The best asset in the NFL is a good quarterback on a rookie contract. Seattle and Philadelphia both won Super Bowls with quarterbacks on rookie contracts. Having a rookie contract allows the team enough cap space to build a championship team. The Colts attempted to build around Andrew Luck’s initial contract by tapping into the free agent market but failed miserably. The Dallas Cowboys landed Dak Prescott in the 4th round of the 2016 draft; he started as a rookie when incumbent quarterback Tony Romo got injured. Dallas went 13-3 that season and lost in the divisional round of the playoffs against the Packets. Last season Dallas finished 9-7 during the season the Cowboys had the consistent distraction of the on again off again suspension of Ezekiel Elliot. The return of Elliot for a full season should put the Cowboys back into playoff contention, but this is the last year of true Super Bowl contention.
Simply put the Cowboys have zero cap space. Even though stars such as Zach Martin, Ezekiel Elliot, Travis Fredrick and Dak Prescott are on team friendly deals; Sean Lee ($11M), Tyrone Crawford ($9M) and Dan Baily ($4M), Dez Bryant ($16.5M) and newly franchised DeMarcus Lawrence ($17M) are not. Sean Lee is an outstanding linebacker but he is a shell of his former self due to injuries, Tyrone Crawford has a total of 12.5 sacks in his five year career, Dan Baily is a great kicker that has hit 89% field goals throughout his time in Dallas, but justifying paying a kicker $4M is a bit much. Dez Bryant is a not a number one receiver in the NFL anymore and Dallas just signed his replacement in Allen Hurns. Next offseason is worse for the ‘Boys as Demarcus Lawrence will be a free agent (again). If Lawrence again plays at a high level he will undoubtedly play himself out of a Cowboys uniform. Zach Martin will be an unrestricted free agent and will want to be paid like the best guard in football. Martin’s contract next season will surely be higher than the contract Andrew Norwell (Five years at 66.5M) signed this off-season with the Jaguars. Next off-season the Cowboys have Zach Martin and Demarcus Lawrence as free agents and the following season Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Jaylon Smith and Bryon Jones as free agents. Whom do the Cowboys pay?
The Cowboys talent on offense is undeniable as few teams boast multiple All-Pros on the offensive line, Pro Bowl talent at quarterback, running back, wide receiver and tight end. Defensively Dallas finished middle of the pack (13th) in points allowed and should get better with the improvement of young players such as Lawrence, Jones, Smith, and last year’s first-round pick Taco Charlton. More reinforcements are on the way with Dallas having ten picks in the upcoming draft. If Dallas can find defensive help somewhere in the draft then Dallas could challenge Philadelphia for NFC Supremacy (for the short term)