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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

How The Seattle Seahawks Have Increased Importance In Cowboys’ Lore

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Headlines - Dallas Cowboys At Seattle Seahawks: 5 Bold Predictions
Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

You can't talk about this decade's Dallas Cowboys without discussing the Seattle Seahawks.

In 2012, when Golden Tate took out Sean Lee on a crack-back block and the Seahawks embarrassed a Cowboys team who had just defeated the defending champion New York Giants, we saw which of the two teams was truly ready for the big stage.

In 2014, as Rolando McClain intercepted Russell Wilson and the Cowboys clinched a critical road victory, we knew that Dallas was a legit contender.

In 2015, when Seattle finally came to Dallas and rendered the return of Pro Bowl receiver Dez Bryant meaningless in a 13-12 win, the then 2-5 Cowboys were sent further into a Romo-less abyss.

And, in 2017, Dez Bryant's key drops and Dan Bailey's missed field goals during a horrendous home loss to the Seahawks on Christmas Eve might have sealed each of their fates for the following offseason.

The most important moment in this Cowboys/Seahawks history, however, occurred during a preseason game. A meaningless preseason game which turned out to be the most meaningful day in recent Cowboys history.

Cliff Avril dragging Tony Romo down from behind, effectively ending his career, and kicking off the roster massive turnover we have seen the last two offseasons. From Dak Prescott, to a brand new secondary, to the retirement of Jason Witten, and the cutting of Dez Bryant. All of this change, which put an end to the Romo era rosters in Dallas, began with that hit in Seattle.

Since 2012 the Cowboys, and the rest of the NFC really, have been judged by how they play against two teams: the Packers and the Seahawks.

They have been the class of the NFC, and while we like to think that if the "Dez Caught It" game went how it should have Dallas would've handled Seattle, that will forever be an unknown.

Sunday's game is not expected to carry the franchise-changing implications that some of these other match ups have had. The Seahawks are 0-2 and reeling, with a shaky offensive line and reported distrust throughout the organization.The Cowboys, however, can jump-start their season with a big road win over a winless team that they should beat in the minds of many.

But knowing how things between these teams tend to go, Sunday afternoon may end up having major implications on the rest of the Cowboys' season.

Where this could be the case is in a potential Earl Thomas trade. It's been speculated that Seattle has been hesitant to deal Thomas to Dallas before their week 3 match up, but could be more willing to do so after the game.

Especially if that game is a loss which sends them to 0-3. The Cowboys have been actively pursuing Earl Thomas, and Thomas has certainly made it clear that he wants to be in Dallas. The only party not willing to make it happen thus far, are the Seahawks.

So, this weekend, there is a chance another chapter is added to those franchise-changing moments in Cowboys/Seahawks lore.


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Star Blog

A Look Around The NFC East: Week 3

Kevin Brady

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Tyrone Crawford, Carson Wentz, Eagles

Week two didn't go as planned for much of the NFC East, with only the Dallas Cowboys reigning victorious last Sunday.

Now, three teams are locked in a tie for first place at 1-1, with the New York Giants lagging behind with a winless record. Week 3 is shaping up to be a potential early turning point, however, with Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz returning and each team facing a very beatable opponent.

Let's take a look around the division and see what the Cowboys' foes will be facing this week.

Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles fell victim to one of the more surprising upsets of the weekend last Sunday, as Ryan Fitzpatrick led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers over the Eagles 27-21. While their defense got off to a shaky start in the loss, it was the offense which proved too little too late in their push down the stretch.

Carson Wentz is expected to not only return but to start on Sunday in the Eagles' match up against the Colts. Indianapolis upset the Washington Redskins last week, but will be 6 point underdogs when the game kicks off in Philadelphia on Sunday.

Wentz should give the defending champs an extra boost, and while they haven't looked as dominant as many expected through the first two games, this could be the game to spring them the rest of the way.

Washington Redskins

As mentioned earlier, the Redskins fell in Indianapolis last week, and are now tied for first place in the division with a 1-1 record. As dominant and impressive as Washington looked in their opener against Arizona, Washington's week two loss featured lethargic offensive play for four quarters.

This week the Redskins are three point home underdogs as Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers come to town. Green Bay tied Minnesota a week ago, but behind Rodgers and their potent offense, they have the chance to take advantage of Washington's suspect secondary down the field.

Sunday will be a tough test for the Redskins as they look to get back above .500 against a tough conference opponent.

New York Giants

The Giants' season is on the brink this week, and that really isn't a dramatic statement at all. Now at 0-2 with a division loss to the Cowboys last week, the Giants have to beat the 0-2 Texans on Sunday to get some confidence and keep pace within the conference.

Lucky for them, the Texans haven't looked impressive whatsoever through two games. Unlucky for them, the Texans have strong pass rushers like JJ Watt and Jadeveon Clowney ready to abuse their weak offensive line.

