The Dallas Cowboys had the opportunity to bring in Dallas native Von Miller to help their defense, but they remained opposed to the addition through free agency.
DALLAS – The offseason has been difficult for the Dallas Cowboysone filled with watching contributing players leave without adding meaningful additions in their place.
Nowhere were the Cowboys’ free agency struggles more evident than when they failed to re-sign one of their priority players, defensive end Randy Gregory. The team thought they had a five-year, $70 million deal with Gregory with $28 million guaranteed, but that didn’t turn out to be the case. Certain contract terms prevented the deal from going through, and Gregory left for the Denver Broncos on the same terms, minus contract terms added by the Cowboys.
Given the fact that Dallas’ entire team-building identity hinges on retaining its own free agents, it was a big miss that only led to back and forth between the Cowboys and Gregory, who were ultimately unsuccessful as the player moved on. .
Dallas responded to the loss of the veteran passer by re-signing emerging defensive end Dorance Armstrong and adding former Dan Quinn favorite Dante Fowler to the mix. Neither player will make the Cowboys forget the loss of Gregory, but the team did not leave completely empty-handed.
However, even after Gregory’s accident, the Cowboys could have been in much better shape had they signed local champion and Super Bowl champion Von Miller. It has since been revealed that Miller prefers to play with his hometown team. As a Dallas native, Miller said he would have taken advantage of a discount to be with his family in Texas, but the Cowboys couldn’t come close to the discounted asking price.
Miller ended up getting a six-year contract worth $120 million, with more than $51 million guaranteed upon signing with the Buffalo Bills. Very few league insiders expect the 33-year-old Miller to play the entire deal, which is essentially a three-year deal worth $52.4 million.
The Cowboys were never going to pay that cost, especially when Gregory’s contract is comparatively a three-year deal worth $42 million.
Offering Miller Gregory’s deal might not have been a wise financial move for the Cowboys, but it wasn’t a bad offer. Gregory is 3.5 years younger and has far less wear and tear on his body than Miller. However, throughout their careers, Miller, the former Defensive Player of the Year and three-time All-Pro, has been the best player. There’s no guarantee that will be the case in the future, of course, which perhaps explains why Dallas has been coy.
Gregory was coming off his best season in 2021 and he’s just started to scratch how good he can be. With his long history of suspensions now a thing of the past, and with Gregory returning to full-time football, his best is likely to come.
Missing Miller wasn’t ideal for the Cowboys, but they made an offer where they felt comfortable. The organization took a legit hit, which is more than most fans thought, but decided not to pay for past results.
However, there is a bigger point to make, one that constantly shakes the heads of Cowboys watchers. The front office was clearly willing to pay more than usual for an outside free agent, but the follow-up was lackluster.
Dallas recognized a need and knew they needed to improve. Eventually, the player found a better deal elsewhere. It happens. So why didn’t they keep trying throughout the offseason? Why was at least some of the money intended for Gregory or Miller not reinvested in other areas of need?
It’s not a Cowboys team without needs, and there’s always help out there, but the Cowboys aren’t chasing anyone aggressively. Dallas showed they were willing to pay to improve, and that’s when the team had a lot less money under the salary cap than it does now.
With the salary cap space, roster needs, and previously demonstrated willingness to spend, why isn’t Dallas looking for high-quality players when there’s plenty of room for improvement?
The stubbornness to stray from a course that hasn’t yielded results is the proposition that is driving Cowboys fans crazy. The team was ready, at some point, to pay a heavy price to improve. It didn’t work and it looks like they didn’t try again.
The lack of urgency is frustrating and doesn’t make much sense, especially for a team looking to overcome its playoff hurdles.
The question may arise but the answer is not a surprise. For Dallas, free agency remains a perpetual missed opportunity.
Do you think the Cowboys should have been more active in free agency this offseason? Share your impressions with Ben on Twitter @BenGrimaldi.
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