Over the past few years, the Dallas Cowboys have very little in free agency. They proudly proclaim every winter they will NOT be players for top-tier free agents, but instead will shop in the proverbial “bargain bin”. And every offseason they hold true to their word.
There have been no smokescreens, no surprise pickups, not even trades in the draft. Exactly as they say, they do. While people like honesty, strategically it does them no good. It has allowed teams to maneuver around the Cowboys, both in the free agency and in the draft.
However, this is only one of the issues plaguing the front office each offseason. For all of the attention the Dallas Cowboys get during the regular season, they are still the most talked-about offseason team as well. There are already so few secrets with this team, telegraphing your moves doesn’t help.
The Dallas Cowboys are telegraphing moves, signing bad deals, looking for late bargains, and so much more.
Perhaps one of the worst things this front office does is mismanage its own roster and cap. When the front office had a chance to lock up Dak Prescott, they decided to not match the market rate and the offer was ultimately rejected. As we all know, a year later they eventually signed Prescott but it was for an even larger amount the next season. The same story unfolded just a year prior to that when they decided to play hardball with Ezekiel Elliott and eventually caved to his desired salary.
We all know they “love their guys”, but when it came time to pay their star cornerback they let him walk. Instead they re-signed an injury-prone, flash in the pan, off-the-ball linebacker to a deal two years early. A mistake they’re still paying for today.
This year they are now contemplating letting DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory walk, with no backup plan in place outside of moving Micah Parsons to end full-time. They seem to be hoping that a depth player from last year develops or maybe a “bargain bin” free agent steps in. But chances are they are just forcing themselves into using a premium draft pick to cover the hole.
But the strangest case is that of Amari Cooper. Rumors have swirled that the Cowboys are toying with cutting Cooper and trying to re-sign Michael Gallup in hopes he can be their WR1, or perhaps WR2 if they feel CeeDee Lamb could take over full-time on the outside.
For what it is worth, in 2020 over 90% of Lamb’s snaps were from the slot, and from weeks 2-9 this season he played about 61% outside, but as soon as Amari and Gallup were healthy went back to about 16% outside rate.
The knowledge that teams have about Cooper potentially being cut, drops his trade value. Why would teams give up resources such as players or picks when they expect him to get cut eventually anyway?
Yes, some teams may not want to get into a bidding war, but with free agency and the draft approaching, no one’s desperate for a WR. The mere fact everyone knows what is going on only hurts this team’s ability to make moves.
While teams are enjoying the first week of free agency the Jones family has been on vacation. This has happened for years now and is now expected by fans, even joked about. Jerry and Stephen will get on radio or TV and tell everyone what they are doing, they believe they are smarter than everyone else. They will make their own moves, in their own time, and in their own way.
While teams are manipulating the cap to field a potential Super Bowl team the Cowboys like their guys, want to keep their guys and blame the players for their wanting market values for their position.
Instead of making moves quietly, offering fair market value, and understanding positional value, they march forward hoping their way is finally the right way, so that they can say “I told you so.” They are their own worst enemy, and it might be time to change how they approach things.