Maybe it’s because they’ve been so lifeless in years past. But fans and experts alike are still raving about the moves the Cowboys front office has made this free agency period. And the Brandin Cooks trade is looking better all the time; we’ll break down why he’s the perfect WR2 in Dallas and examine how his addition (along with that of Stephon Gilmore) changes how the rest of the league sees the Cowboys’ chances in 2023.
Meanwhile, we’re taking a look at new video that shows the encouraging rehab progress of offensive lineman Terence Steele, we’re forecasting Dak Prescott’s next contract extension (haters should stop scrolling now; you won’t like the dollar amount at all), and we’re reminiscing with an insider’s perspective on what Ezekiel Elliott’s departure feels like. There’s mock-draft madness still to digest, offseason workout dates to get on the calendar, and the matter of Cooper Rush to discuss: exactly why didn’t he depart for greener pastures? That’s all up next in News and Notes.
Brandin Cooks is the sidekick CeeDee Lamb needed :: D Magazine
Cooks has done nothing but be a great wideout wherever he has been. He has put up a 1,000-yard season for four teams in his nine NFL seasons, including with the Texans in 2021, when his quarterback was Davis Mills. EPA shows when Cooks’s teams target him, it puts them in much better position to score. He’ll be an underrated and complementary piece in a 1-2 punch with Lamb, but he’ll also ease the pressure on Michael Gallup. Cooks is the WR2 the Cowboys have been searching for.
Seahawks soar in FO's 2023 free agency grades :: Football Outsiders
The Cowboys have turned in a solid B effort this free agency period. The fact that they had a coherent plan at all is a major improvement. Dallas fans need to hope that Stephon Gilmore ends up being better than Anthony Brown was, but getting Cooks is an obvious win.
NFL insiders react to teams’ most notable free agency signings :: The 33rd Team
One AFC executive says they “love” the Gilmore and Cooks acquisitions by Dallas, especially in a conference like the NFC where there is no clear favorite. A salary cap analyst chimes in by saying, “Dallas is pushing their chips into the middle for this season… This is a really good roster, and I would expect them to add more. I really think they have a shot in the NFC.”
Projecting Cowboys, Prescott extension of almost $300 million in value :: Cowboys Wire
Shake your head all you want; $50 million per year is going to be the baseline for top quarterbacks by the time Prescott and the team work out a new extension. Dallas could still walk away from No. 4 after the 2024 season as it stands today, but that would require a pretty substantial collapse in Prescott’s performance. Our projected deal breaks down the particular reference points that get to this sizable amount.
Terence Steele progressing in social media video :: Brandon Loree (Twitter)
He wrote “We’re Back” in his story
— Brandon Loree (@Brandoniswrite) March 24, 2023
Cowboys announce OTA, minicamp dates for 2023 :: Cowboys Wire
Voluntary workouts start April 17 for the Cowboys. There are nine OTA practice days scheduled from late May to mid-June, but some of them fall after the June 6-8 mandatory minicamp. It’s possible that the full team will assemble for just six of those OTA dates, with the remaining three being just for rookies.
Mailbag: Surprised that Cooper Rush returned? :: The Mothership
Perhaps lost in the flurry of free agency activity was the unexpected return of Prescott’s backup. The Cowboys “got lucky” that Rush didn’t accept an offer from Las Vegas or Cincinnati, but in the end, he simply didn’t want to leave Dallas. He’s in the best possible situation for himself as a Cowboy rather than try to make it work out as a QB2 for some other team.
Farewell to Ezekiel Elliott: Personal reflection from a Dallas Cowboys beat writer :: Dallas Morning News
The fans want to dwell on Elliott’s eroding skills and oversized contract. But beat writer David Moore will remember how Zeke overcame early accusations of misogynistic behavior and the late ascension of Tony Pollard to instead leave a legacy as a brilliant playmaker, franchise representative, and community pillar. The fact that only 42 running backs in NFL history have more yards than Elliott should count for more than it does in the long run. He will be missed.
2023 NFL mock draft: Post-free agency 1st-round projections feature QB movement in top 3 :: Cowboys Wire
NFL Wire editors have turned in their cards. Our own K.D. Drummond sends Georgia tight end Darnell Washington to Dallas with the 26th pick, calling him “the ultimate mismatch.” He passed over USC wide receiver Jordan Addison to take the big Bulldog.
Cowboys grab star TE; add depth to OL, DL, LB corps in NFL.com's latest mock :: Cowboys Wire
Chad Reuter has Dallas taking Utah tight end Dalton Kincaid in the first round, the mountainous Ohio State tackle Dawand Jones in the second, athletic wide-receiver-turned-linebacker Daiyan Henley from Washington State in the third, and Arizona State defensive tackle Nesta Jade Silvera in the fourth.