Free Agency Blues: Don’t be mad at Dak, be mad at the Dallas Cowboys

The idea that Dak Prescott is somehow responsible for a lackluster free agency is laughable because it’s the Dallas Cowboys front office who should really get the blame

The Dallas Cowboys have been underwhelming in their free agency actions this year, and that’s to put things mildly. Dallas has let their sack leader, top cornerback, best defensive tackle, only veteran slot receiver, and starting safety all depart to greener pastures. Covering their losses has been an assortment of spare parts consisting of over-the-hill stars, and affordable spare parts.

While some could argue there were some slight upgrades here and there, an argument can also be made the Cowboys just swapped their problems with someone else’s problems. Combine that with Travis Frederick’s sudden retirement and you have a pretty rough start to the new season.

Why are the Dallas Cowboys doing so little to help their team? Some think Dak Prescott is why. With his long-term status still unresolved, the term “hostage” has come up in some of the harsher Cowboys circles. The feeling is his franchise tag is holding the team back because it ties up funds and prevents Stephen Jones and Co. from being able to afford other players.

This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Don’t get me wrong – the salary cap is finite. You can’t spend with reckless abandon. It’s just highly manipulatable. The Dallas Cowboys can afford so much more.

The reality is, Dallas has plenty of money to re-sign their own AND pursue others. Teams all over the NFL are doing so much more with so much less. The Cowboys front office will tell you they are being frugal shoppers – thinking about the long-term health of the club. That sounds great but again, it’s not reality. Salary caps aren’t as rigid and straightforward as the owners want you to believe.

Catch up here: The Salary Cap is Fake News. But in a nutshell, money can be moved and the bill doesn’t always come due (and when it does it’s at a reduced impact).

The Dallas Cowboys front office isn’t doing anything because they don’t want to. That’s it. They’re able to re-sign their own star players. They’re able to sign outside star players. They just haven’t.

Look at our NFC East rivals, the Philadelphia Eagles. They entered free agency in much the same shape as the Cowboys, yet they were able to keep their best players and signed some of the best free agents on the market. And I have news for you – the long-term health of their cap is just fine.

Cowboys’ brass doesn’t want to spend their money. They had money unspent last season and they’ll probably play this season with a ton of money under the cap. The fact that they’re not pushing the limits hurts them extraordinarily. Dak’s contract situation isn’t the problem.

Even when Dak signs his gargantuan extension, Stephen Jones will still have a boatload of room to operate. He won’t, of course, but that’s on him.

In all fairness, the Dallas Cowboys have operated this way for a while. They’ve rarely hit the free agent market very hard and have long preferred to invest in their own. The problem is they deviated from that this season as well because they aren’t even keeping their own.

Letting Byron Jones walk is almost unforgivable. Knowing what we know now (coverage is more important than pass-rush) it makes zero sense to purposely take a step back like this. They also let their pass-rushing defensive tackle walk. He signed with Oakland for peanuts and Dallas made no effort to keep him (he’s 24-years-old and rated No. 4 in interior pass-rush win-rate last season). Gerald McCoy was a nice replacement but he didn’t need to be. He could have been an addition. Dallas could have kept their best cornerback, re-signed their DT to a cheap 1-year deal AND added Gerald McCoy to fill out the line.

Don’t get me wrong – the salary cap is finite. You can’t spend with reckless abandon. It’s just highly manipulatable. The Dallas Cowboys can afford so much more. The logic behind this inactivity is questionable. It may be as simple as making as much money as possible (less money to payroll = more money in the pocket), or it could be blind faith in young players. Byron Jones seems to think it’s the latter. It may also be the Dallas Cowboys are trying to keep their powder dry to invest later.

Maybe they aren’t sure of the direction of the team and want to be able to adjust strategy as they go. It’s hard to say exactly. But what’s clear is these are self-imposed limitations. Dak Prescott’s contract demands are not limiting the Dallas Cowboys in free agency. This is on them.

Next: Draft: 5 CBs is 5 different rounds for the Cowboys to consider

The people who don’t like Dak Prescott are going to blame Dak for everything they can – up to and including the construction of the entire roster. But this isn’t about Dak. It’s about the Dallas Cowboys front office and their unwillingness to spend.

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