It may come to a shock to some of you, but I wouldn't expect the Dallas Cowboys to be big-time players in free agency in 2018. Okay, I know it's probably to be expected since they have developed a "bargain shopping" mentality these last few years in free agency, but that doesn't stop a lot of Cowboys fans from voicing their displeasure with this approach.
The Dallas Cowboys simply don't have the salary-cap space right now to be very active in free agency, but that could change by moving some money around and restructuring or extending a few of their current players. I still expect them to bring in a few players to provide some much-needed depth at certain positions, but they will undoubtably let the market settle before throwing their hat in the ring.
With that in mind, there are a few "bargain" FAs who I think the Cowboys should target, and as luck would have it, they are all former Penn State players. Sean Lee could become a very important recruiting tool in order to bring in some of his former teammates and Penn State alumni.
LB, Navorro Bowman
The Dallas Cowboys were supposedly interested in bringing Navorro Bowman in last year after his time with the San Francisco 49ers came to an end. Unfortunately, they never got a chance to meet with him, because he never made it out of the Bay Area and signed with the Oakland Raiders instead. But, Bowman is a FA once again and the Cowboys could have a second chance to bring him aboard.
Navorro Bowman and Sean Lee were teammates at Penn State and were a formidable pair of linebackers for the Nittany Lions. Neither Lee or Bowman are in their prime at this point in their careers, but both players still have quite a bit left in the tank. There's no denying the Cowboys could use some more depth at the LB position and Bowman would definitely provide that.
OLB/DE, Tamba Hali
Tamba Hali was recently released by the Kansas City Chiefs and that could end up being good news for the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys defensive end position is a huge question mark heading into the 2018 season and their current DEs are largely unproven, with the exception of DeMarcus Lawrence. Hali is no spring chicken anymore, but I believe he could provide some much-needed depth and veteran leadership.
Tamba Hali is entering his mid-30s and those kind of players don't typically receive "big-money" contracts in free agency, which fits into the Dallas Cowboys "bargain shopping" approach. Hali was a little bit ahead of Sean Lee's time at Penn State, but as a fellow alumni, I think he would have open ears to listen to Lee's recruiting pitch. Joining a young and up-and-coming defense could be exactly what Hali is looking for.
LB, Paul Posluszny
Paul Posluszny is another former teammate of Sean Lee's at Penn State and someone the Dallas Cowboys could show an interest in as a free agent. Like Tamba Hali, Posluszny is entering his mid-30s and isn't likely to command a "big-money" contract as a free agent. But, that doesn't mean he wouldn't be a welcomed addition to the Cowboys linebacker group.
Posluszny isn't the player he once was earlier in his career, but he will provide much-needed depth and help be yet another mentor for the Cowboys young and upcoming LB, Jaylon Smith. He could be exactly the type of LB the Cowboys are looking for and he could possibly be acquired on a veteran minimum contract.
Do any of these former Penn State players make sense for the Dallas Cowboys?
Could NY Giants Be a Surprise Threat in the NFC East?
The NFC East is a wild, wild division. Since 2004, the division that hosts some of the most popular franchises in the NFL hasn't seen the same team winning the NFC East title two years in a row. It's crazy! Who expected the Dallas Cowboys to become the #1 seed in the conference in 2016 after seeing Tony Romo go down during the preseason? Who was able to predict the Philadelphia Eagles' amazing run for the Super Bowl last year?
It's an unpredictable league, but the NFC East side of things can really amaze you on a yearly basis.
Heading into 2018, it all seems to be about the Eagles and the Cowboys. Being the last two teams to win the title, it's only logical to expect them to be the only teams in the division that have what it takes to own the NFC East crown.
But maybe, just maybe, we are overlooking the New York Giants.
Coming from a 3-13 record in 2017, the Giants have quite a bit to prove if they want to become a winning team once again and return to playoff contention. With Odell Beckham missing most of the season and with good ol' Ben McAdoo calling the shots, the team was never able to get a break.
Listen, we all know Eli Manning has been struggling lately. Many thought the Giants should've drafted a quarterback when they held the #2 overall pick back in April. But whether we like it or not, New York seems to have a plan: take advantage of Manning's last years on the field.
Instead of taking a young QB for the future, they drafted the best player available to take the load off Manning's shoulders. Saquon Barkley will probably be able to do what Ezekiel Elliott was able to do in 2016: lead the offense by running the football 20 times a game and have several 100-yard performances.
Not only that, but the front office did make an effort to re-build a disastrous offensive line by bringing in a talented left tackle in Nate Solder and by stealing the UTEP product, Will Hernandez in the second round of the draft. If the Giants are able to finally groom Ereck Flowers into a decent starter at right tackle, this could be a pretty solid offensive line.
Of course, Manning will not only be benefited from the running game, but his superstar wide receiver will be back on the field. Beckham is one of the NFL's best wide receivers and will surely be back at terrifying opposing secondaries week in and week out.
The Giants are bringing in Defensive Coordinator James Bettcher, who did a nice job for the Arizona Cardinals' defense over the last few years. With some talented defensive players, the team might not have the best squad in the league, but it doesn't seem like a defense that will struggle throughout the season.
