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Players Are Fleeing Mike McCarthy’s Cowboys

When owner Jerry Jones hired ex-Packers’ head coach Mike McCarthy to take over the reins in Dallas, it seemed that Big Mike had landed in the ideal situation. Despite their 8-8 record and failure to make the playoffs in 2019, Dallas was considered by many NFL followers to have had the most talented personnel in the league. As April dawns, however, free agency has taken a big bite out of the Cowboys’ roster.

Since free agency opened on March 18, here’s a list of free agents who have left Dallas and signed on with other teams, along with the average annual value (AAV) of their new deals:

CB Byron Jones – to Miami – $16.5M

DE Robert Quinn – to CHI – $14M

WR Randall Cobb – to HOU – $9M

DT Maliek Collins – to LVR – $6M

TE Jason Witten – to LVR – $4M

T Cameron Fleming – to NYG – $3.5M

G Xavier Su’a-Filo – to CIN – $3M

SS Jeff Heath – to LVR – $3M

Others who have left Big D and signed elsewhere, but for less than $2 Million per year, include DE Kerry Hyder, and CB Donovan Olumba.

Dallas has so far managed to re-sign these free agents from its 2019 roster: CB Anthony Brown, Kicker Kai Forbath, OLB Justin March, and CB C. J. Goodman – though only Brown (at $5.2M) re-signed for an AAV of more than $1.2 M.

Here’s are the Cowboys’ incoming free agents (from other teams) with an AAV of over $2M:

DE Gerald McCoy – from CAR – $6.1M

FS Ha Ha Clinton-Dix – from CHI – $4M

K Greg Zuerlein – from LAR – $2.5M

Cowboys QB Dak Prescott

Dec 22, 2019; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) is sacked by Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Josh Sweat (94) during the fourth quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

The Dak Prescott Problem

Mike McCarthy has an even more daunting task than does Matt LaFleur, though both coaches are facing the prospect of having an inferior roster to that of 2019.

What’s the problem in Dallas? Under his rookie deal, quarterback Dak Presott averaged earnings of $680,000 per year. But according to NFL Network’s Jane Slater, Prescott has agreed to a 1-year deal for the 2020 season, in which he will make $33 million under the franchise tag. This explains why Dallas has had to let a bunch of high-pay players go.

It gets even worse for Jerry and Big Mike. The team continues to try to work out a long-term deal with Prescott, but negotiations are reportedly deadlocked. It seems Dak wants a short contract so he can take advantage of an expected salary cap rise (under the new CBA) in the coming years. He also wants lots of guaranteed pay over the first two years.

In sum, Prescott is getting a huge salary in 2020, though he’s currently scheduled to become a free agent in 2021. He’s inclined to shop his services around next year, rather than commit long-term to Dallas. This doesn’t make for a contented starting quarterback who was supposed to be the Cowboys’ franchise player over the next decade or more.

Cowboys Coach Mike McCarthy press conference

Jan 8, 2020; Frisco, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy (center) answers questions with owner Jerry Jones (right) and executive vice president Stephen Jones during a press conference at Ford Center at the Star. Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Other Comments

The Packers have a similar free agent scenario to that of Dallas: their departing talent is well exceeding that of their new free agent acquisitions. Green Bay lost Blake Martinez and Bryan Bulaga, and let Jimmy Graham go – their new AAV’s are $10.25M, $10M, and $8M respectively. The Packers might also part ways with Tramon Williams, Jason Valdheer, and Ibraheim Campbell, among others.

To date this contract season, Byron Jones has the highest free agent AAV of any non-quarterback, and Robert Quinn is only three slots behind him.

HaHa Clinton-Dix went from making $3M last year with the Bears to getting $4M from Dallas.

Ex-Packer Randall Cobb must possess a good luck charm. In his last three seasons in Green Bay, he never exceeded 66 catches, 653 receiving yards, or four TDs, but still averaged $10M per season. With Dallas last year, his pay slipped to $5M, but he rebounded with 825 receiving yards, though he started only six games and played in only 15 games. He averaged 15.1 yards per catch, the best of his career.

Though his production has been so-so for several seasons, he’s now back up to an average of $9M with his 3-year deal with Houston. The Texans obviously believe Cobb’s stats during his last three years in Green Bay was not an accurate reflection of his abilities.

Coach McCarthy is going to have a great challenge in 2020. He’ll have a lot of key players who weren’t with the team a year ago. Unless Dak gets a long-term contract, he’ll also have a petulant QB to deal with. Also, the Cowboys have a rabid fan base that’s demanding much better than an 8-8 season. I can see why Jerry Jones was inclined to hire a veteran NFL head coach. If McCarthy is not up to the task, then Dallas has a further problem, for McCarthy is under contract for the next five years – I don’t believe salary terms have ever been disclosed.

Rob Born

Smart drafters don’t select the best available players, they fill a team’s positions of greatest need.



  1. Cheese April 1, 2020

    Lol, Cobb making $9 million a year in Houston… This guy has to be the luckiest SOB in the NFL. Aside from one decent season in GB six years ago what exactly has Cobb done to deserve this type of salary? Don’t worry, I already know the answer.
    McCarthy must really like embarrassing Jerry Jones. First it started with getting Wade Phillips fired from the Dallas HC position after a loss to the Packers. Then GB wins the Super Bowl in Dallas. Now McCarthy is the head coach in Dallas and the train has left the station. Let’s all get ready for an entertaining ride ;)

    1. PF4L April 5, 2020

      Add McCarthy to the list. Jones signed him to a 5 year deal. I’m guessing that’s worth somewhere in the neighborhood of 40-50 million guaranteed.
      PSA….For those interested, if you don’t already have it. FOX 6 will be replaying the Packers/Steeler’s SB game at 2:00 PM CT today.

