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Mailbag: Very Early Draft View? State Of The Cap?


I love the CeeDee Lamb pick from this past draft, but in the 2021 draft, I can't see them picking the highest-rated player without regard for "need." Do you think the Cowboys pick the highest-rated player on their board in rounds 1 or 2 if that player is not a defensive player or an offensive lineman?— THOMAS NARRO / ARLINGTON, MA

Nick:Good question. Without a doubt, the Cowboys have to pick defense, especially early. This offense seemed good enough even at the end of the year to score points, even with a backup O-line and quarterback. The defense has to be addressed early. And the good part is, it won't be a stretch because every position can be justified from D-line, LB to the secondary.

Rob: I'm usually hesitant to answer draft questions in January because it's so incredibly early, and the Cowboys aren't close to building their board yet. But with the salary cap likely a major factor this offseason (more on that below), this draft will be as important to the roster as any in the last several years. I tend to agree with you, Thomas. Given their question marks on defense, I would lean toward the best available defensive player unless there's a CeeDee-like prospect at another position, where you just can't believe he's still there. That's merely a guess with almost four months to go.

With the season coming to an end, what sort of salary cap problems will the Cowboys have? I've heard the cap is going down significantly for 2021.— WILLIAM UBL / WOODBURY, MN

Nick: Going down or staying the same. Either way, it probably won't be going up. That's a problem for the Cowboys and many other teams that have a lot of big contracts. You have to remember that when deals were structured in the last few years, it is with the notion that the cap will likely increase as it always does. So deals to D-Law, Jaylon Smith, Zack Martin, Tyron Smith, Zeke and others, will put a strain on the cap especially this next year when it likely will stay flat, or go down.

Rob: Cowboys owner/GM Jerry Jones spoke about the cap Tuesday on 105.3 The Fan: "Let me say this: the less the cap, the bigger impact will limit us on being able to make contracts." The front office has made clear they intend to sign Dak Prescott long term, but whether Dak is on a new deal or the franchise tag again, there will be obvious constraints on making other moves under a reduced cap figure. The Cowboys rarely look to spend big in free agency, and that's just hard to foresee this year. The draft will be critical, and if there's a silver lining to all the injuries this season, several young players got extensive snaps. The hope is that bolsters the depth for next year.

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