Cowboys Rumors

Cowboys’ Brandin Cooks Suffers MCL Sprain

SEPTEMBER 17: Cooks will indeed miss today’s game against the Jets, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter. There is not yet any confirmation that Cooks will be able to suit up next week.

SEPTEMBER 14: The early part of Brandin Cooks‘ Cowboys tenure may involve an injury-driven absence. The veteran deep threat is dealing with an MCL sprain, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telgram’s Clarence Hill.

Although Cooks played through his recent injury to close out the Cowboys’ 40-0 romp over the Giants, his Week 2 status is up in the air. This injury commonly causes players to miss at least multiple games, though timetables vary. Cooks sustained a grade 1 sprain, the Dallas Morning News’ David Moore tweets, adding the team does not view it as a multiweek injury.

Cooks played 39 offensive snaps Sunday night and, per the Dallas Morning News’ Michael Gehlken, was walking without favoring the knee ailment this week. While Cooks said he feels good, it would not surprise to see the Cowboys exercise caution here. The team sent fifth- and sixth-round draft choices to the Texans for Cooks in March. Two years remain on the accomplished wideout/trade mainstay’s contract.

Dallas did not need much in the way of receiver contributions in Week 1, but the Week 2 Jets matchup will present tougher assignments for the team’s set of pass catchers. The team has starters CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup healthy, the latter now being nearly two years removed from a career-sidetracking ACL tear. The team also saw offseason improvement from 2022 third-rounder Jalen Tolbert, who struggled to make an impact as a rookie. Tolbert caught just two passes last season.

Injury absences have not been common for Cooks in his career. A calf injury sidelined the well-traveled veteran briefly last season, following his short time away from the team after trade talks did not produce an in-season deal. From 2015-21, however, Cooks combined to miss only four games. A two-concussion 2019 season proved concerning, and the Rams dealt the former first-round pick to the Texans months later. But Cooks has otherwise not needed to navigate much on the injury front.

Joining Brandon Marshall in totaling 1,000-yard receiving seasons for four franchises, Cooks is trying to make NFL history by clearing that bar for a fifth. The most recent of Cooks’ six 1,000-yard years came in Houston with Davis Mills as the primary triggerman. Seventh-round rookie Jalen Brooks and return man KaVontae Turpin are the other receivers on Dallas’ 53-man roster. Brooks was inactive Sunday night. Veteran Tyron Johnson resides on Dallas’ practice squad.

Minor NFL Transactions: 9/16/23

Today’s callups and adjustments heading into Week 2:

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Chicago Bears

Dallas Cowboys

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

New England Patriots

New York Giants

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

2023 Offseason In Review Series

Quarterback acquisitions generated top headlines this offseason, while the slew of developments affecting the running back market moved that position’s value to a precarious point. On that note, our latest Offseason In Review series is in the books. Here are the PFR staff’s looks at how teams assembled their 2023 rosters:

AFC East

AFC North

AFC South

AFC West

NFC East

NFC North

NFC South

NFC West

Minor NFL Transactions: 9/9/23

We have our first flood of pregame transactions of the season today as teams across the league with games tomorrow utilize their two permitted practice squad elevations:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Chicago Bears

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

  • Promoted from practice squad: LB Brevin Allen

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

  • Promoted from practice squad: RB Myles Gaskin, OLB Benton Whitley

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

Philadelphia Eagles

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tennessee Titans

Washington Commanders

DeAndre Hopkins Discusses Free Agency, Contract Demands, Signing With Titans

When DeAndre Hopkins was cut by the Cardinals, a number of suitors were expected to emerge. Instead, the veteran wideout only drew serious interest from the Titans and Patriots, with Hopkins ultimately signing a two-year, $26MM with Tennessee.

[RELATED: Titans Sign DeAndre Hopkins]

In a conversation with Clay Skipper of GQ, Hopkins acknowledged that his free agent market didn’t shake out as expected, with the receiver admitting that “there were some teams that I had on my list that I gave them calls and they didn’t give a call back.” What specific teams spurned the veteran?

“Detroit Lions, they didn’t want me,” Hopkins said. “Dallas Cowboys didn’t want me. Giants didn’t want me. S***. Who else ain’t want me? San Fran ain’t want me.”

