The Dallas Cowboys gave Dak Prescott the franchise tag and inked wide receiver Amari Cooper to a big deal. So what’s happening with the rest of the team?
It seems like just about every day in the early stages of this NFL offseason, the Dallas Cowboys have watched a player or two leave the organization – albeit for different reasons. Mike McCarthy is the team’s new head coach and while the club has wideout Amari Cooper back in the fold and is working on a new deal for quarterback Dak Prescott (given the exclusive franchise tag before the start of free agency), he’s already seen a slew of departures from a team that finished 8-8 this past season.
The list includes the team’s 2019 sack leader (Robert Quinn), its top cover corner (Byron Jones) and the franchise’s all-time receptions leader (Jason Witten). Veteran wide receiver Randall Cobb has moved on after one season with the club, defensive tackle Maliek Collins and safety Jeff Heath are joining Witten in Las Vegas and former Pro Bowl center Travis Frederick has retired.
Slowly but surely, Jerry Jones’ team is starting to fill some of the holes left by a slew of departures. On Wednesday, the clubs brought on one-time first-round draft choice Dontari Poe, late of the Carolina Panthers, to help the defensive line. The Cowboys also signed tight end Blake Bell away from the Kansas City Chiefs. Earlier this month, the club added defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, late of the Panthers, cornerback Maurice Canady (New York Jets) and safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. The latter will be suiting up for his fourth team in three years. And now the Cowboys have added one of the better kickers in the league since 2013 (albeit off a disappointing year) or so in Greg Zuerlein, who toiled for eight seasons with the Rams.
It’s the defensive additions that bear watching. While McCoy and Poe should solidify the middle, replacing Quinn’s 11.5 sacks is easier said than done. This was a Dallas defense that a year ago that took a slight step backward after showing so much promise in ’18. There are still talented linebackers Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith and Sean Lee is returning as well. New defensive coordinator Mike Nolan must reshape this group. Perhaps some help will come in the draft. The Cowboys have seven picks to work with.
Yes, it’s safe to say that the departure of longtime head coach Jason Garrett isn’t the only thing different in Dallas these days.