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The Dallas Cowboys"all-in" promise for an aggressive offseason after getting bulldozed at AT&T Stadium in a 48-32 NFC Super Wild Card Weekend loss against the seventh-seeded Green Bay Packers did not come to fruition.

Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones has since clarified what his father Jerry, the team's owner and general manager, meant by "all-in."

"Everybody certainly has that right," Stephen Jones said of frustration from Dallas' fanbase. "I know where the frustration is; it's the fact that we have not had a lot of success in the playoffs to their satisfaction. Until we do that, the criticism is certainly something that's going to be there ... but we are going to stick with what we believe will ultimately get us a championship for our fans. We don't define all-in by what you spend in free agency. It's keeping the core [together]."  

If the Jones family had a sense of urgency regarding "keeping the core" intact, 2023 NFL MVP runner-up quarterback Dak Prescott and 2023 NFL receptions leader wide receiver CeeDee Lamb (both entering the final years of their contracts), both would have been signed to extensions prior to the start of free agency in order for their cap hits to be distributed more evenly across future seasons, allowing the team to spend now. Instead, they both remain without new deals, so the Cowboys have watched much of their 2023 talent walk out the door while being unable to make many moves to mitigate their losses. 

Here is a quick list of a few of the team's contributors from their 12-5 NFC East division title-winning season who are now with other franchises. 

Two starters from the Cowboys secondary, five-time Pro Bowl cornerback Stephon Gilmore and safety Jayron Kearse, remain on the open market. Dallas did complete one signing of an outside free agent by procuring the services of linebacker Eric Kendricks, who played his first eight seasons (2015-2022) with the Minnesota Vikings. Seven of those years (2015-2021) were under then-head coach Mike Zimmer, who is the new Cowboys defensive coordinator. The other four signings brought long snapper Trent Sieg, running back Rico Dowdle, cornerback Jourdan Lewis and cornerback/special teams ace C.J. Goodwin back.

Here is how each of their four moves graded out while the Cowboys' offseason body of work, or lack thereof, contributed to a less than stellar overall assessment. 

New acquisition

Grade: A
 One year, $3 million ($2.5 million guaranteed)

This was a move the Cowboys needed to make, and the price tag is low. Pro Bowl inside linebacker Leighton Vander Esch suffered a career-ending neck injury in Week 5 at the San Francisco 49ers. Third-round rookie linebacker DeMarvion Overshown tore his ACL last training camp, and he is someone Dallas is counting on to contribute in 2024. 

Second-year linebacker Damone Clark, Markquese Bell (a 6-foot-3, 205-pound converted safety) and safety Jayron Kearse (6-4, 215 pounds) ended up with the bulk of the snaps at inside linebacker in 2023. There were times in practice at The Star, the team's headquarters in Frisco, Texas, where only one or two guys were going through linebacker position drills because of the injuries. 

Kendricks, a 2019 Pro Bowler and First Team All-Pro, is one of only two players across the last eight seasons (since 2016) with 100 or more tackles along with six-time First Team All-Pro Bobby Wagner. He will be critical in helping the team transition to Zimmer's scheme as well as being a presence in the middle of the field the Cowboys sorely lacked last season. 


Grade: B
 1 year, $2.827 million 

Lewis' return provides security for the Cowboys secondary in that if Stephon Gilmore ends up elsewhere, Dallas at least has three starting-caliber cornerbacks between him, Pro Bowler Trevon Diggs and 2023 All-Pro DaRon Bland, whose move to the outside coincided with leading the NFL with nine interceptions, including an NFL single-season record five pick sixes. 

Grade: B
 1 year, $1.255 million 

Dowdle is now the Cowboys' leading, returning rusher with Pollard gone. He totaled 361 rushing yards on 89 carries (4.1 yards per carry) and found the end zone four times (twice rushing and twice receiving). Re-signing the soon-to-be 26-year-old undrafted running back to a deal under $1.5 million doesn't make a noticeable impact on Dallas' cap space.

Grade: B
 1 year, $1.377 million 

Goodwin is one of the top leaders on the Cowboys' special teams units, and his return from a torn pectoral muscle will allow Dallas to be much more organized on the field, likely leading to less penalties and big returns allowed. 

Grade: B
 1year, $1.292 million 

Sieg played in every game for Dallas last season and helped contribute to kicker Brandon Aubrey's (First Team) and punter Bryan Anger's (Second Team)  All-Pro seasons in 2023. 

Overall offseason grade: D-

This grade doesn't really have much to do with the signings the Cowboys have made, bur rather the ones they didn't. The signings they made were fair-market value. The Cowboys won 12 or more games three seasons in a row for the first time since their 1990s dynasty years and decided they weren't as "around the rim" as Jerry Jones proclaimed. If the front office truly thought the team was a contender, they would have operated with more urgency like they did last offseason. It wouldn't be a surprise to see Dallas in a contested fight to earn an NFC wild-card spot next season given how things have shaken out for the rest of the conference so far this offseason.