I tried to warn you, the Dallas Cowboys were not going to be active on any of the big name free agents when 4PM came around last Thursday. Some fans chose not to listen and got upset when the best players were scooped up. We knew Dallas wasn’t going to move quickly and we knew they weren’t going to spend the big-time money it took to acquire those free agents.
Everything went pretty much according to plan, and actually, the Cowboys moved faster to sign some players than they usually do. However, they weren’t the name brand recognition players that people were hoping to sign.
Despite all the signs that were put out there, panic set in at watching former Cowboys walk out the door. Nobody liked obsessing over Twitter, ESPN or the NFL Network and seeing the reports that Terrell McClain, Barry Church, or Ronald Leary had signed elsewhere. It didn’t take long for frustration to set in for fans.
Repeat after me guys, it’s going to be OK. There is no need to panic with what’s happening right now. Your Cowboys prepared for exactly what has transpired so far and they have a plan. You might not like how they are going about their business, but Dallas is following their script.
Now, the plan might not have called for re-signing Terrance Williams but that was a pleasant surprise. He may not excite many fans with his inconsistent hands, but Williams takes advantage of limited opportunities in the passing game, is one of the best blocking wide receivers in the league and is always available (he has never missed a game). That’s important to note with fellow wide out Dez Bryant’s injury history in the last two seasons. It also helps that the deal is well below market value for a free agent wide receiver of Williams’ quality.
Doug Free’s retirement also threw a monkey wrench into the mix, but the Cowboys knew this was a possibility a few weeks ago. The team has options available as we laid out a few weeks ago and it’s safe to put right tackle in the mix as an early draft possibility as well.
The rest of what the Cowboys did is what they have been doing over the past handful of years in free agency, filling holes. They don’t sign the big money dudes, but the team fills the gaps on their roster with competent NFL players to ensure they don’t have to reach for specific positions when the draft comes around. It’s important not to be locked into one spot on your roster going into the draft and the Cowboys keep the best player available option (within reason) open.
To do that, the Cowboys are willing to add players who are undervalued by their former teams and off the radar guys who fans didn’t see coming. We might not have thought of Stephen Paea or Nolan Carroll, but both have had some success in the league and likely fit Dallas much better than they did their former employers.
Paea played in a 3-4 in Washington a few years ago before moving the the Browns in 2016, but looks like a much better fit for the Cowboys’ 4-3 under Rod Marinelli, who has experience coaching him. Despite what the stats told you, the defense was not very good against the run last year and Paea adds some beef and strength up front. He comes at cheaper price than McClain and should be a valuable rotational player.
In Carroll’s case, the Cowboys are hoping he fits their system better than he did in Philadelphia. According to some film guru’s, Carroll is better as an off-ball corner than he is in man coverage, which the Eagles left him too much in last year. The veteran corner also brings some playmaking skills the defense needs.
These additions, the draft, and the Cowboys’ in-house replacements for the players they lost has been their plan. The team is also not done adding help in free agency, either. They may not be household names and you may not think much of the players, but a few years ago you were probably asking “who?” about Terrell McClain. Now you get upset the Cowboys didn’t re-sign him.
There is more work to be done, but there’s no need to panic. The Cowboys will be just fine, as long as they have the franchise quarterback (check), the stud running back (check), the stud wide receiver (check), the reliable tight end who still gets open with regularity (check), and those three All-Pro offensive linemen (check) leading the way. We may hate the other side of the ball, but they weren’t good enough to get the job done last year, so the losses on defense shouldn’t be something the team can’t overcome.
And the team will do a big-time deal this off-season, with a big-time player, his name is Zack Martin. Hope that’s alright with you.
It might not look pretty, but the Dallas Cowboys are filling their holes and preparing for the draft. There’s no need to panic, this has been the plan all along.
You can chat with or follow Ben on twitter @BenGrimaldi