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.
Legendary Cowboys Quarterback Backs Dak Prescott
Things have not gone well for Dak Prescott this season. His play has been up and down and he hasn't given the team or Cowboys Nation much reason to believe that he's the future at the quarterback position for the Dallas Cowboys. Speaking to 105.3 FM The Fan in Dallas today, Legendary Dallas Cowboys Quarterback, Ring of Honor and Pro Football Hall of Fame member Roger Staubach offered support for the Cowboys current quarterback, Dak Prescott.
Staubach had this to say when asked about Dak Prescott.
Roger Staubach on @1053thefan said #Dak is a part of the problem with the #Cowboys offense, but he is not the problem.
Roger Staubach didn't start in the NFL until the third year of his career and thinks that's a good time for the quarterback to make the jump. At this point, we are 40 games into Dak Prescott's NFL career and we can see some of the things that he's good at as well as some of the things that he struggles with.
As Staubach points out, Dak Prescott has the intangibles that you look for in a quarterback, even if his play hasn't been what you'd want at the position. Roger admits that Dak shoulders some of the blame for the offensive woes of the last 16 games, but realizes that there are many reasons for the Cowboys offensive failures this season.
Roger Staubach believes that the Dallas Cowboys can win with Dak Prescott as their starting quarterback despite some of the flaws that have crept up over the last 16 games. He's not wrong.
Staubach's pretty accurate in his assessment that there's been more good than bad. If you look at the first 24 games of Dak Prescott's career, he was really good. Through the last 16 games, he's struggled at times. So technically there's been more good than bad. The problem is that over the last 16 games, there's been more bad than good. The NFL is a "what have you done for me lately" league and lately Dak hasn't done much. We can debate all day on how much of the struggles Prescott's faced are on him, but everyone should be willing to admit that some of the struggles are on him.
It's plausible that the confidence in Prescott that Jerry Jones has comes from Roger's belief that the Cowboys can win games with Dak Prescott at quarterback; and they have. In Prescott's career, the Dallas Cowboys are 25-15. Though wins are a team stat and not a quarterback stat, it just goes as evidence that Dak Prescott can be a winning quarterback in the National Football League.
Dak has some flaws, but the offense and its play caller haven't helped Prescott much this season. We should be critical of Prescott because he has a big pay day coming, if you believe Jerry Jones. While Dak has some flaws, he also has some traits that can make him a good quarterback in the NFL with the right coaching situation behind him. 2018 may be running out of time for the Dallas Cowboys and their playoff prospects, but the Cowboys have time before they have to make a decision on Prescott.
Cowboys Activate WRs Noah Brown, Lance Lenoir, Release Thompson and Decoud
For the second straight week, the Dallas Cowboys will go into a game with a new look at the wide receiver position. Such a rotation was expected when the team moved on from Dez Bryant this offseason, who also found a job this week with the New Orleans Saints. Debuting Amari Cooper as their new star on the outside Monday night, the Cowboys will add Noah Brown and Lance Lenoir to their WR corps in Philadelphia on Sunday.
Brown began practicing with the team for the first time since training camp last week. The Cowboys had to make a decision within three weeks on his roster status for the rest of the season, choosing now to activate the second-year draft pick.
Brown is a trusted blocker on the outside that has a year in this offense under his belt. Though he wasn't used much as a rookie, it's clear that the Cowboys envision Brown being a part of their future, releasing this year's FA signing Deonte Thompson in favor of both him and Lance Lenoir.
Thompson caught just 14 passes in Dallas, injured against the Titans as he conceded the jet sweep role in the Cowboys offense to Cornerback Jourdan Lewis for the second straight week.
Lenoir earns his shot after a year with the Cowboys himself, albeit off the practice squad. The UDFA out of Western Illinois has been a fan-favorite since arriving in Oxnard and making plays. Lenoir's toughness as a receiver that can stretch the field and high point the ball against contact is something the Cowboys have had a need for all season, not finding a spot for Lance until now.
Treston Decoud is the other player cut from the Cowboys roster to make room for both receivers. The defensive back was active for his only game with the Cowboys against the Titans, signed to the practice squad in September.
