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5 Free Agent DEs Cowboys Could Target To Improve Pass Rush

Brian Martin

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5 Players The Dallas Cowboys Could Target To Improve Pass Rush

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The Dallas Cowboys are without a doubt in desperate need of upgrading their pass rush and that means the defensive end position might just be the top priority to address during the off-season.

Now, they can choose to roll the dice with an unproven rookie DE that they select the upcoming 2017 NFL Draft, or they could find a more proven player through free agency. I personally wouldn't be surprised if they did both. That's how much the DE position needs to be fixed.

It was just recently announced that DeMarcus Lawrence will undergo a second back surgery this off-season, which is bad news anyway try to spin it. To make matters worse, Randy Gregory will be serving a year-long suspension. Unfortunately, those are probably the Cowboys two most talented pass rushers.

The Dallas Cowboys had bodies to play the position in 2016, but the lack of talent finally caught up to them in the Divisional Round of the playoffs when they couldn't put pressure on Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.

To improve as a team in 2017, the Cowboys have to add more talent on the defensive side of the ball. There probably isn't a better place to start then at defensive end.

Follow the arrows provided to take a look at five free agent defensive ends that I think can probably help improve the pass rush for the Dallas Cowboys for the 2017 season and beyond.

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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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25 Comments
  • Randy Martin

    I thought you would have a list of realistic options here. C’mon Brian you know not one guy on this list will even step foot in for a visit. All are way to expensive except Dion and surely we have learned something when we take high risk.

    • Brian Martin

      Randy, unfortunately those are the free agent options at the defensive end position. There are some lower tier players, but I’m not sure any of them are better than what the Cowboys already have.

      • Randy Martin

        Yeah well we are just going to have to disagree on this one. Yes I like these guys a lot with the exception of Jordan but just not in our price range and therefore just words in a page with little substance.

        That being said there are some excellent candidates that are more affordable such as Mario Addison, Charles Johnson, Jabaal Sheard, Calais Campbell, Chris Baker, Andre Branch and some DT’s that will be more affordable.

        These DE’s are going to be in the $5M to $8M range.

        • Brian Martin

          I agree there are some more affordable options, but the Cowboys have to start investing in the defensive side of the ball. They’ve tried patching things together with these low-cost free agents, but it hasn’t panned out.

          I’m not saying they’re going to invest in one of these higher-priced DE’s, but if they’re serious about improving the pass rush these are the guys that are the kinds of difference makers they need. With the exception of Dion Jordan of course.

          • Randy Martin

            Sorry but it will simply never happen. Especially in a year where they have no money to spend. You’re just barking at the moon.

          • Brian Martin

            It’s definitely wishful thinking on my part, but that’s the fun part of being a fan in the off-season.

          • Dan

            Why is it a year where we have no money to spend? It just takes restructuring a few contracts and we’ve got plenty with a positive long term outlook thanks to not having to pay Dak for awhile..

          • Randy Martin

            Yes I know we can restructure some contracts, trade or release Romo post June 1, so some cap magic but FO continually tells us and shows us they are not going to be big players in free agency. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to see one or some of these guys but everything they show me in their approach to free agency says otherwise.

          • Brian Martin

            Randy, you’re right. The Cowboys have shown us over the past several offseasons that they would rather fill holes on the roster with more cost-effective free agents and then build the team through the draft. The only problem with that is that pass rushers coming out of college seem to take a few years to develop. We’re just going to have to wait and see if they can find a FA DE that can help with the pass rush.

          • Dan

            And was the lack of free agent signings choice or necessity? We couldn’t really have signed expensive free agents in the past few years even if we wanted. I think we know what Stephen thinks but what Jerry thinks is just as important.

          • Randy Martin

            I think if you have been paying attention you have seen that Dallas doesn’t venture too deeply into free agency. It is by choice. They are intent on building through the draft and I think that strategy bares itself out well across the league. Sure we like the big splash signings, but it just isn’t the Cowboys approach anymore.

          • Brian Martin

            Dan, restructuring contracts is one of the reasons why they don’t have any money to spend. That’s why the Cowboys have been choosing to fill holes in the roster with lower-priced free agents and instead trying to build through the draft. That’s likely the approach they take again this year, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they want after a DE if the price is right.

          • Dan

            I’m not talking a crazy free agency but one big free agent on the D-line isn’t out of the question, We signed Hardy for 11m or so did we? And we’re a lot better off in terms of cap space now.

          • Brian Martin

            I agree with you Dan.

