"Why can't the NFL offseason be more like the NBA's?"
If you follow any sports besides football, you've probably heard this statement before. Or, you might have even thought it yourself.
No matter what you think of the NBA, there is no doubt that each day of the Free Agency and Draft periods are filled with excitement, as big names and star players are both rumored to, and actually do, switch teams through trades and signings.
Last July 4th, former Oklahoma City star Kevin Durant left the Thunder to join the Golden State Warriors after visits with multiple NBA teams. Durant, the consensus second-best player in the world, shook the entire landscape of the league with his one decision.
Imagine, for a second, if someone like Von Miller was courted by almost every other NFL team before deciding to join the already stacked defensive line of the Houston Texans?
That would be absolute madness, and a ton of fun to watch unfold.
But instead, we get the rather mundane NFL offseason stories, mostly due to both the nature of the sport and the salary cap. So, let's go into fantasy land for a little bit and imagine up some NBA-style trades that would cement the Dallas Cowboys as Super Bowl favorites in 2017.
Disclaimer: Yes, I know none of these could/would actually happen.
Everything Is Bigger In Texas
- Houston Texans receive: QB Tony Romo, 2017 First Round Pick
- Dallas Cowboys receive: DE JJ Watt
Let's first go back in time to make this first trade work. Tony Romo has not announced his retirement from football yet, and CBS has not already acquired our former franchise quarterback.
We all know Dak Prescott is the Cowboys quarterback of the future, and Dallas has to do something with Romo's contract. They would also like to get something back for Romo, while still doing "right" by him.
The Houston Texans won the AFC South in 2016, and did so mostly without JJ Watt. When healthy, Watt is the best defensive linemen I have ever seen, but maybe they aren't so sold on him coming back fully healthy ever again.
Plus, with Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus emerging as incredible pass rushers, one of these three could potentially become expendable. Especially if they are looking to fill their desperate quarterback need.
So, the Cowboys give up Tony Romo and their 28th overall selection for a chance to strengthen their weak pass rush with JJ Watt.
As we love to say on NBA Twitter: "Who says no!?!"
Well, everyone says no, but that's okay for now.
Get John Elway On The Phone
- Denver Broncos receive: OL Ronald Leary, 2017 First Round Pick, 2019 First Round Pick
- Dallas Cowboys receive: EDGE Von Miller
Once again, we are going back in time to complete this trade.
In the NBA, we often see sign-and-trade moves made. For example, the Los Angeles Clippers completed a sign-and-trade with the Rockets to send point guard Chris Paul to Houston just a few weeks ago.
Here, the NFL borrows from the NBA, as the Cowboys complete a sign-and-trade with the Denver Broncos.
We all know how badly the Broncos need to upgrade their offensive line, and adding Ronald Leary would be a fantastic move for them (that's why they signed him in real life). So in this scenario, the Cowboys sign-and-trade Leary to Denver, packaging him with two future first round picks to land pass rush help in Von Miller.
The Cowboys obviously give up a ton here, but this is the type of deal we see teams make in the NBA in order to "go for it" in that particular year.
Anyone who reads my draft coverage knows how protective I am of draft picks, however, which leads me to my next trade proposal.
Take a Page Out Of The Boston Celtics' Book
- Seattle Seahawks receive: WR Dez Bryant, OL Tyron Smith
- Dallas Cowboys receive: 2017 First Round Pick, 2018 Pick-Swap, 2019 First Round Pick, 2021 First Round Pick, 2 future Second Round Picks
I know this looks ridiculous, trust me. But here's the NBA-rationale.
The Seattle Seahawks are close to another championship, but have not had the weapons on the outside, or the offensive line to protect quarterback Russell Wilson. Because of this, the Seahawks have faltered in the postseason the last couple of years.
Now, Seattle is watching their chance at another title fade away, and making a blockbuster move like this to add both Dez Bryant and Tyron Smith would open that window once again.
In reality, the Cowboys have no reason to tear it down and start over. Though they do have nice young talent to build around already in place, Tyron Smith is too young to be included in a veteran salary shed such as this one.
Still, the Cowboys would get three first round picks, two second round picks, and a first round pick swap out of this deal in order to re-build their roster through the years. This is a deal similar to that which the Celtics made when they fleeced the Brooklyn Nets a few years ago.
Of course, not a single one of these trades are realistic whatsoever, but isn't it fun to leave reality for a bit and imagine the impossible?
Luckily, the offseason is finally almost over, and the Cowboys reality is about to be really fun too.
2018 In Review: Byron Jones Emerges As CB1
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.
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.
Cowboys en Español: Comentando el Tope Salarial
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.
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.
Can the Cowboys Become Legitimate NFC Conference Contenders this Offseason?
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
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
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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