The start to the NFL's free-agent signing period is March 13. But the Cowboys, like all teams, can negotiate contracts with their own free agents before they hit the open market.
Of course, that market is exactly what some of these expected free agents are anxious for: to see exactly where they stand and what kind of value they can offer to other teams, or perhaps the Cowboys once again.
Today, let's take a closer look at a handful of free-agents-to-be for the Cowboys and make a case for them to either return or hit the open market.
Cole Beasley, WR
Beasley just finished his seventh season as the Cowboys' slot receiver. Amari Cooper's midseason arrival reduced Beasley's targets, but he still finished with 65 catches for 672 yards – the second-highest totals of his career – with three touchdowns.
Making the Case: No one under contract on the current roster can match Beasley's skill set as a shifty space player. He's been a reliable option for quarterback Dak Prescott, he can return punts and he's durable, having played all but one game over the past five years.
Forecast: The Cowboys want Beasley back, but their offseason to-do list is pretty full with possible extensions for Prescott, Cooper and others. Beasley, who turns 30 next month, has a window to maximize his earning potential now. Most likely he tests the market and sees how much interest he gets from other teams first.
Jamize Olawale, FB
The Cowboys swapped late-round draft picks with Oakland in a deal for Olawale last March. He appeared in all 16 games, primarily as a lead blocker and special teams contributor, and caught two passes for 13 yards.
Making the Case: The Cowboys have always used a fullback in head coach Jason Garrett's offense, and Olawale's versatility as a runner helped them go lighter at running back last season. He also led Dallas with 13 special teams tackles.
Forecast: The Cowboys have interest in keeping Olawale for the above-mentioned reasons, and with Kellen Moore taking over as offensive coordinator, it's possible they look to expand Olawale's role on offense.
L.P. Ladouceur, LS
Jason Witten is back, but Ladouceur is still the oldest player on the roster (turning 38 on March 13). He just completed his 14th season as the club's long snapper, the critical first gear in the kicking operation.
Making the Case: Why mess with consistency? Ladouceur literally hasn't had a noticeably poor snap in 14 seasons. The Cowboys usually bring an extra snapper to training camp every year, but there's a reason no one has challenged Ladouceur for the job.
Forecast: Garrett told reporters at the NFL Combine that he expects Ladouceur to return for a 15th season.
Datone Jones, DT
Signed to the roster late in 2017, Jones has been a productive player in the defensive line rotation when healthy. But he appeared in only one game last season (Week 3 at Seattle) before a hamstring injury sidelined him for the rest of the year.
Making the Case: Jones has experience as a part-time starter since 2013, when the Packers drafted him in the first round. The Cowboys also need depth in their defensive tackle rotation with David Irving and Caraun Reid set to be unrestricted free agents.
Forecast: The Cowboys could let Jones test the market first, but don't rule out a return given their needs at tackle.