The Cowboys have 25 players from last season's roster potentially entering free agency, including some of the team's most high-profile stars, and how those decisions play out are presumably tied to Mike McCarthy's evaluations and preferences. If a franchise is to implement an almost entirely new coaching regime, it's probably safe to assume the head coach will be given a large say in what kind of players he will be leading. So all eyes were on McCarthy when he spoke to the media on Wednesday at the NFL Scouting Combine.
In looking for signs as to what the new head coach values in the decision-making process, one might have gotten the notion that familiarity is pretty high on his list of priorities.
"My first thought is to get as many of those guys back as we can, and then see what we can add," McCarthy said.
Of that list, the only players McCarthy specifically made mention of wanting on next year's roster (besides quarterback Dak Prescott) were Randall Cobb and Amari Cooper.
"The goal is to have both of those guys back," McCarthy said.
Cobb and McCarthy spent seven seasons together in Green Bay and have expressed mutual admiration for each other in the past. Cobb scored 39 touchdowns with McCarthy as his head coach and was arguably Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers' most reliable weapon last decade.
"I was very impressed with Randall last year," McCarthy said. "He was banged up a couple of years prior to that, but I thought he had a heck of a season last year in Dallas. I was very impressed with his video."
Last year under Jason Garrett, Cobb served primarily as the slot receiver in the Cowboys' offense. He managed 828 receiving yards and three touchdowns in 15 games. In Green Bay, however, McCarthy was more creative in his use of Cobb's versatility, often playing him in the backfield.
As a veteran free agent, Cobb will likely still test the market, but the success he had under McCarthy and the head coach's desire to bring him back are promising signs that his time in Dallas will be extended.
And while familiarity is important for a new coach, it's arguably even more important for a quarterback. If Prescott does indeed return to the team as expected, McCarthy and the Cowboys have expressed an urgent desire to bring back Cooper, with whom Prescott has thrived since the team traded for the wideout in 2018.
"Having a chance to get through all the tape, [Cooper] did a lot of great things and it really looks like he's in sync with Dak," McCarthy said.
Cooper will likely be the Cowboys' immediate priority once they've reached a resolution with Prescott. It's possible that the Cowboys use the franchise tag in order to retain Cooper, who has expressed numerous times that he would like to remain in Dallas going forward.
Throwing primarily to Cooper, Cobb and Michael Gallup, Prescott recorded 4,902 passing yards, literally just one yard shy of the franchise record. From the sounds of it, McCarthy wants Prescott to continue to thrive and build upon what he's capable of with those three weapons.