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2016 Breakout Candidates: Lucky Whitehead

As we look ahead to a new season it’s always interesting to project players who could take a major step in their careers. Sometimes this is an obvious expectation, such as with Byron Jones becoming a full-time starter in his second season. Others, though, are not as obvious and may take a very specific set of circumstances to develop. With roughly two months to go before the start of training camp I thought I’d spend some time profiling Cowboys who could become major factors in the coming season. I’m going to start today with an emerging offensive weapon and potential special teams ace:

Jess Haynie

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Cowboys Headlines - 2016 Breakout Candidates: Lucky Whitehead

As we look ahead to a new season it's always interesting to project players who could take a major step in their careers. Sometimes this is an obvious expectation, such as with Byron Jones becoming a full-time starter in his second season. Others, though, are not as obvious and may take a very specific set of circumstances to develop.

With roughly two months to go before the start of training camp I thought I'd spend some time profiling Cowboys who could become major factors in the coming season. I'm going to start today with an emerging offensive weapon and potential special teams ace:

The Star News - Dallas Cowboys WR Lucky Whitehead Joins The #RJOShow 1Lucky Whitehead

An undrafted free agent in 2015, Whitehead eventually emerged as the Cowboys' primary return man on both kickoffs and punts. He flashed potential in the preseason but also had some ball security issues, which prompted Dallas to stick with Lance Dunbar on kickoffs and Cole Beasley on punts for the early part of the year.

After Dunbar got injured in Week 4 and Beasley botched a late-game punt return against the Giants in Week 7, Whitehead became the primary return man on both units. His kickoff return average of 28.3 yards would have put him in the top five in the NFL, had he fielded enough kicks to qualify. He was less productive on punts with just a 5.8 average, though he did show that play-making spark at times.

Whitehead also began to find a niche role in the offense late last year. He started to get some of the plays that Dunbar was seeing early on, finishing the season with 10 carries for 107 yards and six catches for 16 yards. It was clear that the coaches were looking for more ways to get him the ball and take advantage of his explosiveness.

2016 Possibilities

Dallas did not sign or draft any clear challenger to Whitehead's return duties, so we can assume it's his job to lose. The biggest issue for Whitehead will be whether or not the Cowboys want to use a roster spot on a return specialist if they don't have a role for him on offense.

Cowboys Headlines - 5 Under the Radar Cowboys Who Can Be Huge in 2016 1

Dunbar was re-signed to a one-year deal and will likely be given every opportunity to reclaim his blossoming offensive role. Dallas will have several other running backs to service with Ezekiel Elliott joining veterans Darren McFadden and Alfred Morris. They also hope to have a healthy Dez Bryant commanding more catches. There will only be so much work to go around.

Reports are that Whitehead has been working hard to improve his physique, perhaps giving even more offensive potential. Ultimately, though, it will be his continued development and consistency on special teams that decides his fate. Dallas will find a way to keep him if they think he can be a game-changer on returns, and Lucky has certainly shown the potential to be just that.

Kick and punt returns are one the great x-factors in football. They can completely change the scoring potential of a drive or even result in a touch on a single play. There are usually only a few dynamic return men in the NFL at a given time and Lucky Whitehead has the potential to be one of them.

If he delivers, Lucky will be another big weapon as the Cowboys fight to get back to the playoffs.



Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

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Cowboys Offseason: Landon Collins Cleaned Out Locker, Set to be FA

John Williams

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Cowboys Headlines - #DALvsNYG: Dealing With Giants Safety Landon Collins

It's no secret that the Dallas Cowboys are heading into the 2019 offseason looking to upgrade at the safety position on a defense that finished inside the top 10 in 2018. With much of the focus on Earl Thomas, New York Giants Safety Landon Collins has become the center of attention in the last couple of days.

Per a report by Josina Anderson, Collins cleaned out his locker on Wednesday as he gets ready to go into free agency for the first time.

ig: josinaanderson on Twitter

I'm told that Giants S Landon Collins cleaned out his locker today at the team facility and said his goodbyes to teammates, coaches and trainers. It doesn't seem like Collins expects to be a Giant for much longer, per sources.

After Paul Schwartz attempted to assert that there was no claim to the report...

Paul Schwartz on Twitter

Attention those who care about the New York Giants: Landon Collins HAS NOT cleaned out his locker at the team facility. Repeat: Landon Collins HAS NOT cleaned out his locker at the team facility. Go about your business and have a nice day.

And Landon Collins had this to say...

LANDON COLLINS on Twitter

@NYPost_Schwartz The stuff in that locker that I have left I do not need💯

If cleaning out a locker is any kind of evidence, then Collins is prepared to hit the market when free agency opens on March 13th. He joins a loaded safety group that includes Thomas, Houston Texans Safety Tyrann Mathieu, Los Angeles Rams Safety LaMarcus Joyner, Glover Quin of the Detroit Lions, Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix formerly of the Green Bay Packers, but most recently of the Washington Redskins, and several others who could find new homes this offseason.

