The 2017 NFL Free Agency is well underway, and a few teams across the league have already made some big moves. As for the Cowboys, the front office is currently making waves of their own, all while they try to cement the status of current players rather than acquiring veteran players to address specific needs.
Per NFL Insider Ian Rapoport, the Cowboys plan to trade Romo instead of release him as previously indicated by sources just yesterday. Now, the Denver Broncos currently have cap space to take on a Romo trade, still leaving the door open for Romo going to Denver. However, as of today, the Broncos acquired former Cowboys guard Ronald Leary for a four-year deal worth $35 million. This leaves very little wiggle room for the Broncos to trade for Romo, but the move by the Broncos to acquire the versatile guard who has helped protect Romo the past four years speaks volumes towards their attempt to bring Romo to Denver.
Per ESPN analyst Adam Schefter, the Houston Texans traded quarterback Brock Osweiler and a 2018 second-round pick to the Cleveland Browns. This move could pave the way for Romo going to Houston instead of Denver. Either way, the loss of Leary means little for the Cowboys since undrafted free agent rookie La’el Collins replaced Leary on the line two years ago.
On the defensive side, the Cowboys have already lost safety Barry Church and defensive tackle Terrell McClain to the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Washington Redskins respectively. With McClain leaving Dallas, look for defensive tackle Cedric Thornton to fill the void on the line. Cowboys signed Thornton to a four-year deal worth $18 million last offseason, and the combination of him and second-year player Maliek Collins at nose tackle should wreak havoc on opposing offensive lines. The loss of Church makes it imperative for the Cowboys to resign safety J.J. Wilcox. Safety Jeff Heath could end up starting in the former place of Church at strong safety, but the Cowboys would not have many options at safety outside of Wilcox and Heath.
The Cowboys are certainly known for rarely acquiring big names in free agency. Instead, as seen this past year, the front office dedicates more time and energy towards drafting promising prospects in the NFL Draft. The same strategy looks to be unfolding this year—the only question is if this plan will reap the same benefits as it did last year with the drafting of Ezekiel Elliott, Jaylon Smith, Collins, Dak Prescott, and Anthony Brown.