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FA Forecast: Can Cowboys Keep Their Top Players?


FRISCO, Texas – Over the next few days, a lot will change in terms of the Cowboys roster, especially when the official free-agent signing period opens on March 16.

But between now and then, there will be a few other deadlines, including Tuesday, the last day teams can place the franchise tag on a player. Also, there will be a two-day window in which other teams can start negotiating with free agents before the start of the new league year.

So expect some chaos to occur regarding the this team, which has over 20 unrestricted free agents on the list.

Today, let's focus on the remaining free agents – the key players who have been the headliners from the start. These are the guys that will likely make or break the free-agency period for the Cowboys, who will likely try to keep all of them if possible.

Bryan Anger – He's on this list because he was a Pro Bowler and second-team All-Pro in 2021, his only season with the Cowboys. Anger also set Cowboys punting records for net average and proved to be a big weapon. How much will that be worth on the open market? We'll find out but the Cowboys definitely want to keep him and it sounds as if he enjoys playing in John Fassel's scheme that always helps punters and their stats.

Michael Gallup – According to reports, the Cowboys are getting close to finalizing a deal with Gallup. But if they are indeed trying to trade Amari Cooper, it's unlikely any news or announcement on that front will come before that. Gallup, despite rehabbing a torn ACL injury, should be back on the team next season. The bigger question is when he'll be ready considering he suffered the injury in early January and didn't have surgery for a few weeks after that.

Randy Gregory – Arguably the biggest mystery of free agency for the Cowboys. One thing seems pretty clear at this point – Gregory will get to test the market. Projections of what kind of contract Gregory will get are all over the map – anywhere from $6 million per season to the $15 million range. When that happens, it usually ends up close to the middle. If so, will the Cowboys be able to even afford that? We'll find out but we know how Jerry Jones and the Cowboys feel about Randy Gregory the person and player. Let's see if the two sides can figure out a deal to keep him here.

Dalton Schultz – This one has already had some changes to it as the Cowboys placed the franchise tag before Tuesday's NFL deadline. That means Schultz will probably be on the team this year, assuming he either signs the one-year tender offer of $10.9 million or the Cowboys reach a new long-term deal with their tight end. The only change would be if another team decides to sign him to an offer and the Cowboys refuse to match the deal. They would then have to negotiate compensation with that team. Usually, signing away a tagged player results in two No. 1 picks but it could be less than that if the Cowboys were willing to take it. But overall, it would seem likely Schultz remains with the Cowboys for this season at least.

Jayron Kearse – The Cowboys added Kearse towards the end of free agency and his signing came with little fanfare. As it turned out, it was one of the best signings in team history, considering that he didn't cost much, he wasn't a big-name addition but ended up leading the team in tackles. Now, what will it cost to keep him? That's the question that the Cowboys and even Kearse's agent don't really know. The market will dictate what happens with Kearse but the Cowboys are going to do what they can to keep him, possibly even before the market opens up next week.