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Mailbag: Addressing Needs? Cooper & Lawrence?


Could you break down what team needs you would prefer to be addressed by the draft (longer-term fix) or by free agency (more of a short-term, stopgap) and why you would lean certain ways? — DARRYL CROSS / LARGO, FL

David: The fun of team building is that you can go whichever way you'd prefer. I think it's currently easier than it ever has been to find good wide receivers in the draft, so that's where I'd look in that regard. I also think you can find affordable production at safety and linebacker in free agency (think Keanu Neal and Jayron Kearse). The big thing for me is that I don't think this team can afford to look for pass rushers or starting offensive linemen in free agency, so you might need to turn toward the draft with an eye on the future there.

Rob: We know they'll try to cover as many bases as possible before the draft so they're not reaching with their picks. They want to re-sign their top free agents first and then fill gaps around them. Randy Gregory, Jayron Kearse and Michael Gallup probably lead that list, and now we know Dalton Schultz will be back for at least 2022. That would be a start. Linebacker and defensive line are positions that probably can't be addressed solely in the draft, so I would look for opportunity there in free agency and focus on adding offensive line competition in the draft.

Is it possible the Cowboys cut Amari Cooper and DeMarcus Lawrence, then try to re-sign them to more cap friendly deals? Or do you think they would take that as a slight and sign elsewhere? — FRED ROBERTS / SALEM, OR

David: It's not just the respect aspect of it. There are also plenty of teams with much more cap space than the Cowboys. If either of those guys hit the open market, I'm very confident they'll be offered deals that Dallas can't hope to match. They're both still top-tier players at their positions and will command a big price tag. Obviously, we don't know for sure what's going to happen with either guy. But if either one of them is released, I'm confident they'd be wearing a different uniform next season.

Rob: I don't see that scenario happening either. That's not much different than asking a player to reduce their salary when they're still on the roster, right? (Reportedly, that subject has come up with DeMarcus Lawrence's camp.) I just think if the Cowboys ultimately part ways with Cooper and Lawrence, they would probably want to see what's out there in free agency. The other option here would be to restructure their contracts and reduce base salaries for 2022, but the Cowboys have been very selective about doing that because they don't want a bunch of ballooning cap figures in future years.

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