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5 Cowboys Players Who Have The Most To Gain In 2018

Brian Martin

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Mr. Steal Your Job; Dak Prescott Replaces Cam Newton With Dannon Yogurt

The Dallas Cowboys have a few players that have something to gain personally by having a good 2018 season. A little added incentive to go out and play at their best game after game if you will.

You would think that an NFL player, or any other professional athlete, would want to go out and play at their best every game all season, but a little added incentive seems to improve a players game just a little bit. Usually it's a contract year that lights a fire under players, but there are other reasons as well.

Today, I want to share with you five of the Dallas Cowboys players who I think have the most to gain in 2018. Surprisingly enough, all five of these players could possibly benefit financially if they step up their game this season, but all of them definitely have something to prove.

Defensive End, DeMarcus Lawrence

DeMarcus Lawrence

Dallas Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence (Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports)

Heading into the 2017 season the Dallas Cowboys were in search of a true "War Daddy". The phrase got tossed around so much that many of us grew tired of hearing it. Luckily, it's not a phrase we will be hearing much anymore and that is thanks to DeMarcus Lawrence.

Lawrence was pretty much an afterthought heading into 2017, so much so that quite a few of us were wondering if he would even make the final 53-man roster. Fortunately, he not only made the roster, but he completely dominated last season and ended up being one of the best defensive ends in the entire league.

Heading into 2018, DeMarcus Lawrence has a lot to gain by being able to put together back to back dominating seasons. He will be playing under the franchise tag this year, so his future after the season is still up in the air. If he is able to dominate once again, he has a chance to become one of the top paid defensive ends in the NFL.

Defensive Tackle, David Irving

David Irving, Redskins

Dallas Cowboys DL David Irving

Defensive tackle David Irving emerged as one of the best interior defensive lineman in the NFL in 2017, but surprisingly enough, the Dallas Cowboys were able to retain him by just placing a second-round tender on him to secure his services this year. Many thought this was a mistake at the time thinking that someone would be willing to give up a second-round draft pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, but the Cowboys gamble paid off.

Irving is basically on a one-year rental in 2018, which means he has a lot to gain by performing well this season. It's really difficult to find defensive lineman who are as scheme diverse as Irving. He can dominate from the interior in both a 4-3 or 3-4 defensive scheme due to his rare size and athleticism. Because of that, he will be looking to cash in at the end of the year.

Before David Irving can earn a big money contract, he is going have to prove he can be consistent both on and off the field. If he would've already proven these two things, the Dallas Cowboys likely would have already secured his services for years to come.

Quarterback, Dak Prescott

Dak Prescott

Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott (Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports)

No one might have more to gain in 2018 then quarterback Dak Prescott. He has a chance to become the next highest paid QB in the NFL, but he is going to have to prove himself first according to many Dallas Cowboys fans.

Cowboys fans are split three ways when it comes to Dak Prescott. Some fans believe he has already earned to the right to be the franchise QB, while others have already seen enough and determined he's not talented enough to be a franchise QB in the NFL. Then, there are those in the middle who are waiting to see how he performs in Year 3 before making up their minds.

It doesn't really matter where you stand on Dak Prescott right now. But, there is no denying he has a lot to gain by going out and performing well in 2018. It will not only determine his future with the Cowboys, but will also determine the overall success of the team this season.

Cornerback, Byron Jones

Byron Jones

Dallas Cowboys CB Byron Jones (Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports)

Many Dallas Cowboys fans have already made their minds up about Byron Jones and labeled him as a first-round bust. I don't know if I would agree, but I understand the disappointment surrounding him considering the high praise he received coming out of the 2015 draft.

I personally believe the Cowboys coaching staff have done him a disfavor and played him out of position due to need his first few seasons in the league. Fortunately though, I think that all changes in 2018 now that he is moving back to his more natural position, cornerback.

The Cowboys may have picked up Jones' fifth-year option, securing his service through 2019, but he still has a lot to gain by performing well this season. If he plays well this year at CB, not only will he shed that" bust" label, but he could convince a Cowboys he's worth sticking around long-term.

Linebacker, Jaylon Smith

Jaylon Smith

Dallas Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith

Believe it or not, but Jaylon Smith will be entering his third year in the NFL with the Dallas Cowboys. It seems strange considering we've only seen him in pads for one season, but time has a way of flying by in the NFL.

Now entering his third season, Smith has an opportunity to go out and prove himself as one of the best linebackers in the league. Fortunately, he is no longer playing with a knee brace and he believes he is back to where he was both physically and mentally when he was at Notre Dame, maybe even better.

