Cowboys free agent signings open up draft possibilities

Contrary to popular belief, the Dallas Cowboys made a huge splash in free agency this offseason. To the tune of $160 million. That, of course, was in order to retain their franchise quarterback, Dak Prescott, on a new four-year contract to remain in Dallas.

As for signing free agents who weren’t previously on the roster, the Cowboys’ actions have been relatively low-key, which is certainly not unusual. Inking the former Atlanta Falcons’ safety duo of Keanu Neal and Damontae Kazee being the most high-profile additions.

For the most part, the Dallas brass continues to use free agency to fill vacancies on their roster that will allow them to be more flexible during the NFL draft. The Cowboys don’t want to feel pressured to address a desperate roster need as they’ve made mistakes overreaching in the past.

Last year’s first-round selection of wide receiver CeeDee Lamb is a perfect example. Free-agent additions prior to the draft allowed the Cowboys to simply take the best player available instead of feeling pressured to address a lingering team need.

So far via free agency, the Cowboys have signed offensive tackle Ty Nsekhe, tight end Jeremy Sprinkle, defensive tackles Brent Urban and Carlos Watkins, defensive end Tarell Basham, safety Jayron Kearse, punter Bryan Anger, and long snapper Jake McQuaide along with the aforementioned Neal and Kazee.

It’s also important to note the team’s own free agents that have been re-signed this offseason. Those players include Prescott, cornerbacks C.J. Goodwin and Jourdan Lewis, wide receivers Cedrick Wilson, Noah Brown, Malik Turner, defensive tackle Antwaun Woods, and defensive end Ron’Dell Carter.

Entering the 2021 NFL Draft later this month, the Cowboys’ biggest projected team needs are cornerback, offensive line, safety, defensive line, and linebacker according to NFL.com. Dallas has seemingly filled each of these needs in free agency with Neal transitioning to a hybrid linebacker role. The team’s moves this offseason have freed them up to have the option to use their upcoming 10 draft selections on the best players available rather than simply filling voids on their roster.