By Ben Babcock
Offseason Grade: B-
Answer: Yes…Then they released Dez
The Cowboys didn’t have a whole lot to spend this offseason and had really made some nice moves, until….they dropped Dez Bryant. They made some good moves to add depth to their roster and honestly had a very good offseason given the little amount of cap room they had, but releasing Dez brings their offense a big step backward.
The Cowboys receiving core has been dwindling the past couple years, and last year they had to deal with star running back Ezekiel Elliott facing suspension. The only thing that has been consistently solid for them the past several years has been their offensive line. And they kept that strong by adding Cameron Fleming, Joe Looney, and Marcus Martin. The biggest need of offense though is at wide receiver. They brought it Allen Hurns and Deonte Thompson on short-term contracts, which was honestly huge. That made their wide receiver group one of the deepest in the league. Then they release Dez Bryant a few days ago. They still have a good group, but there’s no star power, they’re all average. Which, again, isn’t bad but keeping Dez would’ve made it that much better. Granted Dez probably had his worst season last year, but he’s still one of the best in the league. He demands attention from defenses which immediately makes it easier for the other receivers, and really the rest of the offense. So while they still have a solid offense, Dez is a big loss.
Defensively they just added depth at a couple positions. Linebacker Joe Thomas and defensive end Kony Ealy. Kony Ealy is the bigger signing here, he had three solid years with the Panthers before the Patriots traded for him and then released him before the season started, they had an alright season with the Jets last year. He might not start for the Cowboys, but he’ll definitely get plenty of reps coming as the 3rd option.
While the defense is the weaker side for the Cowboys, I’d still expect them to go for offense in the first round of this draft. They need to replace Dez Bryant and then address the defense. They’ve got the no.18 spot in the first round, which gives them plenty of options. At least one of the top receivers, Calvin Ridley, Courtland Sutton, D.J. Moore, or Christian Kirk, should all be available around that spot. I also wouldn’t be surprised if they took a tight end later in the draft because Jason Witten is nearing retirement. Once they get a receiver though, I’d say linebacker and defensive back are the biggest needs for them. They lost Barry Church last year, and Orlando Scandrick this offseason, so the secondary is hurting. And Sean Lee is their only really solid linebacker, but he’s been very injury prone throughout his career. So they’ve still got a few big holes, but they made some nice moves this offseason. I don’t know if I can say they’ll make playoffs this year. Only because some NFC teams made some big improvements, I think three of the wild card teams come out of the NFC South and NFC North. It’ll be a battle between the Cowboys and Seahawks for who takes the last wild card spot.