Besides the Titans and Patriots, the only teams that were definitively connected to Hopkins were the Bills and Chiefs, although it sounds like interest dropped from those potential suitors once they learned of the receiver’s asking price. Still, Hopkins told Skipper that both Buffalo and Kansas City did call when he hit free agency.

The Lions, Cowboys, Giants, and 49ers also may have been wary of the player’s financial demands, but Hopkins hinted that those organization may have passed him over because of his age. Still, the receiver did acknowledge that money partly played a role in him landing in Tennessee.

“You have to know your value and have some level of respect for who you are as a human being,” he says. “Is the possibility of you going somewhere who is a Super Bowl-caliber team, on paper, is that worth you being paid minimum? It doesn’t add up.”

The Cowboys and 49ers have deep receiver crews, so it’s not a huge surprise that those squads didn’t give a long look at Hopkins. The Lions could use a wideout behind Amon-Ra St. Brown, while the Giants don’t have a clear WR1 atop their depth chart.

Ultimately, Hopkins landed in Tennessee, where he’ll join a depth chart highlighted by 2022 first-round pick Treylon Burks. Hopkins gave several reasons why he landed with the Titans, including head coach Mike Vrabel. However, the wideout revealed that one of his main reasons for signing with the organization had to do with the culture.

“I wouldn’t say it’s because of Arizona, the reason I came here, to have that 360 switch, but I would say it was definitely part of my decision to be somewhere that did have a winning culture, or a fighting culture,” Hopkins said.

OL Notes: Smith, Texans, Rams, Bears

The Cowboys are going with a “best five” configuration up front, shifting course months after Jerry Jones discussed a plan of keeping Tyler Smith at tackle. Smith is back at guard, but he may not be a lock to start the season on time. The second-year blocker suffered a hamstring strain, David Moore of the Dallas Morning News tweets. Jones expects Smith to play in Week 1; the 2022 first-round pick did not miss a game last season. Dallas has lost its starting left guard in free agency in each of the past two offseasons, seeing Connor Williams and Connor McGovern defect to the AFC East.

One of the backup options, Josh Ball, is on IR. Ball is battling hip and groin pain, and the Morning News’ Michael Gehlken notes he is expected to miss around two months. A 2021 fourth-rounder, Ball is not expected to need surgery. The Cowboys kept eight O-linemen, with rookies Asim Richards and T.J. Bass joining Chuma Edoga as backups.

Here is the latest from NFL O-lines:

  • Texans right tackle Tytus Howard returned to practice earlier this week, working out with a cast on his injured left hand. While the fifth-year lineman is on the verge of returning, KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson notes George Fant is expected to play in place of Howard in Week 1. Howard, who signed a Texans extension in July, underwent surgery to repair a broken hand in early August. Fant worked as a regular Jets starter — at left and right tackle — throughout the 2020 and ’21 seasons; injuries limited him to seven games last year.
  • Josh Jones filled in for D.J. Humphries as the Cardinals’ left tackle last season, but the recently traded blocker is back at guard. The Texans have Jones in place as their starting left guard going into the season, Wilson tweets. Jones is replacing 2022 first-rounder Kenyon Green, who is on season-ending IR. Jones spent the 2021 season as a primary Cardinals starting guard. The Texans will also be without center Juice Scruggs to start the season; the second-rounder is on short-term IR with a hamstring injury.
  • The Rams gave Joseph Noteboom a three-year, $40MM deal to replace Andrew Whitworth in 2022, but after another season-ending injury, Whitworth’s would-be heir apparent lost his job. The Rams are going with Alaric Jackson at left tackle, per The Athletic’s Jourdan Rodrigue, who adds Noteboom is back at guard (subscription required). Noteboom worked at guard early in his career and was mentioned as a guard option this offseason, but he had played on the outside since becoming Los Angeles’ swing tackle in 2020. The Rams also added Kevin Dotson from the Steelers, and while Dotson has started 30 career games (including 17 last year), Rodrigue adds the team views him as a depth piece. A former UDFA, Jackson started six games last season before becoming one of the many Ram blockers forced off the field due to health issues. Blood clots ended Jackson’s 2022 slate.
  • Previously set to shift back to center, Cody Whitehair is at guard to start his eighth Bears season. Teven Jenkins‘ injury will shift Whitehair to left guard and Lucas Patrick to center, Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune notes. Recent trade acquisition Dan Feeney is in place as Chicago’s backup center. Jenkins is on IR to start the season. Whitehair spent the past four seasons at guard but began his career with three slates at center. Patrick has played both guard and center. The 2022 free agency addition was ticketed to start at center last season, but injuries limited the ex-Packer to seven games.

