With 2017 NFL Free Agency just around the corner, there are several significant rumors currently making the rounds about the Dallas Cowboys and their plans.
In less than a week, the Dallas Cowboys will begin traversing the hurricane-size waves that will surely characterize 2017 NFL Free Agency. Based on the rumors we’re hearing right now, it could be a interesting time for fans of America’s Team.
After putting together a tremendous 13-3 showing in 2016, the Cowboys aren’t far from contending again in 2017. With a few holes to fill and not much talent headed for the open market, Dallas doesn’t need to have a blockbuster offseason to ensure their “contender” status next season.
The only real problem at this point is their lack of cap space. At the time I penned this, Spotrac.com had the Cowboys with a whopping $4.4 million in spending power. If you ask me, that doesn’t sound like enough room to make even a small dent in the work that needs to be done in March.
With a couple more roster moves (and Tony Romo’s inevitable departure), the Cowboys should find the space to do some maneuvering. The rumors swirling around right now would indicate Jerry Jones already has some tricks up his sleeve.
Until March 9 arrives, though, all we can do is speculate and listen to what’s being said about the Cowboys. So here are the five biggest rumors about Dallas’ plans for 2017 NFL Free Agency with just under a week to go.
With Romo all but gone and their other backup quarterbacks headed for free agency, the Cowboys need a new No. 2 behind Dak Prescott. As it so happens, they’ve shown a particular interest in veteran journeyman Josh McCown.
According to ESPN’s Ed Werder, there’s mutual interest between Dallas and McCown, who was recently released by the Cleveland Browns. Despite his tumultuous history of injuries, the 14-year NFL veteran is still coveted as a capable backup option. So it’s understandable why the Cowboys would be interested in his services.
What’s better is, at this point, McCown would likely come relatively cheap. Especially since he wants to play for a contender while serving in a mentorship role, Dallas makes all too much sense for the 38-year-old gunslinger. While he may not be the most stable option, the Cowboys could certainly do worse.
Dallas could opt to bring back one of their two in-house options, Mark Sanchez or Kellen Moore. However, the Cowboys may feel more comfortable going with a slightly more proven talent like McCown. While he’s far from reliable considering his durability issues, he’d likely be a welcomed addition.
During his rookie season, Ezekiel Elliott was a revelation. The young running back took the NFL by storm, working his way into the MVP conversation despite playing alongside another candidate for the award.
Despite his obvious ability to carry the Dallas running game, the Cowboys would be wise to keep some capable backup options behind him. That’s not to say he’s injury prone, but rather they need to keep him from getting worn down too early in his career—he’s already touched the ball 377 times through only 16 games (including the playoffs).
If the Cowboys want him to even make it to 30 in this league, his touches need to be scaled back a bit. That means keeping another playmaker or two behind him on the depth chart. One particular name comes to mind who’s already familiar with the franchise: Darren McFadden.
The veteran runner is scheduled to be a free agent this offseason, but doesn’t seem opposed to a potential return. In fact, he told SiriusXM NFL Radio he gets the feeling the Cowboys “wouldn’t mind” keeping him. Assuming his asking price isn’t too high, it makes a lot of sense. That way, McFadden says fresh with limited touches while playing for a legitimate contender.
Right now, the Cowboys boast one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. Unfortunately, the group may soon need some reworking if the recent rumors are true. Word around the league is Doug Free could be contemplating retirement as the 2017 campaign looms a few months away.
According to 105.3 The Fans’ Mike Fisher, the Cowboys’ starting right tackle is considering hanging it up. Realistically, it’s not crazy considering Free is 33 years old and has dealt with numerous injuries in recent seasons. However, it is a bit out of left field.
Apparently head coach Jason Garrett agrees. According to the Dallas News’ Jon Machota, Dallas’ head honcho doesn’t “know of any talk of retirement” surrounding Free. Just because the head coach isn’t aware of the situation doesn’t automatically mean it’s a false report. It could simply mean Free hasn’t shared his thoughts on a larger scale yet.
If Free were to hang it up, it would leave the Cowboys in a precarious situation along the front five. They’d be forced to reconsider the future of the offensive line, with retaining Ronald Leary becoming a serious consideration. Dallas could also turn to 2015 third-round pick Chaz Green to fill the void. Either way, a change of plans would be in order.
This offseason, the Cowboys must get better at wide receiver. Their top target, Dez Bryant, is a star, but the amount of time he spends on the injury report is inconvenient. Two of the teams’ other top receivers are headed for free
agency. The only other reliable option out wide is Cole Beasley, who has his limitations.
Dallas needs a new receiver for Prescott to throw to, which is why the team has apparently taken a long look at pending free agent Pierre Garcon. According to the Washington Post’s Mike Jones, the Cowboys are one of several teams who may kick the tires if he hits the open market.
While Garcon may be 30 years old, he’s coming off yet another 1,000-yard season with the Redskins. It’s clear he’s only got a few good years left in him, but appears capable of contributing big numbers for at least another couple of campaigns. Unfortunately, he likely won’t come cheap considering the dearth of receiver talent in 2017 free agency.
Still, Garcon is a smart route runner and reliable pair of hands. If the Cowboys can convince him to flee Washington and come to Texas, they could soon field an intriguing duo of starting receivers. Add a high-upside rookie via the draft, and Dallas’ receiving corps could quickly come together.
It’s been a blast keeping track of the Romo saga over the last couple of months. With the veteran’s time up in Dallas, it’s gotten to the point where the biggest question is whether the Cowboys will release him or find a trade partner.
At this point, it looks like the trade market is nearly nonexistent. The reason for that is because teams know Dallas will release him at some point, so why give up assets when you can potentially land him on the open market. Plus, that also means avoiding taking on his $24.7 million cap hit for 2017, even if a restructure would likely be a requirement to facilitate any deal.
Hence, release seems like Romo’s most likely fate at this point. That point was further emphasized by SportsDay’s Brandon George, who believes the ax could fall very soon. When that inevitable moment arrives, Romo would easily be the best arm on the market—even with his age and proneness to injury.
When he does finally hit the market, the Denver Broncos are considered the top potential landing spot. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport even went as far as saying John Elway’s club is “in the driver’s seat” to sign Romo when he becomes available. Other teams expected to be in contention are the Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs.
The only thing we know for sure at this point is Romo won’t have a star on his helmet in 2017. It’s a strange situation to imagine, but you better believe he’ll be helping a potential contender make a strong push for a Lombardi Trophy—assuming he can stay healthy.