Fixing the Dallas Cowboys in Five Moves: February Edition

Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports /
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Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports /

The Dallas Cowboys have been in the NFL offseason for over a month now, after what many would consider a disappointing year. The team had playoff aspirations at the beginning of the season; they ended the season third in their division. What ultimately decided their fate was a week 17 loss to the New York Giants that ended any chance of making the playoffs.

Holding the 10th pick, and with a lot of their injured veterans coming back for the upcoming 2021 season, hope has once again resurfaced amongst fans. If the Cowboys can bring back quarterback Dak Prescott on some form of a contract, the team is in a good position to win the often lousy NFC East because of his supporting cast on offense.

Here are five steps the Dallas Cowboys should take this offseason

While that transaction does help the team significantly, there are questions to be asked about the defense; a unit that was historically bad to start the 2020 NFL season.

With the minimum salary cap roughly $20 million less than pre-pandemic projections, the Cowboys will likely try to sign relatively inexpensive free agents and rely on the draft to inject talent onto the squad.

Dallas Cowboys Bargain Shopping

The biggest issue with this approach is that it hasn’t yielded ideal results, especially in the last two seasons. In 2019 and 2020, the team signed these free agents from other teams to contracts:

Randall Cobb, WR
Christian Covington, DT
Kerry Hyder, EDGE/DT
George Iloka, SAF
Gerald McCoy, DT
Dontari Poe, DT
Aldon Smith, EDGE
Everson Griffen, EDGE
Haha Clinton-Dix, SAF
Greg Zuerlein, K
Andy Dalton, QB
Cameron Erving, OT
Blake Bell, TE
Maurice Canady, CB

As it currently stands, the only player from the last two free-agent classes who likely isn’t set to leave the organization is Greg Zuerlein, the kicker… In a very warped sense, this is a testament to the front offices drafting ability as the coaching staff clearly believes the in-house talent is better than the guys they sign off the street.

But what if that perception is just wrong? The team has gone 14-18 the last two seasons and has had defensive DVOA ranks of 16 and 22 in 2019 and 2020 respectively. Ranks that low are difficult to overcome even with the best offenses in the league. In 2020, the Dallas Cowboys had the 24th highest offensive DVOA in the league; they never stood a chance against good teams.

I’ve rambled on about how bad the Cowboys have been defensively and in free agency and how that’s had an adverse effect on the team; now it’s time for me to once again put on my GM hat and go to work on a roster that now has the third-highest available cap space of any team in the league.

The first order of business is… pretty simple actually.