Cowboys Free Agency – Defense
Defensively, there are two big decisions of which to make. It is very conceivable that the Cowboys lose both defensive end Robert Quinn and cornerback Byron Jones. We’ll get to Jones in a minute but Dallas should do whatever they can to focus on Quinn.
Quinn is coming off a season in which he tallied 11.5 sacks, 13 tackles for loss, 22 quarterback hits all in just 14 games. Even though he will turn 30 this offseason, Quinn has a proven record of productivity. With 26.5 sacks in his last three seasons, there is little to show any signs of slowing down.
That type of production will prove costly on the open market, however. If any team offers Quinn a long-term deal, it’s hard to see him turning that down as Dallas is likely to do a two or three-year deal at maximum. I would like to see the Dallas Cowboys offer Quinn two years and $22 million, just to see if that would be enough to entice him to stay.
If Quinn moves on, Dallas could opt to get younger and cheaper by focusing on targets such as edge rushers Shaq Lawson (seven sacks in 2019, estimated fair market value of $7.8 million) or Emmanuel Ogbah (six sacks in 2019) who made just $1.65 million last season.
For the purposes of this column, we will live in a fair reality and say Quinn leaves but Dallas brings in Ogbah on a three-year, $15 million deal as well as a space filler on the interior the likes of Danny Shelton for two years and $12 million which is slightly above his fair market value. This leaves the Cowboys with $36 million to spend.
The Cowboys are pretty set at the linebacker position. It would be nice if Sean Lee returned on a one-year deal worth around $4 to $5 million. Anything more than that, however, and Dallas should not get sentimental.
The bulk of that remaining $36 million needs to be spent on upgrading the secondary. Besides Jones, the Dallas Cowboys should also let safety Jeff Heath peddle his wares elsewhere.
I would love for Jones to return. Unfortunately, I do not want him at the $75 to $80 million some team will offer him. I especially don’t want him at that price tag when it is very conceivable that Dallas signs four guys for less money without a huge drop-off.
I believe that the Cowboys should target former Vikings cornerback Trae Waynes for three years and $30 million while also adding Pittsburgh’s Artie Burns (two years, $18 million and Kansas City’s Bashaud Breeland (one year, $4 million). This still leaves Dallas $13 million of which another one year deal for $4 million could go to former Carolina Panthers safety Tre Boston.
Instantaneously, you have a completely revamped secondary with Waynes, Chidobe Awuzie, Burns, Jourdan Lewis, and Breeland as your cornerback stable with Boston, Xavier Woods, and a top 100 draft pick playing safety. You also have another $9 million to fill out the roster.
It is always easier to spend someone else’s money. This foray into the Dallas Cowboys wallet, however, would definitely earn this team an A+ in free agency and maybe (finally) even a date on the schedule come late January.