Last but not least, the Giants will have a new head coach in form of Pat Shurmur. He's had some success in the league, lately as an offensive coordinator for a Minnesota Vikings team that managed to get to the NFC Championship with Case Keenum at QB. It was a good hire for the team, and I'm pretty sure it will be easy to do a better job than McAdoo's work with the Giants.
If I was to make a prediction, I'd say the Giants will have a handful of wins in 2018. However, I don't see them getting back into the postseason just yet. An 8-8 record sounds about right. Having said that, though, it really seems like a team that could surprise everyone and emerge as a surprise contender in the NFC East.
Do you think the New York Giants could be a surprise threat in 2018?
Where Cowboys CB Marquez White Fits In 2018
In the 2017 NFL Draft the Dallas Cowboys selected four new defensive backs, three of which saw significant playing time during their rookie season.
Those three, of course, are Jourdan Lewis, Chidobe Awuzie, and Xavier Woods. That fourth defensive back, however, should not be forgotten about as we enter the beginning stages of the 2018 season. That player is former Florida State cornerback Marquez White.
Rather than playing alongside his rookie counterparts in the secondary, White spent time on the Cowboys practice squad in 2017. The former sixth round pick was signed to a futures contract at the end of 2017, however, and now has a chance to compete in camp once again.
Entering their sophomore seasons the starting secondary already appears to be taking shape. Chidobe Awuzie and Byron Jones are just about locked in to the outside cornerback jobs, Xavier Woods is expected to start at safety beside Jeff Heath, and Jourdan Lewis is battling with now third year player Anthony Brown for the slot corner role.
So where does Marquez White fit into all of this?
Well, the aforementioned players are locks to make the 53-man roster, but Marquez White should be the favorite to win the 5th cornerback spot going forward. White's raw talent is undeniable, and he has the ability to play under both man and zone responsibilities.
The main reason we should be optimistic about Marquez White's chances to land on the final roster, however, is his athletic profile. At 6'0" tall, just under 200 pounds, and long arms White fits the mold for what new secondary coach and passing game coordinator Kris Richard tends to look for in his cornerbacks.
And, for better or for worse, Richard clearly values these measureables highly. This is evident in how second year corner Jourdan Lewis has been used thus far in mini camp and offseason activities; being relegated to second team and the slot rather than allowed to compete for an outside cornerback job with Awuzie and Jones.
So with the arrival of Kris Richard, the departure of Orlando Scandrick, the underwhelming play of Anthony Brown, and the raw talent he already possesses, Marquez White has a very strong chance of making the final 53-man roster in Dallas.
Can Jaylon Smith Challenge Vander Esch For Starting MIKE Role?
When the Dallas Cowboys selected Boise State linebacker Leighton Vander Esch with their first round pick of the 2018 NFL Draft, the whole world basically assumed he would be the starting MIKE linebacker week one of the upcoming season.
After all, the Cowboys lost Anthony Hitchens to free agency and none of the injury replacements had much success during the 2017 season.
Now just a couple of months shy of that week one match up with the Carolina Panthers, a battle for that middle linebacker spot appears to be occurring.
Former 2016 second round pick Jaylon Smith has seemed to find his health, and his movement skills and agility look like they did back when he was at Notre Dame. Whether or not these offseason hype videos will actually mean anything on the field remains to be seen, but just the fact that Smith is working out and playing without the knee brace is obviously a good sign.
Unlike Vander Esch, Jaylon Smith did play for the Dallas Cowboys a year ago. Sure Smith had his share of growing pains, but he seemed to find his groove late in the season. It probably isn't a coincidence, though, that Smith's best games came when coming off the bench in a limited role and when playing beside veteran Sean Lee.
During the offseason activity thus far Jaylon Smith has gotten the majority of snaps at middle linebacker, but Vander Esch has also been sidelined with an injured ankle. Leighton Vander Esch clearly fits the mold of a MIKE both physically and athletically, but at his best Jaylon Smith does as well.
Despite the resurgence of Jaylon Smith and the injury to Leighton Vander Esch, I still do expect Vander Esch to snag that MIKE role moving forward. While showing glimpses of productive play, Smith did not impress enough to earn him the unquestioned starting job last season, and may best fit as a SAM backer and situational pass rusher/blitzer in the current scheme.
Allowing Jaylon Smith to conserve his energy and provide a boost off the bench is the best way for the Cowboys to structure their defense. Of course, this is only true as long as Vander Esch becomes the player they expect him to be, though.
If Jaylon Smith does return to the player he was at Notre Dame prior to his horrific injury, the Cowboys will possess three incredibly rangy, athletic, and talented linebackers on their roster.
Of course, that if is a very big if at this point, however.
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
Should Cowboys DT Jihad Ward Be Getting More Attention?
Star Blog3 days ago
ESPN Proposes Trade Offer To Bring Earl Thomas To Dallas
Star Blog6 days ago
Cowboys Trade For DT Jihad Ward Already Paying Off?
Star Blog5 days ago
Tavon Austin, the Cowboys Best Playmaker Not Named Ezekiel Elliott?
Dallas Cowboys2 days ago
5 Winners from Dallas Cowboys OTAs and Minicamp
Star Blog1 week ago
Should Cowboys Add Another Safety Before Training Camp?
Player News2 weeks ago
Report: Cowboys Sign OL Zack Martin To 6 Year Deal
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
4 Reasons Terrance Williams Won’t Be a Cowboy