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The Dallas Cowboys turned around a 3-5 start in the 2018 season and ended up going 10-6 while losing in the Divisional Playoff round to the Super Bowl runner-up Los Angeles Rams.
Dallas’ offense was awful before the mid-season acquisition of Amari Cooper, but the trade immediately helped turn the season around for the Cowboys. Dallas ended up winning one playoff game and losing by 8 points to the NFC champion Rams. That just goes to show how close the Cowboys can be to making a Super Bowl run if they improve a handful of positions. They failed to properly address the Wide Receiver position last offseason and paid the price early in the year until they brought in a stud #1 in Amari Cooper. That lesson shows that shaping up a position in the offseason is key or it will inevitably cost the team important games during the season. So going into the 2019 offseason what positions need to be improved or solidified going into free agency and draft season?
Safety: After moving Byron Jones to cornerback from safety last season it meant that Jeff Heath and Xavier Woods would be the starting safety duo for the Dallas Cowboys. They didn’t play bad but it is a position that needs improvement to turn the defense into a certified juggernaut. Jeff Heath is a valuable player for the Cowboys but he just wasn’t good enough in pass defense and overall last season. The Cowboys need to find a player to replace Heath that can make big plays over the middle and take the ball away, something the Cowboys’ secondary did too little of last year. The free agent safety crop is insanely loaded this year and the Cowboys have multiple solid options, depending on what they are willing to shell out for a playmaking safety in free agency. Obviously, Earl Thomas has been linked to the Cowboys and there has been mutual interest from both sides, but the price looks to be too steep. Thomas wants somewhere between $14-$15 million a year and the Cowboys are willing to pay between $8-$10 million reportedly, which makes it look unlikely they will get a deal done. Other free agent safeties like Landon Collins, Tyrann Mathieu, and Lamarcus Joyner cashed in and received very large contracts, especially for safeties. Cowboys fans shouldn’t be discouraged however, there are still some great options that we can get cheaper than those big name signings. How to address?
- Free Agency: Earl Thomas(Unlikely), HaHa Clinton-Dix(my personal favorite option at this point), Tre Boston, Clayton Geathers
- NFL Draft: Jonathan Abram(would likely have to trade up), Juan Thornhill or Chauncey Gardner-Phillips.
Any of these players, matched with Xavier Woods’ versatility would create a formidable safety corp that is much upgraded over last year’s unit.
The Cowboys receiver core pre-Amari Cooper was a disaster and not a good enough for a playoff hopeful team. The addition of Amari Cooper improved the receiver core greatly and gave the team a certified elite #1 receiver. The Cowboys are now in need of a slot receiver to pair with Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup on the outside after Cole Beasley signed with the Buffalo Bills this morning on a 4-year, $29 million deal. As of right now the Cowboys have Tavon Austin on the roster but he could be walking in free agency but even if he doesn’t he’s never proved to be a great every down slot, he’s more of a gadget player. Allen Hurns could contribute to the slot in house and maybe Cedrick Wilson, last year’s draft pick that missed all season with a shoulder injury, could contribute but even so the wide receiver position is thin and the Cowboys should look to draft someone to take on the slot role and contribute. How to address?
- Free Agency: re-sign Tavon Austin
- NFL Draft: Deebo Samuel, Parris Campbell, Andy Isabella, Penny Hart, Mecole Hardman, Riley Ridley, Hunter Renfrow, Greg Dortch
Any of these players from the draft would be great depth and possible starting play, at a cheap price.
Defensive End/ Defensive Tackle:
Defensive Line was a strength in 2018, so why is it a position of need now? Well the team’s second-leading player in sacks, Randy Gregory, has been suspended indefinitely again and is not someone that can be relied on. David Irving wasn’t any impact last year at DT but assuredly so now after he took to Instagram live and quit football basically so he could continue smoking weed. Bizarre. The Taco Charlton pick from two drafts ago is looking like a huge bust and Demarcus Lawrence is yet to sign a deal to play the 2019 season for the Dallas Cowboys. So now what? w\Well, the Cowboys must sign Demarcus Lawrence long-term! Then, they should resign Caraun Reed at DT, possibly sign a value at DE in free agency, and draft a DE and DT in the draft. The draft is deep in interior lineman and there should be some good DE options on the board for the Cowboys first pick at 58. These moves would immediately solidify the D-line and allow it to continue to be a strength of the team. Some options to pursue:
- Free Agency: Caraun Reid(re-sign), Benson Mayowa, Dion Jordan, Bruce Irvin
- NFL Draft: Jaylon Ferguson, Chase Winovich, Charles Omenihu, L.J. Collier, Daylon Mack, Gerald Willis, Khalen Saunders, Isaiah Buggs
With arguably the best running back in the NFL on the roster it’s hard to believe running back being a need. But with Rod Smith a free agent and never providing any pop coming off the bench, it is time to find a backup to Zeke that can provide another gear and diversify the run game for the Cowboys. There have been reports of interest of a trade for Duke Johnson, but I think the Draft is the best way to attack this and get a young back for a low price. There will be many options late in the draft that could provide depth and possibly some lightning to Zeke’s thunder. There have many diamonds in later rounds at RB and it is a deep class this year. Picking up someone in a late round like Justice Hill or Bryce Love would be outstanding for Dallas’ running back corp. Ways to address:
- Free Agency: Duke Johnson(trade), Ty Montgomery, T.J. Yeldon
- NFL Draft: Justice Hill, Bryce Love, Rodney Anderson, Miles Gaskin, Trayveon Williams
Positions of Moderate Need that should be addressed for depth:
- Tight End
- Offensive Tackle