The Dallas Cowboys rolled to a 13-3 record last season behind stud rookies Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott. The future of the franchise is in good hands thanks to those two, but there are still several question marks, mainly on defense.
With free agency just about a week away, the Cowboys need to address the defense. They have four defensive backs set to hit the open market, while the pass rush is as underwhelming as ever. Unfortunately, they have only about $1.7 million in cap space as of now with more to come following a few restructures and releases of guys like Tony Romo.
When free agency begins March 9, these five players should be targets for Dallas.
WR Kenny Britt (Rams)
The Cowboys will likely be looking for a No. 2 receiver with Terrance Williams expected to cash in during free agency. Britt fits the mold of what the Cowboys look for at that spot, boasting good size and decent speed as a receiver opposite Dez Bryant. He’d be more affordable than someone like DeSean Jackson or Kenny Stills, too. Britt had a career year in 2016, which is surprising because he played in the Rams’ stagnant offense. Dallas covets big receivers that are 6-foot or taller, so Britt is a guy to keep an eye on.
DE Jabaal Sheard (Patriots)
Sheard had a terrific season in New England two years ago, but his snaps were limited in the second half of 2016. He can still be an effective pass rusher, and his role in Dallas’ 4-3 defense would be clear: sack the quarterback. He has good size and strength to hold up as a 4-3 defensive end, while still showing the ability to rush the passer, recording seven-plus sacks three times in his career. He should be a target for Dallas if the money’s right.
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OLB DeMarcus Ware (Broncos)
DeMarcus Ware spent the majority of his career with the Cowboys, and a reunion should be in the cards. Ware can still provide a spark to a defense as a situational pass rusher, which is something Dallas desperately needs. Even if he plays only 40 percent of the snaps on a weekly basis, he would be a valued addition. Although he’s better as a 3-4 outside linebacker, he did play defensive end for the Cowboys previously and showed the ability to rush the passer with one hand in the dirt. Ware could be a budget addition with an incentive-laden deal that hinges on his health.
CB Brandon Carr (Cowboys)
The Cowboys have four key players in the secondary set to hit free agency: Morris Claiborne, Barry Church, J.J. Wilcox and Carr. Of the four, Carr is probably the most likely to return, and he should be the Cowboys’ top target of the bunch. He’s never missed a game in Dallas and despite his large number of critics, he’s actually a good, reliable corner. He’s also a good teammate, showing he’s willing to take a pay cut in the past few years. Carr shouldn’t be too expensive for the Cowboys to keep.
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S Tony Jefferson (Cardinals)
With Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox set to hit free agency, the Cowboys could very well be looking for an upgrade at safety. Jefferson would be a perfect fit as a strong safety next to Byron Jones. He’s a ball hawk who always finds himself around the action – 96 tackles, two sacks, two forced fumbles in 2016. He has the ability to force turnovers when playing around the line of scrimmage, something Dallas has struggled to do the past two years. If he commands $7 million on the open market, the Cowboys should jump to sign him.