Jerry Jones Addresses Dak Prescott Contract; No Extension Talks Yet

The Cowboys restructuring Dak Prescott‘s contract this offseason gives their longtime quarterback some ammo. The reworking created a whopping $59.5MM Prescott cap number in 2024, the final year of his current deal. Already limited by the events of 2021 with Dak, the Cowboys have some work to do going forward.

Taking parts of three offseasons to agree to an extension, Prescott ended up playing his hand well. His price rose from 2019-21, and talks ended up coming down to the March 2021 deadline for teams to apply franchise tags. With Prescott having already been tagged in 2020, the 2021 number would have brought a cap sheet-clogging $37MM hit. As that deadline approached, the Cowboys hammered out a four-year, $160MM extension with the former Offensive Rookie of the Year. The fallout from that extension affects the team today.

Because the Cowboys applied a procedural tag on Prescott in 2021, it would be untenable for them to tag him a third time in 2025. While two years remain on Prescott’s deal, the 2024 cap number and the tag being out of play will equip him with considerable leverage. For now, however, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Clarence Hill notes the Cowboys and Dak have not linked up on extension talks. An extension would allow the team to reduce Prescott’s monster 2024 cap number.

The topic of a second Prescott extension surfaced this offseason, but the Cowboys had more pressing matters to address. They have taken care of those, giving Zack Martin a raise and adding more than $35MM guaranteed to end his holdout. They also extended Trevon Diggs, Terence Steele and Malik Hooker to prevent them from going into contract years. CeeDee Lamb looms as an extension priority as well, but he is signed through 2024. Micah Parsons certainly will be, too. The all-world pass rusher becomes extension-eligible in January but can be kept on his rookie deal through 2025 due to the fifth-year option the Cowboys will exercise by May.

Dallas also made a surprising trade for Trey Lance, with Hill adding Jerry Jones pulled the trigger without consulting Prescott or Mike McCarthy. Jones said the Lance trade did not come to pass because of a potential leverage ploy against Prescott, via The Athletic’s Jon Machota (subscription required), and added he wants the current starter in Dallas for a long time. Prescott, 30, declined to comment on prospective contract talks, via the Dallas Morning News’ Calvin Watkins, adding he was not surprised by the Lance acquisition. The former No. 3 overall pick is not expected to play this season, with Hill adding Lance could compete with the recently re-signed Cooper Rush for that job in 2024. Rush is now on a two-year deal.

While Lance counts only $940K on Dallas’ cap sheet this year, that number spikes to $5.31MM in 2024. Prescott’s 2024 number will need to be addressed, as no player has entered a season with a cap hit higher than $45MM. The Browns are in the same boat, though theirs is a bit trickier due to Deshaun Watson‘s 2024-26 cap numbers (all at $63.97MM) part of a fully guaranteed contract. Two void years are on Prescott’s deal. It would cost the Cowboys $36.5MM were they to not extend Prescott before the start of the 2025 league year.

Restructured Contracts: Garoppolo, Bills, Wilson, Reed

Jimmy Garoppolo continues to help the Raiders carve out cap space. After reworking his deal earlier this offseason, the quarterback has once again restructured his deal, per ESPN’s Field Yates (via Twitter).

The move will create $17MM in cap space for the organization, making them cap compliant. As Vince Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review-Journal notes, the team previously converted an $11.25MM signing bonus into base salary, increasing Garoppolo‘s salary from $11.25MM to $22.5MM in the process. Bonsignore assumes the front office did some work today to reduce that newfound 2023 number.

Shortly after Garoppolo signed a three-year, $72.75MM deal, he underwent surgery to repair the fractured foot he sustained in early December. The Raiders’ first restructuring helped protect the organization in case the QB’s foot injury lingers into the regular season.

