2020 Offseason Guide to Fix the Dallas Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys are coming off one of the most disappointing seasons in the Jerry Jones era. It’s unfortunately still a little fresh in our minds, but I think it’s time to move on and look towards the future. That’s why I decided to put on my General Manager hat today and share with you with my 2020 offseason guide for fixing America’s Team.

The Dallas Cowboys have a lot of work to do between now and the start of the 2020 regular season. Luckily for them, I’ve done all the groundwork for them. Now all they have to do is follow my guide and make it come to fruition. If they do so, I think this could be a team with Super Bowl aspirations once again.

But, where to start!? Let’s take a look…

Go all in to Find Jason Garrett’s Successor

The first, and most important, thing the Dallas Cowboys have to do is to go all in to find Jason Garrett’s successor. This could be Jerry Jones’ last chance to win a Super Bowl before they are shoveling dirt over him. He’s going to leave no stone unturned in the search for his new head coach. I believe he’s ready to push all of his chips to the middle of the table and let fate handle the rest.

What does that mean exactly?

Well, I believe the Dallas Cowboys are going to go all in in order to get the head coach they are targeting. That means nothing is out of the realm of possibility in my opinion. So don’t be surprised if you hear about them putting in calls to the New England Patriots and New Orleans Saints to inquire about Bill Belichick and Sean Payton. Whether their next head coach comes via trade or from shelling out a lot of money, you can bet Jerry Jones isn’t going to let any obstacle stand in his way in order to get what he wants.

3 Contracts to Renew, 1 to let go

Dak Prescott was the Dallas Cowboys MVP and a dark horse candidate for the league MVP in 2019 and is going to get paid as such this offseason. He bet on himself last year and it’s going to pay off in a big way. He is likely going to be paid 35-$40 million per season and deserves every penny. It was his arm that kept Dallas in a lot of games last year, not Ezekiel Elliott‘s legs, even though he is “supposedly” the focal point of the offense. No. 4 is going to be the Cowboys QB for the foreseeable future, whether you agree with it or not.

I believe re-signing Byron Jones is an absolute must for the Dallas Cowboys. He was the one consistent thing in their secondary in 2019, but if you subtract him from the mix you’re looking at Chidobe Awuzie and Jordan Lewis as your starting CBs in 2020. Lewis played well last season, but is probably still better suited to play out of the slot than on the outside. Awuzie on the other hand took a huge step back last year and became a liability in the passing game. Byron Jones may not have the INT totals we would all like, but he is still one of the best man-coverage players in the league. His ability to pretty much lock down his side of the field is invaluable.

Unlike with Prescott and Jones, I’m not as comfortable offering Amari Cooper a long-term contract this offseason. He reverted to his old ways in 2019 with the Dallas Cowboys and reminded everybody exactly why the Oakland Raiders were willing to part ways with him. Injuries and the disappearing act we witnessed this season plagued him in Oakland and once again popped up this year in Dallas. That’s why I’d use the transition tag, not the franchise tag, on him this offseason. The transition tag is not only cheaper, $15.9 million versus $18.5 million, but would also give the Cowboys the ability to match any contract another team offers Cooper. It’s still a lot of money, but it’s less risky than investing in him long-term due to his red flags.

Tyrone Crawford was a favorite of Rod Marinelli and the old coaching regime, but a new defensive coordinator and coaching staff likely means the end of his days with the Dallas Cowboys. By cutting him this offseason they can save $8 million against the salary cap, with only $1.1 million in dead money. That extra savings will come in handy re-signing not only their own, but the free agents I have mentioned below.

Free Agent Moves to Make

I think it’s way past time the Dallas Cowboys invest in a big, space eating defensive tackle and that’s exactly what they’d be getting in Jordan Phillips. He may be coming off a career year with the Buffalo Bills (31 tackles, 9.5 QB sacks, 1 forced fumble), but at 27 years old I don’t think the 341 pound DT is going to break the bank. He signed a one-year contract with the Bills last season that paid him a little over $4 million and that’s about the price range he’ll likely sign once again this offseason. But if he wants more, there are other big DTs available (Danny Shelton, Vernon Butler, Andrew Billings).

The Dallas Cowboys need depth at both linebacker and defensive end, so why not go out and sign a player who can play both and at a high level. I believe this is a move that actually works in the Cowboys favor in more ways than one. They can sign him as an OLB, which is cheaper than DE, and then play him at both. His market value was around $8 million a season according to Sportrac.com, which is around the same price range it would take to bring back Robert Quinn. I don’t believe Collins would be a drop off and his added versatility to play LB as well as DE makes this move no-brainer for me.

