrance Williams’ replacement).

However, we could argue that the Cowboys need a starting guard, defensive tackle, a swing tackle, defensive end (if they lose Irving via free agency), a tight end (truthfully we have zero idea what we have in Rico Gathers), safety, and linebacker are all in need of starters or quality depth players. How many can the Cowboys realistically fill in the draft of just those needs? Two? Maybe if you get lucky, three? That means free agency has to be used to fill some holes.

The issue here is the Cowboys have decided they will not be major players, which is fine, but after watching the last two years, they may not be average players either. This is not saying they have to go get the best, or even one of the top 3 players, at a position. They just have to target quality players that can fill holes for about two years. Looking at how they played free agency last season, there is shaky confidence that they will do so.

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Before they can even think of pursuing anyone, the Cowboys have to get cap space. Without any space they won’t even be able to get bargain bin players. Currently the Dallas Cowboys have as of this writing, Team Cap Space: $3,192,438. That is not enough money to make any moves. Simply put, this means renegotiation of contracts will happen as will some cuts.

It doesn’t help that the Cowboys have $14,811,112 in dead money. With about $8.9 million for Tony Romo, the rest is from Benson Mayowa, Nolan Carroll, and Cedric Thronton. In order to get money the Cowboys have to move money around to future years, cut players, and use incentive laden deals. Not the easiest of tasks, but also not impossible.

This would be why the Cowboys seem so bent on not venturing into free agency. They don’t have the money, and they don’t want dead money.

The problem is, at some point you have to find quality in free agency. Most of the time rookies take a season or two before they become high quality starters. Not everyone you find in the draft will be Ezekiel Elliott. Some positions, like wide receiver, usually take a few seasons even if they are first round picks.

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So with the start of free agency, don’t expect too many moves from the Dallas Cowboys. Most of the moves will be internal at first, with some potential movement after a few weeks. If they are smart they will make a play for one of the positions that you can’t usually plug and play from the draft. If not, it could be another haul like 2017, and to be honest, we could do with a lot less of that. If you want to follow the cap space for the Dallas Cowboys, head over to Over The Cap, here.