While many argued that the Dallas Cowboys had one of their best rosters this past season, there were still many elements missing from the team. The Cowboys are known for refusing to make high-level trades or signings in relation to the safety position. Typically, Dallas will add names on low-cost, shorter contracts and hope for the best. ESPN staff writer Bill Barnwell seems to think it may be time for the front office to change that philosophy.
In an ESPN article (subscription required) about what offseason moves each team needs to make, Barnwell suggested that the Cowboys “would love a safety such as Tyrann Mathieu.” On a surface level, of course, they would. Mathieu is a do-it-all type of safety who has many years of championship-caliber experience and does his job well. Mathieu is a three-time Pro Bowler, three-time All-Pro, and has won a Super Bowl.
But it seems like Barnwell is ignoring the giant elephant in the room. The Cowboys do not have the money for a player like Mathieu. The safety becomes a free agent in March and is projected by Spotrac to sign for at least $14 million a year in his next contract. So even if the Cowboys wanted him, they likely can’t afford him. Additionally, there’s the fact that Dallas has repeatedly passed on Mathieu when he’s been a free agent in the past. Maybe that’s because of their dislike of making big safety signings or maybe they just don’t want him.
So, “would love” is a relevant term. Sure, the Cowboys would LOVE to have a safety of that caliber of talent. Right now, Jayron Kearse, Damontae Kazee, and Malik Hooker are all set to hit the free market. All three of them signed on short-term, prove-it deals last season. So in reality, it seems like what the Cowboys “would love” is to be able to re-sign one of those guys at a low price and be able to have them perform as well as Mathieu.
The Dallas Cowboys may want a premium talent at the safety position, but the reality is that they won’t sign a guy like Tyrann Mathieu
Barnwell isn’t wrong. The Cowboys do need to improve at safety, and they are headed for trouble with several of their safeties hitting free agency. But a Mathieu sign just doesn’t seem plausible, for a plethora of reasons, money aside. Jerry Jones just doesn’t spend big bucks on safeties. He signs smaller names and prays to get help from the draft. Here’s Barnwell’s full quote about Dallas’ offseason:
"“The Cowboys need to come away from this offseason with replacements at safety. Their top three players at the position from a year ago are all free agents. Dallas didn’t spend much at safety the last offseason, and with running back Ezekiel Elliott’s contract still virtually unmovable before 2023, I don’t anticipate the organization making too many splashy additions in free agency. The Cowboys would love a safety such as Tyrann Mathieu, but this is probably a position they will address in bulk. I wouldn’t be surprised if they brought back one of their safeties, added a low-cost option in free agency, and used one of their top three picks in the draft to find a future starter.”"
Barnwell kind of negated his sentiment with his absolutely accurate last sentence. The Cowboys would be thrilled to have a top-ranking safety magically appear on their roster. But time has told us that’s just not how the Joneses do things.