Last call for Mike McCarthy at the helm of the Cowboys

Sean Payton’s shadow will linger throughout a season in which Dallas enters the offseason well above the salary cap.

FRISCO — The 2021 season of the Dallas Cowboys was one that looked like progress (12-5 mark, title in the NFC East), but ended up with a wasted opportunity by tripping on the Wild Card Round of the playoffs in AT&T Stadium before the San Francisco 49ers.

The cowboys believed they were poised to go deep into the postseason with a healthy roster packed with talent on both sides of the ball that showed they could score points (31.2 per game, the most in the league, albeit with an asterisk along the second half of the campaign) and steal the ball from the rival (34, leaders in the league).

The cowboys they benefited from streaks of six and four wins throughout the regular season. They outscored two playoff teams (philadelphia eagles twice, New England Patriots) but succumbed to four others: the Kansas City Chiefs, Las Vegas Raiders, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and arizona cardinals.

In other words, they were good enough to win the NFC Eastbut not good enough to be a legitimate contenderdoomed for offensive inconsistencies, too many penalties and too many big plays allowed.

Everything came to an abrupt halt San Francisco in the playoffs, marking a 26th straight season without the cowboys reach the NFC Championship Gamelet’s not say a superbowl.

Projected Space Against Salary Cap: $21,474,792 over the salary cap.

Top free agents: DE randy gregoryLB Leighton Vander EschWR Michael GallupOL connor-williamsS Jayron KearseTEA Dalton SchultzWR Cedrick Wilson.

Potential candidates to be cut: WR Amari CooperFROM DeMarcus LawrenceOL La’el Collins.

The base salary of $20 million for Cooper in 2022 it is fully guaranteed on the fifth day of the new league year (March 21). Cutting it would free up 16 million. If they’re not going to use him as a No. 1 wide receiver, why pay him as a No. 1 wide receiver? makes more sense Lawrence like a post-June 1 cut, freeing up $19 million, but they can’t replace all that it means for the ground and air defense. The suspension of collins voided their guaranteed money for 2022, leaving their position at risk, and they could turn Terence Steele at the starting right tackle. do they go to collins back to left guard?

The big question: Perhaps it is too early to say that it could be everything for the head coach mike mccarthy, but it certainly looks like that. the shadow of Sean Payton will persist, and the owner/general manager Jerry Jones made an effort to retain the defensive coordinator dan quinn with a contract extension and future raise. Although there was obvious progress in its second season, McCarty must do more than win NFC East in 2022. With the way the offense struggled down the stretch in 2021, he needs to get more hands on that side of the ball, considering his history. There may not be an express mandate superbowl or nothing from jonesBut the pressure is there. In 2014, Jason Garrett he was in the final year of his contract and needed to win. The cowboys they went 12-4 and reached the Divisional Round of the playoffs, only to fall to the Green Bay Packers from McCarty. McCarty signed a five-year agreement with the cowboys in 2020, but even with two years left, he had better win.

Best possible scenario for the campaign break: The cowboys They already send the message that they can’t keep everyone, because of the salary cap. It’s true though, they need to keep the right guys, so they have to find a way to keep gregory and Lawrence, and improve the offensive line, either in free agency with mid-level veterans, or early in the draft. Combining Gregory, Lawrence and the linebacker Micah Parsons he should make a formidable defense in 2022.

The worst possible scenario for the campaign break: They continue to feed off the bottom of the free agent market. They did well in 2021 with guys like Kearse, Charles Watkins, Damontae Kazee and Malik HookerBut, did they really make a difference? Maybe Kearse. The cowboys they’ve done a better job recruiting in years past, but they need to do a better job in free agency, even if it’s not at the top of the market.

First look at the analyst draft for ESPNJordan Reid: Known as a team that sticks to its evaluation chart to take the best available player, Dallas has got cornerstones like Parson’s and CeeDee Lamb in consecutive drafts. In a similar situation this year, cowboys they need help inside the defensive line and in the secondary.

Priority needs: DL, CB, S.

First turn: No. 24.

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Last call for Mike McCarthy at the helm of the Cowboys