The NFL is a year-round business. Seemingly, every month there is something going on in this league from free agency to the NFL Combine to the NFL Draft and more. Last month, free agents were given the spotlight and at the end of this month, the draft takes center stage. In this in-between time, it’s fair to wonder, are the Dallas Cowboys done shopping for free agents? Or, will they seek their positional needs in the draft?
Dallas was one of the few teams that seemed most disinterested in free agency this offseason. The Cowboys only signed two free agents that came from other squads last year. According to Spotrac, the Cowboys have over $14 million in cap space after losing some players, which puts them just outside the top ten teams in available money to spend. Anyone who takes a glance at the current roster can see that help is still needed.
While Dallas is armed with nine draft picks, including four fifth-round choices, it is clear that the Cowboys are planning to use the draft rather than free agency to fill most positional needs. Although, on Monday there was a report that the Cowboys were interested in former Dolphins WR DeVante Parker before he landed with the New England Patriots. Could they still be secretly shopping before the draft? Adding the right veteran could make a huge difference between another flame out early in the playoffs and a deep run.
The aim heading into the draft is to consistently be in a position to draft the best player possible instead of having to fill a need. With free agency cooling as the draft takes priority, here are three players that could greatly help Dallas at a reduced cost.
2 free agents the Cowboys could still try to add before the draft
Dallas has lost two starters along their offensive line already this offseason with the departure of La’el Collins and Connor Williams. Two others are, at best, deserving of some competition. Guard Connor McGovern and center Tyler Biadasz are far from solidified starters. While Zack Martin and Tyron Smith are excellent players, they have had difficulty battling injuries with their increasing age.
To say that the offensive line is a huge need this offseason is a major understatement. The Cowboys should absolutely use at least one of their top picks to address this area. However, two free agents that are still available make a lot of sense as well.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones recently acknowledged that both the offensive line and pass-rushing are big priorities.
1. J.C. Tretter, Center
The first option would be former Cleveland Browns center J.C. Tretter. The Browns’ offense progressively got better in their running game each season with Tretter anchoring the line. Aside from last season, the number of sacks they allowed got better as well. His durability, starting every game over the last five seasons, is also very appealing for an offensive lineman. That consistency is hard to find.
Tretter made his highest career paycheck in 2021, earning $9.4 million. Obviously, that would be well out of the Cowboys’ penny-pinching budget. Using OverTheCap to look back into previous seasons, however, shows Tretter is accustomed to a base salary around the $4 to $5 million range which would be much more doable for this team.
Tretter in the middle, flanked by All-Pro Zack Martin on one side and a first or second-round selection on the other all of a sudden gives Dallas a very solid interior offensive line. With Tyron Smith and Terence Steele on the perimeter, the Cowboys would have a nice balance of youth and experience on the ends of the offensive line.
2. Eddie Goldman, Defensive Tackle
While we are looking at the trenches, why not upgrade the defensive line as well? Goldman’s best attribute may be his age as he is still in his late 20s. With a very weak draft class for interior defensive linemen, it makes sense for Dallas to look at options via free agency. Goldman has started 73 career games, 13 career sacks, and 18 career tackles for loss.
Goldman’s size helps secure the run defense, but he also has some juice to get after the opposing team’s quarterback. Again, he would also likely come on the cheap as well. In the last two seasons, he’s made $3.4 million and $4.8 million respectively according to OverTheCap.
Currently, Dallas has Neville Gallimore and Osa Odighizuwa as its starters with Carlos Watkins and Trysten Hill as the primary options for rotating into play. Goldman’s talent level and experience would immediately vault him into consideration for the first rotational guy at minimum. If he could be had on a one-year, prove-it type deal for around $3-4 million, I would definitely be interested to see him in a Cowboys uniform.
Will Dallas make any of these moves? Given their hesitancy to sign outside free agents, it may not be likely. Still, there is plenty of work to do to make this roster better, and the front office has to realize that the draft alone won’t address all the needs. Hopefully, this team is not yet done shopping.