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Offseason | 2024

Jones explains Cowboys' 2024 free agency map


FRISCO, Texas — It's been a mostly quiet free agency for the Dallas Cowboys, that is unless you count the number of players departing North Texas for other clubs. From Tyron Smith joining the Jets to Tony Pollard heading to the Titans to the exodus of talent catching flights to reunite with Dan Quinn under the Commanders' flag, it's been a challenging first week.

There were positives, however, such as the signing of former All-Pro linebacker Eric Kendricks away from the 49ers and three key re-signings — Jourdan Lewis, CJ Goodwin and Rico Dowdle — hinting at momentum potentially picking up soon.

But until it does, it hasn't, though the Cowboys don't appear to be frustrated by the recent string of events.

"It's not frustrating because we've done a good job with the draft," said executive vice president and director of player personnel Stephen Jones. "I think we had 10, maybe 11, Pro Bowlers. That's a sign that, in my mind, our organization — Will [McClay], the scouting department — has done our job, in terms of developing players.

"It's a great thing having the Micah, CeeDee and the Dak challenge ahead of us in terms of getting them under the cap; and we're all in on getting that done."

There's that phrase again, the one that's polarized and defined the entire offseason thus far:

All in.

The initial declaration from owner and manager Jerry Jones has since been repositioned and clarified by the younger Jones, making it known the Cowboys were never planning to go "all in" on signing outside free agents.

"When you wanna keep your players you've developed and worked so hard to get, that are playing at Pro Bowl levels, then you're not gonna be able to go out and chase those [big-money, external] free agents," added Jones. "… I've always been ilke that in the first couple of days in free agency, you pay good players like they're great and you pay average players like they're good, because the market is inflated.

"I also look at it as player acquisition being 365 days a year, It's not just the first or second day in free agency."

To the latter point, when asked to describe the Cowboys' free agency plan going forward and over the next several weeks leading into the 2024 NFL Draft.

"I don't look at it as the next few weeks," he said. "I look at it as all the way up and through the season, in terms of how we continue to address this. As we all see, that first negotiating day is wild and it's big, big, big dollars. But things are calming down now. And that's where we think we can be efficient and do good things."

Look for the Cowboys to also scan, daily, the pool of released talent for possible interests.

"I think we have in the past, whether it's via a trade or like we did yesterday with Kendricks, I'm sure there will be more players released around the league as people move forward and work within their cap." Jones added. "You never know what you might see that you don't see today. Those are all things that we feel very prepared to make good decisions on, and we look forward to it."

As it stands, the Cowboys' roster has been weakened by the losses of in-house talent, be it by free agency or outright release (and retirement) and no one can rightfully argue against that fact.

It's also true that the season doesn't kick off tomorrow, so there's still time to find the right rail to get the team on track in what's now become one of the most pivotal seasons in recent memory; and they'll have to get creative with the salary cap in order to do so.

Time will tell how it all plays out.

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