Dallas Cowboys fans are used to this at this point. The team almost always ranges from pretty good to really good. They’re always in the mix for the division and the playoffs. The stats are there. But they come up just short. And we can blame Jerry Jones and we can blame the quarterback, but the reality is that winning the Super Bowl is hard. Every year there’s one team that does it and 31 that don’t. 

The past success looms over the head of a Cowboys team that, realistically, could have won in 2023. And, with some minor tweaks, they could win in 2024. Let’s take a look at the depth chart of weapons for the Cowboys to see how they can get it done via free agency. And we’ll also see if there is any advantage we can get in our fantasy football leagues, while we’re at it!

*The salary cap numbers referenced in this article come courtesy of our friends over at Spotrac.com*

Fantasy Relevant Depth Chart


Dak Prescott

Cooper Rush

Trey Lance

Running Back

Tony Pollard

Rico Dowdle

Deuce Vaughn

Wide Receiver

CeeDee Lamb

Jalen Brooks

David Durden

Wide Receiver

Brandin Cooks

KaVontae Turpin


Wide Receiver

Michael Gallup

Jalen Tolbert


Tight End

Jake Ferguson

Luke Schoonmaker

Peyton Hendershot

 White = unrestricted free agent

Green = role is safe

Yellow = role could be in jeopardy

Red = could be traded or released




Dak PrescottThe Cowboys are in an interesting situation here. Because Dak has an absurd cap hit this year north of $50 million. Second highest behind over DeShaun Watson. And, even though he had a rough game against Green Bay, he’s coming off an incredible season. His current contract no only has a no-trade clause but also a no-tag clause following this year.  

Cooper RushIf Trey Lance takes a big step forward, Cooper Rush could be released for $2.2 million in savings with a little over $600K in dead cap. But that’s honestly not that much for a guy that helps with the scout team and is a serviceable backup. There’s a world where the Cowboys just carry three QBs. 

Trey LanceAfter trading for Lance, the only way out of the last year of his deal would be via trade. Cutting him saves nothing. If they trade him, they would save $5.3 million. They traded a fourth-rounder to get him and they could simply move on from him for any day 3 draft pick to get the savings. But they might just hold on and develop him. The new third emergency QB rule makes that a lot easier. 

COWBOYS QB FREE AGENCY TAKE: What happens next will be telling with Dak Prescott. He could get a big extension. Or they could just renegotiate without an extension (which would mean Dak would hit free agency). Dak took a four-year deal with a no trade or no tag clause to have leverage when it came time for his next contract. And he’s played so well he has a lot of leverage. 

I don’t expect the Cowboys to bring in any new QBs - I expect them to work things out with Dak and hang onto Rush and Lance. The sooner they do that, the sooner they will have money to work with.

Running Back

Tony PollardFolks were clamoring to see Ezekiel Elliott gone and Tony Pollard in a full-time role. And what happened? Tony Pollard was good at the things he is good at but not as good at the things Zeke was doing, like short yardage work. He was coming off a broken leg as a result of a high ankle sprain suffered in the playoffs the previous year so that may have contributed to his slow start. 

And perhaps the Cowboys do retain Pollard when all the restructuring is done but he’ll still likely have to take a team-friendly deal. The Cowboys are expected to be fairly conservative with new deals and teams like the Texans and Cardinals have ascending offenses that could look to make a splash at RB.

Rico DowdleHe’s once again a restricted free agent but the Cowboys aren’t going to tender him at the $2.8 million mark it would cost them. If he is back again to serve as backup it will liely be another cheap deal in the $1 million range. 

Deuce VaughnDeuce Vaughn is a fun story. Small, explosive player who’s dad works in the Cowboys organization. He’s on a cheap rookie deal so he’ll likely be around again in 2024. But he doesn’t have the size to be anything close to a feature back so his upside in fantasy football land is part-time third down back at best. He’s more likely just a depth piece and special teams guy. 

COWBOYS RB FREE AGENCY TAKE: This is an interesting situation because this team is competing to win right now. They have said they want to take a “cost-conservative” approach at the position. Those signs point to the draft and running back is the exact kind of luxury draft pick that can put a competing team over the top - if you hit. They don’t need to develop much and the contract is cheap but it’s a risk to put that on their shoulders. This also isn’t a particularly deep R class. 

