Free Agents Cowboys Should Pursue After 2021 NFL Draft
Jerry Jones and Co. will hope names such as Micah Parsons, Kelvin Joseph and Chauncey Golston will anchor the defense for years to come. They used six selections on a defense that was a serious liability last season, waiting until the fourth round before taking their first offensive prospect, Josh Ball, a tackle from Marshall.
It wouldn't be a bad idea to take another look at the free-agent market before camp starts, though. The Cowboys have roughly $9.6 million to spend, according to Spotrac.
At this stage, every free agent has a bit of baggage; if they didn't, they would have already been signed. Still, there's help to be had that is currently unemployed.
As the Cowboys look to round out their preseason roster, here are three veterans they should be talking to who remain free agents.
CB Richard Sherman
Richard Sherman was a good free-agent fit before the draft, and the addition of Kelvin Joseph doesn't change that.
Cornerback can be a hard position to make an immediate impact, and the rookie campaigns of Jeff Okudah and Damon Arnette for the Detroit Lions and Las Vegas Raiders, respectively, are good examples of that.
As of now, the Cowboys look set to start second-round pick Joseph on the outside opposite of Trevon Diggs, who will be in his second season.
It's a lot of trust to put into a pair of first- and second-year players. What the team needs is a veteran cornerback who can play outside and succeed in Dan Quinn's system.
No one fits that description like Sherman. He'll be 33 this season so he's no threat to the long-term prospects of either of the Cowboys' young corners, but he does have great respect for new defensive coordinator Quinn and has had success in his system.
Sherman is coming off a season in which he only played five games due to injury. However, he only allowed a passer rating of 63.0 in 2019 when he was healthy, so he's not that far removed from elite play.
C Austin Reiter
No one learned the importance of depth along the offensive line quite like the Cowboys last season. Injuries to Tyron Smith, Zack Martin and La'el Collins, in step with Dak Prescott's compound fracture, rendered the Dallas offense nearly useless.
Travis Frederick's retirement was felt as well. The Cowboys were forced to play a combination of Joe Looney (66 percent of the snaps) and Tyler Biadasz (37 percent) at center last season. The former posted a PFF grade of 50.7, and the latter wasn't much better at 53.5. They combined to give up four sacks.
As of now, it looks like Biadasz will be the starter in his second season, which makes sense. The Cowboys likely drafted him in the fourth round of the 2020 draft with an eye on him starting this year.
However, Dallas should have learned the lesson that it needs a contingency plan, and Austin Reiter would be an addition that makes a lot of sense. He posted a 70.9 grade with PFF in 867 snaps with the Kansas City Chiefs last year.
The 29-year-old would elevate the floor of the unit as a whole, ensuring better protection for Prescott in 2021.
S Bobby McCain
The Cowboys secondary has undergone plenty of changes this offseason already, but they could improve it further by adding Bobby McCain.
With Xavier Woods leaving in free agency, the team's free safety spot is a question mark. It looks as though Dallas will convert sixth-round pick Israel Mukuamu to safety while Damontae Kazee was signed in March, but neither brings the experience or leadership of McCain.
Kazee posted seven interceptions in 2018 but is coming off a torn Achilles and only played four games for the Atlanta Falcons in 2020. There's a ton of upside there, but his full recovery from the injury is a tenuous thing to bet on.
McCain was a team captain in Miami and is coming off his best season by Pro Football Reference's approximate value metric. Opposing passers were held to a 64.3 passer rating when targeting him, and he had decent ball production with an interception and five passes defended.
The 27-year-old's presence would give Dallas more confidence in its rebuilt secondary and bring the leadership it may need with plenty of young players on the roster.