Following their playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers, the Dallas Cowboys not only began their offseason earlier than they wanted, but they now have to answer several questions on the team.
And while all those are fine and dandy, I wanted to touch on something specific about the team. Three moves they must make this offseason.
These three moves will all have a common theme, as they all discuss player personnel.
But before we begin, I want to clarify to the fans out there that I’m not proposing they pull off a Madden-esque trade in these three things, nor am I writing up delusional scenarios where you see the franchise look drastically different next season.
No, these three moves are real choices they need to make.
1. Adding Wide Receivers to help CeeDee Lamb
Before the season began, there was A LOT of chatter in the sports world that Wide Reciever CeeDee Lamb couldn’t become a WR1 in the Cowboys’ offense. Those opinions echoed louder when Lamb started slow, and many fans thought he wasn’t “the guy.”
But after a stronger second half of the season, Lamb silenced those doubters and proved to the NFL that he’s a true number one.
While it was great news for fans to see Lamb blossom, it was beyond frustrating seeing no one else from the wide receiver room able to help him.
There were shades of some wideouts making noise at points, but beyond Lamb, you could tell that defenses weren’t scared of guarding the team’s other receivers.
To further prove my point, Lamb had 1,359 receiving yards in the regular season, and the next closest player was Wide Reciever Noah Brown — finishing with 555 yards.
So yeah, there is a massive drop-off in production in the wide receiver room behind Lamb.
Whether the Cowboys’ front office targets a wide receiver in free agency or the NFL Draft, the move needs to be made. A solid number two wideout can clear up looks for Lamb.
Plus, the more weapons the team has for Dak Prescott (or whoever is at the helm next year….), the better they will be.
2. Finding a Quarterback to push Dak Prescott
Speaking of Prescott, as we all know, there is an ongoing conversation in the sports world about if he’s the guy that should lead the Cowboys in the future.
After a subpar performance against the 49ers in the Divisional Round last week, those talks intensified.
Some people went as far as pleading that the Cowboys move on from him.
While I’m not calling for Prescott to hit the road here, it would bode well if the front office brought someone in to push him to improve.
If you look at his career, you could say the last player behind him that pushed him to improve was his predecessor, Tony Romo.
And before anyone argues that Cooper Rush pushed him, I want to remind you all that the offense massively improved when Prescott returned, and despite Rush being more careful with the ball, there was no scenario in which Dak worried about Rush pushing him out (even if he continued to throw interceptions).
Whether they target quarterbacks in the draft or go after veteran guys in free agency like Jimmy Garppolo, Sam Darnold, or Baker Mayfield, this move needs to be made if they want to see Prescott improve.
Such a move would push Prescott to improve his game because if not, the team won’t be afraid to move on from him.
3. Deciding early on if Dalton Schultz is their guy
Before the season began, the Cowboys had to decide whether they wanted to sign Dalton Schultz to a long-term contract or throw the franchise tag on him.
One side saw Schultz as replaceable with the team drafting Jake Ferguson — pegged as a Schultz-like clone — and added Peyton Hendershot as an Undrafted Free Agent. The other saw Schultz as an essential piece of the team’s offense and argued that the unit’s production would regress if they moved on from him.
The Cowboys would eventually franchise-tag him and push the decision to re-sign him or not down the road.
Now that we’re in the offseason, it looks like they have to face this decision head-on again.
Although Schultz’s stats regressed in 2022 compared to his breakout in 2021, he was a huge factor in their offense again.
While that may signal that re-signing him is a no-brainer, there was one thing that may sway them in a different direction. That being the production and flashes that rookie tight ends Ferguson and Hendershot displayed during the season.
Although their stats may not scream TE1, they made plays in the receiving game.
The Cowboys' top pass-catchers in total target EPA in after CeeDee Lamb were TY Hilton and Jake Ferguson. pic.twitter.com/zKW6sFWBZp
— Austin Gayle (@austingayle_) January 24, 2023
Add that Dallas has a history of being frugal with their money and it wouldn’t be surprising if we see Schultz donning a different uniform next season.
But if the team does decide to move on from him, they need to make that choice early on so they can address depth in free agency and in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Some options that can be added include Irv Smith Jr., Hayden Hurst, Evan Engram, and Austin Hooper in free agency; and Darnell Washington, Dalton Kincaid, and Sam LaPorta in the draft.