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Free agency moves the Cowboys can still make before the NFL Draft

The Dallas Cowboys have made several signings this offseason but there are still some needs that can be filled in free agency before setting their NFL Draft board
Credit: AP
Dallas Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr (39) pursues Baltimore Ravens running back Terrance West (28) as West carries the ball during an NFL Football game, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

DALLAS —

The Dallas Cowboys have done an admirable job of setting themselves up to take the best player available when the 2020 NFL Draft comes along. For a team that had a whopping 30 free agents heading into the offseason, the team has used a good amount of their cap space.

However, the Cowboys still have around $22 million left to spend and they have not crossed the finish line when it comes to improving the roster.

When Dallas lost cornerback Byron Jones, defensive end Robert Quinn, defensive tackle Maliek Collins, and wide receiver Randall Cobb, it became clear that they needed to fill those voids. The team has addressed some of their vacancies, but not all of the Cowboys’ work is done.

Here are four moves that the Cowboys could make in order to have no glaring needs heading into the draft:

Sign DE Everson Griffen

When Quinn flew the coop for an enormous deal with the Chicago Bears that the Cowboys weren’t going to match, it left a big hole at defensive end opposite DeMarcus Lawrence. Dallas signed a former sack master in Aldon Smith on Wednesday but, after years of off-the-field issues, he hasn’t played since 2015 and his contract is dependent on getting reinstated to the league.

The saving grace could end up being Randy Gregory, but it’s also no lock that he’s going to be reinstated, and, even if he does, like Smith, there’s no telling how much time he will need to get re-acclimated to playing football again.

Griffen would be a perfect fit. The talented edge rusher already has a familiarity with Cowboys senior defensive assistant George Edwards from their time together in Minnesota and he had eight sacks last season. 

Griffen would buy the Cowboys time as they assess where Gregory is at after missing a year of action, as well as allow them to draft and groom someone to replace him in a year or two.

The cost to sign Griffen would be cheaper than bringing in Jadeveon Clowney and the defense would get more production for their money.

Sign WR Taylor Gabriel

Without Cobb, the Cowboys have a need at wide receiver. Gabriel’s style fits what the team requires on offense. 

The diminutive speedster, who most recently played for Chicago, would provide a slot receiver option who can get open quickly and make plays with the ball in his hands. Gabriel’s price tag shouldn’t be too high and it would help the Cowboys look at other areas to address their needs in the draft.

Sign CB Brandon Carr

If Dallas inked Carr, it would be for his second tour of duty with the Cowboys. The veteran corner’s age –he’ll be 34 in May– is a tad scary, but Carr can still play and the team needs a leader in the secondary room, especially after the loss of Pro Bowler Jones. 

Carr could help groom any corner the team drafts and mentor the current group. The Cowboys have signed two cornerbacks in free agency, including homegrown talent Anthony Brown, but the position remains in flux. If they don’t address the position in the coming weeks, this could be the area that Dallas looks to shore up early in the draft.

Trade for Cincinnati Bengals CB William Jackson

If a Carr signing isn’t in the cards, the boldest and best move that the team can make right now would be prying Jackson away from Cincinnati. Jackson is one of the better cover corners in the NFL and is in the last year of his deal, for just over $9.5 million this season. The Bengals aren’t likely to pay Jackson after signing two corners in free agency this offseason to offset Jackson’s imminent departure after 2020.  

Jackson would walk into the room in Dallas and immediately be the team’s best corner – a player on par with Jones – and at a lower cost for the season. If the team allowed Jackson to leave at the end of the year, they’d also eventually scoop up a compensatory pick.

The only issue is that Jackson has just two interceptions in his career, and if the Cowboys didn’t like Jones because of his lack of takeaways, Jackson might not fit their mold. However, Jackson is really good and worth a real look should Dallas want to improve at the position with a proven commodity.

The Cowboys have done a stellar job of addressing their needs so far in free agency. If the team can add a player or two off this list, it would make the best player available plan an easy path in the fast approaching draft.

Do you think the Cowboys should sign some more free agents to make sure they can draft the best available player at their selections? Share your thoughts with Ben on Twitter @BenGrimaldi.

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