Examining Commanders’ NFC East rivals after frenzied start to free agency

(Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports) Darius Slay
(Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports) Darius Slay /
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(Jeremy Reper-USA TODAY Sports) Ezekiel Elliot /

Dallas Cowboys

Key Losses:

  • Ezekiel Elliott, RB
  • Connor McGovern, OG
  • Dalton Schultz, TE (likely)

Key Additions:

  • Brandin Cooks, WR
  • Stephon Gilmore, CB

It just won’t seem like the same Dallas Cowboys team without Ezekiel Elliot in the backfield, will it? The limited lifespan of a running back and his hefty price tag forced the team’s hand and they had to part with their third leading all-time rusher this off-season.

They also will have a new offensive coordinator in Brian Schottenheimer after the apparent love affair with former coordinator Kellen Moore ended abruptly.

Replacing Connor McGovern on the offensive line shouldn’t prove too difficult. The Cowboys are hoping that uber-talented tackle Tyron Smith can stay healthy, which has been an iffy proposition throughout his career. If he does, his partnership with Tyler Smith gives Dallas’ protection bookend tackles. This year’s draft is very deep with interior linemen.

Finding a second running back to take the pressure off franchise-tagged Tony Pollard is also on the agenda. The Cowboys need to decide if well-traveled kicker Tristan Vizcaino can take over from Brett Maher, as well.

Besides re-upping super-backup quarterback Cooper Rush – who has made it pretty clear throughout his career that he is never leaving Dallas – the Cowboys have barely dented free agency. But they made two significant trades – bringing in veteran cornerback Stephon Gilmore to take over for Anthony Brown, and also rescuing receiver Brandin Cooks from his purgatory with the Houston Texans

Gilmore, despite his age, should be fine. Cooks is the key acquisition and something that shouldn’t go unnoticed by the Washington Commanders.

The Cowboys receiving corps was very thin even before losing Noah Brown and starting tight Dalton Schultz, who has not signed anywhere as of this writing. If Cooks can perform at his past level alongside CeeDee Lamb and a hopefully healthy Michael Gallup, it will give Prescott some solid weapons. But there are a lot of “ifs” in that scenario.

Gallup never looked comfortable trying to come back from a torn ACL last year and Cooks, though still a productive receiver, will turn 30 years old this season. Receivers do not get better with age, and when they fall, they can fall fast.