Many of us around Cowboys Nation had high hopes for Randy Gregory after the way he played in 2018, but unfortunately those hopes have now all but died thanks to his most recent suspension. To make matters worse, the Dallas Cowboys now have to find more depth at the defensive end position through either free agency or the draft. The former is what I want to focus on today.
Since the Cowboys are planning to pay a hefty price to extend DeMarcus Lawrence's contract it's doubtful they will pay out for one of the top tier DEs available on the open market. Instead, they will likely focus on the mid to lower tier players. Determining who might be on their radar though is nearly impossible, but familiarity with a certain player, however little, could be a giveaway.
Here are five potential Randy Gregory replacements who have ties to Dallas:
Here is a name Cowboys Nation should be pretty familiar with. Benson Mayowa was a member of the Dallas Cowboys for the 2016 and 2017 seasons before eventually getting buried on the depth chart in the final year of his contract. He was actually the sack leader (6 QB sacks) for the Cowboys in 2016 when DeMarcus Lawrence only managed to play nine games.
Mayowa could be exactly the kind of cost-effective free agent defensive end they are looking for to provide more depth at the position after Randy Gregory's most recent suspension. He still has enough juice left to get after the QB. He managed to accumulate four quarterback sacks for the Arizona Cardinals last year, and accomplished that with very few opportunities behind Chandler Jones and Markus Golden.
Preston Smith is someone the Dallas Cowboys should be pretty familiar with in more ways than one. Not only has he played for their division rival, the Washington Redskins, for the past four years, but he was also a college teammate of Quarterback Dak Prescott's at Mississippi State. That kind of familiarity could end up bringing the two sides together this offseason.
Smith might not be as cost-effective as Benson Mayowa, but we all know you get what you pay for. He has accumulated 24.5 QB sacks in his career and would definitely be an upgrade, even though he's been an outside linebacker with the Redskins since entering the league. I personally believe he's better suited to play in a 4-3 defense and has the size to do just that (6'5", 265). There's also the added bonus of weakening an opponent while also strengthening yourself.
Cowboys Nation has been hoping for over a year now Kris Richard's ties to former Seattle Seahawks players would net the Dallas Cowboys Earl Thomas, but it could end up helping them replace Randy Gregory for the time being. Bruce Irvin was with the Seahawks the same time as Richard and that could help lure him to Dallas.
Irvin probably wouldn't break the bank due to his age (31), which in itself could make him an attractive option for the Cowboys. But, you throw in the fact that he's still more than capable of harassing opposing QBs and you've got yourself a player capable of making a difference on an already talented defense. He may just be a stopgap until Dallas finds a long-term solution, but he's an intriguing option nonetheless.
This is a little outside the box thinking since Anthony Barr has been an outside linebacker in the Minnesota Vikings 4-3 defensive scheme, but it wasn't that long ago Rod Marinelli was supposedly looking at him as a defensive end. If Marinelli still believes Barr is capable of putting his hand in the dirt as a DE, he could try to recruit him once again to the Dallas Cowboys.
Barr has the size (6'5", 255) to play DE with the Cowboys, but no one really knows what he is capable of if asked to be a full-time pass rusher. It would seem like a risky move because of the unknown, but at worst he could be a situational pass rusher and the replacement at outside linebacker for Damien Wilson. I'd be willing to take the gamble. He does have 13.5 career QB sacks after all as an OLB, so it's not that big of a stretch to think he could be successful as a DE.
Alex Okafor is a born and bred Texan who came right out of the heart of Dallas and could be looking to make his way home. He was a talented pass rusher with the Longhorns at the University of Texas and continued to be so in the NFL with the Arizona Cardinals as an outside linebacker and once again with the New Orleans Saints as a defensive end. His versatility and productivity are definitely intriguing.
Okafor is yet another cost-effective option to replace Randy Gregory in Dallas. He's averaged at least four QB sacks the last two years with the Saints as mostly a backup/role player, and could do the same with the Cowboys. He's just 28 years old and should have more than enough left in the tank to contribute until a better option becomes available.
Any of these Randy Gregory replacements make sense for the Dallas Cowboys?
