FRISCO, Texas – Head coach Jason Garrett says it every offseason: Free agency is a tool not just for roster improvement, but for covering needs in March so the Cowboys can draft 'as purely as possible' in April.
As the second week of free agency begins, the Cowboys appear to be eyeing options at certain positions now that the market has settled a bit and they've focused first on re-signing their own. The team brought tight end Jason Witten back from retirement on a one-year deal and hopes to get a long-term extension done with franchised pass rusher DeMarcus Lawrence. Several players, including receiver Tavon Austin and offensive tackle Cameron Fleming, have been re-signed since the new league year began last Wednesday.
Now, with the next free agency wave here, let's take a look at three spots that, at the very least, appear to have moved onto Dallas' radar:
Cole Beasley is a now a Bill, having reached a four-year deal with Buffalo that included over $14 million guaranteed. The Cowboys have some internal options to replace Beasley in the slot, including Austin, but on Monday news broke that they also scheduled a free-agent visit with veteran receiver/punt returner Randall Cobb.
Cobb has been a productive player for eight seasons in Green Bay, catching 470 career passes for 5,524 yards and 41 touchdowns. A hamstring injury limited him to nine games last year, but when healthy he's been a productive receiver in the slot and outside.
Even if a deal isn't reached, it's worth noting that the club is at least looking in this direction before draft time.
The Cowboys also reportedly scheduled a free-agent visit with veteran safety Clayton Geathers, who has started 24 games for the Colts since 2015.
Geathers, primarily a strong safety, started 12 games last season and posted 89 tackles with three pass breakups. A neck injury limited his availability the past couple of years, but he was a defensive captain and a solid player in the box when healthy.
Again, a deal might not materialize. But it's worth noting that the team has identified safety depth as a roster need this offseason. Xavier Woods had a promising first season as the starting free safety, and Jeff Heath is a steady veteran hand who can also play special teams. Beyond that starting duo, Kavon Frazier is entering the final year of his deal. The team did re-sign Darian Thompson, primarily a special teams contributor last season.
(UPDATE, 5:35 PM: The Cowboys are now expected to visit with free agent Eric Berry on Tuesday.)
Line depth is a priority with David Irving not expected back and Randy Gregory facing an indefinite suspension – but the Cowboys have already taken a steps to address both spots up front.
Last week they signed defensive tackle Christian Covington, a part-time starter for the Texans who should be able to help the against the run. On Monday they signed free agent defensive end Kerry Hyder, who had an eight-sack season in 2016.
More help could come through the draft. As Cowboys chief operating officer Stephen Jones said during NFL Combine week, the club can never have enough depth because defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli likes to use a deep rotation.