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Mailbag: Time to change offseason strategy?


For years, we've heard the talking points of, "The Cowboys don't go after big free agency signings. They're a draft-and-develop team. This is the way they operate." Well, since they haven't seen a Super Bowl in 29 years, is it maybe time for them to change their strategy? – Eddie Montague/Bloomfield, NJ

Nick Harris: If you had asked me that before Will McClay took over, I would agree with you. But with the way he drafts and his track history (minus 2023, at least for now), there has been production across all rounds that have led to second contracts and rosters that any team would do anything to have. There is a reason McClay gets interview requests every year to be a GM for other teams. The roster last season was one of the best-constructed ones in the league. It just didn't execute when needed and eventually injuries caught up to them. But when you factor in draft picks that are faces of the team, Micah Parsons, Tyler Smith and CeeDee Lamb have all been first-round hits, and Dak Prescott, DaRon Bland and Jake Ferguson have all been later-round hits. I'm happier with that reality than being overly active in free agency – not that they don't need to be more active than they have been, though.

Patrik: I've said this recently and I'll repeat it here: yes, but not entirely. The proficiency in which this team drafts and develops is, statistically=speaking, a rarity in today's NFL and there is a ton of value in that. My problem comes when there's little to no balance in the equation, which is to say I've always believed that you can't treat free agency like an afterthought while using your ability to draft and develop as the justification in doing so. Both approaches need to work hand-in-hand because while having young, dynamic talent is mandatory, so is bringing in some of the best players that other teams have drafted and developed that will help in both providing veteran IQ as well as making sure there are no holes in your roster, considering not every young talent will pan out. Credit to the front office for being more aggressive recently via trades (e.g., Cooks, Gilmore, Hankins) but bargain shopping in free agency needs to be the contingency approach in that realm, and not the Plan A — in my opinion — and especially if you're also not re-signing the talent you drafted and developed to new contracts.

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