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Cowboys Offseason Free Agent Moves: The Top 5 to Re-Sign

Cowboy Maven on FanNation 1/25/2023 Adam Schultz
© Provided by Cowboy Maven on FanNation

The Dallas Cowboys have a host of players becoming free agents in the offseason, but who should the front office make a concerted effort to keep?

The Dallas Cowboys are now officially in offseason mode. After the debacle that was the 19-12 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the Divisional Round of the playoffs, the team's free agents now get some attention.

A whole host of players will be hitting the market this offseason, but who should the front office try and keep?

​Let's dive into it. Here's the list of Dallas' free agents.

  • LB Anthony Barr                             
  • CB Anthony Brown
  • WR Noah Brown
  • RB Rico Dowdle (RFA)
  • DE Dante Fowler Jr.
  • LB Luke Gifford
  • CB C.J. Goodwin
  • DT Johnathan Hankins
  • K Brett Maher
  • C Connor McGovern
  • LS Jake McQuaide
  • LS Matt Overton
  • LT Jason Peters
  • RB Tony Pollard
  • QB Cooper Rush
  • TE Dalton Schultz
  • OT Terence Steele (RFA)
  • LB Leighton Vander Esch
  • DE Carlos Watkins
  • S Donovan Wilson
  • T.Y. Hilton

We have to be realistic when evaluating who the Cowboys can keep, but for argument's sake, let's limit it to five players.

Those five could be linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, safety Donovan Wilson, defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins, and offensive linemen Terence Steele and Connor McGovern.

All proved to be worthy players for coordinators Kellen Moore and Dan Quinn. 

We saw what the run game looked like once Steele became injured. In his absence, the running game went downhill, only surpassing 150 rushing yards once in the remaining six games. With Steele in the lineup, Dallas surpassed that mark seven times, including five consecutive games. Coincidence?

In McGovern, he gives the offensive line wiggle room with his versatility, which we saw used to good effect as he started every game bar one for Dallas.

Vander Esch and Wilson proved to be leaders for Quinn's unit. Wilson finished with five sacks and two forced fumbles from his safety spot. He was often used as a free blitzer by Quinn to, sometimes, devastating effect.

While Vander Esch is the quarterback of the defense and his absence was missed during the latter stages of the season, and he was one of the team's best players against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Wild Card round in his return.

So, it would be wise to entertain getting him back - though this time around, his price tag won't be one-year and $2 million as it was a year ago.

So there's five. And yes ... somebody important is missing. In fact, a few somebodies.

For Tony Pollard, he was likely headed toward being franchise-tagged, but his injury complicates things.

First, does Dallas want to spend $12.6 million guaranteed on a running back? And if that answer was "yes'' a week ago ... does it change now that he's just had surgery due to his nasty ankle injury (and a fractured fibula)? 

Until the Cowboys medical team gives us assurances that the injuries are non-issues once training camp rolls around, this one is in limbo.

Tight end Dalton Schultz? He was tagged last year. We say is doubtful that the Cowboys will offer him the going rate of around $14 million per year, especially with Peyton Hendershot and Jake Ferguson coming on in their rookie seasons. 

We bet Dallas wants back Fowler, special-teams star Goodwin, cornerback Anthony Brown (though he too will be coming off an injury) and - yes, kicker Maher. But we won't call them "top-five'' priorities.

All in all, the core of Dallas' roster was good enough to forge a 12-5 record and, we will argue, place the Cowboys as the third best team in the NFC. Getting better than that is the goal, of course. But retaining core guys is an important step as well.

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