Dallas Cowboys Free Agents 2022: Dalton Schultz, Randy Gregory, and Leighton Vander Esch headline available options

Which Dallas Cowboys players are set to become free agents in 2022, and which of them could be set for a big payday this offseason?

The number of high-profile Dallas Cowboys free agents set to be available in the 2022 offseason adds a layer of pressure to their postseason run. Which of the Cowboys’ free agents in 2022 could command big contracts this offseason, and will the free-agent period be more detrimental to their offense or defense next season?

Heading into the offseason, be sure to check out who are the top 2022 free agents at each position in the NFL in 2022.

Dallas Cowboys 2022 Free Agents

When you look at the Cowboys players set to hit free agency in 2022, there certainly does seem to be more talent on the defensive side of the ball. However, both the offense and defense have players set to be available that will garner attention from other teams around the league.

Among their free agents, the Cowboys likely only have one player set to be paid close to the top five at their position this offseason. However, that does not mean there are no other intriguing options available.

Top Cowboys offensive free agents

The situation with the Cowboys’ free agents on the offensive side of the ball is somewhat tough to judge. Entering the 2021 season, Michael Gallup was the class of the group. However, he has suffered two knee injuries, while the likes of Cedrick Wilson, Dalton Schultz, and Connor Williams have all impressed.

Let’s examine which of the Cowboys’ free agents on offense could garner the most attention in free agency this offseason.

All players are unrestricted free agents unless stated.

Dalton Schultz | TE

Following the injury to Gallup, Schultz is arguably the top option in the Cowboys’ free-agency class. Schultz broke out in 2020 with 63 receptions for 615 yards and 4 touchdowns. He then built on that in 2021 with a 78-reception, 808-yard, 8-touchdown season. His career catch rate is an impressive 72.6%, and he is a more-than-adequate blocker.

Schultz should earn somewhere between $10-15 million per year this offseason. That would place him firmly among the highest-paid tight ends in the league. Schultz is arguably the top tight end available this offseason and has the chance to increase his value further if he impresses in the playoffs with the Cowboys.

Michael Gallup and Cedrick Wilson | WR

It has been a tough season for Gallup. Comfortably the third-best receiver on the Cowboys’ roster entering the season, there was hope he could earn a big payday with a strong fourth year. However, an injury in Week 1 kept him out until Week 10. While Gallup impressed upon his return, a torn ACL in Week 17 will very likely limit his options this offseason. It would not be a surprise to see Gallup return to Dallas on a one-year contract in 2022.

Gallup’s pain has meant a huge gain for Wilson. Drafted in the sixth round of the 2018 NFL Draft, Wilson had just 22 receptions entering this year. During the regular season in 2021, he had 45 receptions for 602 yards and 6 touchdowns. Coming off the back of 11 receptions for 154 yards and 3 touchdowns in Week 18, Wilson could earn himself a very nice contract with a strong postseason.

Connor Williams | G

Viewed as a potential weak point in the Cowboys’ offensive line entering the season, Williams has acquitted himself well. On a line with the likes of Zack Martin and Tyron Smith, Williams was never going to be the standout. Nevertheless, his tape is good enough that he should get some reasonable offers.

But given that Dallas’ offensive line is aging, they could look to lock Williams up. This could be a case where we see Williams test the market during the pre-free-agency negotiating period before ultimately remaining with the Cowboys.

Top Cowboys defensive free agents

There are some fascinating names among the Cowboys’ free agents on defense. None of them stand out as someone likely to get paid major money, but a number should have reasonable markets.

Randy Gregory and Dorance Armstrong | EDGE

The pros and cons of Randy Gregory will be heavily weighed by teams this offseason. When on the field, he has been a reasonable player who can create an impact for the defense. However, off-field issues have caused him to miss two seasons in seven years in the league. His talent-to-risk ratio is likely not high enough for teams to risk big money in a multi-year deal for him this offseason.

Dorance Armstrong broke out in 2021 with 5 sacks and 12 tackles for loss. It came after he had just 2 sacks in the first three years, despite playing around 30% of the team’s snaps. That lack of early-career production could make for a hollow market. Armstrong and Gregory are two players that could easily end up back in Dallas on one-year or short-term deals.

Leighton Vander Esch and Keanu Neal | LB

Once viewed as the future of the Cowboys’ LB position, Leighton Vander Esch has had a mixed couple of seasons. Injuries and struggles in coverage have limited his opportunities to be an every-down linebacker in recent years. Those struggles could also limit the size of the contract for a player who as a rookie looked like he could be the highest-paid linebacker in the league one day.

Keanu Neal made the shift from safety to linebacker and has been a solid contributor for the Cowboys this season. Once considered one of the premier free safeties in the league, it will be intriguing to see what market emerges for the hybrid player. Could we see him follow Dan Quinn somewhere else if he gets another head coaching job?

Jayron Kearse, Damontae Kazee, and Malik Hooker | DB

Jayron Kearse’s stats demonstrate that he has been the star of this trio this year. Extra playing time and a new team saw him rack up career highs in tackles, tackles for loss, QB hits, sacks, and interceptions. With somewhat underwhelming numbers through the first five years of his career, projecting what he could earn is tough. Kearse could need to take another one-year deal to really maximize his value. However, it should be for significantly more than veteran minimum.

Damontae Kazee is another player who followed Quinn from Atlanta to Dallas. He had another solid year, starting 15 games. His coverage numbers are fascinating — he allowed just a 52% completion rate but gave up 4 touchdowns. Malik Hooker had a good year in coverage with an 80.8 passer rating against, but it was in limited playing time coming off an injury. Both of these players feel like candidates for either one-year deals or short multi-year contracts with little in the way of guarantees beyond the first season.

The Cowboys’ other free agents in 2022

  • Malik Turner | WR
  • Noah Brown | WR
  • Jeremy Sprinkle | TE
  • Corey Clement | RB
  • Ty Nsekhe | OT
  • Mitch Hyatt | OT (ERFA)
  • Carlos Watkins | IDL
  • Luke Gifford | LB (RFA)
  • Francis Bernard | LB (ERFA)
  • Brent Urban | IDL
  • Maurice Canady | CB
  • Bryan Anger | P
  • Jake McQuaide | LS

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