The Joke’s on the Dallas Cowboys if they don’t do this

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 12: Jaylon Smith #54 of the Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 12: Jaylon Smith #54 of the Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

The Dallas Cowboys stand to look like fools if they don’t start proactively re-signing their players now – here’s a look at what they face

Re-signing elite players is hard in the NFL. Really hard. That’s why the league gives teams like the Dallas Cowboys the franchise tag. By tagging a player, the team can continue to negotiate a long-term deal without the threat of losing him*

Teams can only use the tag on one player per year. This usually isn’t a problem since most teams don’t have multiple elite players hit free agency at the same time. Unfortunately/fortunately the Dallas Cowboys find themselves cursed by their own blessings with DeMarcus “Tank” Lawrence, Amari Cooper, Byron Jones, Jaylon Smith, and Dak Prescott all set to become free agents in less than 12 months.

Franchise Tag Note: technically, a team can steal a franchised player by handing over 2-first round pick but that’s extremely rare these days

All of the above players are expected to make top-5 money at their respective positions meaning negotiations will be hard-fought and intense. Guaranteed money has become a point of contention around the league and you can bet it will here as well. In other words, it’s going to take a while to re-sign all of these players.

Four Too Many

The last time the Dallas Cowboys had two seemingly elite players hit free agency at the same time they let one go (Dez Bryant and DeMarco Murray). And even then it took all the way up to the July 15th deadline to get a deal done with Dez.

Imagine trying to ink five elite players in one offseason before March…You can’t because it’s impossible.

Time is of the essence

If the Dallas Cowboys intend to keep these players, the time to start re-signing them is now. Now, I know the front office has been working as hard and as quickly as they can with Tank. I truly believe that will sort itself out in time. But they need multiple irons in the fire here. Dallas should already be working on extensions for Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper.

A couple weeks ago I discussed why Amari Cooper should be the next guy re-signed. His $13,924,000 price tag this season isn’t doing the team any favors and by signing him to a multi-year deal, Dallas can actually free up money right now. That can give them the room to ink Dak Prescott to a shiny new mega-deal. Something they can’t afford to wait on.

If Dallas can lock up Dak, Amari, and D-Law this offseason, they’ll be in a much more manageable situation next year. That would leave them Jaylon and Byron as pending free agents and nothing would stop them from negotiating during the 2019 regular season to get a jump-start on the 2020 offseason.

Huge Money

There’s rumors going around that some of these deals will be reasonable. They will not. All of these players are expected to get top-5 money for their respective positions. We’ve discussed before we expect Dak to get a deal in the $25-$28 million per season range. Lawrence will likely be in the $22-24 million per season range. And Cooper will probably pull in something close to $18 million per season.

Byron Jones was the NFL’s top corner the first half of the season and just average the second half. Now that we learned he was hampered by injury in the second half we understand why his play slipped and we can safely expect a return to greatness in 2019. $16 million per year is probably his baseline salary looking at the situation today.

Finally we have Jaylon Smith. Off-ball linebackers usually don’t break the bank but the franchise tag is still worth over $15 million meaning that’s the territory we’re talking about when we start talking annual salary.

And as we all know, the next year we have Ezekiel Elliott hitting free agency. This stands to take the longest and be the most tenuous of all negotiations given the position he plays and wide range of value people place on it.

Next. How the Cowboys maximize their return for trading Lawrence. dark

One thing is clear, if the Dallas Cowboys want to keep their core together they need to sign more than just DeMarcus Lawrence this offseason (which I’m still hopeful and relatively confident in). Even if they are OK letting Lawrence go this year (by trade or rescinding the tag) and they are willing to let Byron Jones leave in ’20, they still need to focus on Dak and Coop because next offseason is going to come fast, and it’s only getting more expensive.

  • Published on 04/01/2019 at 12:29 PM
  • Last updated at 04/01/2019 at 12:29 PM