You know it’s close to football season when you see Jerry Jones beginning to thaw from his yearly hibernation, which means it’s time to talk about America’s team: The Cowboys! After coming off a season where they lost to the Rams in the Divisional Round, they are now looking to try and make that next step to contention. But alas, football is a fickle mistress and the boys have some tough questions heading into the 2019 season. Is Dak Prescott the right man at the QB position, especially when he needs a new deal? Will the offense take that next step forward with Amari Cooper’s first full year in a Cowboy uniform? Finally, what can the Cowboys try and do to keep up with the Eagles in the NFC East? I’ll explore these questions and more!
1. Can the Cowboys Afford to Keep Dak Prescott?
Money isn’t the issue here, let me make that perfectly clear. Jerry Jones could wipe his butt with $100 bills and not even bat an eye, which is the kind of rich I aspire to be someday.
In addition to Dak, here are the other major free agents for the Cowboys after this season: Amari Cooper, Jaylon Smith, Byron Jones, Sean Lee, La’el Collins, and Robert Quinn. Dallas has almost $67 million to play with in cap space next summer, which should be adequate for a majority of these players.
The issue is do you want to be spending a good bit of your salary cap to keep Dak Prescott as your quarterback? Now, Dak has been good for the first three years of his career. But do you know what his best stat is? His contract. Getting this kind of production out of a fourth-round pick has so much value. So many times, we reference tiers when we talk about QB’s in the NFL. So, I made a list of QBs that I believe are on the same level as Dak. They are Derek Carr, Kirk Cousins, and Matthew Stafford. Dak stacks up evenly against the other QB’s on this list, except for salary. Reports from around the NFL are that Dak could get up to $30 million per year… in the business that’s what we call a really big number. A big number for a guy who’s known as a game manager and his best skill is not turning the ball over.
But now let’s look at the alternatives, which are either getting a QB in free agency, or drafting one. A QB better than Dak rarely hits the open market, unless they’re really old. I don’t anticipate that happening anytime soon with the Bree’s, Rivers’, and Brady’s of the world.
Drafting a QB is extremely tough. Teams even get it wrong with a guy taken #1 overall. Do the
Cowboys really want to try and roll the dice again? They are too good to try and tank for a top pick, so they would already be taking a QB that isn’t in the upper half of the 2020 draft.
The point is, the Cowboys are stuck, and the only viable option is to just pay Dak. Will Dak actually get $30 million a year? No, I don’t believe so. I think it’ll be close to that, and if not, Dak needs a new agent. That being said, the Cowboys window to win is now, and they’ll need Dak to take that next step if they hope to contend in the NFC.
2. Will the Offense Rebound from Last Season?
When I hear the word rebound, I think of someone making a questionable decision after getting out of a long-term relationship. Maybe you shouldn’t be hitting on the guy with multiple face tattoos. I mean unless that’s your thing, then hey, don’t let me stop you!
When I say the Dallas offense needs to rebound, I don’t mean it as they were one of the worst offenses in the league. They ranked 10th in rushing yards, and 23rd in passing yards respectively according to Pro Football Reference. That’s really not terrible, considering you have teams like the Cardinals last year who just decided they weren’t going to play offense at all. Yes, I was a David Johnson fantasy owner last year, no I’m not bitter still…why do you ask?
The best piece of news is that they get Travis Frederick back, who is arguably the best center in the league, after sitting out all last season with a complication from an illness. This will boost what was already a good offensive line. Zeke will continue to do his thing, and I’m really looking forward to seeing what kind of connection Dak and Amari Cooper have after an entire offseason of working together.
The offense doesn’t need to be that much better if the defense plays the way it did last year. The Cowboys defense ranked 13th against the pass, and 5th against the run. If they can just keep that pace, and the passing game improves on offense, the Cowboys could be looking at a deep playoff run.
3. How can Dallas Keep up with Philadelphia?
If Dallas and Philadelphia are the grownups of the NFC East, the Redskins are the child that will throw tantrums in public when they don’t get what they want. No one takes them seriously, and the parents just leave them until they decide to stop crying. If Washington is that child, the Giants are the child that eats Legos for fun, no matter how many times you take them to the Emergency Room, just something about those blocks that make them want to eat more!
Philly has arguably done the best to surround their team with talent during this championship window. Obviously, they’ve already won one the Super Bowl, but Nick Foles isn’t around anymore to save them if Carson Wentz gets hurt again. Dallas has done a fine job of making the playoffs while still able to acquire talent through the draft and trades.
The offensive talent is there, with a top receiver and running back to go along with one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. If the Cowboys did try to negotiate a trade, I would anticipate it being for a #2 or #3 wide receiver, especially if Michael Gallup (SP) starts out slow