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Mailbag: Other Possible Franchise Tag Candidates?


If the Cowboys are able to come to a long-term agreement with Dak Prescott prior to the March 9 franchise tag deadline, do you see them using the tag on anyone else? — MARK STANKIEWICZ / HUBER HEIGHTS, OH

David: Not really, to be honest. Who else among their free agents is worth that pay bump? I'd love to re-sign Aldon Smith, but not on a $17 million salary. Same goes for Chidobe Awuzie. I'd love to have him back, but I'm not paying $15 million for it. If Dak gets his deal done, I think the Cowboys keep the tag in their pocket this year.

Jonny: I certainly wouldn't anticipate it, which makes it seem all the more likely that they use the franchise tag on him. I could very well be proven wrong, but I think that when they signed him to the franchise tag last year it was an indicator that they were planning on doing it twice in a row. What that means for 2022 is anybody's guess. But to get back to your question, no, I don't see any of their other free agents warranting one of their position's top salaries.

Based on observation, 4-3 defensive teams are successful when they can apply QB pressure with just their front four, so realistically, how far away are the Cowboys from being one of those teams? What needs to happen and who needs to step up so that the Cowboys' defense can apply consistent pressure with just their front four? JOEY ARNEL SAYSON / SANTA MONICA, CA

David: It's always great to have more edge rushers, but the Cowboys have been unable to find a defensive tackle who can consistently disrupt the pocket during my entire tenure covering the team. Maybe that guy is Trysten Hill or Neville Gallimore, but we haven't seen it yet. They tried to sign a veteran to do it last year in Gerald McCoy, and he unfortunately got hurt. Hopefully that doesn't scare them off, because there should be quite a few capable veterans available in free agency next month.

Jonny: We could treat this like a difficult question and say that another Pro Bowl-level defensive end (or maybe Randy Gregory) opposite DeMarcus Lawrence and the right young defensive tackle or development of Neville Galimore could potentially lead to a dominant front four. But I think we should base this on last season and say that they don't seem particularly close. Lawrence wasn't a Pro Bowl player last year, and the pass rush wasn't exactly feared. Is there a world where they can be great soon? Sure. But you can apply that sort of wishful thinking to quite a few teams.

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