FRISCO, Texas – The Cowboys’ first big question of free agency has been answered, and it wasn’t exactly a shock.
Cole Beasley found himself a new deal on the second day of free agency, agreeing to terms on a four-year, $29 million contract with the Buffalo Bills.
NFL clubs can’t officially sign their new players until Wednesday afternoon, when the new league years opens. But Beasley took to Twitter himself on Tuesday afternoon to confirm the news.
The deal illustrates the drawing power of free agency perfectly. Beasley’s new deal in Buffalo reportedly includes a guarantee of $14 million – which is more than the total value of his last contract in Dallas.
Beasley joins the likes of Jamison Crowder and Adam Humphries, both of whom signed big-money deals on Monday despite playing primarily out of the slot. Spending patterns in the early going of free agency have certainly proven that NFL teams value the position.
The news won’t come as a surprise for the Cowboys. Beasley had made it clear for months that he intended to investigate the market, and while the Cowboys expressed interested in bringing him back, it always sounded like a tall order.
Beasley’s departure will once again create a new look for the Dallas offense. Jason Witten is back in the huddle, to be fair, but Beasley has been the Cowboys’ slot receiver for six years and has been one of their top options since 2014.
That raises the question of whether the club will look within their own locker room or without the organization for a replacement. Last month at the NFL Combine, chief operating officer Stephen Jones went out of his way to mention Allen Hurns as a possibility for the position.
“When you look at Hurns and what he was at Jacksonville, he was a slot,” Jones said. “He’s certainly an option if we lose Beasley in terms of filling that role, but we’ll just have to see how that plays out.”
Jones has a point. Hurns’ best professional season saw him catch 64 passes for 1,031 yards for the Jaguars, playing mainly as a slot receiver. It’s worth noting, though, that the veteran is currently rehabbing from the gruesome ankle injury he suffered in the playoff win against Seattle.
As for other options, the Cowboys also spent a sixth-round draft pick on Cedrick Wilson last spring, and they signed speedy veteran Devin Smith to a futures contract back in January. Smith was a second-round pick out of Ohio State back in 2015, but injuries derailed his career with the New York Jets.
The next couple months will bear monitoring, as well. The Cowboys have not signed any outside free agents to this point, but there are still veteran receivers available. The 2019 NFL Draft class is also stocked with wide receiver talent, if the front office would rather replace Beasley with a rookie.
However that plays out, it won’t include Beasley, who departs the club that discovered him as an undrafted free agent with 319 catches for 3,271 yards and 23 touchdowns.
The Cowboys can count on seeing him soon, however. While the NFL schedule won’t be released for another month, the Bills will travel to AT&T Stadium next season.