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Dallas Cowboys: 4 bold predictions for the 2021 offseason

The Dallas Cowboys were formerly “America’s Team.” The once-heralded NFC East franchise now continues to falter year after year, becoming the face of middling NFL football.

Following immense success for the better part of three consecutive decades, it has since all been downhill for the Cowboys, a team that hasn’t reached a Super Bowl since all the way back in 1995-96. Not only that, but the Cowboys haven’t so much as reached a conference championship game since that very same season.

Currently in the midst of a disappointing run for any NFL franchise, let alone “America’s Team,” the Cowboys have tallied just two postseason victories since 2010-11, both of which came as a result of the wild card round. Reaching the postseason only three times in total over the course of the last decade, the Cowboys have notably missed out on the playoffs in three of the last four seasons despite often playing in one of the softer divisions in the NFL.

Most recently reaching the postseason in 2018-19, the Cowboys encountered a pretty forgettable campaign in 2020-21 with Dallas finishing the regular season at a dismal 6-10. Granted, the loss of starting quarterback Dak Prescott due to a significant leg injury didn’t help matters, neither did the presence of former Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy. With McCarthy still in place in Dallas and the future of Prescott still very much up in the air as far as the Cowboys are concerned, the 2021-22 season could be yet another disappointing go-round for the franchise.

Cowboys won’t have QB Dak Prescott under center in 2021

The Dallas Cowboys have been unable to secure the services of quarterback Dak Prescott for the long haul as it stands today while this relationship doesn’t appear to have made any progress since the start of the 2020-21 season. Prescott was seeking a long-term deal from the Cowboys last offseason while eventually playing the year under the confines of the team’s franchise tag as the two sides were unable to come to an agreement on a new contract. With Prescott then encountering a season-ending injury early on in 2020-21, he and the Cowboys have once again arrived at a crossroads with the 2021-22 campaign now on the horizon.

Of course, the Cowboys could place the franchise tag on Prescott for a second consecutive season in 2021-22, which would allow him to remain in Dallas for at least one more season in addition to the fact that the veteran signal caller would also receive a huge pay day for next season. However, it is entirely possible that this relationship has been ruined beyond repair and Prescott and the Cowboys simply decide to head in different directions prior to the start of 2021-22.

If that is ultimately the case, look for the Cowboys to potentially select a quarterback with the No. 10 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. The Cowboys could also move up in the first round in order to tab the organization’s next franchise quarterback while adding a veteran signal caller via the free agent or trade markets remains a possibility as well.

Cowboys won’t use team’s franchise tag this offseason

Last season, the Dallas Cowboys managed to retain the services of veteran quarterback Dak Prescott despite the fact that the two sides were unable to come to terms on a long-term agreement. Thankfully for the reeling Cowboys, the NFL’s franchise tag exists as Dallas inked Prescott to a one-year contract for the 2020-21 season. With the two sides letting this situation play out into yet another offseason, one that comes after Prescott missed the majority of last season due to some significant injury trouble, it remains to be seen how this scenario unfolds in the end.

The Cowboys could very well use its franchise tag on Prescott for a second consecutive season in 2021-22, but such a decision will cost Dallas nearly $25 million for one season. If this relationship is truly tarnished, though, these two sides could just simply part ways for good leaving Dallas with yet another decision to make. If the team doesn’t tag Prescott, will the Cowboys even use its franchise tag in 2021-22? The answer here is no as there are simply no other players that Dallas should attempt to retain at a high price tag.

Outside of Prescott, the next most important pending free agent for Dallas is defensive lineman Tyrone Crawford. Crawford should absolutely be retained by the Cowboys moving forward but there should be no issue getting a deal done here. The 32-year-old Crawford and his previous contract had an annual average value $9 million in 2020-21 while the Cowboys shouldn’t tag the veteran defender even if there is somehow an issue with stringing together a reunion here.

Cowboys won’t make a single major free agent splash

The Dallas Cowboys are not a very good football team at the present. Unfortunately for fans of the once heralded NFC East franchise, things might not get much better in Dallas during the ongoing offseason. The Cowboys still do have a slew of superstar level players on the team’s current roster like running back Ezkeiel Elliott, wide receiver Amari Cooper and a few solid contributors on the defensive side of the football. However, that does not mean that this team, one that went just 6-10 a season ago, doesn’t have some major holes to fill.

The Cowboys remain in such flux, though, that team owner Jerry Jones and the franchise’s front office won’t be able to make a single major free agent splash this time around. Because the Cowboys need help at so many positions, look for Dallas to attempt to rebuild its roster through the NFL Draft process while inking veteran players to one or two-year deals in the interim to help fill some of the lingering voids left throughout the roster.

Once again, though, it all starts under center as the Cowboys’ eventual decision surrounding quarterback Dak Prescott and the position in general will indicate whether or not the aforementioned Jones even tries to improve this roster in a major way this offseason. Getting younger isn’t a bad thing, but paying players like Elliott, Cooper and others while rebuilding certainly isn’t ideal.

Cowboys (finally) won’t bring back veteran LB Sean Lee

The time has finally come for the Dallas Cowboys to part ways with longtime linebacker Sean Lee. Although Lee has spent his entire NFL playing career as a member of the Cowboys, the 34-year-old just simply cannot contribute like he used to as injuries have continued to alter his tenure atop the highest level. Not only that, but the Cowboys currently have a strong group of young linebackers at the team’s disposal with the tandem of Jaylen Smith and Leighton Vander-Esch leading the way at this key position.

Lee, who was originally selected by the Cowboys in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft out of Penn State, is presently a pending free agent as Dallas most recently signed him to a one-year contract last offseason. Unfortunately, Lee’s trend of not seeing the field all that much continued in 2020-21 as the seasoned defender went on to appear in just nine regular season games for the Cowboys en route to recording 20 total tackles. Often missing time due to some significant injury trouble, Lee has appeared in all 16 regular season games just once as a member of the famed Cowboys.

Granted, Lee is — and has been for quite some time — a leader in the Cowboys locker room. However, the time has finally come for this relationship to dwindle as Lee’s playing career in general could very well be nearing its end as well.