Before free agency even began, the Dallas Cowboys needed extra assistance at linebacker and defensive end. Even if the team was able to retain all of its starters, those positions needed depth or an upgrade. The Cowboys were thankfully able to keep DeMarcus Lawrence around on a three-year, $40 million deal. Then, for just 90 minutes, Cowboys fans rejoiced when they thought that defensive end Randy Gregory would be returning as well. But the party abruptly ended when Gregory backed out and took the same five-year, $70 million deal with the Broncos.
With Gregory gone, all eyes were on the Cowboys’ front office. If you’re familiar with this team, then you know that Stephen and Jerry Jones have rarely made any big, out-of-house free agent signings in recent years. They like to stay with their own players. But fans realized that in order to allow the defense to succeed, they needed the front office to make a move for a key defender.
Bobby Wagner was initially an option given that he played for Dan Quinn back in Seattle, but (although he hasn’t signed anywhere yet) he is reportedly unlikely to end up with the Cowboys. Za’Darius Smith was initially off the board but has now decided he isn’t signing with the Baltimore Ravens. But, at this point, the Dallas fan base has lost all hope that a move will happen. There were several free agents that the front office could have made a run at. But they didn’t. They signed Dorance Armstrong, but is that enough?
There were guys like Chandler Jones who would have absolutely helped but were understandably out of budget. However, other defenders were getable for a variety of reasons. Let’s take a look at three.
3 free agent defenders that the Dallas Cowboys missed out on
3. Von Miller, LB, Los Angeles Rams
For a bit, Cowboys fans had their hopes up that the front office may be able to secure future Hall of Fame linebacker Von Miller. At the beginning of the day on Wednesday, the buzz was that the 8x Pro Bowler was leaving the Rams. Then, NFL’s Cowboys reporter Jane Slater said that the Cowboys were trying to pursue him and that there could be mutual interest given that Miller has a home in Dallas.
If the front office could have gotten this done, it is likely fair to say that Cowboys fans would have brushed off the Gregory debacle. Micah Parsons and DeMarcus Ware even did their best to try and recruit the Super Bowl champion to the team. Then, yet again, the narrative quickly became that Miller was likely staying in Los Angeles. In the end, Miller shocked many by choosing to sign with the Buffalo Bills. When the deal was initially announced as a massive six-year deal worth $120 million (with $51.345 million guaranteed), Cowboys fans felt slightly better given that was way out of the team’s price range.
However, as the details began to emerge, the deal wasn’t exactly as it seemed on the surface. Ian Rapoport reported that the deal is backloaded. The average for the first four years was actually $17.5 million, and there was only $51 million in guarantees. It is still a stretch but that would only be $3 million more a year than what they were planning to offer Gregory. The front office could have pushed to make this happen, but it doesn’t seem like they were really in the mix at all.
Every other NFL Team: 1