The Cowboys don't have many significant players with expiring contracts in 2017, but one key defender is going to be looking for a new deal. Linebacker Anthony Hitchens, whose rookie contract is coming to an end, will be an unrestricted free agent after this season.
Hitchens has started in 36 of the Cowboys' 48 regular season games over the last three seasons. His 11 starts as a rookie were unexpected due to injuries with Sean Lee and Rolando McClain, but Anthony was solid and at times even shined with this early workload. He has remained a steady and valuable presence for the defense, playing all three LB positions at times.
Odd Man Out?
Despite his track record and starting in all 16 games last season, Hitchens may wind up on the bench in 2017. The highly-anticipated debut of Jaylon Smith should take up the middle LB spot. Last year's strong-side LB, Damien Wilson, started to break out in 2016 and should be even better in his third season. And of course, Sean Lee is a fixture on the weak side.
This scenario is hardly ideal for Anthony Hitchens with free agency looming. While he could get a new deal from Dallas to be a versatile primary reserve, he obviously will want a chance to be a starter and earn starter money. Losing plays this season as a backup robs him of opportunities to impress potential new teams.
Obviously, Hitchens becoming a bench player is only an assumption. He could very well beat out Damien Wilson for the SAM role, or have to play one of the other two spots if something bad happens. As it has more than once during his Cowboys career, Anthony's playing time may come unexpectedly.
As our own Kevin Brady wrote about yesterday, Anthony Hitchens may not be going away quietly. His current job and future employment are on the line with millions of dollars at stake. He should be as motivated as ever in 2017, which can only be of benefit to the Cowboys.
With those 36 starts and other playing time under his belt, Hitchens isn't unknown to the rest of the NFL. If he does end up on the bench in Dallas, could the Cowboys find a linebacker-needy team that would trade for him?
Given the uncertainty around Jaylon Smith's health, giving up Hitchens is a risky prospect. He is easily the team's best second option at middle linebacker. Even if Smith gets through training camp and preseason unscathed, do you really want to drop your best insurance policy at any point in 2017?
If Dallas would even consider trading Hitchens, it wouldn't be until after preseason. This is often when you see teams trying to move their surplus players for future drafts picks or to fill positions of need. Because Hitchens could be the primary backup at all three LB spots, he wouldn't get traded until there's more certainty and fewer opportunities for disaster.
Unfortunately for Hitchens, his versatility might make him too valuable to give up. While the Cowboys would like to get something for him before he walks away in free agency, his 2017 role could still be vital.
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.
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!
REPORT: Dallas Cowboys Re-sign Long Snapper 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.
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.
REPORT: Cowboys Negotiating Trade with Dolphins for DE Robert Quinn
According to a report just minutes ago, the Dallas Cowboys are visiting with Miami Dolphins' Defensive End Robert Quinn today as part of a possible trade. Miami is looking for a trade partner to try to get something back for Quinn before making him a salary cap casualty.
Quinn is in the final year of his contract and is set to count $12.9 million against the Dolphins' salary cap. Most of that is his base salary of $11.8 million, which Miami is reportedly willing to pay part of to help facilitate a trade.
Robert Quinn was spotted today on his way to visit the #Cowboys, who are in trade talks with the #Dolphins for the veteran DE, sources say. Quinn would need to agree to any deal. So, this is another step in the process, with a Dallas team that obviously needs pass rush.
The Cowboys need DE help with DeMarcus Lawrence's contract still unresolved and Randy Gregory now indefinitely suspended for another drug policy violation. They signed Kerry Hyder from the Lions yesterday, but he isn't a proven commodity like Quinn.
Turning 29 in May, Robert Quinn is a two-time Pro Bowler and former first-round pick of the Rams. He hasn't had the same production in recent years but still had 6.5 sacks for Miami in 2018 and 8.5 the prior year with Los Angeles.
Ever the bargain shoppers these days, Dallas is probably hoping to get Quinn for late-round draft pick or perhaps a pick swap.
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