          • Randy Martin

            As of today Dallas has -$5,000,000 in cap space. That is a negative number. Of course that will be manipulated but out of 32 teams they are 31st in next to the worst in cap space. Of they sign a big name I will be happy to come in here and say I was wrong but I don’t see it happening.

          • Dan

            The problem with this analysis is that it’s not an apples to apples comparison. There is a huge discrepancy between how Dallas structure contracts compared to say Kansas City.

            Our salary cap situation over the next five years is in pretty good shape, and that’s what matters, year to year is almost irrelevant, we can manipulate our money to spend just about anything we want…and that leads us to the grey area. What does our management team want to do? I think Jerry wants to spend while McClay and Stephen want to be frugal, I’m not sure who wins but Jerry can be persuasive.

          • Randy Martin

            Forget about the cap and just look at what they are actually doing. Their last high dollar free agent contract for players outside the building was Brandon Carr at 5 yrs/$50M in 2012. While he has been dependable and healthy I wouldn’t say and doubt you can find many that would agree he has been worth it. Greg Hardy’s signing doesn’t really count as there was little competition for his services and the contract was all incentive based. The guys being talked about as adds are high demand players that will drive up the price and Dallas simply will not play in that market. Jerry Jones says that, Stephen Jones says it, and Wil McClay says it. Those are the facts and you cannot argue with facts.

          • Dan

            Except it’s not a fact, not in the case of Jerry Jones.

            Jerry has said they’re “going to use resources, both draft and free agents on defense this season.”.

            I’m not saying it’s absolutely going to happen but to completely dismiss the idea of signing these players I think is wrong.

  • Angel Medel

    Well go after Perry with a 2yr contract and have the second yr as option, go sign Jordan to a 3 yr contract at price both are 26 resurgence or dine with healthy youth then offer Ingram 4yr deal with the back end loaded.
    Move Lawerance inside with Irving, Crawford, and the others. Then draft Jane B from Michigan and then trade our second to move up in the first round then get DBS and safety’s.

    • Brian Martin

      Angel, it sounds like you’ve got it all figured out. That’s a lot of moving pieces. We will see if it plays out that way.

    • Randy Martin

      Sorry Angel don’t know if you have it figured out. Perry may end up our of our price range but even if he is he would be coming back from 3-4 OLB to 4-3 DE and may not have that same level of production. Dion Jordan has had multiple suspensions from drugs and we already have enough guys that have had that problem. Ingram is going to cost over $12M per year so he is out of the picture. I assume you are talking about TE Jake Butt and not Jane B. so you are just all over the map. Brian was nice but no, none of that stuff is happening with possibly the risk move of drafting Butt because that is what we like to do in round 2.

  • Russ_Te

    JPP / pass. Skeptical how much he has left.

    Jordan – a dice roll if not a project. Not sure why Miami wouldn’t match an incentive-based offer. If he wants out and on to a contender, maybe he’ll take something affordable that pays if he plays.

    But yes any attempt to be aggressive in solving RDE is welcome. One F/A and one high draft pick. Then bring another project or 2 to camp. I just hope any plans to change out RT do not interfere with DE, especially on draft day.

    If a top CB falls down the draft I’m taking that of course. But RDE is the higher priority. QB pressure makes good CB’s better, no pressure makes good CB’s give up completions.

    • Brian Martin

      Russ, I don’t think I could have said it better myself. I think the Cowboys know they have to fix their pass rush, but good pass rushers are hard to come by in free agency. If they do happen to be there, it’s going to come at a high price tag. There is just no simple fix.

  • tx18wheels

    I’m not too keen on Dion Jordon. He was suspended twice in 2014 for a total of six games, then was
    suspended for a year, missing all of 2015. He was reinstated before this
    season, but knee surgeries kept him on the Non-Football Injury list for
    the season. But I get what you are saying, he’s worth noting simply for the fact that he will be available.

    I’d certainly take a flyer on Gordon or Perry. Dallas will be looking to restructure some contracts – kick the can down the road – to resign a few of their own as it is. I have the utmost faith in Will McClay to find a key piece or 3 while the Cowboys’ proverbial window is wide open. The fact that the window is wide open could be reason enough to pull the trigger on a proven end rushing veteran. Thanks for the list.

    • Brian Martin

      I’m not very high on Dion Jordan either. It could be one of those low risk high reward situations though. They definitely have to address the DE position. Hopefully they can somehow find a way to add one of the better free agents. Adding another rookie through the draft wouldn’t be a bad idea either.

