The Dallas Cowboys have the same offseason plan every year. Attempt to re-sign players they want to keep, let others go and supplement them with lower cost external free agents to build their team. The process breaks down into months.
In March, the Cowboys will test the open market, but only if it comes cheap and after all the top free agents are gone. The month is strictly for patching up holes on their roster. Come late April when the draft arrives, the franchise tries to cover any holes they haven’t addressed. The draft is rarely used for the best player available, but rather filling the biggest needs on the team.
When the draft is over, the Cowboys begin to look for more veteran help in May when it won’t hurt the compensatory pick formula. Dallas will try to grab some extra depth or strengthen any position they didn’t sufficiently address in the draft.
Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
The draft is now over, and the Cowboys did a solid job of filling most of their question marks, but the job is not done. It’s May and the Cowboys could be looking to add some veteran help to improve the depth and quality of their roster.
Here are five veterans they should consider signing.
WR Emmanuel Sanders
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The Cowboys drafted Jalen Tolbert in the third round to help ease any concerns about the depth in the receiver room. Tolbert helps, but he’s a rookie who may struggle making the jump to the NFL, especially since he played at South Alabama, where he didn’t face the stiffest competition every week.
With Michael Gallup expected to miss the early part of the season and Tolbert having a sharp learning curve, the offense could use another quality player. Veteran WR Emmanuel Sanders would make a nice fit with the Cowboys.
Sanders is a Texas kid, played at SMU and still has some gas left in the tank. Last season with the Buffalo Bills, Sanders caught 42 passes for 626 yards and four scores. Sanders would lighten the load for Tolbert early and could help the Cowboys’ offense.
It shouldn’t cost much to sign Sanders, which is another reason he fits in Dallas.
CB Kevin King
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The Cowboys only selected one cornerback in the draft, and they waited until the fifth round to do it. With the uncertainty hovering around last year’s second round pick Kelvin Joseph, the defense could use another veteran presence.
Kevin King remains a free agent and has familiarity with head coach Mike McCarthy, who he played for in his first two seasons in the league. There’s a lengthy injury history with King, who has only played in double-digit games twice in his career, but he is a solid CB. Last year, King missed seven games with knee and hip injuries.
King does have what the Cowboys like in their corners, standing at 6-foot-3 and weighing 200 pounds, and does have a highly productive season on his resume. In 2019, King had five interceptions.
It would be a risky signing, but Dallas could use an extra CB, and the move would help a secondary t feels like it needs another veteran.
DL Akiem Hicks
Chicago Bears defensive end Akiem Hicks (96)
The Cowboys added defensive end De Williams in the second round in the draft, and selected defensive tackle John Ridgeway in the fifth round. Those were the only additions for a defensive line that needed some upgrading through the draft.
Someone who could come in and help at both positions is Hicks. The 32-years old Hicks is still playing at a high level, he had 3.5 sacks and five tackles for a loss in just nine games with the Chicago Bears last season.
Hicks would be an immediate upgrade inside to help as a run stuffer, something the Cowboys need after giving up 112.8 yards rushing a game last season. Hicks can also push the pocket as a pass rusher from the inside and brings the flexibility to move outside, if needed.
The issue with Hicks is he hasn’t played a full season in three years and he could cost more than the Cowboys are willing to spend. However, there might not be a better fit for Dallas remaining in free agency and Hicks could be a difference maker.
LB Joe Schobert
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This wouldn’t be a fancy addition, but Schobert would make a great addition to the Cowboys’ defense. Dallas did draft two linebackers, but both were late round picks. Fifth round selection LB Damone Clark might not see the field this year and if he does, it might only be for half the season, while sixth round pick LB Devin Harper is more of a special teams addition.
Schobert is a tackling machine, racking up over 100 tackles in five straight seasons. He’s also a reliable player, Schobert has missed just five games in his career, a far cry from what the team currently has with Leighton Vander Esch. If Vander Esch were to get hurt in the upcoming season, Dallas’ defense currently doesn’t have a good enough answer at who takes his place.
Schobert isn’t a star player, nor will he make the spectacular plays, but he will be a productive LB. The Cowboys could also sign Schobert to start at middle linebacker over Vander Esch.
The price on Schobert is likely in Dallas’ wheelhouse and he would make an ideal pickup for the Cowboys.
Center JC Tretter
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The Cowboys picked two offensive linemen in the draft, but neither play center. It’s a position that saw Tyler Biadasz play all 17 games last season, but could use an upgrade.
Tretter is one of the better center’s in the league, and it’s still available after being released by the Cleveland Browns. He has only missed one game in the last five years, is a mauler in the run game and is among the best pass protectors at the position.
The Cowboys did casually mention last year’s seventh-round pick Matt Farniok will be competing with Biadasz for the starting center gig, but Tretter is a better option than both. The price could be a hang-up, but Tretter would make Dallas’ offensive line instantly better.