FRISCO, Texas - So far here in free agency, the two biggest moves involving the Cowboys have been at the same position.
The team lost a productive slot receiver in Cole Beasley. They've replaced him with Randall Cobb.
In the world we live in now, we like to compare everything. So it's only natural to sit here and wonder if the Cowboys actually have gotten better or worse with the subtraction of Beasley and the addition of Cobb.
Of course, we won't really know that until the start of the season but why wait for that? Let's try to project this right now.
On paper, it looks like the Cowboys have a better deal.
Cobb is slightly younger than Beasley, who will turn 30 next month. Cobb turns 29 in August.
Cobb has better stats, catching 470 passes for 5,524 yards and 41 TDs. Beasley has 319 for 3,271 and 23 touchdown catches.
Oh yeah, and Cobb is also cheaper, signing for just $5 million per season while Beasley's deal averages out to over $7 million a season.
However, nothing is as simple as it looks. Teams do the necessary homework on all of these guys. There is a reason that Beasley's market is much higher. The Bills are guaranteeing $14 million of Beasley's deal and the Cowboys even offered him a contract of about $6 million a season. That's more than the one-year, $5 million contract that Cobb has agreed to.
So the market value for Beasley was higher – even with him being a year older and having less stats.
The reasoning there has to come down to availability. Beasley has missed just one game in the last five years, and that was the 2017 season finale in Philadelphia when the Cowboys had already been eliminated from the postseason. Yes, he might get his share of bumps and bruises, but he finds a way to get on the field.
As for Cobb, the veteran hasn't been as fortunate in avoiding injuries. Last year, he played in just nine games as he dealt with hamstring issues. Cobb hasn't played a full 16-game season since 2015.
That is why the success of this signing, and comparing him to Beasley, will hinge on Cobb's overall health.
When he's been on the field, he has been a better player and more productive than Beasley, whose best season was in 2016 when he had 75 catches for 833 yards and five touchdowns. Cobb had one Pro Bowl season in 2014, catching 91 balls for 1,287 yards and 12 scores.
Cobb averages 11.8 yards per catch, compared to Beasley's 10.3 – which is one of the reasons why the Cowboys could get more big-play potential with the former Packers receiver on the squad. Of his 41 career TD catches, 13 have occurred from 30 yards or more. Beasley had just two touchdown grabs longer than 30, including the remarkable 32-yard catch he made in the 2018 season finale against the Giants to win the game.
But Cobb also has 22 career TD catches inside of the 10-yard line, meaning he could be a valuable asset for the Cowboys, who struggled mightily in the red zone last season.
One thing Beasley and Cobb will have in common is that neither one needs to be the No. 1 receiving target. Playing mostly from the slot, Cobb and Beasley will get the opportunity to find soft spots in the zone, exploit mismatches and take advantage of the defensive attention that might be in other places.
Where the Cowboys could benefit the most from having Cobb is his ability to line up wide and perhaps stretch the field. With Beasley, his role was limited when he wasn't in the slot. So with Amari Cooper expecting to line up all over the place next year, the Cowboys can still utilize their slot player on the outside in some formations. That alone might be the biggest difference in having Cobb over Beasley.
Again, assuming he can stay healthy and contribute on a consistent basis.