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FA Forecast: What's Next For Witten, Byron & Lee 


With a new coaching staff and a long list of eligible free agents, the 2020 offseason promises to be a fascinating and critical stretch for the Dallas Cowboys.

The NFL's free agent signing period officially begins March 18, when unrestricted free agents can test their value on the open market. The Cowboys also have a March 18 deadline to make qualifying offers to their restricted free agents and obtain right of first refusal.

With so many decisions looming, the staff has grouped the Cowboys' 30 free-agents-to-be into five categories to analyze throughout the week.

We continue the five-part series with a closer look at a few unrestricted free agents who don't need any introduction. However, they might not be with the team next year for a variety of reasons.

It doesn't mean the Cowboys won't try to get these guys back on the team, but there will be some tough decisions to make. 

Tough Decisions:

Michael Bennett, Defensive Tackle:

The Cowboys made a mid-season trade to acquire Bennett in October after Tyrone Crawford was placed on the injured reserve list, and Bennett forced 24 quarterback pressures in just nine games. Bennett is 34, but he will likely be valued somewhere in the NFL for his veteran leadership and winning reputation. Don't forget that Bennett has also hinted at retirement so it's a possibility he doesn't play for any team next year.

Sean Lee, Linebacker:

After 10 years with the Cowboys, it's safe to assume that the team would be interested in bringing Lee back to continue his career in Dallas, even if just for his veteran presence alongside Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch. But Lee, who will be 34 at the start of next season, said that he plans to take a month with his family to rest and evaluate his decision to return to football. After a career burdened by injuries, Lee played snaps in all 16 games last season, including a Week 15 win over the Rams in which he recorded a sack and an interception. He finished second on the team in tackles.  

Jason Witten, Tight End:

The future Hall of Famer and all-time club leader in career receptions is currently considering his future in football. He hasn't ruled out a return in 2020, in which he would almost certainly be a member of the Cowboys. But Witten will be 38 at the start of next season and has already stated that he sees himself coaching in the NFL in the future. 

Byron Jones, Cornerback:

The Cowboys selected Jones 27th overall in the 2015 Draft, and he's provided value in the form of superior athleticism and versatility, playing multiple seasons at safety before switching back to his natural position of cornerback in 2018 and being selected to the Pro Bowl. He has only recorded two interceptions in his five-year career, but his ability to cover both tight ends and receivers may make him appealing to other teams in free agency. 

Maliek Collins, Defensive Tackle:

A number of defensive linemen in the Cowboys' rotation are currently free agents, and Collins' future may be affected by the decisions made with Michael Bennett, Robert Quinn, and Christian Covington. The Cowboys drafted Collins, 24, in the third round in 2016. He started all 16 games for Dallas last season. 

Next Up:

  • Friday: High Priority Free Agents (5 Players)

More FA Forecast: