The Dallas Cowboys 2016 Training Camp begins the end of this week!
We're as excited as you are! To whet our appetites even more for the return of football, our Inside The Star team worked together to compose a six-part Camp Preview Series.
To kick things off, we each shared what our most anticipated position battle will be for this 2016 camp:
Brian Martin ( @bmart0204 ) I’m really interested to see how the wide receiver position shakes out, but let's be honest, starters are pretty much set.
I think the best position battle will end up being the cornerback position. I think Orlando Scandrick will start on the left side and Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne will compete to see who starts on the right side.
Scandrick’s return makes this position battle really interesting.
Bryson Treece ( @BrysonTreece ) - Wide Receiver. Terrance Williams, Brice Butler, Cole Beasley, Lucky Whitehead... who lands where will have a huge impact on the season. The guy lining up opposite Dez Bryant will have opportunities to change the outcome of games.
Ian Koplowitz ( @BleedingTheStar ) - While the wide receiver situations seem far from set for both Terrance Williams and Lucky Whitehead, I can't help but to think that the battle for defensive end, on both sides, will be heated.
What people think is that the battle is between guys like Mayowa, Russell, Irving, Crawford, and Tapper, but you can't take Randy Gregory out of the conversation. Just because he's sitting out the first four games, doesn't mean he can't be beaten out when he gets back. He wants that starting job when he gets back, and he'll have to fight for it in Oxnard.
Jess Haynie ( @CowboysAddicts ) - It has to be Brice Butler and Terrance Williams, right? Not only is a starting job on the line but both guys are free agents after this year. Fighting for pride and playing time are great, but history has proven that money is what pushes guys to new heights. Will one of them crack under the pressure?
Kevin Brady ( @KevinBrady88 ) - The most intriguing position battle to me is at wide receiver. I expect the Cowboys to keep five receivers, and with Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, and Cole Beasley already just about locked into the roster, there are only two spots left with three guys competing.
Lucky Whitehead is going to be hard to cut given his versatility, and Brice Butler will be hard to pass on given his length and promising attributes. That leaves Devin Street, whose time in Dallas may be up come training camp.
RJ Ochoa ( @RJOchoa ) - Among the saddest things in Cowboys lore (Danny White's inability to reach the Super Bowl, the 1994 NFC Championship Game, the 2015 season, etc.) resides the 2016 Dallas Cowboys Middle Linebacker competition.
Sean Lee is there, sweet action, but that means he's in line for some serious wear and tear. Rolando McClain isn't there, but he is... so hip, hip, hooray. It's going to be very interesting to see who comes out on top between Justin Durant, Damien Wilson, Mark Nzeocha, and the rest of that fun bunch.
Sean Martin ( @ShoreSportsNJ ) - I'm going to be keeping the closest eye on the battle between Brice Butler and Terrance Williams. While having Dez along with Romo and Ezekiel Elliott is a great start, this offense is not going to be elite without a consistent play maker at WR2.
For Williams, the problem has been falling off the map entirely, and that is something that will need to change throughout camp. Butler, of course, does not have the same chemistry but could be a guy that benefits greatly from working with Romo. If Kellen Moore was able to get the ball into his hands at the end of 2015 (with some explosive results), watch out for what a healthy Romo can do for Butler.
At the same time, I really do expect Terrance Williams to make this competition interesting. Williams has the upper-hand over Butler if he is even close to productive - knowing how much this coaching staff values continuity.
~ ~ ~
Here are the categories still to come this week...
Biggest Name to be Cut - Tues
Strongest Position - Wed
Weakest Position - Thurs
Favorite Dark Horse - Fri
Most Likely Starting Job Change - Sat
All of this, and much more, as Inside The Star helps get you ready for another season of Dallas Cowboys football!
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.
Terrance Williams Contract Creates 2018 Job Security
There's been a lot of talk about what the Dallas Cowboys will do at the receiver position this offseason. While there's a great divide on what the team should do with Dez Bryant, there's a fairly unanimous opinion that Dallas should find an upgrade over Terrance Williams. No matter where he ends up on the depth chart, though, Williams' contract should keep him on the roster in 2018.
Last offseason, Terrance signed a four-year, $17 million deal to stay in Dallas. Because we are now just in the second year of that deal, it is cost prohibitive against the salary cap to release or trade him.
Williams is scheduled to count $4.75 million against the 2018 cap. If Dallas were to cut him, it would accelerate his remaining guaranteed money and create $7.25 million in dead money this year. He would cost more against the cap off the roster than on it.
Even the June-1st provision doesn't help. Williams' dead money in 2018 drops to $4.75 million, which is a net zero against his existing cap hit. It would also push $2.5 million of dead money to 2019. There's no benefit there, and you lose an experienced player who knows your system.
If the Cowboys do like their WR depth enough to want to move on from Terrance, one option is to try to trade him. A trade would lower the cap penalty to $3.75 million and save $1 million. If he's traded after June 1st, it would save $3.5 million against this year's cap.
Of course, it takes two to tango in this scenario. Williams hasn't scored a touchdown since 2016 and has never proven he can take on a significant role in an offense. He was serviceable when Dez Bryant and Jason Witten commanded more attention, but he's a low-end WR2 at best and many teams likely wouldn't want him in their top 2-3 receivers.
Perhaps something could happen during training camps or preseason, when injuries may make other teams desperate. Then again, something could happen in Dallas that makes them less willing to part with Terrance.
As it stands, it seems unlikely that Terrance Williams won't be a Cowboy in 2018. And really, that's not bad thing.
Even if he gets pushed down the depth chart, Terrance would be a good insurance policy against injuries or any other issues that could happen between now and September. $4.75 million is more than you'd like to pay your fourth WR but it's a one-year problem.
If the Cowboys do add more WR talent this offseason, there is a trickle-down effect that strengthens the entire club. Williams, with his experience, is an upgrade over Brice Butler as the fourth receiver.
Therefore, unless circumstances both here and elsewhere allow Dallas to find a trade partner, Terrance Williams should be back next year.
Cowboys Trade for FB Jamize Olawale from Raiders
Less than a week after the Cowboys lost fullback Keith Smith to the Raiders in free agency, the two teams have worked out a trade to send FB Jamize Olawale from Oakland to Dallas.
Fullback trade! The #Raiders are sending FB Jamize Olawale to the #Cowboys, sources say. Dallas has its fullback, one who was with Oakland since 2012.
To facilitate the trade, the Cowboys will send their fifth-round pick (173rd overall) to the Raiders for their sixth-round pick (192nd), moving back just 19 spots.
In return, Dallas not only brings in a veteran replacement at FB but a player they already know.
Jamize Olawale was an undrafted rookie free agent of the Cowboys in 2012. Despite a strong showing in that preseason, Dallas did not have room for him on the roster. He was on the team's practice squad until December, when Oakland poached him.
Since then, Olawale has been a regular roleplayer in the Raiders' offense. He's missed just six games since 2013.
Jamize brings more offensive firepower to the FB position than Keith Smith had. He's scored at least one touchdown in each of the last three seasons. He can be effective both running and receiving.
Through the trade, Dallas picks up the final year of Olawale's current contract. It calls for a $1.5 million base salary in 2018.
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