What’s the best way to cripple a hated divisional rival? By stealing their top free agents, of course.
The Dallas Cowboys suffered (enjoyed?) a wildly tumultuous final year under now-Giants offensive coordinator Jason Garrett.
It was fun to watch from the cheap seats here in Philadelphia but it looked like a three-ring circus as an owner watched his sinking franchise slowly lost their grip on relevance. America’s Team may never be the same.
Even worse for the Cowboys is the fact they are set to lose some key cogs in free agency. It’s the perfect time for the Eagles to swoop in and sign their outgoing talent to lucrative long-term deals.
Top 5 Cowboys Available in Free Agency
No matter how much money Jerry Jones thinks he can spend to fix it, there is no cure for a losing culture. Sometimes, players just want to win.
“The culture we have, we expect to win every time we step on the field,” Carson Wentz said earlier in the year. “That’s just the mindset we have.”
Amari Cooper, WR
It begins and ends with No. 19. If the Cowboys really wanted to sign him to a long-term deal, they would have done it already. Dallas already backed the Brinks truck up for Ezekiel Elliott and they are fitting it for new rims and sending it back to get Dak Prescott. There may not be any money left for Cooper. Meanwhile, the Eagles have nearly $50 million in cap space to work with.
Why not Cooper? The 26-year-old is in the prime of his career and coming off his best statistical season: 79 catches for 1,189 receiving yards, numbers that ranked seventh-best in the league at his position. In six NFL seasons, Cooper has racked up 357 receptions for 5,097 yards and 33 touchdowns. He’ll be looking for roughly $18 million per year. Go out and get him.
Byron Jones, CB
Another position of need for the Eagles is cornerback and Jones remains one of the NFL’s most promising young stars. The 27-year-old established himself as a lock-down corner in 2018 in his first full season on the outside after switching positions from safety.
According to Pro Football Focus, Jones finished with the 14th-best coverage grade among corners in 2018 (80.4) and the 21st-best in 2019 (74.8). His critics — the Cowboys’ front office — will point to just two interceptions in five seasons. Numbers don’t tell the whole story here. Jones is a stud who can play man-coverage on the best receivers in football. He’s going to warrant an annual salary of around $12 to $14 million.
Jeff Heath, FS
This move depends on what the Eagles decide about Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod. The common assumption is GM Howie Roseman will bring both guys back — McLeod is a free agent, while Jenkins has requested a pay raise — but Heath could provide insurance down the line.
The 28-year-old could come relatively cheap, too. His base salary was only $2 million in 2019 and the Cowboys’ starter at strong safety is coming off left shoulder surgery. Heath said he’ll be healed in time for training camp. He has recorded 342 combined tackles in seven years in Dallas. Plus, he’s a solid specials teams contributor.
Robert Quinn, DE
Remember when the Eagles flirted with Jadeveon Clowney before the season started? They could use a shot of adrenaline on the defensive line, specifically a powerful edge rusher. No one would fill that void better than Quinn. The 29-year-old pass-rusher has 80.5 sacks since arriving in 2011. His 2013 campaign was one of the best of the modern era, a year where he finished with 19 total sacks and 93 quarterback pressures.
Quinn was the 14th overall pick in the 2011 draft and has seen a few ups and downs but the guy can flat-out rush the quarterback. He has averaged at least half-a-sack per game — except for the 2011 and 2016 seasons — for his career. Yes, he has had a few injury-plagued seasons but that might help in contract negotiations. Dallas got Quinn at a bargain rate of $9.2 million. Give him a prove-it deal with incentives for sacks.
Randall Cobb, WR
Does he have anything left in the tank? It’s a gamble. Cobb did flash some speed and proved to be a reliable third-down target for Dak Prescott. The 29-year-old played in 15 games and ranked favorably among NFL receivers — 40th in receiving yards (828), 58th in receptions (55) and 19th in yards per catch (15.1). Not too shabby.
The best part about Cobb is the price tag. He played on a one-year, $5 million deal in Dallas last season and likely won’t demand much more than that. He’s a prototypical slot receiver with great hands, a huge upgrade over Nelson Agholor and a guy who can push Greg Ward in training camp.
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