Dallas Cowboys’ most puzzling offseason offers one vague ray of hope (2024)

By Tim Cowlishaw

4:07 PM on Apr 4, 2024 CDT

The Rangers have begun defense of their World Series trophy, the Stars have surged past the competition into first place in the Western Conference and, as Luka Doncic plays with honest MVP credentials, the Mavericks recently won 11 of 12 games to climb to fifth place in hopes of avoiding the play-in games.

The Dallas Cowboys also remain open for business.


It is hard for the Jones Boys to do or say anything that surprises us after 35 years in operation. But I truly thought (shame on me) this offseason would be different. I thought the site of PACKERS 48, COWBOYS 16 on the giant scoreboard early in the fourth quarter on the afternoon of Jan. 14 would deliver the message that enough of the toys were old or broken that a genuine house-cleaning would be in order.


I must have been out of my mind. The day of reckoning comes for Jerry Jones when Forbes places a higher value on another NFL franchise, not when a young quarterback named Jordan Love outplays Dak Prescott so measurably or when a young coach named Matt LaFleur takes Mike McCarthy to the woodshed so obviously that Cowboys fans are streaming for the exits with 10 minutes left in a wild-card game.


Be the smartest Cowboys fan. Get the latest news.

Or with:



By signing up you agree to ourTerms of ServiceandPrivacy Policy

Even though I have been typing in this same city since the summer of ‘89, I thought something had to change. The Philadelphia Eagles, one year removed from leading the Chiefs in the fourth quarter of a Super Bowl, conducted an assistant coach house-cleaning that included both coordinators after last season’s playoff loss to Tampa Bay. Alarm bells sounded in the home of the Liberty Bell.

No such warnings here. The coaching staff was altered only because Dan Quinn and Joe Whitt Jr. took off for the Washington Commanders. Mike Zimmer, a familiar face from long ago, returns at 67 to serve as defensive coordinator. Only if one unwisely blames the entirety of the defensive collapse against Green Bay on Quinn can this be called an upgrade. It is certainly no overhaul.


Then came free agency, which the Joneses always treat as a battle waiting to be lost. The Cowboys endured greater than usual casualties. The carnage included Tyron Smith and Tyler Biadasz from the offensive line, four rotation players including tackle Johnathan Hankins and Dorance Armstrong from the defensive line along with Tony Pollard. Leighton Vander Esch retired due to injuries.

As a result, today’s depth chart three weeks before a draft in which Dallas cannot possibly plug all of its holes shows the following: Rico Dowdle in place of Pollard. Brock Hoffman and T.J. Bass in place of Smith and Biadasz. Damone Clark and DeMarvion Overshown now starting at linebacker. DaRon Bland instead of Stephon Gilmore, who is not expected to return.

The Cowboys’ free agency haul? Eric Kendricks. That’s it. The longtime Minnesota linebacker, who criticized Zimmer for his lack of communication as a head coach when he was fired, decided to give him a try as a coordinator. Kendricks turns 33 next month, can still play, most believe, but hardly represents the future for this team.


And that brings us to the only saving grace, the possible silver lining that I don’t truly believe exists but must acknowledge from this dormant offseason. Jones now has virtually the entire organization (family members excluded) on a one-year notice. It starts with McCarthy, even includes Zimmer on his new deal and continues throughout several key spots on the roster. And the fact that no major extension has been announced for Prescott, no shifting of money that would significantly lower his cap figure for 2024 but extend his time here before he could possibly be cast aside, is most interesting.


The Joneses still speak of Dak as if he is a Super Bowl quarterback-in-waiting. Never mind the fact that no one ever starts for eight years for one team without reaching a conference title game and then starts delivering Super Bowls. It’s ownership’s mantra. In fairness, Dak was very good last year and finished second to Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson in the MVP voting. That’s not insubstantial information to be weighed when one looks at the future of a roster.

How to explain his awful first half against Green Bay and his 2-5 playoff record? If that’s not on him and McCarthy’s 1-3 record here — the lone win came against a retiring Tom Brady and a mediocre Tampa Bay team — is not on the coach, who is responsible for the annual early exits from the postseason?

As long as the money flows, the answer, of course, is no one. But there’s at least a hint in the air that Jerry Jones is putting people on notice in 2024. His idea of “all in” was never to pass out big checks during free agency or to make moves like Houston just did, landing veteran wide receiver Stefon Diggs to pair with last year’s exquisite rookie C.J. Stroud.


One year removed from having the second pick in the draft, the Texans are a better team than Dallas, they went further in the playoffs last year and are far more interesting going forward.

None of that matters as long as the Texans’ popularity wilts in the shadow of the rating-gobbling Cowboys. It’s still the only thing that truly moves the needle for Jerry.

One can hope these one-and-done deals for coaches and some players have real bite to them, but it’s not the way to bet in Dallas.

Related Stories

View More

    Dallas Cowboys draft needs: Searching for a defensive tackle that sticks

    Ex-Cowboys WR Dez Bryant celebrates after betting big on UConn-Purdue national title game

    A potential holdout by WR CeeDee Lamb looms for the Dallas Cowboys


Find more Cowboys coverage from The Dallas Morning News here.

Dallas Cowboys’ most puzzling offseason offers one vague ray of hope (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Kareem Mueller DO

Last Updated:

Views: 5512

Rating: 4.6 / 5 (46 voted)

Reviews: 85% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Kareem Mueller DO

Birthday: 1997-01-04

Address: Apt. 156 12935 Runolfsdottir Mission, Greenfort, MN 74384-6749

Phone: +16704982844747

Job: Corporate Administration Planner

Hobby: Mountain biking, Jewelry making, Stone skipping, Lacemaking, Knife making, Scrapbooking, Letterboxing

Introduction: My name is Kareem Mueller DO, I am a vivacious, super, thoughtful, excited, handsome, beautiful, combative person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.