Offseason Team Previews

2022 Dallas Cowboys Offseason Preview

by Kyle Dvorchak
Updated On: March 14, 2022, 10:24 am ET


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The final whistle of the Super Bowl marks the end of the 2021 season. That solidifies all draft positions and gets us looking to free agency as the next chance for teams to make significant changes to their rosters. In this series, I’ll break down the needs and goals of every team as it relates to the 2022 offseason. Included will be cap space, cut candidates, positions of need, and plenty of other useful stats and notes as we prepare for free agency and the 2022 NFL Draft. Special thanks to Over the Cap, Pro Football Reference, Pro Football Focus, and Ben Baldwin’s for all of the useful stats they track and house. 

Cowboys 2021 Recap

This was supposed to be the year. Dallas had Dak Prescott healthy, their trio of receivers ready to go, and a defense fueled by recent home runs in the draft. And, to be fair to the Cowboys, it was their year during the regular season. They led the NFL in scoring while also fielding a top-10 defense by points allowed. The Cowboys even found the defensive rookie of the year with the 12th pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. When it came time to show up in the playoffs, Dallas simply whiffed. Prescott averaged 6.8 yards per attempt while throwing one touchdown and an interception. He also slid in bounds with just a few seconds on the clock, ending the game before his team had a chance to run a final play. From a 1,000-foot view, the season looks like a success. However, when Jimmy Garoppolo sends you packing on national television, that tends to be the only thing your season is remembered by.

Key Offensive Stats

  • Points per game: 31.2 (1st)
  • Dropback EPA: .17 (6th)
  • Passing yards per game: 282 (3rd)
  • Rush EPA: -.06 (14th)
  • Rushing yards per game: 125 (9th)


Prescott finished top-10 in touchdown rate, yards per attempt, and completion rate over expectation. The only criticism that could be levied against him is that he ran intensely hot and icy cold. He opened the year with a 16/4 split of touchdowns and interceptions through six weeks. Then, over his next seven games, that became a 9/6 split. He closed out the regular season with 12 scores and no interceptions in the final three weeks. His success failed to turn any receiver into a superstar. CeeDee Lamb paced the team with 1,102 receiving yards. No other Dallas pass-catcher topped 900 yards. Things were going well on the ground until Ezekiel Elliott suffered a torn PCL in Week 4. His final 100-yard game of the year would come in the following week. After that, he looked entirely incapable of making big plays and was an anchor on the entire offense.

Key Defensive Stats

  • Points per game: 21.1 (7th)
  • Dropback EPA: -.11 (2nd)
  • Passing yards per game: 238 (20th)
  • Rush EPA: -.05 (20th)
  • Rushing yards per game: 113 (16th)


The defense made a galactic leap forward in 2021. Dallas paced the league in turnovers on the back of 11 interceptions from Trevon Diggs and three forced fumbles from Micah Parsons. Both players were named first-team All-Pro. The best part about their success as far as the franchise is concerned is that both defenders are under contract for at least three more years. The Cowboys ended opposing drives by taking the ball away 16.7 percent of the time. That was over half as often as their opponents scored.

Cowboys 2022 Offseason



Cap Space

-$13.4 million

First Pick

No. 24

Total Draft Value


Notable Free Agents

WR Michael Gallup (re-signed), TE Dalton Schultz (franchise tagged), S Jayron Kearse, S Damontae Kazee, LG Connor Williams, LB Leighton Vander Esch, LB Keanu Neal, S Malik Hooker, WR Cedrick Wilson

Cut Candidates

WR Amari Cooper ($16 million in savings), DE DeMarcus Lawrence ($8 million), CB Anthony Brown ($5 million), TE Blake Jarwin ($3.9 million), K Greg Zuerlein ($2.5 million)

Notes: Dallas's total draft value is the sum of the value of every pick they own using the Fitzgerald-Spielberger NFL Draft Trade Value Chart. The values are only estimates until the NFL announces compensatory picks. Cap savings are listed assuming the player is cut before June 1st.

The Browns agreed to pay a fifth-round pick to jump the line for signing Cooper in free agency. By trading for Cooper, Cleveland also took on his $20 million cap hit. Dallas used the extra money to franchise tag Schultz and re-sign Gallup to a five-year, $62.5 million contract.

Team Needs

Defensive Tackle

The need for a tight end was taken off the board by tagging Schultz. That will allow the team to focus on the defensive side of the ball again this offseason. While the Cowboys had plenty of playmakers to defend the pass, they weren't as fortunate against the run. They do not have an interior defensive lineman who ranked inside PFF's top-100 by run defense grade who is under contract for the 2022 season. 


Kazee and Kearse each started 15 games at safety. Kearse was graded as a top-15 safety by PFF. Malik Hooker and Keanu Neal could have been replacement options but both are free agents as well. 


A recurring theme for the cowboys will be the loss of second and third-tier contributors in free agency. Neal’s transition to weakside linebacker was a flop while Vander Esch has never been able to live up to the hype that his rookie season created. If both players find new homes, look for Dallas to replace them with faster and more versatile options.

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Coaching Changes

The Cowboys can’t keep getting away with this. They have finished first and fourth in yards per play with a healthy Prescott and Kellen Moore as their offensive coordinator. Moore interviewed for head coaching vacancies with the Dolphins, Vikings, Jaguars, and Broncos. He did not receive any offers and will be retained by the Cowboys.

Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn shaved off 8.4 points per from Dallas’s bottom line in his first year with the team. He withdrew his name from head-coaching candidacy after being considered the favorite to land multiple jobs. Knowing that departing coaches typically siphon off some of their coworkers when leaving for a new job, Dallas should be preparing for a mass exodus within the next two years.

Offseason Outlook

The Cowboys were one of the best teams last year but came up short when it mattered most. Some of that is in their control but some of it came down to the team having a bad day at the worst time. If the same roster was coming back for 2022, they would be a popular squad in Super Bowl futures markets. 

That’s not the case though. They are losing numerous starters to free agency and will need to build around their young studs to take the next step. The defense already has two All-Pros that just entered the league. Now the offense needs to get more out of the likes of Lamb, Gallup, and Tony Pollard (if Zeke continues to look like a fullback running wearing ankle weights). If they can offset their losses with improvements from ascending players, Dallas should have no problem surging past the Wild Card round next year.