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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.



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.

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Dallas Cowboys

Ezekiel Elliott vs Byron Jones Part II: The Case For Paying Zeke

John Williams

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New York Giants are 2-1 Against Cowboys With Ezekiel Elliott

It's a debate that has raged on social media for some time now and it likely won't slow down as the offseason progresses and the Dallas Cowboys begin to hand out massive contracts to their top players. Pay Ezekiel Elliott? Pay Byron Jones? If you could only pay one, which would you pay?

This week fellow Inside The Star Staff Writer, Kevin Brady took to Twitter to poll the populous and his results were a bit surprising to me.

Kevin Brady on Twitter

if you can only pay one it should be

The results inspired me to see what would happen if I put the same poll on my timeline.

John Williams ✭ on Twitter

Inspired by my teammate @KevinBrady88, if you can only pay one, which would it be?

On Monday, Kevin wrote a piece looking at one of the difficult decisions facing the Dallas Cowboys this offseason or next. If the Cowboys could only extend Byron Jones OR Ezekiel Elliott, who should they choose? Kevin, as am I, is a firm believer in Byron Jones ability and says the Cowboys should extend them, and I agree. But let's look at the other side of the argument.

To begin, the Cowboys should and probably will get both guys contract extensions either this offseason or next. It's not impossible with the cap continuing to increase at a rate of about $8-12 million per year that the Cowboys will have the space to get the deals done that they need to get done. Ezekiel Elliott and Byron Jones included.

Byron Jones settled in nicely at cornerback during his first full season at cornerback and knowing what we know about Jones, he won't be satisfied with a second team All-Pro appearance. Expect him to get better. However, if there's a single player that represents the current identity of the Dallas Cowboys, it's Running Back Ezekiel Elliott.

The Cowboys made him the fourth overall pick in 2016 and haven't looked back in their plan to establish the running game. For his career Elliott has averaged 26.9 touches per game over the course of his 40 games.

Here's a look at what Elliott's per game and per 16 game paces look like through the first three seasons of his career.

As you can see from the table above, Ezekiel Elliott is averaging 131.2 total yards per game for his career. In his rookie season he had 1,994 total yards and he sat out the week 17 game against the Philadelphia Eagles when the Cowboys had the NFC and home field advantage locked up. In 2017, Elliott sat out six games and still had nearly 1,000 yards rushing. In 2018, Elliott broke through the 2,000 total yard barrier after seeing a huge increase in his targets and receptions.

Ezekiel Elliott has been everything the Dallas Cowboys could have hoped for and more. With the leadership role he's taken with the team, he's a player that leads both vocally and by example. There are few players on the Dallas Cowboys that give as much effort as he does each snap. How many times has it looked like Elliott was about to get dropped for a two or three yard loss only to grind through tackles to pick up a four yard gain? How many times has he bounced off tacklers to get to the first down marker? Ezekiel Elliott is the human personification of dirty yards, but don't let that fool you into thinking that Elliott can't take it to the house every time he touches the ball. Elliott's is a game breaker who threatens the defense every time he steps on the field.

In 2018, Elliott led the NFL in yards after contact, per Pro Football Focus. His 949 yards after contact in 2018 would have ranked 13th in the NFL in rushing, which was better than David Johnson's 940 yards rushing last season.

Not many running backs effect a football game like Ezekiel Elliott does.

Few players outside of the quarterback position are as much of a focal point for their offense while being an attention grabber for opposing defenses like Ezekiel Elliott is. In 2018, he saw eight or more men in the box on nearly 25% of his carries in 2018. Some of that is related to the Dallas Cowboys insistence on using two tight ends on 50% of their running plays (per Sharp Football), but the other aspect is related to how much they respect the Dallas Cowboys running game. Since the 2014, the Cowboys have been synonymous with running the football. DeMarco Murray, Darren McFadden, and now Ezekiel Elliott have been the faces of that running game behind the Cowboys elite offensive line.

Even in a down year for offensive line play from the Dallas Cowboys, Elliott still managed to lead the NFL in rushing for the second time in three seasons. Elliott made the Pro Bowl for the second time in three years as well. Were it not for the railroad job done by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in 2017, there's a really good chance that Elliott leads the league in rushing three years in a row and that the Dallas Cowboys make the playoffs all three seasons.

Sure, the running back position is undervalued in the NFL and rushing yardage can be replaced, but there are intangibles to Elliott's game that are very difficult to replace. His ability to grind out the dirty yards, break big plays, create yards after contact, pass protect, be a threat as a receiver, and his leadership make him a player that is difficult to replace.

Yes, Byron Jones was really good in 2018 and deserves to get paid by the Dallas Cowboys as well, but you'd be hard pressed to find a player on the Cowboys roster who has been as consistent and dominating week in and week out as Ezekiel Elliott has been over the last three years.



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BREAKING: Cowboys Sign Ex-Packers WR Randall Cobb

Brian Martin

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BREAKING: Cowboys Sign Ex-Packers WR Randall Cobb

According to multiple sources, the Dallas Cowboys have signed former Green Bay Packers Wide Receiver Randall Cobb to a one-year deal to help bolster their depth at the WR position and potentially become Cole Beasley's replacement.

Adam Schefter on Twitter

Cowboys are giving former Packers' WR Randall Cobb a one-year, $5 million deal, per source. https://t.co/8KWFPjSP8T

The Dallas Cowboys met with Randall Cobb earlier this week, but he eventually left Dallas without a contract. He must've had a change of heart or just needed time to ponder the Cowboys offer, but regardless of what transpired in that short time he is now part of America's Team.

During his time with the Packers, Cobb accumulated 470 receptions for 5,524 receiving yards and 41 touchdowns. The eight-year veteran will now be expected to replace some of Cole Beasley's production out of the slot for the Dallas Cowboys.

After years of watching Beasley as the Cowboys slot WR, it will be really interesting to see Randall Cobb in that role. He's not as quick twitched as No. 11, but can be just as dangerous due to his ability to be more of a down the field receiver. He also brings added value in the return game and could compete with Tavon Austin to become the return specialist.

This could mean the Cowboys forgo drafting a wide receiver early in the 2019 NFL Draft, but I wouldn't put it past them. Regardless of what happens, this is an excellent addition.

Welcome to Cowboys Nation Randall Cobb!



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REPORT: Dallas Cowboys Re-sign Long Snapper L.P. Ladouceur

Jess Haynie

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L.P. Ladouceur

L.P. Ladouceur is returning for his 15th season as the Cowboys' long snapper. The veteran free agent was re-signed by Dalals today to a one-year deal.

Thanks to Jason Witten's one-year sabbatical with Monday Night Football, Ladouceur has now been with the Cowboys for more consecutive seasons than any current player. He just turned 38 last week, but Louis-Philippe remains one of the top long snappers in football.

Todd Archer on Twitter

The Cowboys have signed long-snapper L.P. Ladouceur to a one-year deal worth $1.03 million and $90,000 in bonus money, but he will count $735,000 against the cap. This will be Ladouceur's 15th season with the Cowboys, tying Ed "Too Tall" Jones, Mark... https://t.co/2iDsi6RX7e

Retaining Ladouceur is an underrated move for the Cowboys given their situation at kicker.

Brett Maher was only 80% accurate overall on field goals last year. The team could be considering an upgrade in free agency.

Whether they bring Maher back or try someone new, having a long snapper with Ladouceur's performance perfection will make things much easier for them.



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