What expectations should we have for new WR James Washington? — DAN COLWELL / HOBART, IN
Nick: Here's a guy I've seen all the way back to high school and college. He's not the biggest player in the world but he's got speed and leaping ability that lets him play bigger. Because of the injury situation and the lack of depth, I can see Washington running with the 1s right away. The big key for him is to learn as much as the offense as possible where he can play multiple spots. And so when Gallup returns, Washington can still have a big role because he can play inside and out. There will probably be a rookie WR drafted as well but this is a good fit for Washington because the Cowboys don't have a lot of experience here.
Rob: Probably to compete for the third receiver spot, assuming Michael Gallup returns from his knee injury in time for Week 1 or not long after. The Cowboys liked Washington coming out of Oklahoma State and he's got a chance for a larger role in Dallas, something he wanted with the Steelers. Washington fits the Cowboys' style of free agent signings: salary cap friendly deal, helps fill a need, but doesn't prevent them from drafting a receiver to compete.
Which free agent signing do you like the most, are surprised by the most, and wish would still happen? — WALTER DE BELL / TROY, NY
Nick: I think the one I like the most is Dante Fowler Jr. The Cowboys have had some success with this type of player in the past and I really think Dan Quinn will get his best. No, he's not Randy Gregory athletically, but maybe a more consistent player. He's had an 11-sack season under his belt, but of course, that was playing alongside Aaron Donald. Let's not forget he was in the same draft class as Gregory. So if people are still upset about that move and thinking he had a few more years left, I'm sure Fowler does as well. The Vander Esch deal is the most surprising. He was pretty close to getting $6-7 million per season in Pittsburgh and the next thing you hear, he's heading back here. I think it's a good move for the Cowboys because it gives you some depth and there will be some matchups (like we saw in the playoffs against the 49ers) where LVE will be able to play the run better than other linebackers.
Rob: 1) I like re-signing Malik Hooker. Again, cap-friendly deal, plus he looked more and more comfortable as last season wore on and maybe he'll be an impact starter this year, benefiting from a fully-healthy offseason with no injury rehab. 2) I'm a little surprised Dorance Armstrong is back. Kind of thought he'd take a deal elsewhere like Cedrick Wilson did, but when Randy Gregory took the Broncos' offer it opened the door for Armstrong to return. 3) I don't have a "wish," but I think Bobby Wagner could help the defense from both a production and leadership standpoint. Like we've said before, though, cap space is a factor so it would have to work from that standpoint.