Houston is a six point home favorite over the Giants, proving it will be an uphill battle for New York to save their season.


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Star Blog

Cowboys en Español: La Defensiva de Dallas es Muy Real

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Are Dallas Cowboys Building A Championship Defense? 3

Después de dos semanas de acción de los Dallas Cowboys, una cosa ha quedado más que clara. La defensiva del coordinador defensivo Rod Marinelli ha demostrado que es realmente buena. No como en otros años, que nos conformábamos con que la defensiva dejará avanzar y cediera tres puntos hasta que se rompía en el último cuarto.

No, ahora es diferente. Este año, los Dallas Cowboys tienen presión al QB opuesto. No sólo DeMarcus Lawrence, sino Taco Charlton, Randy Gregory y recientemente, los linebackers. Hemos visto a Jaylon Smith y Damien Wilson brindar presión y sobre todo, llegar a sus objetivos.

Los linebackers no han brillado sólo en esto, sino en otros ámbitos defensivos, como cobertura aérea y más. Incluso Joe Thomas ha logrado mantener su nivel que vimos en pretemporada cuando se le ha pedido entrar al campo.

Y en cuanto a la secundaria, no podríamos estar más agradecidos con la actuación de nuestros cornerbacks. Byron Jones está jugando a un nivel increíble. La semana pasada, Eli Manning sólo se atrevió a lanzar el balón en su dirección en cinco ocasiones. En esas cinco, consiguió sólo un pase completo para cero yardas. Chidobe Awuzie también ha tenido un gran inicio al 2018, manteniendo un nivel de juego consistente y efectivo. Estamos hablando de que el domingo pasado, estos dos cornerbacks se enfrentaron a uno de los mejores WR en la NFL, Odell Beckham Jr.

Finalmente, la posición de safety se ha visto como la unidad más débil en la defensiva. Jeff Heath es un titular promedio y Kavon Frazier tiene mucho camino por recorrer. Afortunadamente, hay esperanza de que Xavier Woods regrese de lesión este domingo.

A pesar de que en el 2016 todos veíamos a la ofensiva como nuestro futuro, es sorprendente el nivel que ha mostrado la defensiva. Es más agresiva, más efectiva y más confiable que en otros años. No podemos subestimar la llegada del coach Kris Richard al equipo.

Sobre todo después de que en el partido contra los New York Giants y los Carolina Panthers se demostró que Richard está involucrado directamente con las decisiones de las jugadas que se ejecutarán en el campo. Incluso Marinelli no tuvo problemas admitiendo que efectivamente, Richard estaba ganándose un rol en este aspecto.

Esto es muy relevante para los Dallas Cowboys, pues una de las cosas más destacadas que hemos visto las últimas semanas es el usaje de cargas o "blitzes" especiales en varias oportunidades. Incluyendo tercer down y largo.

Es algo que no habíamos visto nunca con el conservador Marinelli y que claramente es producto de Richard. Este personaje que viene de los Seattle Seahawks continua emergiendo como un candidato real al puesto de coordinador defensivo en el 2019 o quien sabe, quizá sea nombrado head coach si las cosas comienzan a ir mal para este equipo.

Sin duda alguna, la defensiva ha demostrado que es muy confiable y real. Es tiempo de que la ofensiva de Dallas responda a esto y comience a mover más las cadenas y sobre todo, aprovechar las oportunidades que tengan de anotar touchdowns. Empezar a depender de goles de campo nunca sale bien.

Linehan: "Butler Has Had a Good Camp", But Will He Stay?

Dallas Cowboys WR Brice Butler (Matthew Emmons / USA TODAY Sports)

Sobre la llegada de Brice Butler

Increíblemente, Brice Butler regresó a los Dallas Cowboys, incluso después de todos los comentarios que hizo en ciertos programas de televisión. La primera reacción al respecto fue de confusión; ¿por qué regresar con un receptor que nunca fue tan especial y que habló tanto de Dallas?

La respuesta a esta pregunta se esclareció un poco este jueves por la noche cuando surgieron los rumores de que Terrance Williams, quien fue arrestado en el offseason por intoxicación pública, podría ser suspendido pronto por la NFL.

Esto probablemente no sucederá antes del partido de la semana 3, pero de todas maneras explica mucho sobre el último movimiento de los Cowboys.

Predicción #DALvsSEA

En un partido bastante cerrado, creo que la defensiva de los Dallas Cowboys hará lo suficiente para llevarse la victoria. Es de suma importancia derribar a Russell Wilson y sobre todo, que la ofensiva tenga su mejor actuación de la campaña. La defensiva de Seahawks es bastante efectiva y no será sencillo vencerlos.

Marcador: Dallas Cowboys 21 - Seattle Seahawks 17

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: La Defensiva de Dallas es Muy Real" 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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