The 2019 Dallas Cowboys were disappointing, but the window to win isn’t closed yet. The future looks bright with the makeup of this roster.
Making sense of the 2019 Dallas Cowboys team is a tall order, but America’s Team has no one to blame but themselves. Set emotions aside from this disappointing season if you can and look at the bright spots.
The Cowboys are still relatively young and talented. If a new head coach could give this team a sense of direction, Dallas can become an instant contender simply because the roster is built that way.
Offensively you still have an entire offensive line under contract for the foreseeable future. This includes center Travis Frederick, guards Zack Martin and Connor Williams and tackles Tyron Smith and La’el Collins. The generational running back Ezekiel Elliott just signed a monster deal and his co-partner running back Tony Pollard is under a rookie contract.
There is a young dynamic one, two punch at wideout led by the talents of wide receiver Michael Gallup, who made a significant year-two leap and star wide receiver Amari Cooper. Cooper is set to become a free agent but his willingness to want to remain on the Cowboys has been shown. But it’s ultimately up to the Cowboys to pay him around $18 million a year.
Cooper has been dealing with a handful of injuries this year and it did impact his game later in the season. But Amari and quarterback Dak Prescott have a chemistry that will continue to grow. Since joining the Cowboys, Cooper has produced 1,914 yards on 132 catches and 14 touchdowns.
But is that worth $18 million a year? That’s equivalent to the Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. or Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill. And it’s more than the likes of Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins.
At $18 million a year, Cooper would be the third highest-paid wide receiver in the NFL. The only two in front of him would be Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones ($22 million) and New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas. ($19.25 million)
The biggest priority after finding a new head coach is deciding what type of contract to reward Prescott for his best season to date. The fourth-year passer compiled 4,902 yards, which was one yard shy of the Cowboys single-season record on 388 completions with a 65.1 completion percentage.
Prescott also totaled 30 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, with a 99.7 QBR. He led the number one ranked offense in the NFL and negotiations certainly seem to be in his favor from a statistical perspective.
If you take a look at the top five paid quarterbacks by yearly salary, you will notice he will be in the company of Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson ($35 million), Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger ($34 million), Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers ($33.5 million), Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff ($33.5 million) and Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz ($32 million).
All the above mentioned quarterbacks have something in common. They’ve all been to a Super Bowl and four out of the five have won it, including an injured Wentz.
Prescott will get paid. But at what cost? And is the franchise tag an option with the potential of a new head coach incoming?
Early rumors about Prescott’s price tag seem to be floating somewhere between $33-$35 million. Let’s be honest, that’s what his two draft classmates received (Wentz and Goff). And Prescott most certainly has outplayed both of those young passers statistically over his tenure in the league.
The NFL business is funny, and fans need to understand one thing. It’s not necessarily what you’re worth as a player, it’s what the market is set at for your position at the time your contract is up. Both apply for Prescott and Cooper.
Signing these two high-profile players to deals that will instantly give them top five salaries at their respective positions would usually pose many setbacks for the rest of the team. Will the Cowboys be able to sign other key free agents to help this team be successful?
Such a costly move could prevent the Cowboys from re-signing key defensive players such as cornerbacks Byron Jones and Anthony Brown, defensive ends Robert Quinn and Michael Bennett, defensive tackle Maliek Collins, linebackers Joe Thomas and Sean Lee and safeties Jeff Heath and Kavon Frazier.
With the salary cap being bumped up to an estimated $10 more million in 2020, the Cowboys and owner Jerry Jones could play their cards right and still afford to re-sign everyone that they want. Yes, I said everyone that the front office wants.
Keep your number one offense intact and upgrade your defense through the draft, free agency (team-friendly deals) and possible trades. We saw the attempt by the Cowboys to trade for New York Jets safety Jamal Adams midseason.
Adams will not be an unrestricted free agent (UFA) until 2021 with a fifth-year option available due to his first-round status. But if a trade was eventually made, get ready for Dallas to have to pay him top dollar as well.
Don’t get overly worried about the salary cap issues as money can be moved in multiple ways that won’t put you in future cap hell. Jerry Jones may be tough to deal with as the owner of this team and his power struggles, but he is still a relatively good businessman with a decent amount of salary cap space to work with.
First things first for the Dallas Cowboys. Get the right coach who instills the right attitude and winning over everything. Oppose to the Cowboys country club mindset, where no one is held accountable and leadership is non-existent. If that’s taken care of (big if) then this roster is poised to make a championship run.