This is certainly good news for the Dallas Cowboys and their linebacker position. But, it's even better news for Smith himself. He has a lot to gain by performing well in 2018. If he has a good season, he could be in line for an early contract extension from the Cowboys, much like the previously mentioned Dak Prescott. If nothing else, it could be a really good boost for his confidence moving forward.

Which Dallas Cowboys players do you think have the most to gain in 2018?



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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4 Comments
  • Ethan Chazin

    I would add Garrett, Marinelli and Linehan. Maybe not those with most to gain but perhaps most to lose. Add Tyrone Crawford, chaz green, Tapper, Damien Wilson, Jeff heath, Terence Williams, Rico gathers

  • Kevin Black

    Dallas won’t have to deal with a contract extension on Jaylon Smith until he becomes a restricted FA. Normally a 2nd round pick wouldn’t become a RFA, but since he didn’t play at all in 2016, he didn’t accrue an actual year towards his employment status, so after his four year contract ends, he will have accrued only three (3) actual seasons of eligibility. Therefore he will be an RFA in 2020. That’s when Dallas will have to deal with Jaylon’s second contract.

    • Brian Martin

      Kevin, I’m glad you mentioned that. It completely slipped my mind. I still think Jaylon Smith still has a lot to gain though in 2018 from a confidence standpoint. He’s still trying to get back to the player he once was at Notre Dame and being able to fully trust his knee/leg would be a huge confidence builder.

  • elindio42

    If all of these guys pan out, it will be hard to fit them in under the salary cap.

    Good article!

Star Blog

Can Jaylon Smith Challenge Vander Esch For Starting MIKE Role?

Kevin Brady

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In Season For Youth, Cowboys Must Make Tough Decision On Jaylon Smith

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.How Will LB Jaylon Smith Best be Utilized in 2018?

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.



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Star Blog

Will Cowboys’ Performance VS NFC South Define 2018 Season?

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Dak Prescott Weighs in on Cowboys "Dak-Friendly" Offense Approach

When thinking about how the Cowboys' 2017 season came to an end the day before Christmas after a disappointing loss to the Seattle Seahawks, we often forget the team needed some extra help in order to get to the playoffs. The NFC was a tough conference to play in last year... but it will only be tougher in 2018.

The NFC is way stronger than the AFC right now, at least in terms of depth.

The Cowboys will be sharing a division with the defending Super Bowl Champions, the Philadelphia Eagles, a team that only got stronger this offseason and will try to make a run for the NFC East title once again.

As good and promising as the Cowboys' roster is, it's only fair to admit that trying to get to the postseason this year might implicate running for a wildcard spot. Many teams will be fighting for a playoff berth late in the year but fortunately for Dallas, they will be able to control their destiny against a handful of this teams.

The Cowboys will play against the entire NFC South this season. Except for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, every team in the South division was fighting for a chance at January football heading into week 17.

The Saints, Falcons and Panthers all finished the season with double-digit wins last year, and there's little reason to believe they won't come back as strong as they were in 2017.

If the Cowboys are not able to beat the Eagles in the NFC East race, we'll be hearing about a lot of different playoff scenarios that will be needed in order to play in the postseason. Certainly, having the head-to-head advantage against the NFC South teams would go a long way, even if the team will play the Saints, Falcons and Panthers before December comes around.

If the Cowboys do manage to get back to their 2016-selves, no team in the league should be an "impossible" challenge for a powerful running-game based offense and a defense that can rush the passer consistently.

Of course, the NFC South is not the only challenging division in the conference. The NFC West will feature another three football teams that will be winning tons of games. The Rams, 49ers and Seahawks are all very likely to have winning records and be in the hunt once December comes around.

In a season that promises to be a "comeback" year for America's Team, the NFC promises to be a threatening conference from every direction. If the Cowboys will be able to overcome or not remains unknown and will stay that way until the season actually starts.

Tell me what you think about "Will Cowboys’ Performance VS NFC South Define 2018 Season?" in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 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

Cowboys en Español: 3 Escenarios Para el Futuro de David Irving

Mauricio Rodriguez

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- David Irving, #95

En la NFL, la falta de noticias en Junio generalmente significa buenas noticias. Los aficionados de los Dallas Cowboys saben esto mejor que nadie y en caso de que lo hayan olvidado, David Irving se aseguró de recordarle a Cowboys Nation el porque de esta frase.

La semana pasada, se anunció que David Irving recibirá una suspensión de cuatro partidos por haber violado la política de abuso de substancias de la liga. Es la segunda suspensión que Irving recibe en años consecutivos y lógicamente, esto es preocupante para el equipo de los Dallas Cowboys.

