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Which 2018 Free Agents Will The Dallas Cowboys Retain?

Brian Martin

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Which 2018 Free Agents Will The Cowboys Retain? 1
(Photo by Andrew Dieb/Icon Sportwire)

With the completion of Week 5 of the 2017 NFL season, the Dallas Cowboys have now officially started their bye week. This is the time where teams around the NFL use to get healthy and examine what is working and what is not. The Cowboys coaching staff would be wise to use this time to their advantage and soak up as much information as possible.

Since news will be pretty slow regarding the Dallas Cowboys for a while, I thought it would be a good time to examine who will become a free agent at the end of the season and which players the Cowboys might like to retain. Below is a list of those 2018 free agents.

Byron Bell, T
Bene Benwikere, CB
Brice Butler, WR
Jonathan Cooper, G
Justin Durant, LB
Rico Gathers, TE (ERFA)
Anthony Hitchens, LB
David Irving, DT (RFA)
L.P. Ladouceur, LS
DeMarcus Lawrence, DE
Joe Looney, G/C
Darren McFadden, RB
Kellen Moore, QB
Alfred Morris, RB
Stephen Paea, DT
Brian Price, DT (ERFA)
Keith Smith, LB (RFA)
Kyle Wilber, LB

*Restricted Free Agent (RFA)
*Exclusive Rights Free Agent (ERFA)

After looking at the Dallas Cowboys players who will become free agents in 2018, there's not really anybody that stands out with the exception of maybe DeMarcus Lawrence. Lawrence is having a fantastic season so far, but he is likely playing himself out of the Cowboys price range.

I think it's unlikely the Cowboys re-sign Lawrence. I think there will be some team out there willing to pay more than the Cowboys are, plus there's always the concern his back injury flares up again. Of course, the franchise tag is always an option, but I don't think the Cowboys would go that route.

Defensive lineman David Irving is another player that stands out among the Dallas Cowboys 2018 free agents. But, there is no way he is going anywhere. The Cowboys could sign him to a contract extension after the season, but it's much more likely they place a first or second round tender on him securing his service for another year.

I would love for Anthony Hitchens to stick around, but I don't think the Dallas Cowboys can guarantee him a starting spot. Like Lawrence, I think another team will pay him more than the Cowboys and give him a better chance to start. But, Hitchens may prefer to stay in Dallas and be willing to take a hometown discount.

The Cowboys could try to bring back Jonathan Cooper or Joe Looney for depth purposes. Both can play guard or center, which is valuable on game days. But, I think the Cowboys will look to add depth through the draft.

I hate to say it, but it might be time for the Dallas Cowboys to find another long snapper. L.P. Ladouceur is no spring chicken and might be ready to hang up his cleats. I would love to have him back, but only at a reasonable price.

The only other player I think the Dallas Cowboys may consider bringing back is FB/LB Keith Smith. Smith likely won't break the bank and is a valuable member of the team. He is a core special-teams player, the starting fullback, and a reserve linebacker. I wouldn't be surprised if he is back with the Cowboys in 2018.

Which 2018 free agents do you think the Dallas Cowboys retain?



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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11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. Anthony Ceniccola

    October 11, 2017 at 7:45 am

    my hopes and the reality are pretty separated. Irving is priority on my list, then below is hitch, butler and cooper. lawrence as you state will probably break the bank elsewhere. id like to turn the attention to another solid draft and a little more action in FA involving the defense

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      October 11, 2017 at 5:41 pm

      I think Irving is definitely a priority. I think the Cowboys should offer him an extension this off-season before he gets too expensive. They are going to continue to build the defense that the draft and fill in holes with cost-effective FAs like they have been doing.

  2. Kevon Manahan

    October 11, 2017 at 4:02 pm

    Irving should definitely be out top priority, he’s our best pass rusher. We also should bring back Butler because T Will can’t catch with his hands which led to a pick-6 and completely changed the game against the packers.

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      October 11, 2017 at 5:42 pm

      I don’t know if they will bring back Butler. I think they might draft a WR early.

