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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

25 Comments

  1. Randy Martin

    January 27, 2017 at 8:36 am

    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

      Brian Martin

      January 27, 2017 at 9:54 am

      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

        January 27, 2017 at 12:57 pm

        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

          Brian Martin

          January 27, 2017 at 1:07 pm

          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

            January 27, 2017 at 1:35 pm

            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

            Brian Martin

            January 27, 2017 at 1:43 pm

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

          • Dan

            January 28, 2017 at 5:00 am

            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

            January 28, 2017 at 5:34 am

            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

            Brian Martin

            January 28, 2017 at 9:54 am

            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

            January 28, 2017 at 7:47 pm

            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

            January 28, 2017 at 8:07 pm

            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

            Brian Martin

            January 28, 2017 at 9:52 am

            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

            January 28, 2017 at 6:04 pm

            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

            Brian Martin

            January 28, 2017 at 6:14 pm

            I agree with you Dan.

          • Randy Martin

            January 28, 2017 at 8:09 pm

            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

            January 30, 2017 at 7:38 am

            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

            January 30, 2017 at 9:37 am

            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

            January 30, 2017 at 6:53 pm

            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.

  2. Angel Medel

    January 27, 2017 at 12:08 pm

    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

      Brian Martin

      January 27, 2017 at 12:28 pm

      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

      January 27, 2017 at 1:06 pm

      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.

  3. Russ_Te

    January 28, 2017 at 12:55 am

    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

      Brian Martin

      January 28, 2017 at 9:49 am

      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.

  4. tx18wheels

    February 10, 2017 at 12:12 pm

    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

      Brian Martin

      February 10, 2017 at 1:18 pm

      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.

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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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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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