I’m sure this headline turned a few of you off.
Some of you probably only opened this article to get the full experience of how ridiculous the author must be.
I’m sure some of you were probably fed up with wide receiver talk before April’s draft, and aren’t even happy with the Cowboys’ 1st round selection of Oklahoma stud WR CeeDee Lamb. Well forgive me for being the deliverer of unpleasant news, but the Cowboys still need to add to their wide receiver room.
The eras have changed. I’m sure some of you grew up watching football in a time when a single stud wideout was the standard, and a second quality receiver was a luxury. Most of my football consuming life took place in an era where having two quality receivers was the idea, and a 3rd gave your offense a rare arsenal.
We are now in the pinball, slot machine era of football. Passing rules the day. Most teams want to have three quality WRs on the field the majority of the time, and that 4th player, who can step in in the event of injury and perform at a serviceable level is the luxury player. It’s time to normalize having 3 stud WRs, and a 4th guy who can hold the fort down when attrition begins to strike. The first part of the equation, the 3 studs? The Cowboys have that part down, easily. Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup both return after 1,100+ yard seasons and the Cowboys 1a, and 1b. Rookie CeeDee Lamb, thought by many to be the best player at his position in the draft, is a virtual lock to be the team’s #3.
Beyond the Cowboys’ big guns out wide, the depth is pretty uninspiring, more so than many fans probably realize. In 2019, Cowboys wideouts not named Cooper, Gallup, or Cobb (now departed, Houston) logged a grand total of 538 offensive snaps.
Keep in mind, the Cowboys experienced fairly favorable health at the position last season.
Gallup missed two games, Cobb missed one, and Cooper played in all 16, although he played only a series at the New York Jets, and missed portions of other games. The Cowboys had solid injury luck, and the oft ailing Amari Cooper has to keep some fans up at night.
The men competing for snaps behind Cooper, Gallup, and Lamb:
- Devin Smith
- Ventell Bryant
- Cedrick Wilson
- Noah Brown
- Jon’vea Johnson (2019 UDFA)
- Stephen Guidry (2020 UDFA)
- Aaron Parker (2020 UDFA)
- Kendrick Rogers (2020 UDFA)
The combined career stat line for those competing for the #4 spot: 26 receptions, 363 yards, 3 TD. Subtract the often injured Devin Smith from that group, and it’s a mere 11 receptions, 115 yards and one TD. That’s just simply not going to cut it. This is not to say that someone can’t improve, or that one of the undrafted players can’t emerge, but that is a hope, not a plan.
There are too many experienced NFL wideouts still available not to bring one in to make an earnest attempt to bolster your offensive ammunition shed. Given the fact that it is July 9th, these players are not in any type of leveraged position, and could be obtained for low guarantee deals.
These guys would just be brought in to truly compete with nothing promised or owed.
Paul Richardson, Age: 28 // Last Seen: Washington
Richardson signed a face value 5 yr/$40M deal with the Redskins (would be fantastic if this is the last time I have to type that name) in 2018, but was let go after just 2 seasons. Richardson is a true burner, something that the Cowboys’ WR corps is lacking outside of maybe Devin Smith.
Washington’s offense and quarterback situation were both complete messes, and Richardson had a less than stellar 2019 (28 rec, 245 yards). Richardson has though been a 700 yard player in his career, and has 143 career receptions.
Taylor Gabriel, Age: 29 // Last Seen: Chicago
Another burner, one who has topped 16.5 yards per receptions twice, and been in the neighborhood of 600 yards 3 times. The speed element is tantalizing and feels like a need in Dallas.
Even with a murky QB situation in 2019, Gabriel nearly (10 rec yards short) surpassed the career totals of all of the Cowboys WR4 candidates in a single year. Gabriel would be a great fit in Dallas.
Jarius Wright, Age 30 // Last Seen: Carolina
A solid but not spectacular player who has been around the block a few times. No elite traits, but a veteran who can be counted upon to play quality football.
Wright had just 28 receptions in 2019, but has 224 career receptions, 2, 782 yards and 11 TD. Wright could likely be brought in to compete for a next-to-nothing deal.
Russell Shepard, Age 29 // Last Seen: New York Giants
Maybe it’s the divisional familiarity, but Shepard feels like something more than a player who notched 60 catches in 87 NFL games, but that is the stat line. Shepard has just always seemed like a tough, crafty wideout, and would be a guy worth kicking the tires on.
His 2019 ended with a September foot injury, so he should be attainable for zero guarantees. No harm in a little experienced competition.
The Cowboys are a passing team. The “feed Zeke” chants are fun, but this is Dak Prescott’s team, and supporting him is paramount. Prioritizing making a cozy environment for the QB is what all good teams do. At the risk of wearing you all out with my “turn a strength into a superpower” ideology, this is one of those situations.
The Cowboys strength is having one of the top WR corps as far as WR1-WR3 league wide. You turn that strength into a superpower by making sure that the drop off in case of injury is not drastic.
It’s no lock that a WR brought in will beat out the incumbents, but leaving an avenue to acquire talent unexplored is unacceptable.
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