In need of more playmakers to get over the hump in the playoffs, the Dallas Cowboys could be gearing up to make a big addition this spring.
DALLAS — The NFL Scouting Combine wears several hats; not only is it a place to watch some of the best prospects work out, but it offers teams a chance to interview and get to know potential draft picks. With decision makers all together in one location, it’s also a place where the rumor mill churns out some of the biggest stories before free agency gets underway.
Teams head to frigid Indianapolis for the combine and bring the gossip to stay warm. For the Dallas Cowboys, a team that’s always in the forefront in the league, it doesn’t take much to stoke the fires. The workouts hadn’t even begun before the rumors started swirling that the Cowboys were preparing to make a big move to address their roster this offseason.
There hasn’t been anything to substantiate this claim, but as trade winds start to blow, the smoke could eventually mean a fire. With the idea planted, the guesses are coming fast and furious. Just what are the Cowboys planning this offseason?
The “big move” could be any number of things, especially since it doesn’t take much to move the needle to be considered big for the Cowboys. The offseason maneuvering of the franchise has been conspicuously listless and predictable during the most recent era, so there is often very little to get the fanbase excited before the NFL Draft rolls around.
Free agency is normally a time where Dallas sits idly by in the first wave or two, watching all the best players sign elsewhere before the team dips their toes into the market. In the last 10 years of free agency, rarely have the Cowboys signed an impact player to a deal larger than $6 million. The team is notorious for signing stopgap players to fill a need on short deals after spending their dollars on extending home grown talent.
If the big move is to sign a top free agent, the Cowboys have a lot of work to do to clear the cap space. The team is currently over the projected cap and would need to address multiple issues prior to free agency before signing a high-quality player.
Perhaps the impactful move that will shock Cowboys Nation is signing wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. After all, the team has been flirting with adding the former LSU wideout for a few months, dating back to the end of the regular season. Beckham’s a good player, but he’s coming off a major injury and after courting him for months, would this even qualify as a “big move?”
The Cowboys need receiver help, and Beckham is among the best options in a weak free agent WR group, so the name alone could quantify him as a big addition.
There are also suggestions that the Cowboys could be trading for an elite player who’s already established in the league. The likely candidates have mostly included wide receivers such as the Buffalo Bills’ Stefon Diggs, Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Mike Evans, and the Arizona Cardinals’ DeAndre Hopkins as the most popular names.
Diggs continues to be mentioned because of his stated desire to play with his brother, Cowboys’ CB Trevon Diggs, and Evans is often named because the Buccaneers are in a bit of rebuilding mode after QB Tom Brady retired and left the team over the cap. Hopkins has been on the rumor mill since the season ended.
If the Cowboys traded for any of these receivers, it would definitely be considered a big move. However, the price on all three will be an obstacle. Diggs is set to count over $20 million towards the cap this season, Evans over $23 million, and Hopkins a whopping $30 million. Dallas would need to clear out some massive cap space to add one of these, or any good WR, this offseason.
Another potential splash move would be to trade for a cornerback, perhaps CB Jalen Ramsey, who is expected to get dealt. Again, the cost feels prohibitive for a trade to the Cowboys. Ramsey is set to make $17 million this season, $18.5 next year and $19.5 million in 2025. It’s fair value for one of the league’s best corners, but the Cowboys also must pay their own star CB either this offseason or the next. Having Ramsey and re-signing Diggs doesn’t seem feasible for a team that’s strapped for cap dollars.
The “big move” could be something as simple as the team extending quarterback Dak Prescott, whom Dallas has openly talked about as a priority. That would be a refreshing experience after the last round of negotiations became difficult. Signing their Pro Bowl QB before it gets contentious would be a plus, but that shouldn’t be labeled as a big move.
All the speculation is fun, and it leads us right back to the same place with the Cowboys. They love staying in the football news cycle. Nothing should surprise fans these days, but a splash move from the team would be welcomed after so many lackadaisical springs in Dallas.
The lure is on, and the chum is in the water, the question is, are the Cowboys really big game fishing? The offseason awaits.
Do you think the Cowboys will come away with a top talent this offseason? Share your thoughts with Ben on Twitter @BenGrimaldi.