Star Blog

Where In The World Is DE Taco Charlton?

Kevin Brady

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Sean's Scout: Defense Comes Alive In Loss At LA Rams 2
Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Over pretty much the last decade, the Dallas Cowboys have been rock solid with their first round picks. With selections of Ezekiel Elliott, Travis Frederick, Byron Jones, Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, and Leighton Vander Esch (just to name a handful), Dallas has rebuilt the core of their roster through the NFL Draft.

It's nearly impossible to bat .1000 in any round of the draft, however, and this appears to be the current case with the Cowboys' 2017 first round pick.

Defensive end Taco Charlton has not had the sophomore season that he, or anyone, had hoped for. A healthy scratch last Sunday, Charlton has only been active for 1 of the Cowboys' last 5 games, and has not recorded a sack or tackle since week 9.

Prior to disappearing with injuries and "attitude issues," Charlton had only recorded 1 sack on the season and was beginning to fall behind his Hot Boy-brethren. Defensive end Randy Gregory has reached his form over the last few weeks, Tyrone Crawford is having arguably a career year, and DeMarcus Lawrence is one of the best ends in all of football.

This doesn't leave much room for Charlton, who's now having issues even getting on the gameday roster. Rod Marinelli dodged questions about Taco Charlton earlier this week, vaguely saying they are "moving forward" and that he'd like to talk about other players on his defensive line who are performing.

Calvin Watkins on Twitter

Rod Marinelli on Taco Charlton's benching and being inactive last week: "We just keep moving along keep going forward. It's kinda been out there I'd leave it at that. I'd rather talk about our two tackles.

Charlton has not been quiet about his displeasure as of late, either. He's taken to Twitter to voice his frustrations, saying that not only is his shoulder fine but that the Dallas media is making up stories about his absence. He's also posted some cryptic tweets such as this one, with a picture of Allen Iverson and a caption reading "Every players needs that one coach to believe in them."

https://twitter.com/TheSupremeTaco/status/1072203745868554240

Maybe Taco is right. Maybe he just needs increased opportunity and a support system/coach that believes in him whole-heartedly. After all, Charlton has faced nothing but doubters and detractors since the second he was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys.

But in the NFL, the ultimate "what have you done for me lately" sport, it's hard to imagine he'll get that unwavering support anywhere in the league. He's going to have to "earn" his playing time, as head coach Jason Garrett spoke to earlier in the week. But with the plethora of talent the Cowboys are already putting out there on the defensive line, it's becoming difficult to see exactly where Taco Charlton can fit in on this defense.

It's possible, and fine, if it is simply not a fit between Charlton and the Cowboys at this point. But I'd also be wary of giving up on your first round pick in just his second NFL season. Another offseason with the team, working on his craft and getting fully healthy, should do Charlton wonders, and hopefully allow us to get a better read on his future with the Cowboys going forward.

Until then, we are all left to scratch out heads and wonder what in the world is going on with the Cowboys and Taco Charlton, and if the former first round pick will have a future in Dallas at all.


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Cowboys, Bears Proving Defense Can Win the NFC

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Cowboys, Bears Proving Defense Can Win the NFC

2018 has seen the emergence of high-powered offenses in both NFL conferences. The Kansas City Chiefs sit atop the AFC and the NFC is spearheaded by the New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams. Through 14 weeks, these three teams are the top three offenses in the NFL, each averaging over 30 points per game. This year, for the first time in NFL history, two teams scored more than 50 in the same game.

Thanks to this consistent impressive offensive performances, you would think "offense" is the name of the game for the 2018 NFL season. Well, not so fast, my friend. Despite sitting atop the NFC, the Saints and the Rams have recently suffered losses that indicate hope is anything but lost for defensive teams in the league.

The Chicago Bears were able to bring down the Rams last Sunday Night 15-6. The same offense that averages 33 points per game was limited to six points. Sean McVay's remarkable offense went home with no touchdowns to talk about on the plane back home. Instead, they probably discussed Jared Goff's four interceptions.

Weeks earlier, the Dallas Cowboys shocked the world when they brought down the Saints. Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas simply couldn't move the ball against Leighton Vander Esch, DeMarcus Lawrence and Byron Jones. 13 points were all the Cowboys needed to score to beat an offense that was averaging 37 per game heading into week 13 but was only able to put up 10 in Dallas.

The Cowboys are the #4 seed with the Bears slightly ahead of them as the #3 seed in the NFC. Together, these teams have defeated the top two in the conference. Now granted, playoffs will definitely be different.

