The Dallas Cowboys are close to being contenders. We know they can win games, evidenced by their 12-5 mark at home. The problem is that they have continued to choke in the postseason. They can't spend too much time worrying about their latest missed opportunity though since they're about to be full-speed ahead in the offseason.
With that being the case, we look ahead to some of their pending free agents, which is a rather long list. There will be a lot of players the Cowboys would like to retain but these are the five they have to bring back if they want to contend in 2024.
5. Johnathan Hankins, NT
For the past several years, Dallas has struggled when it comes to trying to stop the run. That's why they swung a trade with the Las Vegas Raiders ahead of the 2022 trade deadline to bring in Johnathan Hankins.
The 320-pound nose tackle only appeared in five games for the Cowboys but his impact was clear. Their run defense was vastly improved with him in the middle of the line. They were able to bring him back for another season and he had 27 tackles and three sacks while continuing to be an anchor in the middle.
Dallas understood that Hankins' age meant he couldn't be relied upon for much longer which is why they gave him the one-year deal and used their top pick on Mazi Smith. Unfortunately, Smith wasn't up to the task during his rookie campaign. Unless the coaching staff saw something in practice we didn't, they will need to bring Hankins back for at least another year while Smith continues to develop.