Cowboys Offseason Wish-List
Even though the 2015 NFL season isn't quite over yet, it is for the Cowboys. Since they are sitting at home for the playoffs, I thought I might as well start looking forward to the offseason and the moves I think the Cowboys should make if they want to return to form in 2016. This is the list I came up with.
1. Be Better than Barry Church and Brandon Carr
Releasing Barry Church and Brandon Carr would no longer be a cap-space move. So that'd be a little strong. But how about just getting better there? Brandon Carr wasn’t as bad as some suggest in 2015 but he hasn’t recorded an interception in the last 2 seasons. He simply hasn’t performed up to his contract. Church has a great story. An undrafted player who clawed and fought his way to a starting spot on America’s Team. Church can be a hard hitter and will have games where he looks like a Pro Bowler but the vast majority of the time he is a liability and misses far too many tackles. Both of these guys are some of my favorite people on the team. I’d hate to see them go on a personal level ... and the Cowboys are not deep enough to fully say "goodbye.'' But this a business and neither have been producing. Dallas needs to look at any option to be improved in these two spots. ... as we examine further below.
2. Re-sign Lance Dunbar and Morris Claiborne
Last offseason we kept hearing about how the Cowboys were finally going to utilize Lance Dunbar more on offense. I took the “I’ll believe it when I see it” approach. However, in week 1, it was apparent that the Cowboys were telling the truth. Dunbar was a major key in the Cowboys game-winning drive in week 1 vs the Giants. He had 21 catches for 215 yards in the first 3 games, putting to break receiving records by a running back before getting injured in week 4. Claiborne had his best season as a Cowboy. He didn’t record any interceptions but he showed more confidence than ever and was able to hang in there with some of the game’s top wideouts on a weekly basis.
3. Re-sign Greg Hardy OR Sign Mario Williams
Greg Hardy wasn’t nearly as dominant as the Cowboys had hoped but he was still effective and became a valuable asset to this defense. He helped open things up for Demarcus Lawrence to have a big year and provided consistent pressure, even if it didn’t always result in a sack. However, if the Cowboys decide that Hardy's production isn’t worth the scrutiny and media circus they should look into signing Mario Williams. Williams is 30 years old but he has some gas left in the tank. He only had 5 sacks last year in Buffalo but he would be an ideal situational pass rusher to help take some pressure off of young guys like Gregory and Lawrence.
4. Sign Leslie Frazier as the new secondary coach
Leslie Frazier has connections to Rod Marinelli. Both are very close to Lovie Smith, who Frazier was with in Tampa Bay in 2015. Frazier was informed that the Buccaneers will not pick up his option for 2016 so he will be free to sign wherever he likes. As a defensive backs coach in the NFL, Frazier’s secondaries average 18 interceptions per year. The Cowboys had just 8 in 2015. Frazier would be an excellent addition to this coaching staff in 2016 and would give the Cowboys a great teacher for the young DB’s on the team.
5. Trade a low draft pick for Johnny “Football” Manziel
I know, I know. The media would have a field day if the Cowboys made this move, but hear me out. A lot of people want the Cowboys to draft Lynch/Goff with their 1st round pick. I’m not so sure. I think both are talented guys and will be good players in the NFL but I don’t think either is great. I understand the urgency to find Romo’s successor but I think better players will be available when the Cowboys are on the clock with the 4th overall pick and this team has plenty of other holes to fill. Johnny Football says he would love to play for the Cowboys. If that’s the case, let him prove it. Trade a low-round pick for a 1st round talent is worth the risk, in my opinion. I’m not saying this shouldn’t prevent the Cowboys from drafting/signing another QB. I just think they should give Manziel a look. If he acts up, cut him and move on. If Johnny is genuinely serious about wanting to play in Dallas, he has a tremendous opportunity to learn behind one of the best QB’s in the NFL. At the very least Johnny would be a better backup than anyone the Cowboys had in 2015.
6. Trade Gavin Escobar for a draft pick
Gavin Escobar has been labeled a bust by many fans. I don’t think that’s entirely fair. Escobar has been underutilized in Dallas, which is understandable considering he’s playing with guys like Dez Bryant and Jason Witten. There are only so many balls to go around. However, when Escobar does get opportunities, he delivers. He has 7 TD’s on just 26 catches in his career. The talent is there. There is a reason that this guy was a second-round pick. Send Escobar to a team that will utilize his talent and put him in position to succeed. The Cowboys should still be good at TE with Witten, Hanna and Swaim, who they traded up for in last year’s draft.
7. Sign Lamar Miller
Lamar Miller is one of the most talented RB’s in the NFL but he is highly underused in Miami. Among all RB’s with at least 300 carries in the last 2 seasons, Miller has the 2nd highest YPC, 3rd most rushing TD’s and 4th most total TD’s. He has been outspoken about his disappointment in the number of carries he gets in Miami. He says that the number of carries he’ll receive and scheme fit will heavily factor into where he decides to play next season. Luckily, the Cowboys are an ideal scheme fit for Miller’s talent and he would receive far more carries than he did with the Dolphins. This guy is only 24, has low mileage and shouldn’t be too expensive. Much like
Escobar should be given a chance to play for a team that will use him; Miller deserves that same opportunity. It also helps that he is a lifelong Cowboys fan.
8. Sign Trumaine Johnson
With Brandon Carr gone, the Cowboys will need another CB, even with Claiborne re-signed and Scandrick returning from injury. Johnson would be my first choice. He’s a gambler and will lose some battles from taking risks but he’s a ballhawk that gets turnovers. Johnson had more interceptions last year than all Cowboys CB’s had in the last 2 seasons COMBINED. Also, the Cowboys entire secondary had just 5 more pass breakups than Johnson’s 24 in 2015. Only 2 players in the entire NFL had more interceptions than Johnson in 2015 and he had the 4th most in the NFL. The Cowboys are lacking in playmakers in their secondary and Johnson would provide just that.
I'd toss the name of Chiefs safety Eric Berry on this pile, too, but I don't know how the money works in KC or in Dallas at the position. So stay tuned there.
9. Draft Jalen Ramsey with the 4th overall pick
Jalen Ramsey is the consensus for the best defensive back in this year’s draft and one of the most talented players overall. He is a dominant defender that can play in multiple positions in the secondary and be equally effective. He’s a game changer. Ramsey would solidify the Cowboys secondary, especially with the addition of Trumaine Johnson. Just imagine a Cowboys secondary with Jalen Ramsey at SS and Byron Jones at FS with Orlando Scandrick, Trumaine Johnson and Morris Claiborne at the CB spots. That could make this secondary - that was the 5th ranked group in 2015 - a truly dominant one, especially if they can get a consistent pass rush going.
10. Draft a WR, an inside LB and a 1-tech DT in the 2nd-4th rounds of the draft
I don’t really care what order they take these positions, but I think all 3 of them are biggest remaining needs for the Cowboys after the other moves I listed. Terrance Williams isn’t consistent enough and depends too much on body-catching to be a top tier #2 WR. Brice Butler has some serious potential and will likely get shot at it but it would be beneficial to find another young, talented wideout to increase the competition. As you probably noticed, I decided not to re-sign Rolando McClain. He is too inconsistent and unreliable. Without him in the mix, the Cowboys will need another LB to compete with Hitchens, Wilson and others for the starting spot. 1-tech DT is a position the Cowboys have neglected in recent years. They like Nick Hayden because of his motor and work ethic but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s just not very good. This rookie class is filled with talented 1-techs and the Cowboys would be wise to take advantage of that in the draft.