The Cowboys are very familiar with Landon Collins, as they've seen him nearly twice a year over the last four years. The three time Pro Bowler was one of the best players on the Giants defense. They would line him up in the box and at time use him to cover Cole Beasley.

Collins ranked first in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus in run stop percentage at 7.2%. Meaning on running snaps, he made a tackle that rendered the running play ineffective 7.2% of the time.For further reference, Jeff Heath made a run stop on 4.2% of his run plays, which was 15th in the NFL among safeties.

The only positions to have more of an impact on the running game were linebackers and the defensive line. Even if you include linebackers, his run stop percentage was 31st in the NFL. Leighton Vander Esch led the Dallas Cowboys with a run stop percentage of 11.3%, which was third among linebackers. Collins number nearly matched the run stop percentage of Jaylon Smith at 7.6%.

Add Collins to a defense that stops the run as well as the Dallas Cowboys did last season and you take your team to another level against the run.

Landon Collins will probably get the most money this offseason. He's only 25 and has had success in the NFL. Many teams will be reaching out to Collins when free agency opens and the Dallas Cowboys should certainly be one of those teams. Collins would be an excellent addition to the Dallas Cowboys defense and would allow Xavier Woods to stay in his role as the free safety.

We're just under three weeks away from the start of NFL free agency and the drama will only get bigger as the Cowboys look to add to their team.



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Report: Free Agent DL David Irving Not in Dallas Cowboys’ 2019 Plans

Jess Haynie

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David Irving

The Dallas Cowboys and troubled Defensive Lineman David Irving appear to be at an impasse. According to a report from David Moore of the Dallas Morning News, the team has "no intention" of trying to re-sign Irving and will allow him to become an unrestricted free agent.

Irving started the 2018 season with a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. He only appeared in two games after that, registering one sack and four tackles.

David Moore on Twitter

Source: Cowboys have no intention of keeping DT David Irving at this time https://t.co/vqMNZty6Aq via @sportsdaydfw

Despite reports of David's ongoing issues with an ankle injury, Dallas never placed him on injured reserve. Then came the reports that Irving was missing practices and team meetings while dealing with personal issues related to the custody of his daughter.

The team stayed pretty mum on the subject of Irving's status throughout the year, falling back on the ankle injury when pushed. But after months, it became clear that either David, the team, or both parties were disinterested in his return to football.

The Cowboys had high hopes after 2017, when Irving posted seven sacks in just eight games. They placed a second-round tender on him last offseason as a restricted free agent and were surely ready to give him a long-term deal if he'd built on that success.

But David's issues, physical or otherwise, have clearly done the opposite.

Dallas is known for working with troubled players, as we've recently seen with Randy Gregory. That they're closing the book on Irving suggests there's an issue with his desire towards football.

It's a sad loss for both. David's potential is enormous, as evidenced by his productivity when he actually does play. But he appears more likely to hit the Commissioner's exempt list in 2019 than the football field, given the reports of multiple failed drug tests over the last year.

Hopefully David Irving can turn things around one day and capitalize on his talent. But if it ever happens, it appears that it won't be with the Dallas Cowboys.



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BREAKING: WR Terrance Williams Gets Dropped by Dallas Cowboys

Jess Haynie

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Takeaway Tuesday: What We Learned From Cowboys Loss To Packers
AP Photo/Ron Jenkins

The Dallas Cowboys have ended their six-year relationship with Wide Receiver Terrance Williams. According to multiple sources, they have declined a team option on Williams' contract and he will now be an unrestricted free agent in 2019.

The move will reportedly save the Cowboys $2.25 million in salary space this year.

Williams was the team's third-round pick in 2013 and started 68 of the 83 games he played in. He developed into a solid number-two receiver by the end of his rookie deal in 2016 and was given a new four-year contract that offseason.

David Moore on Twitter

Terrance Williams career w/ the Cowboys is done. Sources say the club has declined the WR's option for 2019, making him a free agent. The move is no surprise. He caught just 2 passes for 18 yards last season. His departure frees up $2.25 million on the cap.

After another decent year in 2017, things took a bad turn for Terrance last season. It started with an offseason arrest for public intoxication that eventually led to a three-game suspension, although Williams served that while on injured reserve.

The Cowboys already appeared to be giving Williams' spot away when they made several offseason acquisitions at WR; Allen Hurns, Michael Gallup, and Tavon Austin all were brought in even before Terrance's arrest.

While Williams did start in two of Dallas' first three games in 2018, he only had three passes his thrown his way. The team finally put him on IR due to ongoing complications with a surgically-repaired foot.

While it didn't end well, Terrance Williams' time in Dallas was ultimately a solid return for a third-round pick. He made a few big plays and was a proficient run-blocker, good enough to start in almost 75% of the team's games since he was drafted.

The Cowboys now hope that another third-round pick, Michael Gallup in 2018, will do bigger and better things.



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