Grading the Dallas Cowboys offseason leading up to the draft

Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports /

Now that the Cowboys have pulled two pretty significant trades, let’s look at and grade the Dallas Cowboys offseason so far.

Going into this offseason, things looked pretty bleak for the Dallas Cowboys. Another disappointing playoff loss, a defensive coordinator sure to go to another team to coach, cap troubles etc. How could this team possibly improve such an already talented yet underperforming roster?

Pretty early on it was made clear that the Dallas Cowboys wanted to get their coaching situation figured out. Making sure DC Dan Quinn stayed on to lead the defense for a 3rd year may have been the most significant move this whole offseason. OC Kellen Moore was let go after a disappointing offensive season and HC Mike McCarthy has decided to call plays. Kellen Moore was quickly picked up by the Chargers to fill their OC spot.

Key players had contracts restructured to ensure they had enough cap space to re-sign players for this season and future years. Some of the restructured contracts on the Dallas Cowboys include Dak Prescott and Zack Martin, which opened up around $30 million in cap space. Cutting Ezekiel Elliott helped save some money off the cap as well.

With the extra cap space the Dallas Cowboys were able to re-sign defensive role players keeping last year’s dominant defense almost fully intact. Trevon Diggs, Micah Parsons and Demarcus Lawrence are the stars of this defense but re-signing safety Donovan Wilson and LB Leighton Vander Esch helped to stabilize the secondary. They also re-signed Cooper Rush and placed the franchise tag on Tony Pollard.

Outside of re-signing expiring contracts, the Dallas Cowboys haven’t made any big splashes in free agency. However, they have made two potentially hugely beneficial trades. Trading for CB Stephon Gilmore and WR Brandin Cooks fills arguably the two biggest holes this roster had going into the offseason.

Stephon Gilmore has been linked to the Dallas Cowboys for a few years. At age 32, Gilmore is still believed to be an upgrade at CB. Cowboys’ fans saw how thin they were at the position last year when both Anthony Brown and Jourdan Lewis went down with season-ending injuries. The Cowboys also only sent a 5th round pick to the Colts for Gilmore making this trade easily a no-brainer for Dallas.

Another low-risk possibly high reward trade is getting Brandin Cooks from the Texans for just a 5th and 6th comp pick. Like Gilmore, Cooks has been linked to the Dallas Cowboys in the past, Dallas nearly traded for the WR last season. This fills a need for a number two receiver with Gallup coming off an ACL injury. It helps that the Texans are paying a 3rd of his salary as well, costing the Cowboys just $12 million next year.

This has clearly been a successful offseason so far for the Dallas Cowboys given the big moves didn’t cost them a whole lot in the event either Gilmore or Cooks don’t work out. Even more exciting for the Cowboys is the flexibility going into next month’s draft. After filling top needs like CB and WR, the Cowboys have the opportunity to draft the best player available regardless of position.