10 free agents the Cowboys could target with the draft behind them

The Dallas Cowboys have officially wrapped their 2024 NFL Draft and finished all of their signings in undrafted free agency, which means their second round of NFL free agency has begun. They’ve already been active, adding two familiar faces in Ezekiel Elliott and Damien Wilson, but there could be more down the road. Here are 10 remaining free agents the Cowboys could potentially target between now and the start of the season.

RB Cam Akers

Many Cowboys fans wanted the team to draft Trey Benson, but the draft board just didn’t fall that way for Dallas. Instead, how about the guy that Benson succeeded at Florida State? Cam Akers was a standout runner for the Seminoles, ultimately getting drafted 52nd overall in 2020 by the Rams.

Akers had a strong start to his career, leading the team with 625 rushing yards and two touchdowns. He tore his Achilles the next year, but returned in 2022 with a vengeance, finishing with 786 rushing yards and seven touchdowns with 610 of those yards coming in the second half of the year.

Akers was then traded to the Vikings during the 2023 season, as Kyren Williams emerged for the Rams. It took some time for Akers to get acclimated in Minnesota, and then an Achilles injury ended his season prematurely. At this point, Akers would be a very affordable option due to his injury history with the potential to offer a huge reward if he makes a full recovery.

RB Kareem Hunt

A former third-round pick out of Toledo, Kareem Hunt was on his way to stardom with the Chiefs before off-field issues resulted in his release. Hunt since found a new home with the Browns, where he has thrived in a secondary role behind star Nick Chubb.

Heading into last season, it looked like Hunt wouldn’t play for the Browns again. However, when Chubb was lost for the season, Hunt returned to Cleveland and proved he still has some tread on the tires. He wasn’t the same explosive playmaker he once was, but Hunt finished with 411 rushing yards and nine touchdowns over 15 games.

Hunt will turn 29 in the preseason, which is why his market has remained stagnant thus far, but he absolutely still has something to offer a team. Hunt could fit nicely in Dallas, as he still possesses the ability to contribute both on the ground and through the air, though he might be a bit of a redundancy with Ezekiel Elliott now in tow.

WR Tyler Boyd

The fact that Tyler Boyd is still available at this point in the offseason is a bit of a surprise. The former second-round pick from 2016 has been the model of consistency: Boyd has amassed 600+ receiving yards in all but one year of his career, with the lone outlier being a season that was cut short due to injury.

Boyd will turn 30 this season, so he’s getting up there in age, but the longtime Bengals receiver is a first-down machine and reliable target for any quarterback. The expectation is that Boyd’s market will heat up now that the draft is over, but there’s no details on what he may be looking for financially.

In Dallas, Boyd would essentially be competing with Brandin Cooks for the title of Best Receiver Not Named CeeDee Lamb, which would be good for the Cowboys considering Cooks currently has that title locked up. For Boyd, he would have the opportunity to step right into an offense that produced gaudy numbers a year and catch passes from last year’s MVP runner-up in a final attempt to win a Super Bowl.

WR Zay Jones

The Cowboys could definitely use a veteran receiver alongside Lamb and Cooks, at least in case Jalen Tolbert doesn’t take another step forward in his development this offseason, and one such option became available on Tuesday when the Jaguars released Zay Jones.

Jones is a Dallas native who has enjoyed a lengthy career, with stints for the Bills and Raiders before most recently being a Jaguar. Jones’ first year in Jacksonville was his best, catching 82 passes for 823 yards and five touchdowns. However, Jones fell out of favor this past year, as the Jaguars welcomed Calvin Ridley into their offense and pushed Jones down the depth chart.

Jones represents a veteran presence with proven ability as a third receiving option, and his market could fit into the Cowboys’ financial plans. As an added bonus, he’s the son of Robert Jones, a linebacker who was drafted by the Cowboys in the first round of the 1992 NFL Draft and went on to win three rings with the team.

WR Hunter Renfrow

It wasn’t that long ago that Hunter Renfrow was a budding star in the NFL, as his crisp route running and reliable hands turned him into a production machine in Jon Gruden’s Raiders offense. Over his first three seasons, Renfrow recorded 208 receptions and 2,299 yards with 15 touchdowns; he peaked in 2021 with his first (and only, to date) 1,000+ yard season.

Renfrow very quickly fell out of favor with new head coach Josh McDaniels, though, and he had fewer than 40 catches each of the next two seasons after having never dipped below 49 catches prior to that. Renfrow was released back in March, and he could be looking to work out a deal now that the draft has come and gone.

