Cowboys Rumors: DAL 'Not Looking to Be Big Spenders in Free Agency' After Cooks Trade

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVMarch 19, 2023

HOUSTON, TX - JANUARY 01: Brandin Cooks #13 of the Houston Texans walks towards the huddle against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the second half at NRG Stadium on January 1, 2023 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)
Cooper Neill/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys reportedly traded a 2023 fifth-round pick and a 2024 sixth-rounder for veteran wideout Brandin Cooks on Sunday, per the NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, adding another playmaker on the outside opposite CeeDee Lamb.

But that doesn't completely preclude them from pursuing Odell Beckham Jr. or other big-ticket names in free agency as well, as ESPN's Jeremy Fowler noted on Sunday's SportsCenter, though it does make them unlikely suitors:

"I wouldn't eliminate anything, but now that they're going to pay Cooks another, say, $12 million, along with the big salaries they already have on the books, that might take them out. Or, at least, makes it more challenging to get Odell Beckham. I know they've had interest in Beckham. He's going to command top dollar, too, though, so there's going to be teams interested and in the mix. Dallas could poke around a little bit, but I've gotten the impression they're not looking to be big spenders in free agency necessarily. If he were to fall to them with a more reasonable price, then maybe that would happen. We'll see. Dallas has pulled off bigger feats, as we've seen with all of the big free agents they've signed in past years. With Jerry Jones, I'll never take it off the table. But you're going to have everyone from [the Buffalo Bills], to the New York Jets, potentially the Kansas City Chiefs—there's going to be a lot of interest in this guy."

The Cowboys may not need to make many other major moves. Cooks has addressed one of the biggest needs this offseason.

The 29-year-old had a down season in 2022 for the rebuilding Houston Texans, catching 57 passes for 699 yards and three touchdowns. Cooks had reached at least 1,000 receiving yards in six of the previous seven seasons.

The Cowboys desperately needed more production out of the WR2 role this upcoming season after failing to get much opposite Lamb. The Cowboys traded Amari Cooper to the Cleveland Browns before last season, and neither Michael Gallup (39 catches for 424 yards and four scores) nor Noah Brown (43 catches for 555 yards and three scores) replaced his lost production.

Gallup, to his credit, was returning from a torn ACL the year prior and never seemed to quite get back to his previous form. Another offseason of recovery and training might have him poised for a bigger 2023 season, which itself would be a major boost.

But the addition of Cooks means the Cowboys aren't reliant on that potential bounce back, and also means they can be more selective about how they spend in free agency. They may not have much of a choice—Cooks comes with a $12 million base salary this season and a $13 million base salary in 2024.

His addition naturally limits the Cowboys' spending flexibility. But it also means one of the team's most pressing needs has been solved.