Offseason | 2022

Dividing 22 Unrestricted Free Agents Into 4 Groups


FRISCO, Texas – And without much warning, the season is over.

That's the way it happens sometimes and for the Cowboys, it's happened much more than others in the past few decades.

Even a great season like this 12-win campaign can end in a matter of hours with a loss to the 49res.

So with that, it's on to the offseason and before we can even think about the draft, free agency will hit in March.

The Cowboys have 22 unrestricted free agents whose contract will expire in March. Let's look at those guys and divide them up into four priority groups.

Difference Makers

  • Randy Gregory
  • Dalton Schultz
  • Michael Gallup
  • Jayron Kearse
  • Bryan Anger

Analysis: Each guy in this group will be difficult to re-sign, mainly because of the Cowboys' salary-cap limitations. The best one will probably be Anger, who has admitted playing with John Fassel has benefitted his career. But the others will be tough. Kearse will likely be tied to Dan Quinn, who found a role for him to have a career year. Gallup's situation is tricky with the injury and then there's Gregory, who is likely finally ready to cash in. It does seem unlikely Jerry Jones will let him go without a fight, considering how long he has supported Gregory.

Starting Material

  • Dorance Armstrong
  • Malik Hooker
  • Damontae Kazee
  • Keanu Neal
  • Jake McQuaide
  • Leighton Vander Esch
  • Connor Williams
  • Cedrick Wilson

Analysis: Like all free agents, each one has their own storyline – some of them changed even with this last game. Cedrick Wilson was a borderline "difference-maker" and might not have helped himself too much in the last game. Same could be said for Williams. On the other hand, Vander Esch had his best game of the year against the 49ers, a run-heavy team that played to his strengths. McQuaide had a great year as the snapper and could be back. The other safeties – Hooker and Kazee – both came back strong from Achilles injuries and it seems probable the Cowboys would try to sign one of them.

Solid Contributors:

  • Noah Brown
  • Ty Nsekhe
  • Malik Turner
  • Brent Urban
  • Carlos Watkins

Analysis: At some point in the year, all of these guys had some kind of key role that helped the team. Injuries cut into Urban's season and Brown was more of a special teams player. But even Turner had a couple of fourth-quarter touchdowns to make the Denver game look better than it was. Nsekhe filled in at tackle when needed and even Watkins found the end zone in New Orleans. These are the types of players that help fill out a roster and provided needed depth.

Backup Roles:

  • Francis Bernard
  • Maurice Canady
  • Luke Gifford
  • Jeremey Sprinkle
  • Corey Clement

Analysis: The best of the bunch here is Gifford, who likely could've been in a higher category. He was a special teams player but did have a big penalty in the last game on a kickoff return. But overall, he's a player the Cowboys would likely want to. Keep. The other guys will probably come down to depth and what happens with other players on the roster. Again, value on special teams will take these players a long way.

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