Top 10 Dallas Cowboys Free Agents: Who Stays, Who Goes?


Another season has passed by for the Dallas Cowboys, who have now gone through 11 consecutive playoff appearances without reaching the NFC Championship game. With the season behind ‘America’s Team’, here we explore their top coveted free agents this offseason.

10. S Damontae Kazee (17 games, 52 tackles, 2 interceptions)

After signing with the Cowboys in March of 2021 as a free agent, Kazee was one of multiple players to follow Defensive Coordinator Dan Quinn to Dallas. He appeared in 17 games, making 15 starts for the Cowboys in a solid year. He finished with a 52% completion rate, but allowed four touchdowns in the secondary on the year. With a PFF grade of 60.2 through Week 15, Kazee is left in a vulnerable position entering free agency. The Cowboys have several contracts to address, but if Quinn opts out of Dallas’ coaching staff, Kazee is likely heading elsewhere.

Verdict: Not Returning

9. P Bryan Anger (65 punts, 3,143 total yards, 48.4 yards per punt)

One of the bright spots from the Cowboys special teams unit was Anger, who reached the Pro Bowl this past season. After signing with the team in April of 2021, Anger has been one of the team’s top punters across the last several years. This season, he totaled 24 punts that landed inside the 24-yard line; his highest total since 2016. Anger will be entering his 11th NFL season in 2022, but as long as the price tag isn’t too high, Dallas should be able to retain him.

Verdict: Returning

8. EDGE Dorance Armstrong (13 games, 37 tackles, 5 sacks)

Armstrong enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2021, as his five sacks this past season were more than his first three years combined (three sacks). He also improved upon his statistics in quarterback hits and tackles for loss, despite only playing a third of defensive snaps. The Cowboys should consider Armstrong as a buy-low candidate this offseason, as his early production with the team shows potential moving forward.

Verdict: Returning

7. WR Cedrick Wilson (45 receptions, 602 receiving yards, 6 touchdowns)

The season-ending injury to Gallup resulted in more playing time for Wilson, who was drafted in the sixth round by the team in the 2018 NFL Draft. With a career-high 45 receptions, Wilson enjoyed a breakout game in Week 18 against the Philadelphia Eagles in which he totaled six receptions, 119 receiving yards, and two touchdowns. He has already expressed interested in returning to Dallas, but will likely command a bigger payday than what the team is willing to offer.

Verdict: Not Returning

6. LB Leighton Vander Esch (17 games, 77 tackles, 1 interception)

The Cowboys are going to have some difficult decisions to make this offseason, with the future of Vander Esch included. This past season marked his first full season since his 2018 Pro Bowl campaign in which he totaled 140 tackles. Injuries, along with difficulties in pass coverage situations, have given fans mixed feelings about Vander Esch’s future with the team. Dallas didn’t pick up Vander Esch’s fifth-year option, making this past season a ‘prove it’ year. However, I don’t believe he did enough to earn a long-term contract with the team.

Verdict: Not Returning

5. G Connor Williams (17 games, 14 starts)

The Dallas Cowboys led the league in penalties this past season (127), while Connor Williams was responsible for 14 penalties of his own; 11 of which were holding calls. At one point in the season, the coaching staff benched Williams in place of Connor McGovern. Williams, 24, is on the younger side, which could be an attractive reason to sign him to a long-term deal in return for potential development. Still, depth on the offensive front should be a priority for the Cowboys this offseason, leaving Williams on the outs.

Verdict: Not Returning

4. WR Michael Gallup (35 receptions, 445 receiving yards, 2 touchdowns)

Despite appearing in only nine games before tearing his ACL, Gallup was in the midst of a down year regardless. A previous injury suffered in Week 1 kept him out until Week 10. The Cowboys offense continued to develop players such as CeeDee Lamb, Dalton Schultz, and Cedrick Wilson among other targets during that time, leaving Gallup to suffer career-low finishes in yards per target (7.2) and approximate value (4). Along with Wilson, other free agents in the Cowboys receiving group include Noah Brown and Malik Turner; both of whom will cost significantly less than Gallup, even with the injury concern. If Dallas is to bring back Gallup, it likely won’t be more than a one-year deal with incentives. Still, the team is likely to let him explore his options during free agency.

Verdict: Not Returning

3. TE Dalton Schultz (78 receptions, 808 receiving yards, 8 touchdowns)

Schultz enjoyed a breakout season in which he finished 3rd among tight ends in receptions, 6th in receiving yards, and 2nd in touchdowns. The injury to Blake Jarwin in Week 1 of the 2020 season has allowed for Schultz to develop as a primary target, but does that make him out of Dallas’ price range? Jarwin has two years left on his current contract, while Sean McKeon is on the depth chart moving forward as well. Releasing Jarwin may also be an option, as it would save $4 million of his $6.25 million cap hit. With a career catch rate of 72.6%, I like Schultz’s chances of remaining with the Cowboys.

Verdict: Returning

2. S Jayron Kearse (16 games, 101 tackles, 2 interceptions)

As the Cowboys top member of the secondary in 2021, Kearse finished with a career-high in several categories including tackles, tackles for loss, quarterback hits, sacks, and interceptions. He played for Dallas on a one-year deal and saw his value as a player skyrocket in the process. The situation is similar to the one of Byron Jones, who ultimately signed a five-year, $82.5 million deal with the Miami Dolphins after being two years removed from a Pro Bowl season with the Cowboys. The value of Kearse is also correlated with Dan Quinn, so if Quinn departs from the team, it’s safe to assume Kearse will follow.

Verdict: Not Returning

1. DE Randy Gregory (12 games, 19 tackles, 6 sacks)

When he is on the field, Gregory is a fantastic pass-rusher who clearly makes an impact for the Cowboys on the defensive side of the ball. Given his suspensions, Gregory has missed two seasons across the last seven years in the league, which could cause concerns for suitors in free agency to give him a large payday. Gregory, 29, will need for the Cowboys to be creative with their cap space in order to retain him in 2022. At the current projection, a franchise tag on Gregory would cost the team roughly $17.5 million; making him the fifth-highest paid defensive end in the league behind Myles Garrett ($25 million), DeMarcus Lawrence ($21 million), Leonard Williams ($21 million), and Frank Clark ($20.8 million).

Verdict: Returning

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