More financial notes from around the NFL…

  • The Bills opened a chunk of cap space today. The team opened $4.5MM in cap space by restructuring the contracts of guard Ryan Bates and cornerback Taron Johnson, per Yates. Bates turned into a full-time starter for the Bills in 2022, while Johnson has started 41 games for Buffalo over the past three seasons.
  • Cedrick Wilson Jr. reworked his contract with the Dolphins prior to cutdown day, per Jonathan Jones of NFL on CBS. The veteran wideout lowered his base salary to $2MM while receiving a $3MM signing bonus, equaling his $5MM in guarantees from last season. With incentives, Wilson can earn up to $7.25MM on his reworked contract.
  • The Vikings recently reworked the contract of guard Chris Reed, according to ESPN’s Ben Goessling. The offensive lineman’s base salary is now fully guaranteed at $1.165MM, an increase from the $1.4MM ($600K guaranteed) pact he was previously attached to. This was the second time this offseason that Reed agreed to a reworked contract.
  • Browns left tackle Jedrick Wills restructured his deal recently, converting $2.28MM of his base salary into a signing bonus, per Yates. The new deal also has three new void years, opening around $1.8MM in cap space.
  • The Cowboys restructured Neville Gallimore‘s contract, according to ESPN’s Todd Archer. The defensive tackle’s salary was reduced from $2.7MM to $1.5MM, and he can now earn $750K via incentives.

Cowboys, Terence Steele Agree To Extension

SEPTEMBER 4: Steele will collect a signing bonus of $15MM, per Schefter’s colleague Todd Archer. The new pact is guaranteed in full for the first two years, and his 2025 base salary ($13.25MM) will become guaranteed on the fifth day of that league year. The deal will not alter Steele’s cap hit for this season, so that figure will remain at $4.3MM before jumping in later years given the sizable raise from his previous earnings. $1.25MM in escalators are included for the years 2025-28, and he can earn roster bonuses of $750K annually beginning in 2024.

SEPTEMBER 3: The Cowboys and right tackle Terence Steele have agreed to a five-year, $86.8MM extension, as ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports. The deal includes $50MM in guarantees and can max out at $91.8MM.

This represents a major vote of confidence in a player whose 2022 season was cut short by ACL and MCL tears. But as head coach Mike McCarthy recently told reporters, including Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News, he has never seen a player recover quite like Steele.

“He hasn’t missed a day, and it’s just Terence,” McCarthy said. “He’s in there the same time every day, doing the rehab. It feels like he never left. Terence is a stud.”

Steele, 26, signed with Dallas as an undrafted free agent in 2020. Over his three seasons with the club, he has appeared in 45 games (40 starts), with most of his work coming at right tackle. His level of play at that spot allowed Dallas to move on from La’el Collins and commit to Steele on a full-time basis in 2022. Steele took a step forward in Pro Football Focus rating for the third straight year, generating an overall grade of 73.9.

Despite the ACL and MCL injuries, the Cowboys placed the second-round RFA tender, worth $4.3MM, on Steele this offseason. Reports on Dallas’ O-line plans in the spring suggested that the Texas Tech alum could operate as the swing tackle behind Tyron Smith and Tyler Smith, with Tyron Smith lining up at RT and Tyler Smith on the blindside. However, the club has consistently maintained that it wants to field its best five offensive lineman, and that group includes Steele. As such, Tyler Smith eventually kicked inside to left guard, Tyron Smith has assumed his familiar LT post, and Steele has been reinserted at right tackle.

Along with Tyler Biadasz at center and Zack Martin at right guard, the Cowboys boast a strong contingent of blockers in front of quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Tony Pollard. With Tyron Smith set to become a free agent at season’s end, it is certainly possible that Tyler Smith could move back to left tackle in 2024, but the team has the RT position set for the foreseeable future.

Steele’s new money AAV of $17.36MM ranks as the eighth-highest figure among the league’s right tackles. His $50MM in guaranteed money, however, ranks as the fourth-highest number, so he did quite well for a former UDFA who has yet to make a Pro Bowl and who is coming off a major knee injury.

The Cowboys were eyeing extensions for players like CeeDee Lamb, Trevon Diggs, and Steele this year, and they have now struck accords with Diggs and Steele. They also gave Martin a raise that ended his holdout and will now presumably turn their attention to Lamb and Prescott, whose cap number balloons to over $59MM next year.