Las últimas dos temporadas hemos visto a Irving convertirse en una pieza de suma importancia para la defensiva. El año pasado, Irving consiguió siete sacks (capturas) en sólo ocho juegos y se convirtió en un caza cabezas muy efectivo.

Demostrando ser uno de los jugadores más talentosos de su posición en la NFL, es difícil imaginar el futuro del #95 en la liga. Tras recibir un tender de segunda ronda hace unos meses (explico que es eso aquí), el futuro de Irving es muy incierto. Por eso, esta semana en Cowboys en Español, exploraremos tres escenarios posibles para el defensivo de 24 años.

#1 David Irving se va de Dallas prematuramente

Hace unos días, me dediqué a defender mi posición de que los Cowboys estarían cometiendo un error al cortar a David Irving. A pesar de que realmente despedirse de un defensivo como Irving parece muy poco probable, es un escenario que debemos discutir.

Irving ha sido un dolor de cabeza para el equipo en más de una ocasión. Dos suspensiones en años consecutivos no es una buena imagen para un jugador que busca un contrato jugoso al terminar el año.

Si Jason Garrett y la administración quieren "dar un mensaje" cortando a David Irving, ¿qué tanto serviría? Esta idea de enviar un mensaje, a la hora de pensarlo fríamente, parece una idea romántica de parte de nosotros los fans. Al final de cuentas, estamos hablando de un locker room lleno de jugadores adultos y profesionales, no de un grupo de niños.

Además, bien sabemos todos que Irving no es el único Cowboy que ha tenido problemas. ¿Será el hecho de que ha ocurrido dos años seguidos razón suficiente para dejarlo ir? Personalmente, no lo creo. Los Cowboys dejarían ir a un jugador muy bueno en una posición de necesidad.

Datone Jones, Jihad Ward y Maliek Collins podrán ser suficiente. Pero David Irving es especial en el campo. Mejor tenerlo por 12 juegos a tenerlo cero.

#2 Irving se queda para el 2018, pero no más allá

David Irving recibió un contrato de un año que le pagaba (antes de ser suspendido) 2.91 millones de dólares. Si hubiera demostrado que no era problemático y que podía mantenerse al 100% toda la temporada, probablemente hubiera recibido un gran contrato de los Cowboys o de otro equipo en la NFL.

Sin embargo, el dicho lo dice todo. "En la NFL, la disponibilidad es la mejor habilidad." Irving no se ha terminado de ganar la confianza necesaria para una gran extensión.

En este punto, Dallas puede esperar a que su tackle defensivo regrese de su suspensión, juegue doce juegos con ellos y les consiga un sack por juego por menos de tres millones de dólares. Después de eso, el equipo pude darse el lujo de dejarlo ir sin una extensión y verlo convertirse en un agente libre.

Does DT David Irving Have a Future With Cowboys?

Dallas Cowboys DT David Irving (Albert Pena / CSM)

#3 Irving se queda por más de un año

En este caso, hay dos "sub-escenarios." Suponiendo que, efectivamente, Irving regresa y juega como sabemos que puede hacerlo, no será tan fácil dejarlo ir. Si llega a sorprender y demuestra que realmente es quien creemos que es y consigue diez capturas en sólo doce juegos, ¿realmente no le dará el equipo una oportunidad?

La primera opción sería asignarle la etiqueta franquicia y obligarlo a jugar un año más para un equipo que busca desesperadamente un Super Bowl.

Si se sienten cómodos dándole el salario de una etiqueta franquicia para evitar perderlo, ¿podríamos culparlos después de que les dio por ejemplo, diez capturas? Yo, personalmente, no podría hacerlo.

La otra opción, y una que podría ser la más realista, es más simple. La inmadurez y los problemas de Irving le costarán la confianza y el interés de otros equipos y es posible que en un punto, Dallas sea el único equipo que le pueda brindar seguridad de trabajo.

De esta manera, Dallas podría ofrecerle una extensión de dos, tres o más años a un precio mucho más barato que el de cualquier DT que consiga dos dígitos de sacks.

✭✭✭✭✭

David Irving sin duda tiene un futuro incierto delante de él. Realmente sería una sorpresa verlo fuera de Dallas en el 2018, pero más allá, quien sabe lo que pueda pasar. Por ahora, esperemos que una vez que vuelva de la suspensión, esté en forma para ir detrás de los quarterbacks oponentes.

Con un poco de suerte, quizá nos olvidaremos de esto en Noviembre.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: 3 Escenarios Para el Futuro de David Irving" in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 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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