Analysis

The Most Quiet Offseason in Recent Team History Could Prove Beneficial for the Cowboys

Advance Scouting the Dallas Cowboys

In an odd turn of events, the Dallas Cowboys have been quiet. Too quiet. 

While the rest of the NFL has seemingly entered an arms race, all has remained calm on the western front in Arlington. 

It goes without saying that when you are one of the biggest brands, not only in the world of sports, but in the world period, you are going to have a lot of eyes on you at all times. They are the largest brand in pro football. With that comes the territory of being at the center of attention. However, and maybe it’s because we have gotten so used to talking about the Cowboys, this offseason is unlike those of recent memory. 

This isn’t to say that the Cowboys have gone completely without headlines throughout the spring and summer. Amari Cooper was traded to the Cleveland Browns in March in exchange for a 2022 fifth-round pick, and the two teams swapped sixth-round picks, as well. This was followed a month later by a contract breakdown involving defensive end Randy Gregory that saw Gregory sign with the Denver Broncos after originally agreeing to re-sign with the Cowboys. 

The main reason cited for Gregory’s change of heart was contract language that said his contract would be voided if he was fined/suspended for any sort of drug offense or if he violated the personal conduct policy. These were terms not involved in the original contract Gregory had agreed to.

While both of those stories got national attention, it has been quite some time since each respective move occurred. The Cooper trade took place in March, while Gregory’s defection to the Broncos took place in April. With training camp now on the horizon, it’s been all but complete silence for America’s team. Somewhat noteworthy additions have been made to the Cowboys roster, like the signing of former Pittsburgh Steelers receiver James Washington, but nothing that stands out like we have been accustomed to. 

In the last half-decade, it seems that there has always been something to talk about in reference to the Cowboys. In 2016, Tony Romo was coming back from injury, and the Cowboys drafted Ezekiel Elliott. That preseason, Romo suffered a back injury, which thrusted Dak Prescott into the starting role, and we have seen what has come from that. 

In 2017, all the focus was on the new dynamic duo of rookies who had just led Dallas to a 13-3 season, and the sky seemed to be the limit. How far could they take the franchise for the foreseeable future? Could this finally be the year the Cowboys made it to the Super Bowl? That was quickly derailed when Elliott was suspended for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy after an alleged domestic violence incident. The case was appealed, and Elliot was allowed to play while the appeal was being decided, but the entire situation loomed over Dallas’ shoulder all season.

Elliot eventually lost the appeal, the Cowboys finished 9-7, and Dallas missed the playoffs in 2017, which led to the offseason full of scrutiny in 2018. These alternating seasons of highs and lows continued. In 2018, Dallas won the division and made it to the divisional round before getting eliminated by the Los Angeles Rams, who would end up winning the NFC Championship Game and facing the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. 

In 2019, the wheels would fall off for Jason Garrett, who was fired after an 8-8 season that saw Dallas miss the playoffs for the second time in three years. In 2020, it was about navigating through a pandemic, and who would have fans attend games vs. who wouldn’t. Prescott got off to an amazing start, personally, but his horrific ankle injury ended his season in October, and the Cowboys would finish 6-20 in year one under head coach Mike McCarthy.

The 2021 offseason became the summer of Prescott watch. Were the Cowboys going to trade Prescott? Would they extend him? That question was answered with a four-year, $160 million contract with $95 million in fully guaranteed money.

Now, we’re in July of 2022 and… nothing. Perhaps it’s because this is a story we have seen time and time again from Dallas over the last two and a half decades — a lot of preseason hype and speculation followed by a solid showing in the regular season, only to be eliminated early in the playoffs before the cycle starts over. 

Since 2000, the Cowboys are 3-8 in the playoffs. Since 1995, they have the same number of conference championship appearances as the Jacksonville Jaguars (1).

Perhaps flying under the radar will prove beneficial for Dallas. It seems as if the rest of the NFC East has been a large focal point of the offseason. Washington has a new name, as well as a new quarterback in Carson Wentz.

The New York Giants have a whole new regime with a ton of promise, and also had a fantastic draft. The Philadelphia Eagles traded for A.J. Brown and are being dubbed the offseason champions of the NFL. Then, there are the Cowboys- seemingly basking in their months-long silence with their collective heads down, and minds focused, as they look to become the first team to repeat as NFC East champions in nearly 20 years.

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