The Cowboys had dug themselves into a hole at the wide receiver position for the past year. In 2022, the position got even weaker with no improvements made to the receiver room, leaving the offense weaker. A change needs to be made soon.
Dating back to last year
It began with the controversial trade that sent Amari Cooper to the Cleveland Browns in exchange for two fifth-round draft picks. Not only did the front office ship away one of the most essential pieces of the offense, but they also let Cedrick Wilson sign with the Miami Dolphins after no attempt was made to retain him. Wilson had a career year, replacing the injured Michael Gallup for most of the season, and earned himself a three-year deal worth $22,050,000 with the Dolphins.
Efforts made to replace lost talent
Following losing two receivers, the Cowboys turned to free agency in hopes of bringing in someone to build back up the position. The Cowboys signed former Steelers receiver James Washington, who later suffered a foot fracture injury in training camp. Washington returned in week 14 but was released two weeks later due to poor performance.
Building through the draft certainly didn’t help with trying to bolster the position. In the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft, the Cowboys selected Jalen Tolbert. Many were high on Tolbert during the draft process, including the Cowboys. Tolbert rarely saw the field due to being an inactive healthy scratch for most of the 2022 season. Having played a total of 85 offensive snaps, Tolbert only recorded two catches on three targets for 12 yards. He failed to make any kind of impact in his first year.
Noah Brown stepped up as the team’s WR3 when needed. He had trouble being a consistent target for Dak down the stretch, which eventually led to the team signing T.Y. Hilton late into the season. Still, none of these players were the “game-changing” receivers that Dallas needed.
The efforts made by the front office showed as was reflected by the performance put on by Dallas receivers last season. Executive vice president, Stephen Jones, made it clear that the Cowboys didn’t do enough to justify the loss of Amari Cooper and Cedrick Wilson. “I think Gallup, we should have been a little more conservative. You know most guys come off an ACL (injury), especially skill guys, maybe take a little time. I think Gallup’s going to be back (in form in 2023),” Jones said. “But getting a little confidence in our drafting, thinking (Jalen) Tolbert could step right in and so some things. I think it just sometimes takes a little longer with the receivers.”
Despite an amazing effort by the third-year receiver, CeeDee Lamb in 2022, the Cowboys need to add more firepower if they want to get over the hump. “I think we got to be one click better. I mean we’re right there. And we just, we’ve had some things, if a couple of things go our way, then you’re in it. But at the end of the day we’ve got to have our key guys, they’ve all got to play one click better. We all got to be one click better,” said Jones.
During the start of the 2023 free agency period, the Cowboys lost yet another weapon in Noah Brown. With no effort by the front office to yield the loss, he signed a one-year deal with the Houston Texans.
The Cowboys are also set to lose starting tight end, Dalton Schultz to free agency as well. This leaves CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup, Jalen Tolbert, Simi Fehoko, KaVontae Turpin, Jake Ferguson, and Peyton Hendershot as the remaining pass catchers for Dak Prescott.
Possible targets to improve the receiving group
Surely, the front office knows what they have to do in order to get “over the hump.” Jerry Jones confirmed that the Cowboys will be adding another weapon, whether it is in free agency or the NFL draft. Jones also made it clear that they would prefer to bring in a veteran to bolster the receiving group. One name in particular: Odell Beckham Jr.
Bringing in a veteran
Beckham has been linked to the Cowboys, dating back to December 2022. The Cowboys held a visit with Beckham but had zero contract talks. This came after it was learned that Beckham had not fully recovered from his ACL injury and could not work out during the visit.
As of March 2023, the Cowboys are still very much considered “frontrunners” for Beckham. Jerry Jones confirmed that he has had the same interest in signing OBJ right now that he had during the season.
Another name to watch out for is Cardinals receiver, DeAndre Hopkins. Hopkins is willing to be flexible on the last two years of his contract instead of asking for a “top of the market” deal. Sources close to NFL Network reporter, Jane Slater, confirmed that the Cowboys haven’t approached this idea yet and that “nothing is there” currently.
The Cowboys are known for their good fortune in drafting talented players. At the NFL combine, they were reportedly linked to many receivers who have the potential to end up going in the first two days of the draft. This Cowboys had formal visits with receivers such as Jaxson Smith-Njigba, Jordan Addison, Jalin Hyatt, Zay Flowers, Marvin Mims, Tank Dell, Tre Tucker, and Tyler Scott.
There’s a good chance that one of these receivers is brought in. Regardless of who it is, the Cowboys need to make a change and bolster the position if they want this offense to get to the next level. It all starts with the front office.