Once again, the Cowboys find themselves with over 20 players who have expiring contracts. But still, there's a large percentage of players on the roster already in place. Over the next few weeks, the staff writers will evaluate those players under contract, reviewing their past performances with an outlook to the future.
Today, we'll continue the series with wide receiver Jalen Tolbert.
What Worked: The Cowboys selected Tolbert with their third-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft as a part of the plan to replace the production Amari Cooper took with him following his trade to the Cleveland Browns. Tolbert was a force at South Alabama with back-to-back 1,000-yard campaigns in 2020 and 2021, while earning the Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year award in the latter season, thus thrusting him in the draft conversation amongst scouts a year ago. That pedigree and potential compelled the Cowboys to draft him.
Needs Some Work: Simply put - Tolbert needs reps. He logged just one start and played in eight games for the Cowboys in his rookie season, compiling only two catches for 12 yards and playing in just 16% of the offense snaps in the games he played in. Getting Tolbert on the field and time during practice with the offense will be crucial in his development, especially given that it will be head coach Mike McCarthy installing his offensive scheme alongside new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer.
His Best Work: There weren't many opportunities that Tolbert had to make plays on the field for the Cowboys during his rookie season. But his ability to work through coverage and twitchy ability to adjust his speed in his routes, both of which were traits scouts lauded coming out of college, could fit nicely in Mike McCarthy's version of the West Coast offense with slant routes and the quick passing game.
Contract Consideration: Tolbert has a base salary of $938,442 for the 2023 season along with a signing bonus of $228,767. His base salary in 2024 and 2025 will jump up to $1.1 million and $1.4 million respectively, before hitting the open market in 2026.
What's Next: The Cowboys still have plenty of hope that Tolbert can find his footing as he heads into his second season as a pro, given that they liked him enough to use a third round pick on him just a year ago. But he could have an uphill battle ahead of him yet again with the receiving corps already in better shape than it was a season ago with the addition of Brandin Cooks, along with a fully healthy Michael Gallup and bona fide No.1 receiver in CeeDee Lamb. Either way, Tolbert will be looking to establish himself and put his rookie year behind him.