A year after QB Tony Romo retired, TE Jason Witten — one of his favorite targets — also called it a career to go into broadcasting. But Witten isn’t the only veteran pass-catcher to leave the Cowboys this offseason. The team released WR Dez Bryant, who has yet to sign with another team. The offseason wasn’t all about departures, though. The Cowboys signed DE Kony Ealy and WR Allen Hurns, in addition to trading a sixth-round draft pick to the Rams for WR Tavon Austin. In the draft, the Cowboys took LB Leighton Vander Esch in the first round and WR Michael Gallup in the third round, both of whom could have an impact on the team this season. Entering last season, much of the talk about the Cowboys was regarding the looming suspension for RB Ezekiel Elliott, but with that behind him Elliott can now focus on his performance for the upcoming season.
The Cowboys were around the middle of the NFL last season with 5,311 yards and 354 points. In his sophomore season, QB Dak Prescott had a big of a regression in his stats. He threw for 3,324 yards, 22 touchdowns and 13 interceptions; he also had six rushing touchdowns on 57 runs. Aside from Bryant and Witten, WR Terrance Williams was the team’s top receiver, hauling in 53 receptions for 568 yards but not finding the end zone at all. WR Cole Beasley caught 36 balls for 314 yards and four touchdowns. Hurns had 39 receptions for 484 yards and two touchdowns in 10 games — eight starts — with the Jaguars. Elliott was limited to 10 games due to his suspension, and he carried the ball 242 times for 983 yards and seven touchdowns and RB Rod Smith scored four times on 55 carries. The defense finished in the top 10 in yards allowed and top 15 in points allowed.
The schedule kicks off on the road with a Week 1 contest against the Panthers. The Giants come to AT&T Stadium for the Cowboys’ home opener in Week 2. The Cowboys continue to alternate home and road games, visiting the Seahawks in Week 3 and hosting the Lions in Week 4. After that, they get a Sunday nighter at the Texans followed by a home game with the Jaguars in Week 6. The Cowboys visit the Redskins in Week 7, which takes them into their Week 8 bye. Out of the bye, the Cowboys have a Monday night home game against the Titans, then they visit the Super Bowl LII champion Eagles in Week 10’s Sunday night game. They visit the Falcons in Week 11, which is followed by three straight home games. The homestand starts with the middle game of the Thanksgiving tripleheader, with the Redskins visiting the Cowboys in Week 12. The Saints come to town for the Thursday nighter in Week 13, and the Cowboys host the Eagles in Week 14. The Cowboys visit the Colts in Week 15 and host the Buccaneers in Week 16 before ending the regular season at the Giants in Week 17.
Losing Witten and Bryant is a blow to the Cowboys offense, but Hurns could be a worthy replacement if he can play all 16 games and return to the 1,000-yard receiver that he was in 2015. And having Elliott for the whole season should also be a boost for Prescott and the offense. There has been a recent setback for the offense, though, when C Travis Frederick was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare autoimmune disease that could cause him to miss the season. The Cowboys are the second best team in the division and should be in content to get a wild card in the NFC. They won nine games last year, and if the main players in their offense can stay healthy they may be able to get up to 10 or 11 wins this season, putting them in the midst of the playoff race.