Legal tampering between NFL teams and free agents kicked off yesterday and things have been rather quiet for the Dallas Cowboys.
This shouldn’t be surprising, as the Cowboys have never been an overly active team at this stage of free agency. In fact, they were the last team to bring in an outside free agent last offseason.
Despite the Cowboys lack of activity, there were a few deals made that will impact the team in 2023. Before we get into those, it’s important to note that none of these deals are finalized until the new league year begins on Wednesday, March 15th at 3 p.m. CST. Things can always change last-minute, but most of the transactions reported are likely to become official tomorrow.
Cowboys Re-Sign Donovan Wilson
It wasn’t until today that the Cowboys made their first move during the legal tampering period, but it was worth the wait. Dallas is bringing back S Donovan Wilson on a three-year, $24 million deal.
It was hard to predict what would happen with Wilson this offseason given his high-production in 2022. He led the team with 101 tackles, which was also a career-high, and tallied five sacks. Wilson also forced two fumbles, seven tackles for loss and nine QB hits.
Bringing Wilson back means the Cowboys impressive depth at safety will stay intact, with Jayron Kearse and Malik Hooker already locked down through 2023. Soon after Wilson’s signing was reported on Twitter, Hooker showed his excitement from the move:
Two Cowboys Players Signed With New Teams
A pair of internal free agents have found new homes.
The most notable is G Connor McGovern, who got a three-year, $23 million contract from the Buffalo Bills. McGovern was drafted by the ‘Boys in round three of the 2019 NFL Draft.
The 25-year-old didn’t see the field as a rookie, but started 14 total games in 2020 and 2021. But he played a much larger role last season, starting 15 games and taking 88% of Dallas’ offensive snaps.
But losing McGovern isn’t the end of the world, and many Cowboys insiders actually expected him to sign elsewhere. Dallas has depth at interior OL with Zack Martin, Tyler Smith, Tyler Biadasz and Matt Farniok.
Because of that depth, the Cowboys seemingly never had the intention to offer anything more than a cheap deal to McGovern. He’s a solid player, but other internal free agents will be prioritized over him.
The other player that won’t be returning to the Cowboys is LB Luke Gifford, who is joining the Tennessee Titans on a two-year, $5 million deal. Gifford signed with Dallas as an undrafted free agent in 2019 and has been a solid special teamer for the last four seasons.
Gifford led the Cowboys in special teams tackles in 2022 and according to ESPN’s Todd Archer, the coaching staff had confidence he could take on a larger role on defense. With uncertainty about free agents Leighton Vander Esch and Anthony Barr’s return to the team, he might’ve gotten more opportunities outside of special teams.
Instead, he’ll be packing his bags and moving to Nashville.
Players The Cowboys Are Reportedly Targeting
According to NFL insider Josina Anderson, the Cowboys are “working hard” to bring back DE Dante Fowler Jr. The 28-year-old had six sacks, nine QB hits, seven tackles for loss and 27 total tackles last year.
Fowler made $1.5 million with the Cowboys last season, and it’s unlikely his price tag has changed very much unless other teams are fighting to sign him.
The Cowboys have also reached out to LB Bobby Wagner, but it’s been reported that no deal is imminent. Despite the 2022 season being his 11th in the NFL, Wagner still has gas in the tank.
He had 140 total tackles, 10 tackles for loss, six sacks and two interceptions for the Los Angeles Rams last year. This earned him second-team All-Pro honors.
It’s unclear if Dallas is prioritizing signing Wagner over bringing back Leighton Vander Esch.