It’s been a whirlwind offseason for the Dallas Cowboys. There have been questionable moves, botched contract negotiations, very little movement in free agency outside of re-signing their own guys, and, of course, the stock “due diligence” on high-quality players who never come to Dallas.
The trade of wide receiver Amari Cooper and release of right tackle La’el Collins remain head-scratching moves, while losing defensive end Randy Gregory amidst a contract snag was an embarrassment for all parties involved. That’s a look back at what’s transpired, but as the Cowboys are about to hit their practice portion of the offseason, here’s a look at where the team stands before OTAs kick-off.
Practice plans almost set:
(AP Photo / Ashley Landis)
The Cowboys held their rookie minicamp last week, which gave the team a first look at this season’s newbies. However, the initial team OTA session is on May 24-25, followed by OTAs on June 1-2, June 6-7 and June 9-10. The Cowboys did lose an OTA practice because of a rules violation during OTAs last year.
Dallas will then hold their mandatory minicamp June 14 through June 16, taking a break before training camp starts in late July. The expectation is the Cowboys will be back in Oxnard, California for this day camp, but that has yet to be determined. The exact dates of camp are also TBD.
However, the team did announce they will hold joint practices in training camp this summer with west-coast teams.
These are great practices for the team, they get to hit an opposing player to break the monotony of camp, but these sessions often lead to fights. The Cowboys got into several scraps last year when they held joint practices with the Los Angeles Rams. As an added bonus, the team and the Joneses get to see Gregory up close and personal again.
Rookies ready to help:
(AP Photo / Michael Ainsworth)
The Cowboys had a high amount of free agents this offseason, and needed to replenish their roster. They did that by drafting nine players and signing 20 more undrafted free agents to fill out the team. That’s 29 new faces, all with a chance at making the Cowboys better in 2022. Not all of them will make the team, but Dallas does need healthy contributions from some of their first-year players, especially the highly drafted rookies.
At the top of the list is guard Tyler Smith, drafted No. 24 overall. The Cowboys did some remodeling on the offensive line and Smith will be the player most watched. There were a high number of second guesses when the Cowboys selected Smith, who’s considered a raw prospect, so the rookie from Tulsa needs to have an impact.
The same can be said about Dallas’ second and third-round picks as well. After losing Gregory, the Cowboys drafted defensive end Sam Williams to pitch in as an edge rusher. The team did sign veteran Dante Fowler, but will also be counting on Williams to have an impact. The Cowboys have put a lot of faith in Williams to soften the loss of Gregory and the hope is he rewards that belief.
Third-round selection Jalen Tolbert also needs to contribute. The Cowboys traded Cooper, did not re-sign WRs Cedrick Wilson or Malik Turner and will not have fellow wide out Michael Gallup for the early part of the season.
They need Tolbert to step in and play right away. Veteran WR James Washington will help, but Tolbert will be leaned on early, the rookie needs to respond.
More rookies will need to make their mark, but these three will need to have an immediate impact and will be the ones to watch.
(AP Photo / Michael Ainsworth)
The Cowboys may not have a veteran kicker heading into this season. After moving on from Greg Zuerlein, who was not as good as what was expected during his two-year tenure in Dallas, the team will take a long look at rookie kicker Jonathan Garibay.
Zuerlein came from the Los Angeles Rams as a favorite of special teams coach John Fassel, but his struggles last season led to the Cowboys moving on. Garibay arrives with a strong leg and an ability to make clutch kicks. Last season at Texas Tech, Garibay made game-winners of 32 and 62-yards respectively.
It appears as though the rookie has already made a strong impression, since the Cowboys have already moved on from Chris Naggar, making Garibay the only kicker currently on the roster.
The hope is Garibay can also make the easy kicks, and extra points, in order to put points on the board, something Zuerlein struggled with last season.
Still room for improvement:
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports:
The organization likes to say talent acquisition is 365-day-a-year business, and although it rarely seems like that the case with the Cowboys, there can still be upgrades coming. Dallas has gone deep into the offseason before and added veteran players who can help, so no one should be surprised if the team adds talent before training camp begins.
Malik Hooker and Everson Griffen are examples of the Cowboys bringing in help late in the last few years, and with the news they are looking into linebacker Anthony Barr, the team could still be searching for improvements. The current roster of players could very well change before camp opens and it would not be surprising to see a veteran added.
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