In honor of the World Baseball Classic, it’s fair to say the Dallas Cowboys are batting 1.000 to start the offseason. The trade for Stephon Gilmore was one thing, but Dallas followed that by acquiring Brandin Cooks from the Texans for a 2023 fifth-round pick and a 2024 sixth-round pick.
With the Cooks trade, the Cowboys have very few roster holes to fill before the draft. It positions them to take the best player available in each round if the board allows it, and fill whatever remaining gaps in free agency.
If you can believe it, it seems Jerry Jones and company have other tricks up their sleeve.
Hours after the Cooks trade was made official, Dallas renegotiated the wideout’s contract, turning $8 million of his $12 million salary into a signing bonus. He will now count just $6 million against the cap in 2023, but he’s still making the $18 million he was guaranteed with Houston agreeing to pay $6 million.
It essentially becomes a two-year, $20 million contract, and means Cooks will make WR2/3 money instead of low-end WR1 money.
In 2024, Cooks’ salary dropped from $16.5 million to $8 million with a cap charge of $10 million. That’s where the big change comes in, as it makes it more likely Cooks is on the team next year, gives them a potential out of Michael Gallup’s contract, and gives Dallas more cap flexibility this offseason.
How much cap space do the Cowboys have left after reworking Brandin Cooks contract?
According to Over The Cap, the Cowboys now have $16.2 million in cap space. This accounts for all of their offseason transactions before Tuesday, including re-signing Donovan Wilson, Leighton Vander Esch, Cooper Rush, and C.J. Goodwin, and trading for Cooks and Stephon Gilmore.
The question is what does Dallas do with this newfound cash?
Michael Gehlken and David Moore of the Dallas Morning News reported over the weekend that the team would like to bring back Johnathan Hankins, transformed the Cowboys’ run defense after he was acquired mid-season in a trade with the Raiders.
Some of that cap room was used to re-sign Dante Fowler, who posted six sacks, 36 pressures and a 77.0 pass-rush grade last season.
Additionally, Dallas signed two of the three free agents they hosted Monday, including running back Ronald Jones and OL Chuma Edoga. This comes after they re-signed RB and core special-teamer Rico Dowdle
At this juncture, we’re not expecting another splash move.
Bobby Wagner is still available, but that feels like a pipe dream. Reports indicate DeAndre Hopkins trade talks are heating up, but Dallas is likely finished tinkering with its receiver room until the draft. Another high-profile addition is possible, but the money (or draft capital) would have to be perfect.
With Fowler, Jones, and Edoga through the door, look for Hankins and interior defensive line help to be next objective for Dallas.