On a Dallas Cowboys roster built almost exclusively through the draft, remaining free agents are not likely to find a home in Dallas.
Every time a free agent hits the market, it is tempting for the writers and analysts of the Dallas Cowboys to evaluate how that player may fit with the franchise. Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, released last week by the Kansas City Chiefs, is just the latest high-profile player to draw this type of attention.
In the case of Maclin; the Cowboys resigned their own wide receiver free agents, drafted two others, and still had practice squad receiver Andy Jones to spare. Not to mention the team already has Dez Bryant and Cole Beasley under contract. Dallas simply does not have the room or a need for a veteran free agent receiver.
Except for the purposes of depth, this is true at most positions on the team. Let’s take a look at where the Dallas Cowboys 2017 starters came from.
As projected by ESPN: The projected 2017 Cowboys offense includes nothing but players drafted or brought in via rookie free agency by the team. Not included in the base offensive depth chart is slot-receiver Beasley; another player Dallas found in rookie free agency.
And by the way, all Cole Beasley did was lead the team in receptions and receiving yards last year.
On defense, 9 out of 11 projected starters were drafted or signed as rookie free agents by Dallas. But projected starting defensive back Nolan Carroll may be facing a suspension. If the former Philadelphia Eagle misses time at the outset of the season, his replacement will likely be another Dallas-drafted corner-back. Also to be noted, this projection stayed conservative and does not include Jaylon Smith.
Heck, even the kicker, punter and long-snapper have never played for any team other than Dallas.
This leaves former Cleveland Brown, defensive tackle Stephen Paea, as the only projected starter acquired via free agency.
Granted, the projections from ESPN are only that; the best educated guesses of the experts.
However, it seems to be a fair assessment as of now. Certainly a player or two will stand out in training camp and shake up the roster; and injuries always come into play. But even then, a stand-out camp player will likely be another Dallas draftee or rookie free agent.
There is still a perception that the Cowboys need a pass rushing defensive end. But even at this spot, it may make more sense for Dallas to stand pat with their current young depth. The team seems committed to exploring their present potential rather than signing an aging veteran. Doing so risks the loss of a far younger player who may have greater upside going forward.
It feels like this all began with the drafting of offensive tackle Zack Martin in 2014. With each passing year, we’ve seen less free agency acquisitions and more in-house contract extensions. Unless a key player goes down with a prolonged injury, I don’t think we will see the Cowboys sign another starting caliber veteran free agent this year.