One potential issue with Renfrow coming to Dallas, though, is his fit. Renfrow has almost exclusively played in the slot, and he’s undeniably been at his best there, which would clash with CeeDee Lamb’s role as one of the best slot merchants in the NFL.

EDGE Yannick Ngakoue

Yannick Ngakoue was once a premier edge rushing force, but his age has resulted in a muted market so far. Last year with the Bears, Ngakoue tallied four sacks in a limited role. However, Ngakoue had 10 sacks in each of the previous two years, both with different teams, suggesting he’s still got some juice.

Ngakoue also has a relationship with Mike Zimmer, having signed with Zimmer’s Vikings during his first foray into the free agent market back in 2020. Minnesota ended up trading him a few months into his first year there as the Vikings’ season crumbled, but that had little to do with the fit in Zimmer’s scheme.

In Dallas, Ngakoue would effectively fill the role that Dante Fowler has held the last two years as a rotational edge rusher that can spell DeMarcus Lawrence while also allowing for more creativity in where Micah Parsons lines up. His last contract was a one-year deal worth $10 million, but that figure should be lower today given the circumstances.

iDL Lawrence Guy

While the Patriots may have fallen from glory in the last few years, their defense has remained stout every season. Now, one of the key cogs of that defense over the years is available, provided he wants to keep playing.

Lawrence Guy was released by the Patriots back in February, and there’s a strong possibility the versatile defensive lineman could decide to call it a career. The former Arizona State player tallied 46+ tackles in all but one season from 2015 to 2021 as a rotational player. He has a ring to his name and was also included on the Patriots’ All-2010’s team for his contributions to the franchise.

Guy also began his career with Mike McCarthy, as a seventh-round pick back in 2011. He ultimately spent his entire rookie year on the injured reserve and was put on the practice squad in 2012, where he was poached by another team. Could McCarthy look to reunite with Guy now? It would be a sneaky good addition.

iDL Linval Joseph

The Cowboys drafted the 330-pound Justin Rogers with their final pick of the draft, and are hoping to get Mazi Smith back to the weight he played at in college, but they could still benefit from adding a more seasoned run-stuffing nose tackle. Few remaining free agents fit that bill better than Linval Joseph.

Joseph has enjoyed a long career, and he’ll turn 36 this October, but the nose tackle has been a consistent run-stuffer for a variety of teams in his career. He spent last year with the Bills and, before that, a one year stint with the Eagles. But his longest stretch came with the Vikings, where he played for Mike Zimmer for the first eight years of his tenure as the head coach in Minnesota.

A reunion with Zimmer makes a ton of sense, and Joseph would be able to step in right away and take on a mentorship role not unlike Eric Kendricks. Joseph probably wouldn’t be an every down type of player, but he still has some meaningful snaps to contribute and would offer valuable experience to the younger players like Smith and Rogers.

CB Stephon Gilmore

The odds of the Cowboys bringing back Stephon Gilmore for another go seem to decrease each coming week. They’ve already re-signed Jourdan Lewis for the 2024 season, and their selection of Caelen Carson in the fifth round makes it even less likely that Dallas brings the veteran back.

That said, so long as Gilmore remains unsigned he will be an option for the Cowboys. Gilmore was largely productive in Dallas last year, yielding a 56.8% completion rate, forcing 14 incompletions, and picking off two passes. However, his lack of top-flight speed made it harder for the defense to run as much press man coverage as usual, and Mike Zimmer is an even bigger fan of press coverage than Dan Quinn.

For now, it seems like the Cowboys are content to roll with the trio of Trevon Diggs, DaRon Bland, and Lewis as their primary starters. However, the Cowboys know all too well that depth in the secondary is critical, so we can’t rule out a return for Gilmore until he signs with another team.

CB Patrick Peterson

In the (seemingly unlikely) event that the Cowboys do want to add a veteran cornerback in free agency but don’t want that veteran to be Stephon Gilmore, they could look to bring in another former All-Pro in Patrick Peterson.

Peterson spent last season with the Steelers, who made him a cap casualty back in March, but the corner has said multiple times he plans to play in 2024. Prior to his stint with the Steelers, Peterson played for two seasons with the Vikings, having initially signed that contract in what turned out to be Mike Zimmer’s final year in Minnesota.

Peterson may not be what he once was, but he still offers a great skill set and knowledge beyond his years. In many ways, he would bring exactly what Gilmore brought to this team a year ago, only with the added benefit of already having some familiarity with the coordinator he’d be playing for.


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