NFL free agency has begun and deals are being made, as we speak. The Dallas Cowboys, never ones to eagerly attack the first few days, have a pretty hefty to-do list on their hands this spring. They have so many holes and deficiencies that must be addressed, they cannot reasonably expect the draft to do all the heavy lifting.
Plugging holes isn’t the same as solving problems. Traditionally, the Cowboys prefer to do the latter and call it the former. Such behavior has resulted in a multitude of misjudgments and missed opportunities.
The Dallas Cowboys have more needs than useful draft picks and need to use free agency to fill holes with solutions rather than use it for band-aids
While the Dallas Cowboys have an impressive track record in the draft, it’s still a gamble with not-so-immediate results. Known as “majoritus crapshooticus” to scholars, the draft can’t be expected to fill more than a few holes and oftentimes the holes that are filled are not the holes that were prioritized.
Looking at last season, the Dallas Cowboys entered free agency with a huge need at starting WR, starting LG, DE, and CB. They had lost Amari Cooper, Connor Williams and Randy Gregory – none of which were exactly replacement-level players.
Dallas did next to nothing in free agency to truly address these positions. They rolled into the draft almost destined to take a step back at all of the aforementioned spots. A case can be made that with the exception of LG, all the other positions were indeed downgraded. In the case of WR, downgraded significantly.
The Dallas Cowboys could be looking for as many as five starting players this offseason
The Cowboys put too much pressure on the draft to fill their needs, it was no wonder why they struggled in very predictable areas all offseason. The weaknesses identified in March of 2022 were the same weaknesses that plagued them during the season and ultimately doomed them in January.
They were predictable and solvable if only the Cowboys had used free agency to properly address one or two. Not by just plugging holes, but by finding solutions (quality over quantity here).
The top weaknesses for 2023 appear to be
Depending on what happens with LVE and Wilson, we can probably add LB and SAF to the list as well. If Johnathan Hankins leaves, Dallas needs a new starting DT. And finding a starting offensive lineman might be wise as well since Connor McGovern is gone and both Terence Steele and Tyron Smith may be playing their last seasons in Dallas.
The Cowboys put too much pressure on the draft to fill their needs, it was no wonder why they struggled in very predictable areas all offseason.
The Dallas Cowboys could be looking for as many as five starting players this offseason and that assumes Jake Ferguson is up the task of TE1. How many can they responsibly except the draft to fill? Two starting positions? Three maybe?
Last draft was one of the best classes they’ve had and they still only found two regular starters in 2022 (Tyler Smith and DaRon Bland). Sam Williams, Damone Clark and Ferguson were all useful players, but they weren’t starting quality players as rookies.
As such, the Cowboys shouldn’t expect the draft to fill more than a couple holes in 2023. They need to keep expectations realistic and use free agency to do some heavy lifting. Not just use free agency to fill out the bottom of the depth chart.
Much like last offseason, there are too many holes to leave to the draft. The Dallas Cowboys have to definitively FILL a couple positions now in free agency or they risk doing the same thing that doomed them last year.