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2017 Free Agency: Market Flush With CB Options For Cowboys

Brian Martin

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Free Agent Cornerbacks The Cowboys Could Target

It would be completely understandable if the Dallas Cowboys’ focus this off-season was to do their best to upgrade the talent on the defensive side of the ball. Nearly everybody wants the Cowboys to improve their pass rush and they wouldn’t be wrong. I’ve already written about five defensive ends they could target in free agency, but I thought it was time to turn my attention to the cornerback position because the market is flush with options that could pique their interest once the 2017 free agency period opens up.

Two free agent CBs that the Cowboys are very familiar with are Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr. It’s a very real possibility that they could be brought back, but with Carr contemplating retirement and Claiborne’s long injury history, they might want to explore other options.

Fortunately for the Cowboys, there are some pretty good free agent CBs on the open market. There is everything from your high-level/big-money players down to your bargain bin contributors. Which group they decide to target will ultimately come down to how much money they are willing to spend on a veteran cornerback.

I decided to break down some of the available CBs into three different groups and only listed players that are in a certain age bracket, 27 years and younger. I did this because I wanted to show the variety of available players, while focusing on the ones that should be able to play out their entire contract.

Free Agent Cornerbacks The Cowboys Could Target 3Group 1

Stephon Gilmore (6’1″, 190)

Trumain Johnson (6’2″, 208)

Logan Ryan (5’11”, 195)

Obviously, this first group is what I believe to be the upper tier of the free agent cornerback class. It wouldn’t surprise me if all three of these CBs sign a long-term contract that has them making about an average of $14 million a year.

I’m not sure any of them is what the Cowboys would be looking for because of the money they would have to invest in bringing them aboard. They were kind of burned the last time they signed a CB to that kind of money. Yes, I’m talking about Brandon Carr.

If they do decide to go this route though, I believe Stephon Gilmore would be the top target.  Gilmore has the size and speed that they look for in their cornerbacks and he is just 26 years old.

Gilmore had five interceptions in 2016 with the Buffalo Bills and has a total of 14 in his first five years in the NFL. That is exactly the type of ball hawking ability that will make him a top paid CB in 2017 and exactly why the Dallas Cowboys could possibly make him a top priority free agent signing.

Free Agent Cornerbacks The Cowboys Could Target 2

Group 2

A.J. Bouye (6’0″, 190)

Dre Kirkpatrick (6’2″, 185)

Marcus Cooper (6’2″, 192)

A.J. Bouye, Dre Kirkpatrick, and Marcus Cooper are the cornerbacks I have in the second tier in the 2017 free agent class. All three of these players have the upside to be the #1 CB for the team that signs them, but they are also somewhat unproven at this point in their careers.

My personal pick for the Dallas Cowboys out of this group would be A.J. Bouye. He really just has one year of starting experience, but had a fantastic 2016 season for the Houston Texans.

Bouye played like one of the better cornerbacks in the NFL last season. He is a sure tackler and pretty much shut down any wide receiver he was asked to cover. He is also just 25 years old.

Bouye’s arrow is trending upwards, but any team that signs him would be doing so based on his potential rather than what he has been able to accomplish so far in his career. This might be a gamble that the Cowboys aren’t willing to take, but that could change if his asking price isn’t too much.

Free Agent Cornerbacks The Cowboys Could Target 1Group 3

D.J. Hayden (5’11”, 190)

Justin Gilbert (6’0″, 202)

Prince Amukamara (6’0″, 202)

In all honesty, this is probably the group that the Dallas Cowboys will focus their attention on the most if they do indeed decide to add a CB through free agency. This is because the Cowboys have shown in the past few offseasons that they would rather bargain shop to fill holes in the roster.

I’ve already written about why I think the Cowboys should take a chance on Justin Gilbert, but just about everything that was said in that article about Gilbert could probably be said about D.J. Hayden as well. Both players have failed to live up to their draft status, but they are both still young and given the chance could be a really good signing.

Prince Amukamara on the other hand doesn’t have the upside of of either Gilbert or Hayden, but he is a solid player. His signing would add depth to the CB position, but he’s probably not somebody you want if you’re looking for an upgrade.

I personally wouldn’t mind seeing either Hayden or Gilbert signed by the Cowboys. I think it would be a low risk high reward type situation and would add valuable depth if nothing else. Of course, they wouldn’t likely break the bank either, which is a huge plus.

Should the Dallas Cowboys target any of these free agent cornerbacks?

Let me know what you think in the comment section below.

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Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys Losing Linebackers Coach Matt Eberflus to Colts

Jess Haynie

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Matt Eberflus, Sean Lee

Multiple sources are reporting Matt Eberflus — who has been the linebackers coach and passing game coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys — will leave to join the Indianapolis Colts as the new defensive coordinator. Eberflus has been with Dallas since 2011, having joined Rob Ryan’s staff when Ryan become the coordinator for the Cowboys’ defense.

He has been the linebackers coach during his entire Dallas tenure and was also named passing game coordinator in 2016.

Tom Pelissero on Twitter

With Josh McDaniels ticketed for the #Colts, former #Cowboys assistant Matt Eberflus is expected to come along as defensive coordinator, I’m told. Lot of parts falling in place now.

If not the Colts, some thought Matt Eberflus might end up replacing Matt Patricia as the defensive coordinator in New England. Either way, it does not appear Dallas could have kept him around while Rod Marinelli remains in his current position.

Eberflus’ work in Dallas speaks for itself, and primarily through LB Sean Lee.

He has been Lee’s position coach for all but his rookie season, and in that time Lee has been one of the top defensive players in all of football.