The Cowboys are unlikely to sign a middle of the pack starting RB in free agency - otherwise they would just retain Pollard who is at least above average. So, if they are making a free agent move, it’s either to go big with someone like Saquon Barkley or Josh Jacobs or to try to cobble it together for cheap. Unless they can get an aging guy like Derrick Henry or Austin Ekeler to sign for cheap but they have both been pretty outspoken about RBs needed to get paid better.

POSSIBLE FREE AGENT OPTIONS: Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs, Devin Singletary, Kareem Hunt

Wide Receiver

CeeDee LambThey wisely already picked up the 5th year option for the super star wideout so he’s under contract for 2024. The only question is how much to pay him. He and Justin Jefferson are going to reset at some point so it’s just a matter of what the going rate is for the best wide receivers in the game.

Brandin CooksOutside of the Giants game, Brandin Cooks did not quite have the impact the Cowboys were hoping. He was able to stretch the field some which opened things up for Lamb, but 54 catches and 657 yards was his lowest total since an injury-plagued 2019 with the Rams. He’s under contract for 2024 - they could release him with $4 million in savings and $6 million in dead cap. Cooks can still contribute as a field stretcher, but the Cowboys would be better off with a more reliable WR2. 

Michael GallupThe Cowboys signed Gallup to a five-year $57 million dollar contract in 2022 and then he almost immediately suffered a devastating knee injury. Since then, he hasn’t looked quite right and was losing snaps this year to Jalen Tolbert. There’s really not a great way to cut bait with him as he has $13 million in dead cap with under a million in savings, but they could designate him as a post June-1 cut which spreads that hit over two years and frees up $9.5 million for this season.

Jalen TolbertTolbert is still on an affordable rookie contract so his roster spot is probably safe. He’s a good depth piece but, if this team is going to compete for a Super Bowl, I’m not sure they want him playing a full time WR role. He finished this season with 22 catches for 268 yards and two touchdowns.

KaVontae TurpinThe biggest asset for Turpin is his speed. His 4.36 forty-yard dash is 96th percentile for WRs per our friends at Player Profiler. That makes him a great option in the return game and a fun guy for them to mix in as a deep threat from time to time. He’s only 5’7” and 158 pounds though so probably not going to develop into a full-time player.

Jalen BrooksLike most 7th round picks, Jalen Brooks can be released with very little dead cap. His path to making the team in 2024 is via special teams.

David DurdenDurden already had a difficult path to making the team and that got a little more difficult after missing all of 2023 with a knee injury. He’ll start at square one this offseason but can be released with next to zero dead cap and over $900K in savings. 

COWBOYS WR FREE AGENCY TAKE: The Cowboys would need a VERY team friendly contract from Dak Prescott and a lot of maneuvering to be in the mix for top dogs like Mike Evans or Tee Higgins. The reality is that their best bet to improve at wide receiver is through the draft where it’s a little more affordable. Draft a guy and hope that he can surpass Brandin Cooks/Michael Gallup mid-season to be the WR2 behind Lamb.

Tight End

Jake FergusonJake Ferguson doesn’t have top end speed, but he does have a decent three-cone - that short area quickness helps him to get targets a la Zach Ertz or Hunter Henry. But much like those guys, he either needs to be targeted heavily or score a lot of touchdowns to have a big fantasy impact. There really aren’t better options in free agency so his job is safe. The question is whether he remains the second target on the team behind CeeDee Lamb or if they can find a true WR2.

Luke SchoonmakerSchoonmaker served as the blocking counterpart to Jake Ferguson, blocking on over 20% of his pass plays. He’s on a rookie deal so he’ll remain in that role for the time being. Won’t have much fantasy-relevance unless he can someday pull a Dallas Goedert to Ferg’s Zach Ertz.

Peyton HendershotHendershot could end up on the bubble here as he can be released for almost a million dollars in savings with only $5,000 in dead cap. He’s a pure pass catcher that operates out of the slot so, if Ferguson were to go down, he would help out there with Schoonmaker as the inline guy. Assuming they retain his services, that is.

COWBOYS TE FREE AGENCY TAKE: The Cowboys are set here unless they want to add some cheap depth. The best free agent tight end option is Dalton Schultz, and they would have just paid Dalton Schultz if they thought Dalton Schultz was that much better than Jake Ferguson

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