Offseason In Review: Dallas Cowboys

Even after back-to-back 12-5 seasons, Mike McCarthy faces pressure going into his fourth year as Cowboys HC. The former Packers leader’s second-chance tenure has proven successful; he is the first Cowboys coach to guide the team to back-to-back playoff berths since Chan Gailey (1998-99). McCarthy will assume greater ownership of the team in Year 4 as well, taking over the play-calling reins after a split with OC Kellen Moore.

The Cowboys’ modest run of 21st-century postseason accomplishments is well known, turning up some heat on this rather popular team’s latest sideline boss. But Dallas’ latest roster does not present many weaknesses. The team addressed deficiencies via trades for accomplished veterans and is poised to enter this season healthier than it did in 2022. With the NFC again looking like the weaker conference (potentially by a wide margin), there are not many teams that outflank the Cowboys. That raises the stakes for McCarthy’s team to put it together in January.

Extensions and restructures:

Joining Chris Jones in testing his team with a holdout, Martin incurred more than $1MM in nonwaivable fines (the 49ers’ Nick Bosa holdout differs, as teams can still waive fines for rookie-contract players). But the future Hall of Fame guard made the absence worthwhile. The Cowboys caved, and Martin cashed in despite two seasons having remained on his contract.

The Cowboys’ preference for five- or six-year extensions has led to a number of stalwarts playing out their primes and seeing peers elsewhere sign shorter-term contracts, allowing for a potential second big payday, and ultimately come out better. Dallas’ penchant for lengthy extensions reminds of how contracts were structured in previous eras, and coming into this year, only Dak Prescott earned a notable victory (via his four-year, $160MM extension) over management on this front.

Martin entered the offseason tied to a six-year, $84MM deal. Agreed to in 2018, Martin’s contract set a guard record at the time. Given how NFL business works, lesser guards passed Martin. Chris Lindstrom, who does not have an All-Pro nod on his resume, joined Quenton Nelson in the $20MM-AAV guard club. This may or may not have been the last straw for Martin, who had fallen to the ninth-highest-paid guard following the Lindstrom pact.

Dallas’ 32-year-old O-line anchor did not skip minicamp but expressed disappointment in his contract before training camp and followed through on a rare holdout. The 2020 CBA deterred holdouts over its first three years, preventing teams from waiving fines for veterans who miss camp without excused absences. Although Jerry Jones‘ comments suggested a hardline stance, Martin ended up with an $8MM raise over two years and walked away with those final two seasons fully guaranteed. Martin had played out the guarantees on his previous deal.

For the All-Decade blocker to secure this package pointed to the value he brings the team. With Tyron Smith perennially injured and Travis Frederick retiring years ago, Martin represents the last link to the Tony Romo-era O-line core. Still in his prime protecting Prescott, the right guard struck a rare blow against the Cowboys’ contract M.O.

The Cowboys came into camp prioritizing younger players’ contracts over Martin’s, with Diggs being one of the central priorities. Known for his aggressiveness, the former second-round pick produced a historic 2021 season (11 INTs — territory no one had reached since Everson Walls got there as a Cowboys rookie in 1981) that ended with first-team All-Pro acclaim. Diggs’ passer rating against and completion percentage allowed figures skyrocketed in 2022, however. Citing the corner’s yards yielded in coverage, Pro Football Focus has yet to rank Diggs as a top-40 player at the position. The Cowboys are convinced in Diggs, for the foreseeable future at least, giving the former second-round pick an upper-crust extension.

Like Amari Cooper‘s 2020 contract, the Diggs deal has a clear out after two years. The Cowboys would be hit with just $4MM in dead money by designating Diggs as a post-June 1 cut in 2025 or trading him after that date. The team certainly will hope for a better outcome on this accord, but it is fairly protected in the event Diggs’ gambling habit catches up to him on this big-ticket accord. The player the Cowboys drafted to replace Byron Jones ended up cashing in on the type of extension neither Jones nor former top-10 pick Morris Claiborne could score with the team.

Hooker’s extension gives the Cowboys three safeties signed in the $5-$7MM-per-year range, completing an interesting middle-class-veteran-based plan at a position the team struggled to staff for years. Joining Jayron Kearse and Donovan Wilson in a formidable three-safety set including a former sixth-round pick and two outside hires, Hooker is now on his third Cowboys contract. The former Colts first-rounder has gone from earning $920K per year in his first Cowboys season (2021) to a $3.5MM AAV (2022) to this deal. Hooker has shaken off the injury issues that plagued him in Indianapolis, missing only three games as a Cowboy, and, at 27, is squarely in his prime.

