The Dallas Cowboys ended yet another season in disappointment, returning to the playoffs before the San Francisco 49ers knocked them out in the wild-card round. It was a sad finish to a season in which they led the NFL in scoring offense and offensive yardage.
Looking ahead to next year, Dallas has some holes to fill on their roster. The good news is that they won’t have to worry about their quarterback position for a while, with Dak Prescott signing a four-year extension last March. The bad news is that the Cowboys don’t have a lot of cap space to fill those holes in free agency. According to Over the Cap
, Dallas is over $21 million in the red heading into the offseason, but they could easily restructure contracts—as they likely will with Prescott’s—to create room.
To make matters worse, with the start of the new free agency period and league year come more holes in their roster. Dallas is losing some solid players of their own who are set to hit free agency this offseason and they’re not going to be able to bring all of them back.
With team needs, pending free agents, and available cap space taken into consideration, here are six free agents the Cowboys should target this offseason.
Ted Karras, IOL, New England Patriots
Dallas’ current starting left guard, Connor Williams, will hit free agency this offseason. The Cowboys could use an upgrade from him and Connor McGovern on the interior as well as some additional depth on their offensive line.
Karras provides not only a relatively inexpensive starting option on the offensive line, but he also gives Dallas versatility. He was the Patriots’ starting left guard for most of this season, but he started 16 games at center for the Dolphins in 2020 with 15 more starts at center in his first stint with the Patriots in 2019. Karras is versatile, adds depth, is not pricey, and should be a starter to begin the 2022 season, so he’d be a great addition to the Cowboys’ offensive front.
Will Fuller, WR, Miami Dolphins
Dallas could be in a good position to snag a receiver with the 24th pick in the draft, but they may need to fill a couple of holes if pending free-agent receivers Michael Gallup and Cedrick Wilson depart. Plus, it would never hurt to add depth at the position.
Fuller has had a long history of injuries that have kept him off the field far too often. That said, the upside on him is huge. That injury history means his next contract won’t break the bank, and when he does play, his production is outstanding.
In 2020, Fuller put up nearly 900 yards in just 11 games. The bad news is, Fuller has never played more than 14 games in a season and has played only 24 games over the last three years. Still, the Cowboys could use value depth out wide, and Fuller would be a great candidate. He’d be an immediate starter (if healthy) that could add even more intrigue to the dangerous Dallas receiving corps.
O.J. Howard, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tight end is another position that the Cowboys will likely need to fill because of their own loss in free agency. Dalton Schultz had a monster year in the final season of his rookie contract, and he’ll be able to flip his 2021 performance into a big contract elsewhere.
Howard, meanwhile, provides a better value option for Dallas in free agency. His production saw a heavy drop-off after Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski’s arrival in Tampa. And even though he’s still young, that lack of production could be conducive to a short, inexpensive “prove yourself” deal for 2022. Howard could very well end up the starting tight end in Dallas after two seasons behind Rob Gronkowski and Cameron Brate. Based on his production over the first three years of his career, he’d be more than serviceable in that role.
Alec Ogletree, LB, Chicago Bears
This isn’t a free agency class chock-full of linebacker talent, but the Cowboys will need to find replacements for pending free agents Leighton Vander Esch and Keanu Neal.
Ogletree is a veteran who can play both inside and outside linebacker, and he’s a serviceable option to pair with Micah Parsons when healthy. He’s not the most attractive name on the market, but Dallas isn’t currently in a position to spend big. Ogletree gives them an immediate starter that fills a hole and could potentially be a 17-game starter if needed.
Ronnie Harrison, S, Cleveland Browns
Safeties Jayron Kearse, Damontae Kazee, and Malik Hooker are all set to hit free agency in less than a month. The secondary is a spot on the roster the Cowboys are likely to bolster in the draft, but adding depth there in free agency first also seems likely.
Harrison had a very strong 2020 season with the Browns before taking a step back in 2021. Still, he’s a talented safety defending against both the run and the pass, and Dallas could definitely use help bolstering this Dan Quinn-run defense further. Harrison’s shaky season means he could be available for a relatively inexpensive deal to prove himself in a change of scenery.
Melvin Ingram, EDGE, Kansas City Chiefs
Current Cowboys edge rusher Randy Gregory is set to hit free agency this offseason, and Dallas has an out on fellow defensive lineman DeMarcus Lawrence’s contract this year. It’s very possible the Cowboys only decide to keep one of them, leaving another roster hole in their wake.
Ingram would be a fitting addition then, as his age could make him a less expensive option on the edge. He’s a very talented defender both rushing the pass and defending the run, and signing Ingram to a short-term, inexpensive deal would certainly lessen the blow of losing Gregory or Lawrence.