Forget Minkah Fitzpatrick, Cowboys Should Trade for Jamal Adams
Safety Jamal Adams appears to be unhappy with the New York Jets after their Monday night loss to the Cleveland Browns. He apparently unfollowed the team on social media, which as you can imagine caused quite a stir around the Internet and started a lot of trade speculation. If the scuttlebutt proves to be true, the Dallas Cowboys should be all over this.
Jets star Safety Jamal Adams has unfollowed the Jets on Instagram and removed them from his bio.
Just a few days ago the Dallas Cowboys showed an interest in potentially working out a trade with the Miami Dolphins for Defensive Back Minkah Fitzpatrick, but nothing ever materialized there. Now that Fitzpatrick has been traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers, Jerry Jones should get the Jets on the line and see what it would take to acquire Jamal Adams.
I think we can all agree the former LSU Tiger would be a huge upgrade for the Cowboys defense, especially as it pertains to the safety position. It's arguably the weakest link on Dallas' entire roster, even more so now that Xavier Woods is expected to miss several weeks with a high ankle injury.
There's no denying Jamal Adams is a difference making type of player. He is not only an interchangeable safety capable of playing in deep coverage or around the line of scrimmage, but he's the kind of vocal leader the Cowboys secondary is currently lacking. Acquiring him would make Dallas' entire defensive unit a force to be reckoned with.
Like with Minkah Fitzpatrick though, this will come down to the compensation the Jets are looking for for a player of Adams' caliber. I personally believe it would take more than a first-round pick in 2020, likely a second rounder as well. But, if Dallas were to offer their first and third next year and throw in maybe Taco Charlton for good measure, that could possibly get the deal done.
All of this is pure speculation though since there really hasn't been any word New York is willing to part ways with their star safety at this point. Just because Jamal Adams unfollow's the team on social media doesn't mean he's getting put on the trade block. But if somehow he is, the Dallas Cowboys should put their best offer together.
After all, Jerry Jones has shown in the past he's willing to do what it takes to acquire players he thinks can take the team to the next level, especially a team with Super Bowl aspirations. He did it back in the 90s with Deion Sanders and Charles Haley, and an argument could be made Jamal Adams could end up making just as big a difference as those two.
If the Cowboys can somehow pull this off they would have Adams under contract for the rest of the 2019 season, 2020, and 2021 if they exercise his fifth-year option as a former first-round draft pick. Having him for basically three years would be well worth the compensation it would take to acquire him in my opinion.
Do you think the Dallas Cowboys should try to trade for Jamal Adams?
Takeaway Tuesday: Zeke Had The Exact Kind of Game Cowboys Need
It's pretty difficult to deal with the hype of being 2-0 to open a 2019 NFL season. The Dallas Cowboys have done just that with a revamped offense and a quarterback that's thrown seven touchdowns in the process. They currently sit alone atop of the NFC East and although it's too early to know what kind of team this will be when it's all said alone, we're excited.
Let's dive into this week's takeaways!
We Need Robert Quinn Back
The Dallas Cowboys defense hasn't been as bad as many would think. They've had a few bad moments but the talent is still there and should be improving as the season goes on. Last Sunday, what was most frustrating to me was the lack of a pass rush. DeMarcus Lawrence had a pretty good game, even though his stat line doesn't look very pretty. The pressure was there constantly and he forced a handful of bad plays from Case Keenum. Tyrone Crawford managed to sack him once.
Other than that, for most of the game the pressure was scarce. Fortunately, the Cowboys are getting Robert Quinn back from suspension this week. Having two quality edge rushers will boost a defense that has the potential to be great, but has only been "good" two weeks into the season.
Ezekiel Elliott Had The Kind of Game The Cowboys Need
Zeke was back for a heavier workload in week 2 after having a snap count in the season opener. It may have not felt like it, but the Cowboys' star running back had a pretty good game versus the Redskins. On 23 carries he had 111 yards and a touchdown, averaging 4.8 yards per carry.
In contrast of recent years, Elliott had a great game without the team heavily leaning on the running game. Dak Prescott threw the ball 30 times and Zeke still had a great game. This is what Cowboys Nation should want out of Kellen Moore's offense.
Elliott has two rushing touchdowns in the season, compared to six in all of last year. This is a product of an offense that's now dangerous in many ways, specially in the red zone. You gotta love what Moore is accomplishing so far.