      1. PF4L April 5, 2020

        ” IT’S TIME! “

  2. Mtairi April 1, 2020

    IDK what these guys leaving have anything to do with Mccarthy.
    Byron Jones: we didnt have the money
    Jeff Heath: hes average but creates ZERO turnovers
    Jason Witten: old fart who can barely run after he catches the ball, its Jarwins time to shine
    Cobb: Over rated and definitely not worth 9 mill a year and dropped so many passes last season
    Rob Quinn: this kind of hurt but he just got a 70 mill deal with the Bears and for someone his age Dallas wasnt giving that money to him
    Flemings: mehh avergae
    Sua Filo: Decent backup, did a good job, but we need above average
    Collins: this one kind of hurt not sure on the money situation there

    I think our current signings are good
    Dontari Poe
    Gerald Mccoy
    Ha-Ha Clinton Dix is a play maker, Jeff Heath wasn’t making any big plays INTs\fumbles etc
    Jarwin signing was long overdue

    We just need another run stuffing DT an anchor, aka snacks harrison
    I think we are good on the Dline as we will most likely get Randy Gregory back. and Gregory and Dlaw are monsters. Also we may even get David Irving back. That trio is a damn nightmare for any opposing QB

    We will need a stud CB and another stud WR\Slot Receiver. That gives Dak all his weapons and show what hes made of

    1. Ferris April 2, 2020

      At the end of the season you’ll have a new name for Ha’Sean…it won’t be play maker.
      Oh yeah one more thing WTF are you doing reading and commenting on a Green Bay site? And stop saying OUR signings unless you can show me a pay stub from Jerry.

  3. Veej April 1, 2020

    The luckiest contracts were doled out to Sam Bradford. That guy did squat in the league and raked in huge sums of money (I believe he was the last top pick rookie to earn a ridiculous starting salary before even playing in the NFL).
    Also, who is Jason Valdheer? Haha. Jared Veldheer is the name I know. The Packers are doing well to supplement talent at key positions, assuming the news guys stay healthy and perform their jobs reasonably well. However, it would not shock me to see them double down and draft both LB and OT early as has (wisely) become common practice under Gutey’s regime.

  4. Stephen April 1, 2020

    The Packers have filled their voids with a replacement player, each being capable of performing better than the have in the past. Though the players had previously been injured, or had some drop off in their game, their potential is great. This has had to be done, so as to deal properly with the NFL salary cap. Between these new free agents, and the upcoming draft, Green Bay should be doing fine this coming season.
    There are a number of 2nd and 3rd year players, that should soon be on the playing field as well as these newly signed free agent replacements, so there’s plenty of things to be optimistic about.

    1. Robster April 1, 2020

      I’m glad to see your optimism. I continue to think we’ve had downgrades at ILB and RT, and little to gain with Funchess at WR, but all four guys Gutey brought in last year performed at or above their previous levels. In my next post or two, I’ll even take an optimistic turn, regarding one of our second-year players.

      1. PF4L April 5, 2020

        Keep the Faith brother. Some say this years team will be worse than last year. IDK about that but i do know, they probably won’t end up at 13-3.
        It’s never to early to start saving for SB tickets. I’ve already got $47.93 saved up, so i have that going for me.
        GO PACK GO!

  5. Kato April 1, 2020

    Hi all, hope everyone is staying safe.
    I had some thoughts today while burning shit and drinking a few Miller Lites. If Funchess can merely replicate Graham’s numbers for a fraction of the price, that is a plus. He is essentially a younger Jimmy Graham, should be more productive in the red zone to make what was a really good red zone offense last year even better.
    I wonder what the deal is with Cobb? Was it a fluke, was it simply a product of being in an offense that had Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper, and Michael Gallup? I don’t think it was simply “hustle.” Cobb doesn’t strike me as the guy that loafs it, as is being accused of his last few years in Green Bay. Him and Rodgers are good friends, if Rodgers is as hard on receivers as everyone says he is, I doubt he would remain good friends with him. If Cobb succeeds in Houston, I have to wonder how incompetent McCarthy became, or how incompetent Rodgers became. Let’s hope it isn’t the latter.
    So, to an interesting point of the article. Dallas had an exodus of talent, and that is in large part paying the quarterback. Of course, they have some other large deals, you can’t pay everyone. They are going to be getting some big-time compensatory picks next year.
    On another note paying quarterbacks, we saw Belichick move on from Brady, ultimately deciding that he wasn’t worth his asking price. Some of that may have to do age obviously and rolling the dice on a marked decline, but I think a lot of it has to do with Belichick not wanting to devote too much of the cap to a quarterback, as he values a balanced roster.

  6. Ferris April 2, 2020

    Overheard at Randall Cobb’s house when the boys hired Fat Mike….OH HELL NO!!!
    After this year 8-8 will look pretty good to Jerry.
    He’ll look at the contracts of McCarthy, Cooper, Elliot, and Prescott and realize it will be another 24 years before the Boys are back. They won SB XXX in 1996. I guess that may have had some bad mojo, the porn bowl.