Before we turn the page completely on this season, let’s go back and recall some of the best moments, players, games and individual plays that made the season so memorable. Let’s also start focusing on the offseason plans and try to see how the Cowboys can take the next step in 2019.
The staff writers of DallasCowboys.com have put together a 10-part series – Under Review – which continues today with the Cowboys’ top priorities this offseason.
David Helman: It’s too obvious to say the Cowboys’ top offseason priority is DeMarcus Lawrence, so I’ll throw in a caveat. The Cowboys need to re-sign their star pass rusher, and they need to do so without making a mess. My meaning is simple: Lawrence played under the franchise tag with no fuss last year, and he delivered. The Cowboys will almost certainly tag him again in March, just to make sure he doesn’t hit the free agent market. But after they do that, they need to sit down and get a deal done. If the team tries to drag this out, it’s a near-certainty that Lawrence won’t be as nice the second time around. You might remember 2015, when Dez Bryant held out because of the franchise tag and turned the Cowboys’ offseason into a bit of a circus. Dez eventually got his deal, but the holdout was a constant annoyance that put a damper on the team’s preparations that season. This time around, the Cowboys would be wise to avoid the drama. Get Lawrence under contract quickly, and get re-focused on a goal that has escaped them for years: making consecutive playoff trips.
Nick Eatman: Other than D-Law, there’s not one player on the list of unrestricted free agents that the Cowboys absolutely have to re-sign. Cole Beasley would be nice, but at the right price. And it would be reassuring to keep L.P. Ladouceur as well. But the Cowboys would manage if either of them left. So there really aren’t a lot of top priorities with these free agents. The bigger news stems from guys that are getting close to the end of their deals, such as Zeke, Dak, Byron and Cooper. I think getting Zeke a new deal is pivotal, to start that new contract as early into his career as possible.
Rob Phillips: I agree with Nick and Dave about Lawrence. He’s the most pressing priority, and not just because his deal is up this spring. He’s also the best playmaker for a defense that needs to continue building its pass rush. Beyond Tank, here’s an under-the-radar spot: backup swing tackle. Do the Cowboys look to bring back veteran Cameron Fleming? The team went 2-0 in Fleming’s two starts for an injured Tyron Smith (Washington, New Orleans), and the club is confident that center Travis Frederick (Guillain-Barre syndrome) is building towards a return. That’s great news for the O-Line, but the Cowboys have to make sure their tackle depth behind Smith and La’el Collins is solid moving forward.