Although dozens of restructures took place this offseason, few carried greater ramifications than Prescott’s. The Cowboys saved plenty by moving money around on their top contract, but it arms the veteran quarterback with plenty of leverage once again. Prescott scored his monster extension, after three offseasons of negotiations, because of the trouble a second franchise tag would have caused for the Cowboys in 2021. Dak’s latest restructure spikes his 2024 cap number to $59.5MM. That is an untenable figure for the Cowboys, considering no one has ever played a season with a cap number higher than $45MM.

The Cowboys cannot tag Prescott in 2025, due to the whopping figure that could come about because of the two tags used previously (the second being for procedural purposes to prevent a 2025 tag), and the void years they tacked onto the deal would result in a $36.4MM dead-money hit were Dak to walk as a 2025 free agent. Although Prescott struggled for stretches last season, he is equipped for a bounce-back year — one that should vault him into the newly created $50MM-per-year salary club. Few players are in more advantageous financial situations.

Smith has finally reached the end of the NFL’s longest-running active contract. The All-Decade tackle did not exactly do poorly for earnings in his career, but signing an eight-year, $97.6MM extension in 2014 walled off his path to a lucrative third contract. Smith, who came into the league at 20, is still just 32. Had Smith signed even a five-year deal when first eligible, he would have been positioned to score another one more in line with the market changes (the cap rested at $133MM in 2014; it hit $224.8MM this year). Being attached to a $12.2MM-per-year extension, Smith would have been the NFL’s 27th-highest-paid tackle this year. The likely Hall of Famer’s injuries (45 missed games since 2016) led to the Cowboys effectively mandating a pay cut, but he will still beat the odds and finish out this contract.


The Cowboys’ public courtship of Odell Beckham Jr. produced nothing, as the former star ended up sitting out the 2022 season altogether. Prior to the Beckham push, however, the Cowboys discussed Cooks with the Texans. At that point, Houston was believed to want a second-round pick (Cooks’ cost back in 2020, when the Texans acquired him from the Rams). Dallas did not bite, and months later, it did not take anything on that level to pry the veteran away from the rebuilding team. While the Cowboys inquired on Jerry Jeudy and Adam Thielen, Cooks became their pick to upgrade the receiving corps.

Michael Gallup did not deliver plus WR2 work last season, and the Cowboys missed Cooper alongside CeeDee Lamb. With Gallup nearly two years removed from his ACL tear, Cooks gives the team another nice three-WR set. Joining Brandon Marshall in accumulating 1,000-yard receiving seasons for four different teams, Cooks saw his numbers dip last season. He served as less of a deep threat in Houston, seeing his average depth of target drop under 11 in each of the past two seasons. Going into his age-30 season, Cooks should still have something left. Will the veteran speedster be able to threaten defenses deep consistently with a better quarterback?

Dallas restructured Cooks’ contract, dropping his cap hit to $6MM this season through the use of void years. Should the 10th-year wide receiver be a post-prime commodity, the team can escape this contract — originally a two-year, $39MM Texans extension — for just $2MM in dead money in 2024 (as a post-June 1 cut). Considering the 2022 Cowboys only featured one 600-yard receiver — in a year in which they cycled through some options, including in-season addition T.Y. Hilton — sending the Texans two late-round picks for one of the league’s steadiest options was a move worth making.

Another move to indicate how the Cowboys view their championship window occurred just before the Cooks strike. Dallas will complement Diggs with Gilmore, giving the defense five players who have received first- or second-team All-Pro acclaim (along with Micah Parsons, DeMarcus Lawrence and Leighton Vander Esch). After an abbreviated 2021 season that involved a contract dispute and an eventual trade out of New England, the 2019 Defensive Player of the Year showed he still had gas in the tank in Indianapolis. The Colts’ coaching and QB performance obscured their other players’ work, and Gilmore graded as PFF’s No. 9 overall corner. Gilmore’s passer rating-against and completion percentage allowed numbers came in much better, despite the Colts’ struggles, than his 2021 output.

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