If you weren't sure why the Cowboys didn't have a fifth-round pick in this year's draft, it's because they traded it to Oakland last year to acquire wide receiver Brice Butler. Now in the final year of his rookie contract, Butler could be in a position to have a significant impact on the coming season.
Butler wasn't traded for until September 15th of last year, meaning he missed all of the offseason and preseason opportunities to work with the Cowboys offense. His opportunities were limited throughout the season but finally opened up in the final two weeks when Dez Bryant went out with injury.
Taking passes from Kellen Moore in Weeks 16 and 17, Butler had eight catches for 134 yards. He was the team's leading receiver in Week 16 in Buffalo and was second to Terrance Williams in the season finale against Washington.
Butler's an exceptional athlete. Despite being 6'3" and about 215 pounds he can still run a 4.37 forty and had a 39-inch vertical at his 2013 college pro day. He is more physically gifted than Terrance Williams. However, it's important to keep in mind that they were in the same draft class. Dallas took Williams in the third round and Butler fell to Oakland in the seventh.
That said, receiver development is one of the more unpredictable career trajectories in the NFL. Some guys flash early and disappear while others take time to put it all together. Some get drafted for their physical tools but can't move up the depth chart until injuries or some other circumstance allow it.
One opportunity that Butler has never really had is to practice with Tony Romo. Based on last year, Dallas will hopefully give him more chances to work with Romo and see what kind of chemistry they can develop. With both Butler and Williams on expiring deals, it would make sense to give them equal opportunity to see which one might be worth a long-term extension.
Butler's speed and vertical threat would seem to fit well with Dallas' existing weapons. Dez Bryant will draw extra attention anywhere on the field. Jason Witten and Cole Beasley are dangerous short and mid-range weapons. Newly-added Ezekiel Elliott and Lance Dunbar are pass-catching options out of the backfield. Butler stretching the defense on deep routes only opens up more windows underneath for Romo to exploit.
We know that Tony can develop chemistry quickly with a receiver. In 2011 he and free agent Laurent Robinson had immediate mojo that helped land Robinson a big contract in Jacksonville the following offseason. Even if Butler's future isn't in Dallas, he can at least hope to get enough touches to try and get noticed for next year's free agent market.
Robinson's opportunities came thanks to injury issues to both Bryant and Miles Austin. Not that anybody wishes injury on their teammates, but Butler may have to wait for the same issues to befall the guys above him. Bryant's aggressive play makes injury a constant concern for him. Terrance Williams stays fairly healthy but has had performance issues that could open the door for Butler.
Would Dallas let Butler and Williams battle openly for the number-two receiver job? Has Williams really done enough to be entitled to it? There are varying opinions on this.
Personally, I think Butler presents a lot of upside and I don't think they owe Williams anything. Terrance has made some great plays but he's also blown just as many, dropping far too many easy passes and several of them on third-down plays.
Football players and coaches always talk a good game about a constant state of competition on the roster, but we know that's not entirely true. Veterans do get deference and incumbent starters often have a leg up on the guys below them on the depth chart. The number of open competitions for roster spots and roles aren't aren't as many as get presented to the media.
In this case, I think a competition is more the justified. Last year Butler showed me that he could step up and make plays despite suspect quarterback play. I'm intrigued to see what he can do with Romo back under center.
I'm sure he feels the same way.
Free Agent WR Allen Hurns Plans to Sign With Cowboys
It looks as if the Dallas Cowboys will be adding yet another wide receiver through free agency. According to sources, Allen Hurns plans on signing with the Cowboys.
WR Allen Hurns just told me, "I'm going to sign with Dallas." #Cowboys
This is a move that seemed unlikely after the Cowboys signed Deonte Thompson a few days ago, but I know a lot of Cowboys Nation will be excited about this transaction.
While this move is exciting, it does create more confusion for the Cowboys and their wide receivers. It's difficult to imagine all of these WRs sticking to the roster, which means there will be some tough decisions that need to be made.
What will the Cowboys do with Dez Bryant?
Will Cole Beasley be cut or traded?
Are the Cowboys comfortable absorbing Terrance Williams' cap hit if traded or released?
Will this keep the Cowboys from drafting a WR early?
All of these questions and more will have to be answered eventually. But, one thing is for sure, things are definitely about to get interesting.
Of course, there is a bonus here for the Dallas Cowboys. Since Allen Hurns was released by the Jacksonville Jaguars, he doesn't count against the Cowboys compensatory picks next season.
Please stay tuned and we will continue to keep you updated on contract details and any other news involving Allen Hurns as it becomes available.
What do you think about the Allen Hurns signing?
Cowboys Sign Free Agent WR Deonte Thompson
The Dallas Cowboys added some speed to their receiver corps today by signing free agent Deonte Thompson. He played for both the Chicago Bears and Buffalo Bills last season.
Thompson, who turned 29 last month, went undrafted in 2012. He had a quiet to start to his career as a reserve and practice squad guy in Baltimore and Chicago, but finally got a chance to shine with seven starts last year for the Bills. He 27 catches for 430 yards and one touchdown in just 11 games.
The #Cowboys signed WR Deonte Thompson, per agent @davidcanter. He gets 1-year, $2.5M with a $1M signing bonus.
Deonte brings some much-needed speed to the Cowboys offense. He ran a 4.31 40-yard dash as a rookie, and while he's 29 now he still poses more of a vertical threat than the current Dallas receivers.
Given the low salary in this deal, Thompson may not be seen as much than a replacement for Brice Butler near the bottom of Dallas' depth chart. We also have to wait and see what happens with the draft and other moves this offseason to know where he fits into the bigger picture.
For now, though, Cowboys fans can take a little comfort in knowing the front office hasn't completely fallen asleep at the wheel.
Dallas Cowboys Sign LB Joe Thomas to 2 Year Deal
At long last, the Dallas Cowboys have their first free agent addition of this offseason. Having lost starters Jonathan Cooper and Anthony Hitchens at left guard and linebacker respectively, the team has added depth at LB with Joe Thomas signing a two-year deal.
The 2018 season will actually mark Joe Thomas' second stint with the Dallas Cowboys, as he was signed to their practice squad in 2015. The team that signed Thomas out of South Carolina State following the 2014 draft, the Green Bay Packers, added Thomas back to their active roster for the 2015 season.
Source: Cowboys have agreed to a 2-year deal with free agent LB Joe Thomas. He visited the Cowboys today. Thomas has played in 42 games over the last three seasons with the Packers. He had a career-high 70 tackles in 2016.
Thomas has spent the last three seasons starting eight games for the Packers, recording 70 tackles and an interception in 2016.
A contingency plan of Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith carrying the Cowboys for 16 games at LB requires adequate depth, which is exactly what the Cowboys are typically in the market for come free agency. Waiting longer than usual to make their first splash, the Cowboys absolutely need an addition like Thomas to perform better than last year's FA class.
Used in sub packages by the Packers while also playing special teams - where the Cowboys have lost core players in Keith Smith and Kyle Wilber - Thomas will have a great chance to impress two new Dallas coaches in Ben Bloom and Keith O'Quinn.
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