The Dallas Cowboys are focused on signing their big free agents. But which of their free agents could the team elect to move on from next month?
All the talk surrounding the Dallas Cowboys this offseason, outside of the hiring of a new head coach and coaching staff, has been about their impending free agents. More specifically, the immediate future of players like quarterback Dak Prescott, wide receiver Amari Cooper, and cornerback Byron Jones.
But just as important of a question is which of the team’s pending free agents might new head coach Mike McCarthy and his staff decide to move on from? Here’s our best guess for the top three plus a bonus.
Tavon Austin, WR (UFA)
Traded to Dallas during the 2018 NFL Draft for a sixth-round selection, Tavon Austin has done little to shake his label as a first-round bust. He was selected eighth overall by the St. Louis Rams back in 2013. Catching just 13 of his 24 targets for 177 yards and a touchdown in 2019, Austin had little impact as a wideout. He also had six carries for 47 yards and a score on the ground.
Austin was deemed the primary punt return specialist with the exit of wide receiver Cole Beasley last offseason. Yet, the 29-year old struggled as a returner. Austin had just 17 punt returns, averaging 4.9 yards per. That average would have ranked as one of the lowest in the NFL last season.
Cooper Rush, QB (RFA)
Fourth-year backup quarterback Cooper Rush has had some solid preseason performances in Dallas. But I’m not sure many believe the Cowboys could win significant games with Rush under center. And the truth is, this team is one injury away from that being a reality.
New head coach Mike McCarthy, who has worked with some of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history, surely has his own thoughts about what makes for a great backup passer. And the fact the inexperienced Rush has a total of three regular-season passes under his belt in three years likely means Dallas will look elsewhere for quarterback depth.
Christian Covington, DT (UFA)
A hopeful free-agent signing last offseason, Chris Covington did little to help secure the interior of the Cowboys defensive line in 2019. He recorded 28 total tackles, one sack, and a pass deflection in six starts last season. Covington proved to be just an average defender on a defense that regressed and was in desperate need of true difference-makers.
Covington could easily be re-signed and become a foundational part of this defensive line moving forward under new coordinator Mike Nolan. But with former defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli no longer in Dallas, expect there to be several roster changes to go along with a change in philosophy. Covington and several defensive tackles could fall victim to that.
Bonus: Cameron Fleming, OT (Club Option)
The former New England Patriots starter has been inconsistent as a key reserve at swing tackle in Dallas, starting in six games over the past two years. With starting left tackle Tyron Smith struggling with injuries over the past several seasons, it’s imperative the Cowboys improve their depth at tackle this offseason.