The Dallas Cowboys have a long list of free agents set to hit the open market once the new league year arrives in March. Currently $21 million over the cap for 2023, the Cowboys currently don't have the requisite resources to re-sign players they want back.
Their cap situation will take a 180 once they figure out Dak Prescott's contract and extend homegrown superstars CeeDee Lamb and Micah Parsons. The front office loves restructuring contracts, too. DeMarcus Lawrence, Terence Steele and Zack Martin are prime candidates in that regard.
That will help them create a budget to re-sign free agents. The list includes Tyron Smith, Stephon Gilmore and Tony Pollard, among others.
It's anyone's guess what the Cowboys' plans are for their free agent class, but one player might've made their decision for them.
In a video made for his YouTube channel, nose tackle Johnathan Hankins dropped a hint that he wants to return to Dallas.
Johnathan Hankins drops hint he wants to return to the Cowboys
An impending unrestricted free agent, Hankins summarized the emotions in the Cowboys locker room following their Wild Card loss to Green Bay. The 10-year vet concluded to say that he has "unfinished business," seemingly with Dallas.
"This is what we dream for, this is -for some guys- everything they wanted in their whole life. To come up short, we’re all shocked. We’re all hurt. Honestly, this year, we thought we were going to make it to the Super Bowl. And we should have. It definitely sucks. We’ll be back, and that’s what I’ve got to say."
"I’ve still got some unfinished business, still got some goals I want to achieve, still want to win that Super Bowl trophy. So is Hank done? No, Hank is just more motivated than I was in years previously. The goal of mine is to get to the Super Bowl. I would love for it to be here."
Sure sounds like Hankins wants to run it back with the Cowboys. That gives the front office at least one easy decision before free agency. It's no secret that Dallas needs to get stronger in the defensive trenches, but that's not an indictment on Hankins, who's by far the best pure nose tackle on the roster.
Hankins contemplated retirement after the 2022 season to become a family man but he ultimately re-signed with the Cowboys on a one-year deal. He still feels he's playing at a high level and left no doubt in this YouTube video that he'll be back for an 11th season.
Whether that's with the Cowboys remains to be seen, but Hankins dropped very obvious hints he wants to return. While the 31-year-old doesn't get the recognition he deserves, he's one of the team's most important defenders. Losing him would leave Dallas bereft of a starting-caliber NT and that's asking for disaster.