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 Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images) /

Further thoughts: Byron Jones, Jason Witten, Sean Lee and more…

I’d love to keep Byron Jones, but he’ll be offered a mint in free agency. Besides, he never intercepts the ball. So, I chose to keep Anthony Brown instead. He’s more affordable and makes the draft easier.

But if Byron decides he wants to give America’s Team a hometown discount, look for him to stay. Anywhere below $12 million keeps him in Dallas.

If the Cowboys adopt my plan (Jones goes, Brown stays), do they feel obligated to draft a cornerback high? Hmm…. If they let go of both players, look for a cornerback-heavy draft for Dallas.

Randall Cobb was a tough choice. He’s a good receiver. I originally planned to keep him, but couldn’t make the numbers work. It came down to keeping him or one of the cornerbacks. This made my decision for me.

However, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him at training camp. If the Cowboys let him walk, they have to draft a receiver high. A tough choice, indeed.

My formula lets go of three defensive linemen, including two of the team’s top five. I see the team signing a few other free agents, and drafting at least one defensive lineman, probably somewhere in the top three rounds.

No matter what happens, the Cowboys will lose a lot of players. Will McClay, vice president of player personnel, has never been more important. This would be a really good year for him to find some hidden gems.

Under this plan, the careers of two Cowboy legends ends: Jason Witten and Sean Lee. I have no doubt Witten’s time is over, at least in Dallas. He wasn’t very good this year, and he was holding back Jarwin. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see Sean Lee back.

Some commentators have worried that Amari Cooper disappeared a little bit down the stretch. I’m not one of them. He looked injured to me, and he played great for most of the season, so I’d just sign him. But another option is to franchise tag Cooper, giving him another chance to prove his worth.

Another option for the franchise tag: Byron Jones.

Antwaun Woods and Blake Jarwin are both restricted free agents this year. I think you have to use at least a second-round tender for Woods. He’s played well enough to earn himself a bigger contract.

But Dallas may be able to sign Jarwin for less. If it were me, I’d try to lock him up now to a long-term contract. He’s obviously a player, but hasn’t yet earned a hefty payday. He might be a bargain.

Next. Dallas Cowboys 15 best free agent acquisitions of all-time. dark

Because we’re in a contract year, all teams have two tags to use: the franchise tag, and a transition tag. Might the Cowboys take advantage of this somehow? Hmmm…