The Dallas Cowboys got worse and hope that makes them better

(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

No matter how you look at things, the Dallas Cowboys have taken a step back since the close of the 2021 NFL season. With dozens of free agents on the roster, turnover was predicted, if not expected.

But instead of strategically picking who to keep and who to jettison, the Dallas Cowboys appeared to have only one thing in mind with their roster decisions: save money.

Virtually all of Dallas’ high priced options departed, paving the way for their cheaper and less talented replacements. Dorance Armstrong, Malik Hooker, Noah Brown, and Michael Gallup were all commendable retentions, they just weren’t the top choices to keep at any of their position groups.

The Dallas Cowboys have declined in talent and neither free agency nor the draft can change that

Amari Cooper, Randy Gregory, and Jayron Kearse entered the offseason as priority retentions, and as of today two of the three are officially gone with Kearse still floating in limbo. To make matters worse, replacements of equal or greater value have also gone off the market ensuring the Dallas Cowboys will downgrade at those respective positions.

Position groups Dallas can still upgrade remain largely untouched. Linebacker returns Micah Parsons, Leighton Vander Esch, and Luke Gifford but that’s about it. Bobby Wagner is the most notable free agent LB and Dallas has only flirted with the idea of adding him. Granted, his age and the length of his deal need to play a big part, but as one of the only positions that can still be upgraded in free agency, the time to move is slipping by.

Safety has some upgrades and lateral moves out there as well. While the idea of Donovan Wilson and Malik Hooker starting together sounds nice, their injury histories are more than a little concerning. And when you factor in how many 3SAF defenses Dan Quinn uses, two durable safeties aren’t enough.

As discussed yesterday, (article below) the offensive line has done nothing but take a massive step back. The second best tackle, La’el Collins, is gone, as is the second best guard, Connor Williams. While the Cowboys seem content with Terence Steele taking the reigns at RT, left guard is wide open (Connor McGovern isn’t an option).

This team is clearly taking a step back (talent-wise) from last year and there aren’t enough draft picks or free agents still available to change that.

O-line was a disaster down the stretch for the Dallas Cowboys and almost singlehandedly doomed both phases of the offense. Priority No 1 this offseason (the OL) remains unaddressed and the Cowboys seem to be relying on the draft to fix it. The only problem is all the other positions that need to get fixed by the draft as well.

Dallas needs speed at WR. All of their top-3 options are sub-4.5 WRs. They likely need to use a top-60 pick to fix that. So with guard and WR taking the top two picks in the draft that leaves their third rounder to fix DE, LB, SAF, OT, and TE.

Keep in mind, there’s only a 20% chance a pick outside the top-100 becomes a multiyear starter. We can’t just assume these Day 3 picks are going to do anything to help the Dallas Cowboys fill holes.

There’s still time in free agency to add players. And given the number of vacancies on the roster, Dallas will do just that. What they won’t be doing is upgrading over last years’ roster. This team is clearly taking a step back (talent-wise) from last year and there aren’t enough draft picks or free agents still available to change that.

Addition by subtraction seems to be the goal. If not, then what the heck are they thinking?  It’s possible too, given the stability of some of the most important positions on the roster.

You can’t do much of anything in this league without a franchise QB and the Dallas Cowboys have that with Dak Prescott. Say what you will about Ezekiel Elliott but Zeke and Tony Pollard are quite the duo in the backfield if used correctly.

DeMarcus Lawrence, Zack Martin, and Tyron Smith are still Pro Bowlers you can build your lines around and Trevon Diggs and Micah Parsons are changing the game as we know it.

light. Must Read. Are the Dallas Cowboys underselling their issues on the O-line?

5 Steps the Cowboys must take to salvage free agency. dark. Next

This isn’t a disaster in Dallas but we need to accept reality and that’s the Cowboys took a big step back in talent on their roster and the draft isn’t going to change that. Hope for improvement falls on the remaining players playing better and overall better coaching. That’s it.