      • Kevon Manahan

        October 12, 2017 at 3:43 pm

        Butler has made more dynamic/highlight plays than any other receiver on our team. If we can get him for a reasonable price, we should definitely resign him. And why won’t Linehan run any plays for Beasley, who looked unstoppable last season, or even Switzer, who has a similar skill set.

        • Brian Martin

          Brian Martin

          October 12, 2017 at 4:07 pm

          I kind of doubt Butler re-signs with Dallas. I think someone will take a chance on his potential and offer him more money. The only way I see it happening is if the Cowboys trade Williams, but I think that’s unlikely.

          And I’m right there with you on Linehan’s playcalling. I have no idea why Beasley hasn’t been more involved.

  3. EverybodyTalks

    October 14, 2017 at 11:20 pm

    “Going with the here and Now” – Paea (retired), Benwikere, Durant, Morris, DMac, Morris and Wilbur will be cut. If Zeke does his 6 games this season, then we draft a RB and keep 54. Paea is retired, we need that filled in the draft, with maybe DaRon Payne or Vita Vea. If DLaw continues his sack success, then I think he gets the franchise tag. Irving needs to be signed. It still makes me wonder what they will do with Randy Gregory next year? Another question mark to me is Brice Butler. He seems to be maturing and has made some splash plays, but.. (you know). Just not sure with Butler. Courtland Sutton looks interesting as a WR draft pick, as does DJ Chard. Kellen Moore was cut this year and will be cut again. Cooper Rush becomes the back-up and we pick up a later round QB in the draft (i.e.: Nick Fitzgerald, JT Barrett). I think they sign Hitchens, Rico, Keith Smith, L.P. Ladouceur (can’t break up the 3 amigos), Like Butler, I’m unsure if they keep Bell, Looney, Cooper or even Chaz for that matter. Those guys still need to be sorted out. It wasn’t sorted in the preseason, so hopefully we have a cleaner view by the end of the season.

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      October 15, 2017 at 9:33 am

      I agree with just about everything you said. However, I don’t think they re-sign Butler. I think the only way that would happen is that the Cowboys somehow traded Williams.

      • EverybodyTalks

        October 15, 2017 at 4:26 pm

        I’m on the fence with Butler, but “Going with the here and Now” he needs to be more consistent in order to be resigned. I would like to see us sign a WR in the draft for a number of reasons. Dez isn’t getting any younger and the rest of our WRs can’t seem to separate.

        • Brian Martin

          Brian Martin

          October 15, 2017 at 4:39 pm

          If the Cowboys draft a WR, it would likely be a player to replace Dez Bryant at some point. Honestly, I don’t think the Cowboys WRs are the problem. I think we need to see better playcalling from Scott Linehan. He doesn’t do a very good job of putting them in favorable matchups, especially Bryant.

          • EverybodyTalks

            October 17, 2017 at 11:10 pm

            Dez is a 50-50 WR. He jumps better than he runs. He is great at that. I think he needs to turn into Larry Fitzgerald and play more in the slot. He has the strength for it also. From there, it opens up a WR need on the outside. If we aren’t resigning Brice Butler, then we need a deep threat. As far as the play calling, it definitely needs some creativity. Where is the Dez pass to Witten stuff??

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Star Blog

2018 In Review: Byron Jones Emerges As CB1

Kevin Brady

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Byron Jones

Heading into the 2018 season Byron Jones was being asked to prove himself. The former first round pick had fallen out of the coaches' good graces during his third season, though many of his struggles could be attributed to those very coaches which were then questioning his ability.

Being asked to play out of position, or at least in a spot which did not maximize his natural ability, Jones struggled in 2017. Too often he was playing in the box as a safety where his lack of physicality was exposed by the opponent's run game. This was mostly due to the coaching staff falling in love with his tight-end-erasing ability in man coverage, but backfired when overused as a safety.

Once hired the following offseason, Kris Richard and company decided to move Byron Jones to cornerback full time, allowing him to utilize his excellent coverage skills and athletic ability to the fullest, rather than putting him at a disadvantage in the box.

