Cowboys' free agency losses going about as expected

The Cowboys wanted to keep Anthony Hitchens, but not at the price the Chiefs paid for him. Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

FRISCO, Texas -- Before free agency started, the Dallas Cowboys' goal was to keep their own, but within reason.

They wanted to keep Anthony Hitchens, but they knew he would command more money than they would want to commit to their middle linebacker. In the opening foray of free agency, the Kansas City Chiefs did just that.

The Cowboys kept Pro Bowl defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence but did so with the franchise tag, guaranteeing him $17.143 million as they look to do a potential long-term deal by the middle of July. They also put the second-round tender on defensive lineman David Irving, making it difficult for a team to sign the restricted free agent.

The Cowboys have added five free agents in Allen Hurns, Deonte Thompson, Joe Thomas, Cameron Fleming and Marcus Martin. They re-signed long snapper L.P. Ladouceur and backup offensive linemen Joe Looney.

As the market starts its fourth week Wednesday, here is a recap of who's gone and who remains unsigned.


Keith Smith -- The Cowboys opted not to tender the restricted free agent fullback, allowing him to sign elsewhere. He quickly joined former special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia with the Oakland Raiders. The Cowboys made up for the loss of Smith by trading for the man he replaced, Jamize Olawale.

Kyle Wilber -- Like Smith, he joined Bisaccia in Oakland. While a key special teams piece, the Cowboys wanted to get younger with their backup linebackers. Thomas fits that role, although he might be more of a replacement defensively for Justin Durant while taking Wilber's special teams' snaps.

Jonathan Cooper -- He was OK as a 13-game starter at left guard in 2017 but the Cowboys wanted to get better at the spot in 2018 and could move La'el Collins back to that spot. Cooper, who is working back from offseason knee surgery, signed with the San Francisco 49ers.

Anthony Hitchens -- The Chiefs will pay him $9 million a year to replace Derrick Johnson. Hitchens was a valuable member of the Cowboys' defense because of his ability and versatility for four years. The Cowboys will likely look to the draft to replace Hitchens.

Brice Butler -- He signed a two-year deal with the Arizona Cardinals. Butler was looking for more of an opportunity and will get that from the Cardinals. One of the reasons he returned to the Cowboys last year was because of opportunity, but Terrance Williams somewhat surprisingly re-signed.

Bene Benwikere -- He also signed with the Cardinals after serving as a down-the-line backup at cornerback and a core special teamer. The Cowboys wanted to keep him despite their allegiance to 2017 draft picks Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis and the impending move of Byron Jones back to cornerback. As a fourth or fifth cornerback, Benwikere would not have been a bad option.


Alfred Morris -- The Cowboys believe Rod Smith can be an every-down back should something happen to Ezekiel Elliott. They kept Morris and Darren McFadden last year because they didn't know about Smith. Morris was a consummate pro in his two years with the Cowboys but is not a part-time back because he does not play special teams and is not much of a pass catcher. He can help an offense if he can get a good number of carries per game.

Benson Mayowa -- The Cowboys cut him before free agency started. He has taken a few visits but remains unsigned. He can help as a situational pass-rusher but the door is likely closed on a Cowboys' return, especially if the team signs Kony Ealy, who arrived Tuesday for a free-agent visit.

Byron Bell -- He was kept as a swing-tackle candidate last year and saw action when Tyron Smith was hurt. The addition of Fleming closes the door on his return, with Fleming either taking over as the right tackle or, at the last, the swing tackle.