March 7th is a big day for the Dallas Cowboys as they have the ability to start negotiating with unrestricted free agents. A deal can’t be finalized officially until March 9th. Recently, the Cowboys have not been “big players” in free agency. The focus has been on signing their own opposed to outsiders from other teams. This year could be different as the Cowboys have twenty unrestricted free agents of their own.
Some key names who have contributed to the Cowboys playoff runs two out of the past three years are on the free agency list such as Terrance Williams, Lance Dunbar, Gavin Escobar, Jack Crawford, Brandon Carr, Barry Church, Morris Claiborne and JJ Wilcox. For a complete list, click here. I don’t expect the Cowboys to negotiate new deals with more than ten of their pending free agents. Here are three players I would sign if I were Jerry Jones.
The best cornerback the Dallas Cowboys have had the past two seasons has been Morris Claiborne. After moving up in the 1st round to pick number six in the 2012 NFL draft, The Cowboys selected Claiborne. Hopes for Claiborne were sky high, some even thought he would be the next Deion Sanders, however injuries plagued any hopes for Claiborne to be a star. In the past five years, Claiborne has missed thirty-three games due to injury. This is extremely odd considering he was very healthy in college. When Claiborne was on the field in 2016 for seven games, he was playing arguably the best football from any corner.
One of his best moments came against the 49ers in Week 3, the entire bench rejoiced once Claiborne had an interception to seal the game late in the fourth quarter. Once Claiborne was sat for the rest of the regular season due to injury, the rust was evident against Green Bay in the divisional round. Although he wasn’t called for it, you could see Claiborne was holding constantly and looked to be a step behind. However, if the Cowboys can get another 1-2 year deal out of Claiborne like they did last season, he would be a great veteran addition to a very thin and young secondary.
One of the most interesting positions the Cowboys have to make tough decisions on is at the number 2 receiver spot. Both Terrance Williams and Brice Butler are free agents, leaving just Lucky Whitehead, Andy Jones and Cole Beasley behind Dez Bryant. If the Cowboys decide to let Williams and Butler walk, I suspect a third round pick to be used on a wide receiver. A free agent addition will be tough due to the limited amount of money the Cowboys have.
I don’t believe any team will see Terrance Williams as a potential number one receiver as he did not perform well with Bryant out of the lineup for multiple games in 2015 and the 2016 season. The wide receiving core is very tight in Dallas, I would not be shocked to see Williams stay. Also, don’t underestimate Williams’ talent as a blocking receiver. If you watch a lot of Elliott’s big runs from this past season, Williams was involved frequently setting a block.
The difference between 2015 and 2016 from the defensive side of the ball was evident when it came to rushing defense. One of the biggest reasons why the Cowboys struggled in 2015 to stop the run was due to the loss of McClain for the season. In 2016 McClain was the glue for the Cowboys defense. By the end of the 2016 season between David Irving and Terrell McClain the Cowboys DT position was a strength.
McClain had 2.5 sacks and 2 forced fumbles last season. Although 2.5 sacks doesn’t seem like much, the Cowboys leader in sacks only had 6 total. The pass rush is still the Cowboys biggest weakness, however, the weakness will only increase if they let McClain walk.