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Offseason | 2024

Cowboys forego franchise tag in 2024 free agency


FRISCO, Texas — As the NFL offseason calendar begins to take root following the conclusion of the 2024 NFL Combine in Indianapolis, the window for teams to declare which player, if any, they'll use a franchise tag on has officially closed. For the Dallas Cowboys, the 14-day timeframe was of no consequence, at least not this time around.

The organization has, as expected, opted to not utilize the team’s tag this season and, as such, each of their pending 16 unrestricted free agents will indeed hit the open market if no deal is reached with them prior to March 13.

When legal tampering gets underway on March 11, each player will be able to take offers from any of the other 31 teams.

Here is a list of Cowboys' talent who are on expiring contracts:

Defensive back:

  • Stephon Gilmore, CB
  • Jourdan Lewis, CB
  • Jayron Kearse, S
  • C.J. Goodwin, CB
  • Noah Igbinoghene, CB

Offensive line:

  • Tyron Smith, OT
  • Chuma Edoga, OT
  • Tyler Biadasz, C

Tight end:

  • Sean McKeon, TE

Running back:

  • Tony Pollard, RB
  • Rico Dowdle, RB

Defensive line:

  • Dorance Armstrong Jr., DE
  • Dante Fowler Jr., DE
  • Johnathan Hankins, DT
  • Neville Gallimore, DT


  • Trent Sieg, LS

And, in case you were wondering, here are the updated costs of a franchise tag this year, per position, based upon the newly-released and explosive 2024 salary cap that lands at $255.4 million:

  • QB: $38.3 million
  • LB: $24 million
  • DT: $22.1 million
  • WR: $21.8 million
  • DE: $21.3 million
  • OL: $21 million
  • CB: $19.8 million
  • S: $17.1 million
  • TE: $12.7 million
  • RB: $12 million (note: this is a 1st tag amount, not a 2nd)
  • ST: $6 million

This offseason marks the first since 2016 in which the Cowboys have decided to not use one, following one being placed on Dez Bryant (2015) and preceding two consecutive uses on DeMarcus Lawrence (2018, 2019). They've applied the tag in every single offseason since, including twice to Dak Prescott (2020, 2021) and then to Dalton Schultz (2022) and Tony Pollard (2023).

The latter rushed for a second consecutive 1,000-yard season while operating under the tag last year, but head coach Mike McCarthy acknowledged that it didn't mirror the success or explosiveness from the year prior and, all things considered, there was little to no chance the Cowboys would tag Pollard a second time at a cost of 120% of Pollard's 2023 salary.

That isn't to say they aren't interested in negotiating with Pollard or several other names on the aforementioned list of pending free agents — e.g., Tyron Smith, Stephon Gilmore, Jourdan Lewis, Johnathan Hankins, Dorance Armstrong, etc. — but rather to note their aversion to fully guaranteeing a high-end one-year deal that would unnecessarily press against their cap.

Instead, they'll negotiate without a tag, in the hopes of re-signing any and every player they set out to, also understanding that, without it, they're not simply negotiating against only themselves.

They'll be doing so against the rest of the league.

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