FRISCO, Texas – The Cowboys are the only team in the NFL who can guarantee a player $17 million for one season and be criticized for "doing nothing."
Yeah, I get it. The DeMarcus Lawrence franchise tag wasn't something fans were worried about, so therefore, it doesn't really count. But in reality, it actually does count – on the salary cap – and because of that, your Cowboys aren't in the best position to go out and dominate free agency, even if they wanted to.
We've known for a while it's not their style to make huge splashy moves in free agency. I still think this team won't be quiet when the signing period begins on Wednesday.
For other teams, free agency is already in full swing. Nothing can be official until Wednesday at 3 p.m. (CDT), but we're already starting to see some announcements on players expected to sign with other teams. While the Cowboys weren't involved directly, they will be affected by some of them.
The first four big moves I saw Tuesday morning all have some kind of trickle-down effect on the Cowboys.
Hitchens to KC – This one is obvious, but not surprising. We knew teams had a lot more cash to spend, and for that reason, Anthony Hitchens just couldn't be retained. The Kansas Chiefs are reportedly going to sign him on Wednesday, paying him over $9 million per season. Considering Sean Lee's deal back in 2013 paid him about $7 million per season, you know this team wasn't in position to keep Hitchens around. This definitely affects the Cowboys, who now have to make sure and add some linebacker depth around Jaylon Smith and Lee.
Chiefs Get Watkins, Too – It seemed like the one player the Cowboys were really high on was Sammy Watkins, who looks and (sometimes) plays like a younger version of Dez Bryant. Watkins, who was coached by new Cowboys wide receivers coach Sanjay Lal in Buffalo, is apparently headed to Kansas City, along with Hitchens. Watkins is a big-bodied receiver with speed and might have been the player the Cowboys wanted to add as insurance if Dez is no longer on the team. However, Watkins is on the move, and it doesn't appear to be to Dallas. That leaves the Cowboys with a next-tier of receivers or keeping Dez.
Jags Sign Guard Norwell – The Cowboys are trying to hammer out this deal with Zack Martin. The contract will get done eventually, but Norwell's expected deal with the Jags is just the latest contract the Cowboys will likely have to top. For now, Norwell is going to be the NFL's highest-paid guard if indeed he signs a reported 5-year, $66.5 million contract. Norwell spent the last four years in Carolina, where he was named All-Pro in 2017, but has not made a Pro Bowl. Martin, meanwhile has made the Pro Bowl every year of his career with two All-Pro selections as well.
New WR Market? – If Allen Robinson is going to get a $42 million contract that averages about $14 million per season with Chicago, Dez has to be asking himself why in the world he would take a pay cut at all? And if he becomes available, he probably sees himself making that kind of money as well. So Robinson's reported deal to the Bears is the latest contract to set the market value and it seems to favor Dez. Other teams have a lot of money to spend, especially on a player with over 70 career touchdown catches.
And that's just four moves here on Tuesday. There will be more for sure, and probably a few that will affect the Cowboys.
At some point, Dallas will get involved in this mix as well. But don't forget, $17 million for this season is going to D-Law, and Martin is now going to get a deal that pays him north of $12 million a year.
Those are going to be your biggest splashes. But let's not rule out the Cowboys adding a player or two that could draw some excitement.
It just can't seem to happen fast enough for Cowboys Nation.