It looks like America’s Team, the Dallas Cowboys are back and better than ever.
Led by a rookie quarterback and the best rookie runner to come along since Adrian Peterson, Dallas took the NFL by storm and finished the season with a 13-3 record and a warning to 31 other teams – this is a franchise to be reckoned with in the future.
Despite losing in the NFC Divisional Playoffs, head coach Jason Garrett rode Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott to success, without the arm of Tony Romo and without the usual turmoil that exists from wideout Dez Bryant. Once again it was hip to root for the big star on the 50-yard-line.
Parker Hurley of Fansided.com points out the thing to remember with the Cowboys this offseason is that they do not have much cap space to spend. They are expected to release Tony Romo, and with that are going to eat about $19 million in dead cap. They are going to have to be stingy and smart when it comes to re-signing their own and going out to make the current roster better.
If Jerry and Stephen Jones were smart, they would bet on low-risk, high-reward investments and use the NFL Draft much like it did last season. The only problem with 2017 is the team drafts lower this season and there may not be another “find” like the team made with Prescott.
Here is a look at five players the Dallas Cowboys may target in free agency.
Jabaal Sheard, Defensive End – The Dallas Cowboys could still use an edge rusher who can pressure the quarterback. Sheard could be the top player on the team’s target list.
According to Hurley, Sheard is a free agent from the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, but it seems very unlikely that he will be back. He fell out favor late in the season, but should talent and versatility on the edge for the Patriots. Sheard is strong in holding the edge in rush game, and he can slide inside on obvious passing downs and take on guards in the trenches.
Brian Quick, Wide Receiver – I like Hurley’s thinking here. Quick adds his ability to the wide receiving corps. The Cowboys could use another set of hands in the passing game, and Quick is as good a choice in this situation as any. A player with speed who can play in the slot. Terrance Williams and Brice Butler are free agents this offseason. Someone will need to come in and fill that role.
The Dallas Cowboys could also look to draft a wideout in the second or third round. Quick’s signing means this does not need to be a draft priority.
Prince Amukamara, Cornerback – With the status of Mo Claiborne up in the air, the Cowboys must guard against losing a part of the secondary. Amukamara is a familiar player to the Cowboys, having played for the New York Giants after a one-year deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The only knock against him, as I see, is his size. Amukamara has solid cover skills and would give the team depth, even in the nickel. This is a backup plan as the Cowboys could still re-sign their top pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.
Jared Odrick, Defensive Lineman – I see this as possibly a surprise pick. Odrick had a solid, yet not spectacular start in Miami and then moved to Jacksonville where he wasn’t the player the team expected.
Odrick can play inside at tackle or move outside as an edge rusher. His versatility could warrant a look by several teams, including the Dolphins and possibly the Oakland Raiders. If Dallas will take a look at Sheard, I suspect they could look at Odrick if they cannot land him, or try to bring in both players at a minimal deal for each.
Brian Hoyer, Quarterback – If Tony Romo is released, who will backup Prescott? Brandon Weeden is not the answer. Hoyer is capable of starting in a pinch and could continue to help mentor the Cowboys’ starter. He beat out Johnny Manziel in Cleveland.
Hoyer comes to Dallas knowing his fate, with no chance of starting for the Cowboys. Still, this is a good move for both player and team. He has been a journeyman, playing for six NFL teams in his career.