Coming off a loss in which Cole Beasley was targeted just four times and Ezekiel Elliott carried 17 times, the Cowboys may need to focus on getting their established play makers more involved this week to have a chance on the road. This may limit the immediate impact that both Brown and Lenoir could make, but at 0-4 in road contests this season, the Cowboys are desperate for any signs of life in an NFC East that remains for-the-taking.
Jerry Jones Sees An Extension Coming for QB Dak Prescott, Despite Latest Loss
The Dallas Cowboys 28-14 loss on Monday night to the Tennessee Titans at AT&T Stadium was crushing to their hopes of making the playoffs out of a weak NFC East this season. Remaining in the hunt with a 3-5 record may be the only thing stopping the Cowboys from making immediate changes in personnel or coaching. This season's struggles, mainly on offense, have also not changed the long-term outlook for the Cowboys at the most important position in sports -- quarterback.
Just as Jason Garrett frustratingly remains the guy at Head Coach, and Scott Linehan at Offensive Coordinator, Quarterback Dak Prescott is on track for an extension following the 2019 season according to his owner and GM Jerry Jones.
Dak is the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys, he's young and he's gonna get extended." - Jerry Jones on @1053thefan. Holy cow. The worst news of the year.
The Cowboys have yet to win on the road this season. With trips to Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Indianapolis still to come Dallas could play their way into a forced change at one of these three positions.
With so many new first-year coaches in the building, the Cowboys might not see a suitable replacement for Garrett and Linehan at The Star right now though. Without a first round pick, traded for Amari Cooper in favor of any 2019 receiver prospects, the same could also go for Prescott.
Extending Dak while remaining aggressive about upgrading at QB could be the smart choice for the Cowboys. Nothing about their current makeup points to this being the case, but a decision on Prescott's contract is not due until after next season.
Getting a passer that's accomplished more than Prescott on the team for next season is understandably difficult. The top free agent quarterbacks are likely Teddy Bridgewater and Josh McCown, who would both do little more than cash checks they don't deserve against the Cowboys cap.
Prescott can do the same thing for another year on his rookie deal, and beyond on a contract that pays him like the backup QB the Cowboys should be preparing for.
This lines up well with a crop of 2020 QB prospects that are already in the national spotlight, such as Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa and Oregon's Justin Herbert. Of course, the Cowboys would have to struggle once again to pick high enough for either passer to be a possibility.
It also remains to be seen if Herbert will declare for this year's draft instead.
It's been quite the fall from grace for Dak Prescott, who managed nine wins in a season where Running Back Ezekiel Elliott was lost for six games just a year ago. Now, the Cowboys take Elliott out of games themselves with a game plan that relies on Prescott being someone he isn't.
The end result has been Prescott ending up on the losing end of too many games where he simply didn't do enough for the Cowboys, hardly an enviable position to be in at QB in today's high-scoring NFL.
Jerry on Dak: "He's gonna get extended." @1053SS and @RJChoppy: *stunned silence* https://t.co/kSrCjB8QP5
Who Prescott is on a merely factual level is a fourth round pick that's not consistent enough from the pocket to win games. The entire Cowboys organization can't be blind to the fact that running out this same coaching staff with Prescott under center in 2019 is a punt on an entire season, a stark contrast from their win-now approach with Prescott in 2016 and most of 2017.
That 2017 season that yielded nine wins, which would require a 6-2 record for the Cowboys from this point on, did ultimately result in the firing of/changing of seven coaches below Garrett and his coordinators.
What Jerry Jones doesn't see is a viable option for the team to move forward without Prescott. At least as of Tuesday morning, off a Monday loss, and at the very least not before the end of next season. What Cowboys Nation sees is a quarterback that would hardly be viable elsewhere, especially in a Dallas organization that's literally proving why they aren't a fit for a QB like him while talking about a contract extension.
A coaching change would be the only thing the Cowboys can do to create some optimism for Prescott, giving their new coach a proven commodity at quarterback and allowing him to make a decision from there. Jones didn't sign off from 105.3 The Fan without further votes of confidence in his top coaches, but talks of extending them are silently in the distance.
A Dak Prescott extension should rightfully be the end of the coaches responsible for handing him the keys and steering him off path from 2016 Rookie of the Year to reeling 2018 starter still feeling the effects from how last season ended.
The Cowboys desperately need further change, and if it's not coming soon at quarterback it should be expected elsewhere.
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