Dallas Cowboys fans, was Stephen Jones right after all (Collins, Cooper, Gregory)?

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

The Dallas Cowboys, namely Stephen Jones, fell under much scrutiny this offseason when they parted ways with Amari Cooper, La’el Collins, and Randy Gregory this offseason. Seen as a team on the cusp, many expected the Cowboys to go all-in in 2022. Instead, the Cowboys cut bait with some of their highest profile players.

Cooper, Collins, and Gregory have all been seen as elite players in the NFL in the relatively recent past. And all are still within the prime years of their careers, meaning a return to greatness is completely possible (hence, their current contracts).

The moves sparked outrage from an already-jaded Cowboys fanbase that has seen austerity trump competitiveness since Stephen Jones has taken the lead role in personnel. Early in camp, Jerry Jones discussed the matter, citing “availability (or lack thereof)” as the main reason all three are elsewhere right now.

And when camps opened up and two of the three departed players were placed on lists that prevent them from practicing, it seemed Jerry and Stephen had a point.

The problem wasn’t the Dallas Cowboys cutting Cooper, Gregory, and Collins, but rather not replacing them.

The “I told you so” movement from the Dallas Cowboys front office and their most faithful followers seems to be missing the point. The point is the Cowboys removed their problematic underachievers but did next to nothing to replace them.

Fowler and Washington were effortlessly signed for peanuts this offseason for a reason

In fact, losing Gregory was an accident and not a calculated move, so it’s completely disingenuous to take credit for his departure when it was he who dumped the Cowboys (not the other way around).

To ask carry-over players to just “get better” isn’t solving the holes left by the aforementioned three. No matter how highly we think of them, the most we can reasonably expect them to improve is what…10 percent? 15 maybe?

CeeDee Lamb is in store for a career year but he was no slouch last season either. A 10 percent improvement on his numbers would equate to 87 receptions for 1,212 yards, and seven touchdowns. I’m not sure we can reasonably expect much more than that. Keep in mind, he’s going to be getting all the defenses’ attention this year.

Terence Steele improved to be a below-average starting RT last season. His movement is excellent but his strength and ability to handle a bull-rush is problematic. Early showings in camp indicate this hasn’t changed much. Will he improve over last year? We assume the 25 year-old will, but his strength looks capped on how much.

the issue Cowboys fans have isn’t that underperforming veterans were cut, but the fact no one was signed to replace their production.

Dorance Armstrong has improved every year he’s been in the NFL and is still only 25 (younger than Steele). He should be better, yes. But numbers aside, he can’t come close to doing the things Gregory could physically, and shouldn’t be expected to pick up much of the slack (other than what one would expect from an increased volume of opportunities).

Some may point to Dante Fowler and James Washington as the veteran signings that will replace Gregory and Cooper. To think either player is remotely capable of replacing the production of their respective predecessors is fantasy land.

Fowler and Washington were effortlessly signed for peanuts this offseason for a reason. It wouldn’t be surprising if Fowler and/or Washington misses the 53-man cut altogether when you look at the situation on the roster. Replacements? Please.

That’s the issue Cowboys fans have with the front office this offseason. Not that underperforming veterans were cut, but the fact no one was signed to replace their production.

Look at the NFC this year. There are three good teams, otherwise it’s wide open in this conference. But instead of going all-in and seizing the opportunity, the Dallas Cowboys cleared the deck and cashed out their chips so they could have flexibility in 2023.

light. Must Read. Dante Fowler: Standout season in 2022 or surprise cut?

Next. The Cowboys offseason was not addition by subtraction. dark

The Dallas Cowboys made moves that helped them compete in 2023. Plain an simple. Since they didn’t replace they players they cut, it doesn’t matter even if those missing players fail on their new teams. The Cowboys got worse.