With the offseason under way, now is the time for the Dallas Cowboys to start looking at potential players to strengthen their roster from the free agent pool. The biggest problem is the fact the Cowboys front office is seldom a major participant when it comes to free agency. In the spirit of helping them out, here are three players they should at least consider. We know they won’t sign all of them, but maybe they could change their recent strategy and at least go for one of them.
1. RB, Derrick Henry
After last season’s experiment with Tony Pollard as the lead back not reaching expectations, the running back position is a huge need this year. Having a running game that struggled at times and failed to make consistent explosive plays meant the offense became somewhat one-dimensional by resorting to Dak Prescott and the passing game.
A handful of games the Cowboys lost last season would probably have looked much different if the team had a much more efficient running back and more specifically, one that could physically impose his will on the opposing defense. One player that fits that description is three-down back Derrick Henry.
Working against Henry is his age. He will be 30 next season, which historically is the age at running back when you start to see a huge drop in production. Henry has now logged over 2,000 rush attempts since joining the NFL in 2016. This has seen a drop in production each year from him since his 2,000-yard season in 2020.
Henry’s predicted market value is $4.3 million per year (Spotrac). Striking early to sign Henry is important as there are a number of interesting names hitting free agency, and if the Cowboys stall they could face a higher price to pay if others are signed before Henry and set the going rate.
2. LB, Devin White
Another huge position that needs to be filled is clearly the linebacker position. Even if the Cowboys take linebackers in the draft, which they likely will, the team is still shorthanded at the position. They do get DeMarvion Overshown back next year which is good, but the front office has a decision to make on Leighton Vander Esch. Regardless, they need more linebackers, and with Markquese Bell best suited to a nickel linebacker, the team is short on early down off-ball linebackers.
The draft does have a lot of surprising talent at the position, but the Cowboys need a player they know they can count on in the middle.
Tampa Bay has one guy that is about to become an unrestricted free agent, a player they took with the fifth overall pick in the 2019 draft, Devin White. The biggest problem facing Dallas in trying to get White to a contract is his price tag. He’s going to be attractive to a number of teams which puts him in a bidding war and his current market value has him at $10,7 mill million per year already (Spotrac). That may price him out of Dallas where they have devalued the linebacker position, and fear spending too much with other looming contracts to deal with.
3. OT, Mekhi Becton
An aging Tyron Smith has stacked injuries every season for nearly a decade, making his ability to stay available for an entire season has shown to be problematic. This has led to the offensive line losing cohesion throughout the season and struggling with consistency. But the team can take a gamble on a much younger left tackle from the New York Jets that’s set to be a free agent. The first thing everyone will say on signing Mekhi Becton is that he’s been just as injury prone in his short career in the NFL, but there’s no denying this man-mountain has the talent to fill the role. This is assuming Tyron Smith doesn’t return in 2024.
So the plan of attack with this addition would be to still draft an offensive tackle, but the team would have Becton to take on the starting role and this would allow the front to not have to prioritize the position with an early draft pick. Becton would fill the role while they develop a rookie, but if Becton lasted the year, the front office and coaches look smart for signing and giving him the chance.
The other part of people feeling apprehensive about signing Becton would be the high amount of pressure he allowed last year. But watching the tape, the entire Jets offensive line struggled and also suffered from poor quarterback play. Becton would play much closer to expectation as he blocks next to a guy like Tyler Smith and with a quarterback like Dak Prescott at the helm.
This is a gamble signing, but it fills a position of need before the draft, assuming Smith isn’t retuning, leaving the front office to be more free in the early rounds. Right now Becton is estimated to have a $13 million market value (Spotrac), but perhaps an incentive-laden deal that would pay more for play could be a route to go.