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Open Market: Time for Cowboys to overkill at WR?


(Note: The content provided is based on opinions and/or perspective of the editorial staff and not the Cowboys football staff or organization.)

FRISCO, TX — Whereas the situation at linebacker, as one example, is in dire straits in Dallas, the opposite is true for what the Cowboys boast at wide receiver. If anything, the room is spilling wildly over its own brim with talent, established and young, and that means that for the first time in a long time, they don't need to make any major waves in NFL free agency or the draft at the position.

CeeDee Lamb has the crown at WR1 now, and with no dispute or debate, and things looked very promising on the depth chart behind him as the season rolled along, especially in seeing how Jalen Tolbert made a 180-degree turn over his disappointing rookie season in 2023.

But is it OK to wait until there's a need? Or should the Cowboys hit the overkill button?

I mean, they did use a first-round pick on CeeDee Lamb after trading away a first-round pick to land Amari Cooper, completing that trade in the same year that saw them use a third-round pick on Michael Gallup.

"All in", right??


What's Here:

CeeDee Lamb: The two-time All-Pro receiver is in line for the team's next megadeal and that might land as early as this offseason, and on the heels of what was literally one of the most explosive seasons in the history of not only the Cowboys, but of the entire league — earning the right to be the latest named to the famed "88 Club". There is no doubt that Lamb will become one of the highest-paid receivers in history here soon, if not ever, period; and the former first-round pick has earned it with his ascension to the WR1 throne.

Brandin Cooks: Acquired via trade last season following the failed prom date with Odell Beckham Jr., Cooks remains under contract for 2024 and it stands to reason there should be interest in extending him a bit longer after what he was able to provide Mike McCarthy's offense in 2023. It would also behoove the Cowboys to consider doing so not only due to what Cooks brings to the playbook and the locker room (huge mentor for Lamb and others like Jalen Tolbert), but also because it would lessen his looming $10 million cap hit for 2024.

Jalen, Inc: Tolbert and Brooks present an exciting dynamic that has yet to be fleshed out, the former really taking the next step last season while the latter looked far more seasoned as a rookie than an undrafted first-year player should have; and fellow rookie David Durden began making waves in his first training camp before an injury pushed him to season-ending injured reserve.

Durden will return this summer to build upon last July's performance, and challenge Brooks in the process, while Tolbert seemingly ascends to give direct competition to Michael Gallup — while the emergence of KaVontae Turpin as an offensive weapon becomes a talking point as well.

Michael Gallup: Speaking of Gallup, while he remains the consummate professional and teammate, he'll need to be more consistent and put more on film like what he did against the Packers in the playoffs and less of what he did against the Chargers in Week 6; especially given his looming salary cap hits.

A former 1,000-yard receiver prior to suffering a torn ACL, the Cowboys saw signs of the former third-round pick returning to prime form last season, but more is needed, and I wouldn't put it past the veteran to push that much harder in the months to come to try and stave off the onslaught of younger talent making waves on the depth chart.

That said, the only concrete variable in all of this is the fact Lamb is the resident "him" and isn't going anywhere anytime soon. And with everything still unsettled on the WRs depth chart beneath Lamb, it's at least work peeking into the free agency market to see what additions might make the most sense.

So, let's.

Oh and, no, I won't be mentioning any receivers with alleged familial ties that may or may not reside in Upstate New York, because you'll never charge me with tampering, officer.

Ya digg?

FYI: *Be sure to check out the entire ‘What’s Next?*' series as a primer to this one.

What's Out There:

Note: These players will be unrestricted on March 13, barring a newly-signed deal with their incumbent team prior to that date.

Mike Evans: There is a flood of talent at the position set to hit free agency in March, headlined by Evans, and I believe this type of Tier A talent is a pipe dream; but I'll mention him here out of both respect and for the simple fact that owner and general manager Jerry Jones himself alleges the Cowboys will be "all-in" this year and not consider planning for the future nearly as much.

If Jones hadn't said that, Evans wouldn't be on this list at all. But, hey, if you're going to talk about going all-in, nothing proves that like paying Evans what he wants to play him in tandem with Lamb, Cooks and a tight end talent like Jake Ferguson. Speaking practically, this is A LOT of capital to have tied up in a position that isn't quarterback, but we're also not going to pretend the salary cap can't be finessed.

Too much finesse could damage the future, indeed, but what did Jones say about the future, again?

Exactly, so prove it. *shrug*

Gabriel Davis: Coming back to Earth a bit on this next one, I'm intrigued by none other than "Big Play Gabe", a player who helped Josh Allen and the Bills' offense remain explosive thanks to his play alongside Stefon Diggs. I feel as if someone like Marquise Brown would command more money than Davis will, but with a similar ceiling and style of overall play and, as such, I'd rather the younger and less expensive of the two.

Davis had a breakout season in 2022 and stacked it in 2023, racking up nearly 1,600 receiving yards and 14 receiving touchdowns in that span while averaging roughly 50 yards per game; and that's a nice amount of steady production, including downfield with an average depth of target that exceeds 15 yards per look, to attach to what Lamb can do.

Curtis Samuel: I'll admit to having an evil grin while circling Samuel on my scouting list for this writeup, and for a couple reasons. The more obvious one is that he's spent the last three seasons with the Washington Commanders, so he'll bring plenty of inside intel of his teammates and whatever coaches remain from the previous regime — the other being that it would be fun to keep this merry-go-round offseason in the NFC East going strong into the spring.

From a production standpoint, Samuel is a seven-year veteran who produced just under 1,300 receiving yards combined and eight touchdowns over the course of his past two seasons, and with abysmal quarterback play and a coordinator's refusal to ease coverage by at least pretending to care about the rushing attack. I just imagine that Samuel, who would also be far less expensive than some others in free agency, could thrive with an actual QB, play-caller and [hopefully] a revamped run game to support him.

Honorable Mention: Odell Beckham Jr. - Been there, tried that, so it's a no for me and, besides, he's also not proven his durability issues are behind him. But, hey, at least he got a free meal and courtside seat to a Mavericks game for the Cowboys' troubles, amirite?

Honorable Mention: Michael Pittman Jr. - While talented, I don't see the fit here with the Cowboys, be it price and/or scheme. He's not necessarily a deep threat and Dallas already has guys who can make plays underneath, so no need to add a progress-stopper in that regard.

In the end, I truly believe the Cowboys have what they need already in-house, and just need to sort through it all to determine how the depth chart shakes out in 2024.

But if they want to go into overkill mode, see above.

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