The results? Well, Jones had one of the best seasons of any cornerback in football, earning All Pro and Pro Bowl honors for the first time in his young career.

Pro Football Focus on Twitter

Byron Jones had a dominant season for Dallas

Pro Football Focus graded Jones as the sixth best cornerback in all of football last season, allowing just 0.79 yards per coverage snap. Despite not having an interception on the season, Jones still earned national recognition as one of the best cornerbacks in the entire league.

Down the stretch of the season, Chidobe Awuzie started to play up to the level which fans had hoped for during the preseason. He had been sticky in coverage most of the year, but now he was making plays on the ball at a much better rate, forcing incompletions. This led to an increase in targets to Jones' side, and though the increase resulted in more catches given up by the number one cornerback, I don't think Jones' play faltered as much as some will have you believe.

The fact is, when you get targeted more you are bound to give up more catches and yards. The key is to force them into contested catches, and make things as difficult for the receiver as possible when targeted.

Byron Jones continued to do this all season long, and fans should be excited for the next step of his growth in 2019.



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Star Blog

Cowboys en Español: Comentando el Tope Salarial

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Time to Stop Making Excuses for QB Dak Prescott?

Por muchos años, el tema del tope salarial ha sido un tema sensible para los Dallas Cowboys. Entre dinero muerto y otros problemas, el equipo ha tenido una situación delicada en este aspecto. Sin embargo, para la temporada del 2019 tienen más espacio de lo que estamos acostumbrados.

Según Over The Cap, los Cowboys tendrán aproximadamente 48 millones de dólares disponibles en 2019. Es importante recalcar que este número no es definitivo y puede cambiar. Año tras año, esta administración ha sido aficionada de reestructurar los contratos de ciertos veteranos para liberar espacio salarial constantemente. Además de esto, hay varios jugadores bajo contrato que el equipo podría decidir cortar para liberar aún más dinero.

Al ver sólo 48 millones disponibles, es complicado imaginar un escenario en que el equipo logre satisfacer todos sus objetivos. Hay bastantes candidatos a grandes extensiones en el equipo, principalmente dos jugadores. En una liga en la que quarterback es la posición más importante, la segunda más importante podría ser la del caza cabezas, cuyo objetivo es ir tras el quarterback contrario.

DeMarcus Lawrence, Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks

Pues en Dallas, hoy dos  jugadores en estas posiciones que hay que extender. El más urgente sin duda es el defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence. Lawrence se puso el jersey del equipo cuando este lo designó a jugar bajo la etiqueta franquicia. Afortunadamente, el atleta de 26 años la hizo de soldado y jugó sin amenazar con faltar a entrenamientos ni pretemporada.

Lo que sí comentó es que no pasaría por lo mismo en 2019. Ahora, el momento está aquí y es tiempo de que los Cowboys lo extiendan. El valor de Lawrence es difícil de predecir, pero es bastante seguro que se acercará a los números de Khalil Mack. Mack hizo historia ganando un contrato que en promedio gana 23.5 millones al año. Si bien no anticiparía que lo supere, la cifra estará cerca al contrato del defensivo de los Chicago Bears.

Además está Dak Prescott, cuyo contrato probablemente estará por encima de los 25 millones anuales. Son contratos caros, pero son piezas fundamentales para el equipo. Definitivamente se les tiene que pagar a ambos. Son pilares que año tras año buscan equipos en toda la NFL.

Además de esto, Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott, Cole Beasley y más podrían tener un impacto en el tope salarial. Algunos buscan un contrato nuevo, otros una extensión. Pero honestamente, me parece que habrá más espacio en el tope salarial de lo que pensamos. Sólo es cuestión de tiempo para que los Cowboys comiencen a reestructurar a sus veteranos para ahorrarse unos cuantos millones para utilizar en agencia libre.

