Last Friday, March 23rd, the Dallas Cowboys signed former Jacksonville Jaguars receiver, Allen Hurns. He will presumably take over duties as the number two receiver opposite of Dez Bryant. It was the first real splash the Cowboys made this offseason, an unusual change of pace from what fans have been used to since the turn of the century.
There was once a time where if a big name free agent on the market was deemed able to help the Cowboys in any area of need you could bank on owner Jerry Jones selling the farm to try and don them in navy and white. Most infamously over the years, Jones signed receiver Terrell Owens, cornerback Adam Jones, and defensive end Greg Hardy despite each player being reputed off-field distractions and having questionable character. Additionally, Jones has extended big money to a number of other players only for them to fall well short of their pay grade. The recent shift toward a more conservative approach may be a sign that Jones has finally been burned one too many times.
Perhaps Jones shying away from being aggressive in free agency stems from the Cowboys recent success in the draft, primarily the 2016 NFL Draft, which was hailed as being one of the best by any team in recent memory. In a way, this a refreshing change of pace. Relying more on the draft means that the bulk of the Cowboys talent is getting invested in younger players. Those players are having to earn their pay as opposed to being handed big contracts upon joining the team and getting burned by them. However, in a season where it was made painfully obvious just how much ground the Cowboys have to cover to catch the rival Philadelphia Eagles, the lack of action so far has some fans wondering if Jones is being too conservative.
Adding Hurns is a good step in the right direction for the Cowboys since it bolsters a position on the team that was arguably their biggest area of concern. It can be debated how much of the drop off in receiver production is the fault of the ones catching the ball versus the one who is throwing it. However, the Cowboys have made it clear they have no intention of moving on from Dak Prescott anytime in the near future. Therefore, if the Cowboys are going to make upgrading the air attack a priority, it is going to be done at the receiver position.
While the addition of Hurns helps, it’s a far cry from being the only change that needs to be made for an offense that ranged from mediocre to downright atrocious last season. Numerous other gaps have to be addressed and with the Cowboys only having the 19th pick in the first round it can be legitimately questioned if they can fill all of the holes through the draft alone. Only time will tell if this approach will pay dividends with fewer dead-weight contracts and aging vets or if it will result in a lack of overall talent. If there is one thing you can credit Jones with, at least he isn’t still trying the same thing and expecting a different result.