2022 Dallas Cowboys Free Agency

The buzz recently has been that Dallas will be twelve million over the cap after this season.   Of course, the negative spin is that “the end is near” and “back to salary cap jail,” but not so fast my friend.  With five simple moves the Cowboys can create slightly more than 33 million in cap room.  The following moves make a ton of sense to me.    

This season has shown that three of the most vital members of the offense are Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, and Zack Martin, and by restructuring their deals, plenty of cap space starts to open up.   Along with the release of Blake Jarwin which adds another 4.25 million in cap savings and Anthony Brown which saves 5 million, it will give Dallas plenty of cash to re-sign the crucial members contributing to their current success.  

Cap Management

First a review of the restructured deals and released player moves :

  • Restructuring Dak Prescott’s deal creates 14.2 million in cap space and seems like a very safe and wise move since they made a real commitment to him this off-season.
  • Restructuring Amari Cooper’s deal creates 14.2 million in cap space and while some are angling for the idea of his release or that Jerry is mad at him for not being vaccinated, his importance to the team cannot be denied.   The offense runs very differently without Cooper, so committing to him at his still young age makes sense to me, and getting 14.2 million in cap space helps with that idea. Cooper is 28 and his deal expires in 2025 
  • Restructuring Zach Martin’s deal creates 8 million in cap space.   Still playing at a high level Martin is 32 and his deal expires –  like Cooper’s –  in 2025. 
  • Releasing Blake Jarwin makes sense to me as he has not lived up to the deal he signed and getting another 4.25 million in cap space makes the decision that much easier.
  • Releasing Anthony Brown saves 5 million in cap space, and with the number of players they invested in the cornerback position in the last draft, plus with the upcoming NFL draft, five million is a nice savings on a player who could use a fresh start.

Granted, they could still release or restructure DeMarcus Lawrence (his potential release would save 8 million where a restructure would save 11 million), La’el Collins (a restructure saves 6 million) for even more money or Greg Zuerlein (a release saves half a million and that might be worth it for an up and down player).   Moving on from or restructuring these players remains a strong possibility, especially since all missed some time this year and the team still had great success. 

Free Agents Breakdown

Wide Receivers

Would you be surprised to learn that both Cedrick Wilson (2,183,000) and Noah Brown (1,127,000) both made more money this year than Michael Gallup (880,000)?  Initially, I was thinking of letting Gallup walk and moving Wilson and Brown up a slot on the depth chart, but now I think Gallup is probably the second biggest priority this off-season and the Cowboys should be aggressive in trying to lock him up and only give Wilson and Brown fair market increases but expect them to leave and likely be replaced with little issue.

  • Michael Gallup—Update: With an ACL injury that will keep him out until October/November at the earliest, Dallas would be wise to offer a 1 year incentive deal and keep Gallup in the fold with a safe offer.
  • Cedrick Wilson—according to Spotrac, a market value offer for Wilson is 3 years at 6.1 million. In my opinion that is too much for the Cowboys to pay their number four wide receiver. I’d offer him a slight increase to his current deal with the expectation that he’ll leave for a richer offer and Dallas will likely recoup a compensatory pick down the road.
  • Noah Brown—Brown has been a nice player, but again you can’t resign everyone to big deals. I would offer a two year deal at 3 million but expect a better offer to take him away. I believe Simi Fehoko, who has been kept around for a reason, could certainly move into the Noah Brown role next season at a lower price and with a higher ceiling.
  • Malik Turner—Has had a few nice flashes this season and certainly warrants a one or two year offer similar to his current deal.

Tight Ends

Dalton Schultz–He has certainly come into his own these past two seasons and he is a great safety valve for Dak Prescott,  but I can’t justify the 12.4/4 year deal I saw as his market value.  Honestly if it comes down to it, Michael Gallup is needed much more than Schultz. If he’s willing to work with Dallas and sign for a home team discount, great, if not adding a veteran in free agency as well as a day two pick makes much more sense.    

Currently Spotrac.com ranks Evan Engram and David Njoku with  fair market values of 6.9 million and O.J. Howard with a fair market value of 8.1 million.  Also remember our current tight end coach, Lunda Wells, previously worked for the NY Giants from 2012-2019.    

Offensive Tackles

  • Mitch Hyatt (ERFA)—If Dallas wants him to be a part of the 2022 team, they have the option. His college resume is intriguing, and if Dallas can get him healthy and strong enough for the NFL level, I say roll the dice for one more year.
  • Ty Nsekhe —At 36 years old, I don’t feel he is worth a contract and risk being brought back. With Smith, Collins and Steele as the starters and swing tackle, Dallas could add youth as a fourth tackle and can upgrade this slot.

Safeties

The Cowboys added a lot of Dan Quinn guys last year, and while some have stood out, others have not.  Overall, they should be happy with the overall production of this group, and now it becomes a numbers game to decide who comes back.   

  • Keanu Neal —Neal is more of a safety/linebacker in the Dan Quinn system and is only 26 years old. A short term commitment makes sense to me. Last off-season he signed a 1 year deal for 4 million but I might look to do a three year deal for 15 million. A successful team needs players like him.
  • Damontae Kazee –Between the DUI, trying to use Dak and Zeke to get it out of it, and the tendency to run off at the mouth I think Dallas should pass, at least until after the draft.
  • Jayron Kearse— The surprise steal of last year’s free agency for Dallas as he took over the on-field play calling during the game. He is definitely a priority within reason to re-sign. In fact, I’d say he’s a top five priority.
  • Malik Hooker—Finally healthy and contributing, Hooker is only 25 years old and would be a great addition with a nice three year deal as the player and system seem like a nice marriage.

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