The Dallas Cowboys have proven so much has changed over the years in regard to the offseason.
Far gone are the days Jerry Jones would trade up in the draft to fill a need, ending up with a pedestrian player such as Quincy Carter. And far gone are the days Jones would throw the bank at a Deion Sanders or Brandon Carr.
The team has evolved into a smart, savvy business machine that makes moves with the best the NFL has to offer.
Never thought I would be able to say that without suffering a hernia from laughter.
Led by Jerry Jones, low-key player of Vice President of Personnel Will McClay and head coach Mike McCarthy, the team has made the moves necessary to compete for the NFC title.
Let us begin with the draft. In recent years, the team has focused on the draft for team-building with solid results. This year, Jerry might have outdone himself.
Sitting on his yacht like an OG, he held his water and let the draft come to him. In the NFL, not Mel Kiper’s NFL, beauty is in the eye of a team’s draft board and the Cowboys found some sexy dance partners starting with wide receiver Cee Dee Lamb. For Dallas, receiver was a solid spot with a need to fill the slot. It never dreamed a player like Lamb would be available. Now, in Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and Lamb, Dallas has a trio as good as anyone else.
Cornerback, a position of need, was filled in the next round with Treyvon Diggs, a player Dallas ready to consider in the first round if not for Lamb.
By the end of the draft, the Cowboys had added depth on the defensive line and another cornerback. And it kept getting better as Jerry found a potential replacement at center for the retiring All-Pro Travis Frederick with another Wisconsin product Tyler Biadasz, the Outland Trophy winner. The Cowboys even had edge rusher Bradley Anae of Utah drop into their lap in the sixth round.
Good things like this are only supposed to happen to teams like New England.
Then you have free agency. The Cowboys in recent years have been bargain hunters under former coach Jason Garrett. With McCarty, there has been a shift in philosophy with the team playing an active role early, looking to sure-fire starters rather than someone who more than likely will provide depth.
Notable additions defensively include Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe, who now comprise the interior defense for the Cowboys. On the backend, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix was signed to start at safety, a position the team has typically filled with cheap free agents and late round draft picks.
Even the less-heralded signings before the draft such as back-up tight end Blake Bell and kicker Greg Zuerlein bring great value. Aldon Smith is one of the high-risk high reward signings you have grown accustomed to from Dallas over the years.
There are two additional signings that really stand out that have taken place since the end of the draft. After drafting two cornerbacks to help with the loss of Byron Jones, the team has signed Daryl Worley, who was a starter for the Raiders last season. The influx of cornerbacks allows Dallas to consider moving a player like Chidobe Awuzie to safety to build further depth.
The final move is the signing of Andy Dalton, former quarterback of the Cincinnati Bengals. Whether it is security in case of an injury or extended holdout, Dallas has gotten a more than capable back-up in Dalton. Dallas has also drafted a quarterback to develop in James Madison’s Ben DiNucci, a move that has McCarthy’s fingerprints all over it. It harkens back to the 90’s the Dallas always had a Rodney Peete, Steve Beuerlein or Bernie Kosar to serve as a backup.
As much as people will want to talk make no mistake, if Dak Prescott has a contract or is on the roster healthy and ready to go, he remains the Cowboy’s present and future. All he needs to do is sign a contract, the present is looking pretty bright.
Michael Pineda is the assistant managing editor of The Baytown Sun. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org