Slow Starts Can't Continue to Happen
The biggest issue with the Cowboys in the first two weeks of the season has been their slow openings. In both games they've started trailing early. The worst thing about it is that it's been due to giving up big plays (like Saquon Barkley's big run in week 1) and quick, unsuccessful drives on offense (like a three-and-out drive followed by a drive that ended in an interception last Sunday).
Fortunately for the Cowboys, the Giants and Redskins didn't pose much of a problem. But when we reach the tougher stretches of the schedule, we know how quickly a game can turn south. Not every rival will be as unforgiving as the 0-2 foes they've faced so far.
Dak Prescott Continues to Prove He's It
Last but not least, we'll talk about Dak Prescott. Once again, he looked great. He finished the day with 269 yards, three touchdowns and an interception that came on a tipped ball from Randall Cobb's hand. He threw an absolute dime to WR Devin Smith, giving him his ninth 50+ yard touchdown pass of his career (ranking third in the NFL since 2016 behind Tom Brady and Philip Rivers).
All game long, he was precise against Washington's defense. He dealt three touchdowns to three different players and was making throws with anticipation and poise. If you're not sold on Dak Prescott yet, I don't know if you'll ever be.
He also looked well as a runner, specially on that 42-yard run where he stiffed arm Josh Norman. I hope the Cowboys continue to use him in the running game.
Brees Out for 6 Weeks, How Much Will Cowboys Win Streak Last?
The Dallas Cowboys are off to a hot start in 2019. Two weeks into the season, they're showing off a 2-0 record as they've outscored their opponents 66-38. The offense has been on point through two games under Kellen Moore's coordination. There have been some issues, but these have been largely outnumbered by the positive things.
Truth be told, such a start was expected. Well, maybe not Dak's seven touchdowns and 674 yards, but having two wins to start off the season certainly was. The Cowboys opening three-game stretch looked like an easy one from miles away. Dallas faces the Miami Dolphins next Sunday and they're already favorites by 20.5 points in the betting world.
Things weren't expected to heat up for the Cowboys until week 4 and now it seems like that won't happen.
New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees suffered a hand injury against the L.A. Rams last Sunday and will require surgery. A torn ligament on his throwing hand thumb will keep him out for at least six weeks. This is a heavy blow for a team expected to be a Super Bowl contender.
From our breaking news segment on @nflnetwork: #Saints QB Drew Brees needs thumb surgery and is out for roughly 6 weeks. Teddy Bridgewater is the new starter. https://t.co/x4g6yVVIZm
With Teddy Bridgewater set to become the Saints' starting quarterback, odds will likely shift in the Cowboys' direction when both teams face each other on September 29th, a matchup that will take place under the lights on Sunday Night Football.
For the Cowboys, it means an increased chance of winning on week 4. I'm not going to lie to you, I would 100% rather face a Saints team with Drew Brees under center to enjoy a good football game, but it is what it is. You hate to see a great football player like Brees deal with injuries like this.
The Saints are still a very complete football team and shouldn't be underestimated, but it's hard to picture them being as productive offensively without their elite quarterback. Having said that, the Cowboys' schedule looks very favorable for Dallas.
These are the rivals that the Cowboys will face prior to the bye week:
- VS Miami Dolphins
- @ New Orleans Saints
- VS Green Bay Packers
- @ New York Jets
- vs Philadelphia Eagles
The toughest rivals on that slate are clearly the Packers and Eagles. It won't be easy, but should the Cowboys stay healthy, beating both definitely seems possible. Before that, I won't be surprised if the Cowboys reach the bye week with a 7-0 record.
This team has been pretty impressive through two weeks and if they clean up their slow starts, watch out for a long win streak. Looking at the games after the bye week, the biggest challenge definitely are the New England Patriots on week 12.
I don't want to sound overly optimistic, but I truly believe a long win streak is ahead of the Dallas Cowboys. Such a start to the season wouldn't be all that new for the Dak Prescott "era." Although they lost their season opener in 2016, they went on to win 11 straight on route to the #1 seed in the NFC.
We'll have a better idea of where the Cowboys stand after they face better competition. Right now, we need to handle the hype of a satisfying 2-0 record.
How long do you think the Cowboys win streak will last?
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