For starters, if they are to advance to the divisional round, they'll be on the road. Chicago was surely benefited by playing in such a cold weather versus a Los Angeles team. As far as the Cowboys are concerned, few times has AT&T Stadium been as loud as when they beat the Saints.

Hopefully, we'll get to see both of these elite defenses advance to the Divisional Round to  square off against this couple of high-powered offenses again. We will not only be witnessing amazing football games, but a great discussion regarding the everlasting debate between offense and defense.

For years, "defense wins championships" has been a widely accepted statement in football. The Cowboys and Bears have made that same statement resound recently with their impressive wins.

Can they do it again in January football? Can they do it on the road?

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys, Bears Proving Defense Can Win the NFC" 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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Cowboys en Español: Los Colts No Son Cualquier Rival

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Fantasy Football - Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings - Week 2 2
Andy Lyons / Getty Images

Al igual que el resto de la afición de los Dallas Cowboys, parte de mí se siente confiada respecto a este equipo visitando a Indianapolis Colts y resultando victoriosos. ¿El problema? Los Colts no son un rival sencillo de vencer. Si crees que la racha de los Cowboys los intimidará, piensa de nuevo. Los Houston Texans llevaban nueve victorias al hilo antes de enfrentarse a este equipo.

Siendo objetivos, este puede ser el partido que evite que los Cowboys cierren su temporada con ocho victorias al hilo para terminar el año con un récord de 11-5. Ni los Tampa Bay Buccaneers ni los New York Giants deberían presentar amenaza alguna contra Dallas. Lo mismo no se puede decir de Indianapolis.

Por primera vez en mucho tiempo, Andrew Luck está realmente de vuelta. Gracias a una reconstrucción de su línea ofensiva, su nivel de juego a regresado al nivel que conocíamos de él desde que llegó a la NFL. Afortunadamente para los Colts, Luck se ha mantenido sano toda la temporada y no se ve rastro alguno de sus lesiones anteriores en el emparrillado.

T.Y. Hilton está teniendo un muy buen año y sin duda alguna presentará un reto para Byron Jones y el resto de la secundaria de los Cowboys. Eric Ebron en la posición de tight end también será un dolor de cabeza para la defensiva.

Lo más interesante se dará en las trincheras. Los Cowboys han hecho un muy buen trabajo presionando quarterbacks opuestos en la temporada, pero si el centro de los Colts, Ryan Kelly está sano el domingo, se enfrentarán al mejor duo de centro-guardia en la liga actualmente. Con Quenton Nelson al lado, Luck estará muy bien protegido.

Sin embargo, Kelly no ha jugado debido a una lesión y aún está por verse si tomará el campo el domingo por la mañana. Los Cowboys hicieron un muy buen trabajo a la entonces ofensiva #1 de la liga, los New Orleans Saints, pero eso no significa que la ofensiva #8 que tienen los Colts no los retará.

Promediando 27 puntos por juego, la defensiva necesitará ayuda de Dak Prescott y compañía para ganar el partido. Dallas continúa moviendo el balón efectivamente, pero es tiempo de anotar touchdowns y no goles de campo.

Ezekiel Elliott será, una vez más, clave para la victoria. Enfrentándose a una defensiva Top 10 contra el juego terrestre, mover las cadenas con Zeke no será tan fácil. El novato Darius Leonard como linebacker ha sido algo espectacular otra temporada al igual que Leighton Vander Esch. Liderando a toda la NFL en tackleadas, estará listo para recibir a los Cowboys al Lucas Oil Stadium.

Lo más importante de este partido...

Por más impresionante que sea la racha de cinco victorias consecutivas, los Cowboys tienen que demostrar que pueden ganarle a un equipo fuerte estando de visita. Porque hay que admitirlo, Jason Garrett y su equipo no han tenido éxito fuera de casa. Claro, le ganaron a un equipo debilitado de Philadelphia Eagles y a unos Atlanta Falcons que va 4-9.

Este equipo "nuevo" de los Cowboys no ha ido contra un rival de calidad siendo el visitante. Es tiempo de demostrar que lo pueden hacer, ya que si quieren contender en postemporada, es justo lo que necesitarán... jugar bien de visita.

Sinceramente creo que los Cowboys ganan este partido. Principalmente gracias a su defensiva, pero también veo a la ofensiva dominar el tiempo de posesión en un juego de pocos puntos. Es tiempo de mantener esa racha.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: Los Colts No Son Cualquier Rival" 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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