Beyond Lee, Eberflus has also been able to get quality play out of mid-round picks like Anthony Hitchens and Damien Wilson. We also saw Jaylon Smith make significant progress this season.

Given Matt Eberflus has never worked with Josh McDaniels before, the fact he was on the Colts’ radar says a lot.

Make no mistake; the Cowboys lost a good one here.

Don’t panic, however. Coach Marinelli has cast a very wide net during his time in the NFL and there are a lot of potential guys, some with plenty of experience, that Dallas might look to.

It’s entirely possible that Eberflus’ replacement will be someone who Marinelli spends 2018 grooming to take over as the defensive coordinator.

Still, of all the coaching changes so far for Dallas, this one hurts most.

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Cowboys Hire Longtime Bengals OL Coach Paul Alexander

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Hire Longtime Bengals OL Coach Paul Alexander

Thus far the 2018 offseason has brought a plethora of change to the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Now it is being reported the Cowboys have hired a brand new offensive line coach, former Cincinnati Bengals’ Offensive Line Coach Paul Alexander.

Alex Marvez on Twitter

Source tells @sportingnews that Paul Alexander hired as new @dallascowboys offensive line coach

Alexander coached with the Bengals for over 20 years, and replaces the same man in Dallas who replaces him in Cincinnati, Frank Pollack. Alexander has also been the Bengals assistant head coach since 2003.

The Cowboys recently lost an assistant head coach when Special Teams Coordinator Rich Bisaccia left for Jon Gruden’s Oakland Raiders.

Per usual, the hire has been met with mixed reactions from Cowboys Nation.

Joey Ickes on Twitter

Since 2003, CIN has had only one season where they finished top-10 in Yards per attempt on the ground… They’ve been bottom-5 in the league 5 times in that span… That’s the OL Coach DAL just hired.

The hiring of an offensive line coach who’s rushing attack finished bottom five in the league in rushing yards per attempt five times since 2003 doesn’t look too great on paper. He will also teach with different techniques and styles than previous Cowboys OL coaches, which could potentially set back the offensive line early in the season.

Plus, respected Bengals’ writer Joe Goodberry did not exactly love the hire for the Cowboys.

Goodberry on Twitter

Pretty bad https://t.co/fysjZqCQ6l

Regardless, this is still a very talented offensive line and one which should lead an effective ground attack based on their talent alone. 2017 proved further that coaching matters a lot in the NFL however, and the wrong hire could set back even the most talented of units.

We will just have to wait and see how this 2018 season ends up playing out.

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Mike Solari, Paul Alexander Candidates for Cowboys Vacant OL Coaching Job

Sean Martin

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Mike Solari, Paul Alexander Candidates For Cowboys Vacant OL Coach Job 1

By keeping all three top coaches (Jason Garrett, Scott Linehan, and Rod Marinelli) in place for 2018, there isn’t a Dallas Cowboys coaching hire that feels like they “must” get it right to contend next season. This is how it should be.

Producing nine wins, despite missing key players throughout the season, the Cowboys are changing things up at the position coach level to hopefully introduce new ideas and give the talent on this team a better chance at sustained success.

One coaching vacancy that needs to be filled by the right guy above any else is on the offensive line, where things haven’t been the same since the great Bill Callahan departed.

Frank Pollack took his place, and now finds himself with the Cincinnati Bengals after not being retained by Dallas this offseason.

Mike Solari, Paul Alexander Candidates For Cowboys Vacant OL Coach Job

Tom Cable (Stephen Brashear / Getty Images)

The first name that was thrown around in consideration for the Cowboys job was Tom Cable, which sent a panic throughout Cowboys Nation before Cable decided to sign with John Gruden and the Raiders.

Cable had been coaching the Seahawks’ OL, a position that franchise has not valued in some time, and struggled to develop any talent in protection of their franchise QB Russell Wilson.

Now, two new names have emerged as candidates to coach the likes of two-time 1st Team All-Pro LT Tyron Smith, 1st Team All-Pro C Travis Frederick, and two-time 1st Team All-Pro RG Zack Martin.

Mike Solari and Paul Alexander

Paul Alexander has already met with the Dallas Cowboys, looking for work after 23 seasons with the Bengals. During this time, Alexander served as Marvin Lewis’ assistant head coach, in addition to his duties as their OL coach.

Judging on reactions out of Cincinnati to Alexander’s departure, the Bengals offensive line regressed under him in 2017, warranting change from a franchise that is as reluctant as any to move on from coaches.

Goodberry on Twitter

Paul Alexander better be gone

Most recently, Mike Solari has served as the offensive line coach for the New York Giants — far from a renowned unit around the NFL lately. He does have previous experience with the Cowboys, having served as an assistant OL and special teams coach here from 1987-88.

From 2006-07, Solari did reach the rank of offensive coordinator with the Kansas City Chiefs, which shows the level of respect that the 30-year NFL coaching veteran has earned.

He will be the Dallas Cowboys’ next interview for their open OL coach position.

Cowboys at Raiders: La'el Collins Faces Toughest Test Yet In Khalil Mack 1

Dallas Cowboys RT La’el Collins, RG Zack Martin

Depth at tackle, a long-term answer at left guard, and an extension for Zack Martin are among the questions facing the Cowboys offensive line moving forward. Whoever is in charge of keeping this unit up to standard in 2018 though, may hold the keys to getting the entirety of the Cowboys’ program back on track.

Whether it’s Alexander, Solari, or another outside candidate yet to emerge, Inside The Star will keep you updated on the Cowboys’ ongoing coaching search.

Tell us what you think about “Mike Solari, Paul Alexander Candidates for Cowboys Vacant OL Coaching Job” in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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