Tyron Smith, Tyrone Crawford entre otros pueden ser buenas opciones para comenzar este proceso. Antes era Jason Witten uno de los candidatos favoritos para este proceso, pero él ya se encuentra comentando partidos para ESPN. En Inside The Star, continuaremos actualizándote con contenido al día de los Dallas Cowboys.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: Comentando el Tope Salarial" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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Star Blog

Can the Cowboys Become Legitimate NFC Conference Contenders this Offseason?

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Can the Cowboys Become Legitimate NFC Conference Contenders this Offseason? 2

Super Bowl LIII is in the books, and the Dallas Cowboys can look back on a better-than-expected 2018 campaign. Having won the NFC East with a 10-6 record and bowing out to eventual finalists Los Angeles Rams, the Cowboys' young team can look ahead to 2019 as a chance to take another step forward.

The offseason is now upon us, with the NFL free agency period opening in the middle of March and the NFL Draft coming around at the end of April. Until those times, experts, pundits, and fans are left to assess their teams and predict their activities in the running to the start of next season.

The Dallas Cowboys are in a precarious position, with the team exceeding expectations, still being very young and having plenty of cap space, but also having many top-end players set to become free agents and being without a first-round pick in this year’s draft. There does, however, appear to be a way for the team to make improvements and solidify their place atop the NFC East and potentially go on to win in the Conference Finals.

Lock Down the Big Guns

Can the Cowboys Become Legitimate NFC Conference Contenders this Offseason?

@Randy81MossRetires, via Twitter

Many see DeMarcus Lawrence as the top potential free agent this spring, so the Dallas Cowboys need to do everything in their power to lock down the 26-year-old defensive end.

Vice President Stephen Jones has emphasized the team’s target of retaining their own stars, per Star-Telegram, with Lawrence, Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott, and perhaps Byron Jones being in the discussion for long-term deals.

As it stands, the team will have roughly $48.5 million in cap space for next season, which leaves plenty of space to re-sign their top players. They look set to let go of Tavon Austin, David Irving, and quite possibly Cole Beasley, among others, leaving a need to add reinforcements.

Adding New Talent

Can the Cowboys Become Legitimate NFC Conference Contenders this Offseason? 1

@brkicks, via Twitter

One of the most heavily rumored moves for Dallas in this free agency is picking up native Texan and former Legion of Boom linchpin Earl Thomas, per Forbes.

Against the Rams in the playoffs and throughout the season, the Cowboys lacked a defenseman who could make plays on the pass. Thomas is one of the notorious ball hawks in the league, boasting 28 career interceptions, three of which came in just four games of last season.

If the Cowboys can re-sign their stars while keeping some space for an Earl Thomas-sized contract, which clocked in at $10.4 million in 2018 for the Seattle Seahawks, their odds of going all the way next season will significantly increase.

Right now, the expected names of the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs lead the odds to win the next Super Bowl at +750. Behind them, the Rams sit at +900 having suffered a suffocating defeat in this year’s Super Bowl. Much further down are the Cowboys at +2500 right now with redbet. If they re-sign Lawrence, pay their young stars, and bring in Thomas, they’ll shoot up the table of favorites.

Then, there’s also the additions in the draft to consider.

The Cowboys may be without a first-round selection, but that may end up working in their favor. Round one of the 2019 NFL Draft is set to be laden with defensive selections according to most mock drafts, with a few quarterbacks sprinkled around and a minimal selection of offensive weapons. If the Cowboys re-sign Lawrence, they’ll be looking good at defensive end, so should then turn to giving Prescott another weapon in the passing game, which will also help to keep defenses honest and give Elliott more room to operate.

As stated, the NFL is a passing league, and Prescott exploded once he was given a viable option in Amari Cooper. Michael Gallup is expected to take another step forward next season, but just in case, the Cowboys can add another strong receiving option in the draft thanks to the strength of the defensive class. A.J. Brown of Ole Miss will almost certainly go in the first round, but exciting talents in D.K. Metcalf, Parris Campbell, Marquise Brown, and Deebo Samuel could all still be available when Dallas rings in during the second round.

Improving Dallas' pass options and pass defense will go a long way toward improving the team and allowing them to push on to a bigger and better campaign in 2019.



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