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After years of bemoaning how the Dallas Cowboys by no means did something of significance through the first few days of free company, there was a really loud splash heard at The Star in Frisco. Or possibly it was from Jerry Jones’ mega yacht. In any case, one of many largest headlines on day two of the open tampering interval was that Dallas had traded their second of two fifth-round compensatory picks to the Indianapolis Colts for cornerback Stephon Gilmore. This was on the identical day they acquired two crucial re-signings carried out, security Donovan Wilson and linebacker Leighton Vander Esch.
And the league yr was nonetheless a day away.
There are many articles discussing how every of it is a win. (Click on the hyperlinks right here to learn up on Gilmore, Wilson, and Vander Esch.) However the largest win could also be that the crew lastly made an aggressive move to win now with the Gilmore signing. For years, we now have been eager for the crew to place their cap house the place their mouth is. That is the primary time in over a decade they’re doing so. Gilmore is coming to the Cowboys with only a yr left on his present contract, and given his age (32), he appears very very similar to a one-year rental. That may be a main shift of their strategy. He represents an almost $10 million slice of the dear cap pie.
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They’ve carried out extra. On Wednesday they launched Ezekiel Elliott, the previous fourth total decide with a really costly contract, liberating up an anticipated $10.9 million extra in cap house after June 1. That is also a noteworthy change, because the possession has displayed a hard-to-justify attachment to him. He was as soon as some of the harmful working backs within the league, however with a mixture of accidents, offensive line adjustments, and a few questionable utilization, his worth to the crew has plummeted. There ought to be no celebration of his departure, nevertheless it exhibits a rational strategy to roster development that has not been a lot in proof for a number of years. Moreover, they’ve restructured the contracts of Tyron Smith and DeMarcus Lawrence to free extra cap house. They clearly will not be carried out but.
That is arguably the primary time a “win now” strategy has been evident for the reason that signing of Brandon Carr and the commerce as much as draft Morris Claiborne each failed. That could be an important side of all this. For a decade, there was a great deal of proof that the administration has been holding the crew again by not utilizing all of the instruments at their disposal to construct a championship caliber roster. They’ve relied nearly solely on the draft for expertise acquisition whereas sticking with a cut price procuring strategy in free company.
Nonetheless, it have to be famous that Gilmore was a commerce, not a free agent signing. Whereas they haven’t used trades a lot, they’ve gone that route earlier than after they felt pressured into it. The obvious instance was the mid-season commerce for Amari Cooper, which was an prompt success. It didn’t final, with the crew buying and selling Cooper away for a fifth-round decide final offseason over perceived points with the participant, however within the quick time period, it actually did elevate the offense.
That may very well be a sign that the crew remains to be leery of investing in outdoors free brokers, preferring to place their cap house towards re-signing their very own, as they did with Vander Esch and Wilson, and are reportedly trying to do with Dante Fowler. Issues might not have modified as a lot as we’d want.
What could also be taking place is that the present philosophy in approaching outdoors expertise has aligned with a very weak group of free agents. We nonetheless might not see a “splash” free agent signing. However there are some early indicators of downward stress on the price of acquisition this yr. Which will enable the crew to trip out the primary couple of waves of free company as they like and nonetheless decide up some helpful expertise. Whereas it’s nonetheless not their most popular technique, buying and selling for established gamers like Gilmore is just not as far outdoors their consolation zone as free company.
There are good causes to really feel optimistic about what the crew has carried out already, however there nonetheless is not any actual proof the crew has made a significant pivot. They’ve accomplished one of many largest trades this offseason, which is superb. However we now have to see how free company performs out, or in the event that they return to the commerce properly once more. These encouraging developments could also be extra a case of the expertise scenario this offseason aligning with what the entrance workplace prefers to do.
It nonetheless has some thrilling implications for a crew that also is making an attempt to recover from the hump within the playoffs. And all of it comes all the way down to what the crew does this yr, quite than specializing in a long-term view. If that has modified, it alone might sign an essential shift in pondering.
The strikes thus far look to be very good. Possibly they’ve a couple of extra of those up their sleeve.