17. DALLAS (8-8)
LAST SEASON: High expectations, 3-0 start faded to another .500 finish under coach Jason Garrett, whose contract wasn’t renewed. Dak Prescott set career highs for yards passing, TDs, but Ezekiel Elliott played full season without winning rushing title for first time.
FREE AGENCY: Placed franchise tag on QB Dak Prescott. Re-signed WR Amari Cooper, LB Sean Lee, CB Anthony Brown, K Kai Forbath, C Joe Looney, LB Joe Thomas, S Darian Thompson, CB C.J. Goodwin, LB Justin March, LS L.P. Ladouceur. Lost CB Byron Jones, DE Robert Quinn, WR Randall Cobb, TE Jason Witten, S Jeff Heath, DT Maliek Collins, DE Kerry Hyder, T Cameron Fleming, G Xavier Su’a-Filo. Signed DT Gerald McCoy, DE Aldon Smith, S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, CB Maurice Canady, DT Dontari Poe, K Greg Zuerlein, TE Blake Bell. Didn’t re-sign WR Tavon Austin.
THEY NEED: S, DE, CB, LB.
THEY DON’T NEED: RB, QB, K.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: LSU DE K’Lavon Chaisson, Florida CB CJ Henderson, Alabama S Xavier McKinney.
OUTLOOK: First-year coach Mike McCarthy has signaled philosophical shift on defense with signings of beefy McCoy, Poe. Will be interesting to see how new approach plays into draft strategy. Secondary is top priority, perhaps along with edge rusher depending on availability of Smith and Randy Gregory, both suspended and seeking reinstatement with more lenient policy on marijuana in new labor deal. C Travis Frederick’s sudden retirement might not affect top of draft because Cowboys were high on third-rounder Connor McGregor from last year. He played some center in college.
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