Dallas Cowboys have a chance to reload without rebuilding

Mike McCarthy, Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Mike McCarthy, Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

The Dallas Cowboys and their new coaching staff have a unique ability to rebuild their roster without having to wait for their types of players.

Head coach Mike McCarthy and the Dallas Cowboys find themselves in an enviable position. With almost $80 million dollars in salary cap space and 30 free agents of all variations, the Cowboys can remake their roster to fit what the new coaches want to accomplish.

Yes, the Cowboys have to lock up some expensive offensive players although they are not likely to depart. With a still-developing quarterback, top-tier running back, an offensive line with multiple Pro Bowl players, and a good young receiving core, there aren’t many holes to fill moving forward.

McCarthy has to develop a relationship with holdover offensive coordinator Kellen Moore. This is an exciting proposition. In his first year as a play-caller, Moore had the number one rated offense in the NFL. Not much room for his type of guys although there are a few spots that need help.

The defensive side of the ball is much different. Dallas does have a few core players in defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence and linebackers Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch. But apart from that, the defense is up for a complete makeover.

Defensive coordinator Mike Nolan has a reputation of bringing pressure from different angles. Add in the fact that they will use both regular and odd fronts, different types of players will be required to accomplish this hybrid defense.

Other than the names above, everyone on the defensive side of the ball is expendable. Quite a shocking realization when you think of it. The beginning of the year started off with hopes of having the league’s best defense. The year ended with a whimper.

A stand up outside linebacker should be one of their first priorities. Although defensive end Robert Quinn has the experience, a younger cheaper alternative might be in order. Someone like New York Giants pass rusher Markus Golden could be an intriguing option no matter what front they use.

A space-eating nose guard should also be among the top of their priorities when discussing their defense. Long gone are the days when the inside linebackers are trying to fight through blocks to get to the ball carrier.

This wide-bodied target should also be able to double down as a regular one technique when the defense shifts to a four-man front. Houston Texans soon to be free agent nose guard D.J. Reader tops my list although he might price himself out. A cheaper option is Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Andrew Billings.

The secondary is where it becomes almost unbearably expensive. The safety and cornerback market has skyrocketed with no end in sight. Whoever the Dallas Cowboys target, turnovers should be the number one trait when deciding who to bring in.

This is where drafting or trading for the best available defensive back makes the most sense. Trade possibilities include New York Jets safety Jamal Adams or draft-eligible players such as LSU’s Grant Delpit or Alabama’s Xavier McKinney come in to play.

Special teams are the most likely place where churning the bottom of the roster has the biggest turnover. With a new coaching staff, players without coaching ties have a chance to compete for roster spots. No more our type of guys, just better and hungrier players.

Kicker, punter, and long snapper could all be different heading into the season. Los Angeles Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein could stabilize the position but I would like to see kicker Kai Forbath compete in training camp also. Punter Chris Jones should have competition heading into camp while long snapper L.P. Ladouceur could retire.

Dallas also enters the offseason with 17 players under contract with zero dead money if released. This is a perfect opportunity to make decisions on players without having to account for money associated with their departure.

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No matter how you break it down change is on the way for the Dallas Cowboys. The best part about it is the new staff isn’t handicapped with having aging veterans with large salary cap numbers they have to keep. Most of the Cowboys players under contract are starting to or are heading into their prime.