FRISCO, Texas – Over the next week, 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 some players who are getting a lot of interest from other teams. The Cowboys know they can't sign everyone and unfortunately for them, some of these guys will fall into that category.
Cedrick Wilson – The Cowboys have a big decision to make at wide receiver, starting with Amari Cooper. And then with Michael Gallup, who appears to be close to re-signing a long-term deal with the Cowboys. So where does this leave Cedrick Wilson? The Cowboys want to bring him back but the money will probably dictate that he plays somewhere else in 2022. The do-it-all receiver showed his versatility and value last year. There are teams that will probably pay Wilson to be a No. 2 receiver, where in Dallas he's probably going to be the No. 3 and maybe fourth receiver if they draft one early. If the market allows him to return, the Cowboys would jump at the chance but it doesn't seem likely.
Dorance Armstrong – Here's another guy the Cowboys would like to re-sign. But the market will probably price them out of it. The tricky part here is the decisions the team has to make at defensive end with Randy Gregory and/or DeMarcus Lawrence. There's just not enough money for all three, especially if Armstrong is going to command a deal more than $5-6 million per season. The Cowboys are expecting Armstrong to get plenty of attention when free agency starts and they are bracing themselves that he won't be able to return.
Malik Hooker – Last season was tough to evaluate Hooker, who was coming off the Achilles injury. But by the end of the year, Hooker started to get more comfortable back at the safety position and it seems as if he's a higher priority right now to re-sign than Damontae Kazee. They would love to bring both Hooker and Jayron Kearse back. But Hooker gives them a free-safety with range and experience. And he should be fully recovered and rehabbed from the injury, getting him to the point where he could return to his first-round level.
Leighton Vander Esch – Put him in the same boat with Wilson and Armstrong. The Cowboys would like to have him back. But LVE will probably get more on the open market than the team can afford right now. Plus, Vander Esch needs to be on a defense or a division, that will have a different style than we saw last season. His best game occurred against the run-oriented 49ers. Look for him to get some offers, maybe in the AFC North. But if the market dries up before he gets a deal and his price tag has to be lowered, the Cowboys would likely make a play at re-signing him.
On Friday, we'll focus on some of the bigger names of free agency, from the potential superstars to the Pro Bowlers and more.