How the Dallas Cowboys can keep their best free agents this offseason

Amari Cooper, Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys. (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)
Amari Cooper, Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys. (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
(Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images) /

Having set the ground rules, here are the signings I’d make, along with cost estimates:

  • Dak Prescott – $34 million per year ($20 million deferred, leaving $14 million towards the salary cap in 2020)
  • Amari Cooper – $18 million p/y
  • Robert Quinn – $12 million p/y (on a two-three year contract)
  • Anthony Brown  – $6 million p/y
  • Antwaun Woods – $3.28 p/y (RFA, 2nd round tender)
  • Blake Jarwin – $3.28 p/y (RFA, 2nd round tender)
  • Joe Thomas  – $2 million p/y
  • Jeff Heath – $2 million p/y
  • Xavier Su’a-Filo – $1 million p/y
  • Kerry Hyder – $1 million p/y
  • Ray-Ray Armstrong – $1 million p/y

Total: $63.56 million. This leaves $21.44 million for other needs.

Further thoughts:

Dallas wanted to sign Prescott last offseason, but couldn’t get it done. Prescott’s agent notoriously asked for $40 million per year, five million higher than the highest-paid quarterback in the league, Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks.

My offer to Prescott is $34 million a year, and hopefully, he’ll sign it. If Prescott and his agent play hardball again, this could make it hard to figure out the rest of their signings.

The franchise tag for a quarterback would cost $26.9 million this year. The Cowboys could press that button, but it would give them a lot less flexibility, plus they’d just have the same problem next year.

Last year, Prescott said all he wants to do is play football.  There’s no chance that Dallas offers him less than a $100 million multi-year contract anyway. Hopefully, team Prescott can work with the team and make it happen.

My two most notable non-signings are Maliek Collins and Byron Jones, for different reasons. Maliek, though a pretty good pass rusher, has never been great against the run.

The Cowboys need to get tougher in the middle. Besides, as a four-year starter, he’s likely to be offered more than Dallas wants to pay.

I’ll miss Michael Bennett. He was a breath of fresh air, and a very tough pass rusher. But he’s indicated he might retire, and besides, the team can’t afford to keep both Quinn and Bennett.

If you have to choose one, it has to be Quinn. He made 11.5 sacks this year. If he’s gone, the Cowboys have a big problem. Signing this edge rusher is one of the most important deals of the offseason.