2 Players to Acquire via Trade

The Dallas Cowboys tried and failed to acquire Jamal Adams via trade from the New York Jets prior to the 2019 trade deadline last season, but that shouldn’t stop them from trying again. The Jets asking price was way too steep for the Dallas Cowboys last season. That asking price is likely to go down now that Adams only has two years remaining on his rookie contract if his fifth year option is exercised. I’d consider a player for player trade involving Tyron Smith, but a 2020 3rd-round pick and Cameron Fleming could get it done. If Smith is traded though, drafting a LT becomes a top priority.

The Jason Witten/Blake Jarwin duo performed admirably for the Dallas Cowboys last season, but upgrading the position should be an offseason priority. Jarwin showed flashes once again he can be a weapon in the passing game, but he’s still unfortunately a liability as a blocker. Sadly, this year’s TE draft class is pretty weak, which is why I think they should trade for O.J. Howard. He doesn’t fit into Bruce Arian’s offense and could probably be acquired for a mid-round 2020 draft pick. I believe he would immediately upgrade the position and become a favorite target of Dak Prescott.

Don’t Ignore Special Teams

It’s almost as if the Dallas Cowboys completely forgot about special teams in 2019. Their coverage units on both kickoff and punt return consistently gave up big gains, putting opponents in favorable field position. And I don’t even think we really need to bring up the kicking situation with Brett Maher. Sadly, Punter Chris Jones was yet another letdown. The only positive all season was how consistent Long Snapper L.P. Ladouceur was once again, like he has been for nearly 2 decades with the Cowboys.

Personally, I’d convince Ladouceur to come back for at least one more season. The Cowboys are going to need him since I’ll not only be bringing in a new kicker, but a punter as well after I cut Chris Jones. Cutting Jones will save Dallas about $1.4 million, which could be used elsewhere quite possibly for his replacement. At kicker I’d consider bringing back Kai Forbath or bringing in another veteran, but regardless I wouldn’t roll the dice again like they did with Maher in 2019.

2020 NFL Mock Draft After Offseason Moves

After re-signing Byron Jones and drafting Kristian Fulton, the Dallas Cowboys secondary suddenly goes from being a liability to a strength. These two CBs would be my Day 1 starters with Jourdan Lewis as the nickel. Chidobe Awuzie unfortunately took a huge step back in 2019 and now finds himself buried on the depth chart coming into a contract year.

I drafted Lucas Niang in the second-round for the Cowboys because I shipped Tyron Smith to the New York Jets in exchange for Jamal Adams. I believe Smith’s play is starting to decline in large part due to injuries and thought it was as good a time as any to get something in return before it’s too late. With Niang in the fold Dallas can make this move because he can come in and be a Day 1 starter as a rookie.

I sent the Dallas Cowboys third-round draft pick to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in exchange for O.J. Howard. He has two years remaining on his rookie contract plus a fifth-year option as a former first-round pick that can be exercised if Dallas so chooses. He would be an immediate upgrade over not only the Cowboys tight ends, but anybody else they could acquire in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Quartney Davis is an underrated WR in the 2020 draft class, but that will probably change once the draft process gets further underway. At 6’2″, 200 pounds he would bring some size and versatility to the Cowboys receiving core. I believe he’s capable of playing on the outside or in the slot and has a chance to be just as productive as Randall Cobb was in 2019.

I know I’ve already re-signed Byron Jones and drafted Kristian Fulton to upgrade the Cowboys secondary, but I couldn’t pass up the chance of adding Lamar Jackson to the mix as well. I view him as kind of a hybrid CB/S due to his size (6’3″, 215), so determining where to play him may take some time. Fortunately, there would be no need to rush him because of the depth I’ve already added at both CB and S. This is a pick with the future in mind.

With the one and only projected compensatory pick the Dallas Cowboys are expected to receive I decided to draft more DT depth. Davon Hamilton (6’4″, 310) is an experienced, four-year starter at Ohio State. He was the anchor of their defensive line, often times commanding double teams, and could do the same along the interior of the Cowboys DL as well.

With the final Dallas Cowboys draft pick in the 2020 NFL Draft I decided to draft an athletically gifted QB with a big arm to potentially become Dak Prescott’s backup. Cole McDonald reminds me a little bit of Buffalo Bills QB Josh Allen because of his athleticism and arm strength, but also a little bit of Philip Rivers due to his unorthodox throwing motion. Regardless though, I think he’s upgrade over Cooper Rush.

Summary

  • Go all in to find Jason Garrett’s successor
  • Extend Dak Prescott and Byron Jones, tag Amari Cooper
  • Cut DT/DE Tyrone Crawford
  • Sign Free Agent DT Jordan Phillips and OLB Jamie Collins
  • Upgrade Special Teams
  • Trade for S Jamal Adams and TE O.J. Howard
  • Draft CB Kristin Fulton, OT Lucas Niang, WR Quartney Davis, DT Davon Hamilton, QB Cole McDonald
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