For a few years, the Dallas Cowboys have taken the approach of resigning their key players, and building the team through the draft. This has upset many, as it hasn’t led to any playoff success, and the Cowboys still manage to have little cap space come March each year.
The Cowboys have a plethora of free agents this offseason, and plenty of decisions to make in key positions such as WR and CB. However, there are a few key players the Cowboys must do their best to resign this March to hold the team together.
1. Barry Church
Barry Church has been one of the most consistent players on the defense in years past, and rivaled Sean Lee as the best player on the defense in 2016. Church tallied 2 interceptions, a forced fumble, and 85 total tackles this past season, third on the team. On top of this, he had a sack in the divisional round against Green Bay, showing he can produce numbers outside of his positional norms. Church graded out as the best DB for the Cowboys from Pro Focus Football , and is the most important player in the secondary for the Cowboys to resign. Unfortunately, Barry is about to reach his third contract, and is 29 years old. The Cowboys resigning him would be outside of their comfort zone, and seems unlikely. He’s the best safety available in free agency, which might lead to another team paying him a pretty penny that the Cowboys just couldn’t match.
2. Ron Leary
When La’el Collins went down earlier this year, many saw the offensive line as taking a major loss. Fortunately for everyone, Collins’ backup is just as good, if not better than him. Ron Leary was the starter for the Cowboys until Collins outperformed him in training camps and OTAs. The Cowboys will either be losing Ron Leary or Doug Free, and with Free’s age and penalties being of a major concern, the smarter option is to resign Leary. Doing so can allow the Cowboys to move Collins to RT, and have the most dominant offensive line in the NFL for the fourth year in a row.
3. David Irving
Now, Irving isn’t actually a free agent this year. He’s an Exclusive Rights Free Agent, meaning the only way he can sign with any other team is if the Cowboys don’t extend an offer. If they don’t, he becomes an unrestricted free agent, with no compensation picks. With only 2 starts in 2016, David Irving led the team in forced fumbles, and finished in third for sacks. Irving doesn’t have an awful lot of experience, but he sacked Aaron Rodgers, and who doesn’t love a defensive end who can accomplish that?? With Charles Tapper and Jaylon Smith coming back from injury, this trio of young players could anchor the Cowboys pass rush for years to come, if Dallas is smart enough to offer an extension to Irving.
4. Terrance Williams/Brice Butler
This one is a little different from the rest. The Cowboys don’t have enough cap space to keep both, and with a deep WR class in this years draft, they might be tempted to use a first or second round pick on one. However, if the Cowboys let both of these players slip, then Andy Jones becomes your starting Z receiver, and that’s a scary thought. Both bring their own benefits: TWill has put up some decent numbers as a Number 2 receiver, and some of his catches have been absolutely outstanding, and Butler has shown off his speed and catching ability splendidly over the past two seasons. Personally, I think the Cowboys should keep Butler, and look to add a receiver such as DeDe Westbrook or JuJu Smith-Schuster in April to complete the receiving core.
This is an extremely important year for the Cowboys. Every year it seems like the talent and potential grows, just to be shut down by injuries or Aaron Rodgers. Hopefully, through resigning their own key players, and building through the draft, we can all see Dak Prescott and Jerry Jones hoisting the Lombardi Trophy next February.