FRISCO, Texas – So the Cowboys haven’t made any splashes in the first week of free agency?
That’s been a huge complaint among Cowboys Nation this year, and really for several years now, as other teams have gone on massive spending sprees for players, culminating in a furious cycle of signings and trades, and in some cases a combination of both.
But while the Cowboys have once again sat back with a much-less aggressive approach that has only seen them make a handful of moves, including the re-signing of Tavon Austin, let’s not assume that these NFL-wide deals don’t have an impact on the Cowboys.
Some of them could be problematic for Dallas, while others seem to be benefitting the big picture. Only time will tell on any of these moves, but for now, let’s take a closer look at 10 of the biggest free-agent occurrences that could have a lasting effect on the Cowboys.
Case Keenum to Washington – Any time a quarterback of a division rival changes, you have to wonder just what this will mean to the Cowboys. Keenum was in Denver last year and in Minnesota before that. The Redskins have been searching for a veteran to help replace the loss of Kirk Cousins. While Alex Smith was serviceable before his injury, Keenum will be a similar player. And with the young, defensive talent the Redskins have, Washington just needs a quarterback who will be solid and not make mistakes.
10. Olivier Vernon Trade – Oh yeah, the “other” trade the Giants made with the Browns. But let’s not forget that Vernon has been a problem at times for left tackle Tyron Smith over the years, both when he played for Miami and then with the Giants. So shipping him to Cleveland probably didn’t hurt anyone’s feelings on the Cowboys’ O-line.
9. Golden Tate to NYG – We’ll get into the reasoning why the Giants needed a front-line receiver here in a little bit, but Tate has also been a pain for the Cowboys’ secondary, especially when he played in Detroit. Last year with the Eagles wasn’t enough time for him to fully grasp Philadelphia’s offense and get into a rhythm, but let’s see how he adjusts with the Giants. Tate is a chain-moving receiver who can play inside and out. Covering him twice a year won’t be a fun chore for any defensive back.
8. D-Jax to Philly – Once again, the Cowboys find themselves having to play against the speedy receiver. Jackson has faced Dallas 17 times and he’s produced more receiving yards (1,147) against the Cowboys than any other team in the league. The Eagles got hot at the end of the season and adding a speed threat such as Jackson should only solidify their offensive attack in 2019.
7. Earl Thomas to Ravens – This really didn’t impact the Cowboys directly, considering they never had Thomas in the first place and don’t play the Ravens this year. However, Thomas was linked to the Cowboys for over a year, and it just seemed as if a deal would eventually be made on both sides. But Thomas’ wishes to play for the Cowboys didn’t trump the fact that he was looking for a huge payday, which he got in Baltimore. What this means now is the Cowboys will either have to look into the second and third tiers of free-agent safeties or stick with Xavier Woods and Jeff Heath and look to upgrade the spot again in the draft.
6. Collins to Washington – So Landon Collins isn’t leaving the NFC East after all. While the Giants are getting rid of many talented players, the Cowboys will still see this ball-hawking safety twice a year. This time, Collins joins a Redskins defense loaded with young talent. His signing of $14 million per season not only kept him within the division but seemed to set the market for the safety spot, which eliminated the Cowboys’ chances of acquiring the likes of Thomas.
5. D-Law Watching Dee Ford? – The Cowboys could be getting themselves into a contract dispute with DeMarcus Lawrence, who was given the franchise tag of $20.5 million. And he’ll be taking notice of all the defensive end contracts that are getting done. After the Chiefs traded Dee Ford to San Francisco, the 49ers gave him a contract that will pay him over $17 million per season and around $45 million guaranteed. Deals like this are used in the negotiations for both sides. Ford has 25 sacks the last three years while Lawrence has 26. So if the D-Law camp is asking for way higher than $20 million per season, a contract like Ford’s could help the Cowboys lower the price.
4. Foles to the Jags – The Eagles made the decision to stick with Carson Wentz despite his injury history and Nick Foles’ late-season success the past two years. What this move probably does is thin out Philadelphia’s depth here. If Wentz is injured again, it’s unlikely someone with Foles’ talent can step in and carry the Eagles again. Also, let’s look at the contract, too. The Cowboys also have a quarterback in need of a new deal so all of these situations will be compared. Foles got $22 million per season and he’s a Super Bowl MVP. That will be noted by the Cowboys, although Dak Prescott’s deal will likely be much higher.
3. OBJ to Cleveland – In a shocking trade that didn’t seem to be on the national radar, the Cowboys won’t have to face one of the more dynamic players in the NFL twice a year. Odell Beckham Jr. was sent to Cleveland for first- and third-round picks as well as safety Jabrill Peppers. Beckham has the ability to completely take over games and can score from any spot on the field. Having him out of the lineup will change the Giants’ ability to score. Yes, the Cowboys will play Cleveland in 2020, but if Beckham ends up finishing his career with the Browns, Dallas might only face him two more times ever, instead of twice a year.
2. Pittsburgh’s Departures – We’ll lump the two former Steelers in together because both of them could have a big impact on the Cowboys’ ability to sign two skill players. With Bell’s four-year, $52 million contract with the Jets, that seems to be a rather low starting price for any negotiations with Ezekiel Elliott. Zeke will likely demand more than Bell and probably even Todd Gurley (four years, $57 million). Let’s also look at what the Raiders paid to Antonio Brown after acquiring him in a trade. Brown’s deal is more front-loaded and won’t be the same as what Amari Cooper will be getting. Cooper is probably looking closer at the deals that Tyreek Hill, Julio Jones and Michael Thomas get. But all of them will be expecting something in the range of what Brown got (three years, $50.1 million), if not more.
1. Buffalo Sauce – The Cowboys lost a rather productive veteran in Cole Beasley, who rejected the team’s final offer of around $6 million per season and went to Buffalo, which gave him a higher guaranteed figure of $14.4 million. Beasley had developed into one of the NFL’s best slot receivers and won’t be easy to replace. The Cowboys have since re-signed Tavon Austin, but he hasn’t proven to be the same type of inside receiver as Beasley. The Cowboys will be counting on the health of Allen Hurns to develop into a steady option in the slot.