Cowboys roster ranks 3rd in value; Lamb, Bland make ‘best value’ team

The world-weary cynics within Cowboys Nation firmly believe that, at least to the Jones family, finishing the season strong in dollars and cents is way more important than wins and losses.

On the field, Dallas didn’t make it out of the wild-card round. But financially, the front office finished almost at the top of the league when it comes to the overall value they got out of their players this season.

Spotrac has determined their 2023 Team Value Rankings using scores calculated for each player on the league’s rosters. Individually, a player’s cumulative production is factored against his average annual salary, and the resulting score (out of 100) offers a look at how much bang a player provides for his buck.

Do that for everybody, and it becomes clear which teams make their money work the hardest come gametime.

San Francisco led the NFL with a “True Value Score” (TVS) of 99.56, while Baltimore came in second with 95.11. The Cowboys finished in third place with 91.38. No other team scored in the 90s. (Within the NFC East, Philadelphia finished 16th with 52.48, the Giants were 28th at 16.44, and Washington ended 31st with 6.11.)

Using players’ individual scores, Spotrac also assembled their “Best Value” roster, spotlighting the player with the highest TVS at each position. The Dallas was one of four teams to put two players in the hypothetical starting lineup; eight other Cowboys made the top 10 at their positions.

Here’s a look at who was named the absolute best value at their spot, as well as which players on the team still gave great production at a nice price.

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WR: CeeDee Lamb (True Value Score: 99.70)

Ron Jenkins/Getty Images
Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

The Cowboys got a franchise-record-setting season out of Lamb- 135 receptions and 1,749 yards- and the 24-year-old set personal bests in just about every stat that matters en route to his third Pro Bowl nod and a first-team All-Pro slot. At an average annual salary of $3.53 million, that is nothing short of a steal for the organization. (Lamb’s AAV ranked just 61st among all wide receivers in 2023.)

But as Spotrac points out, “Dallas’ days of value are likely over.” Lamb’s base salary is about to explode, to $17.99 million in 2024, and it’s fully guaranteed. The Cowboys can let Lamb’s fifth-year option play out, but that would be unlikely and unwise. What’s more probable is that Lamb becomes the highest-paid receiver in the history of the game very soon.

CB: DaRon Bland (Total Value Score: 99.61)

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Bland’s AAV is under $1 million, but he turned in a 2023 campaign that was single-handedly better than most teams’ entire defensive backfield: a league-leading nine interceptions, an NFL-record-setting five of them returned for touchdowns. Throw in 69 tackles and 15 passes defended, and it can be hard to remember that Bland is in just his second season (and wasn’t a Week 1 starter in either of them).

The fifth-round draft pick became a first-time Pro Bowler and All-Pro this season and will continue be a bargain for at least one more year, as he has two years and $2 million of non-guaranteed money remaining on his rookie contract.

Top 5 rankings at position

Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Top 10 rankings at position

Ron Jenkins/Getty Images
Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

Story originally appeared on Cowboys Wire