Daring moves for all 32 NFL teams in the 2021 offseason

Each NFL team’s offseason is filled with small moves and marginal personnel decisions. Sometimes, that series of small moves will build a winner. But a big, bold move always helps, by dramatically improving talent at an important position or changing the overall direction of the franchise. Here, Football Outsiders is suggesting a bold move for each team. Some of these are realistic, others are more far-fetched, but each would provide a significant change and improve a team’s chances of winning future Super Bowls.

There will be references to Football Outsiders’ DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) metric, which takes every play during the season and compares it to a baseline adjusted for situation and opponent. It is explained further here.

Moves are suggested for each team independently of the moves suggested for other teams. We also set a “no Deshaun Watson” rule for every team except Houston. Otherwise, we would be suggesting a bold Deshaun Watson trade for half the teams in the league!

NFC East

Dallas Cowboys: Let Dak Prescott walk in free agency, trade up and draft a quarterback

Prescott isn’t overrated. Both QBR and passing DVOA identified him as a top-eight passer in 2019 and 2020 before his injury. But the favorable situation that Prescott has enjoyed with excellent pass protection and skill-player talent in recent seasons could prop up a lesser quarterback. It did so for Andy Dalton in 2020; many fans missed his bounce-back 53.8 QBR in the shadows of defense-driven losses and Dalton’s poor play in prime-time games. And it likely propped up Prescott in his rookie season in 2016 when a Tony Romo injury thrust the fourth-rounder into an unexpected starting role.

The Cowboys can’t expect to duplicate that once-in-a-generation Day 3 draft value. But they might be able to plug one of the refined rookie quarterback prospects such as Zach Wilson or Mac Jones into their offense and experience similar short-term success. That shift would dramatically lower the team’s floor for the 2020s, but it would also raise its ceiling. Already up against the salary cap, an expensive Prescott extension would accelerate the hemorrhaging of blue-chip free agents that started with Byron Jones last year. By resetting with a rookie quarterback, the Cowboys could retain their other stars and build like the Rams and Eagles from recent seasons, teams that leveraged the cost savings of Jared Goff’s and Carson Wentz’s inexpensive rookie deals into exceptional roster depth and eventual Super Bowl berths.

The Cowboys could likely accomplish that realignment with a modest jump from their current No. 10 draft pick, an opportunity they wouldn’t have in a year with fewer top quarterback prospects or after a typical season of eight or more wins that would land them in the back half of the first round.

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