Draft day is almost here and it's business as usual for the Dallas Cowboys. Every year, NFL scouts, coaches, analysts and writers break down hours of film on different prospects and potential draft picks.
By now, the team's scouts and coaches have watched film, gone to the pro days, interviewed players, etc. The team has done its homework so that by the time it's their turn to pick, Cowboys fans everywhere are hoping that Jerry & Co. will make the right moves.
A lot has occurred this off-season, and now the team will need to answer for the moves they made.
Players like Anthony Hitchens and Dez Bryant are no longer with the team, and new Cowboys like Allen Hurns and Kony Ealy are eager to get started. However, before anyone hits the field, the Cowboys need to answer these five questions during the draft.
Only when these are answered, will the Cowboys be ready to get started.
Who will replace Dez Bryant?
Signing Deonte Thompson and Allen Hurns look like solid moves that will help quarterback Dak Prescott, but neither look like viable heirs. Realistically, Thompson looks to be more of a Brice Butler replacement and Allen Hurns is an improvement at the WR2 position over Terrance Williams.
As far as finding the new play making, number one receiver? That looks likely to be answered in one of the first three rounds.
Whoever this new player is will have a lot of pressure on them to not only click with Dak Prescott, but to become the new star receiver wearing the star. The last one was Dez Bryant, so they'll have some big shoes to fill.
In what round do they complete the offensive line?
The Cowboys are as close to having a complete offensive line as you can have, except for the left guard spot. Last year's starter, Johnathan Cooper, is gone and there's a vacancy at his position. The team has a few options on the roster currently in Chaz Green, Marcus Martin, Joe Looney, and possibly La'el Collins.
Collins looked very good at right tackle in the second half of the season, and switching him back to guard doesn't seem likely. What does seem likely is using a draft pick on the position.
If the team wants an instant starter, they'll have to address the left guard in one of the first two rounds. This year's interior line group is very top-heavy, and any one of them look like they could fill in nicely with the Cowboys.
What's the team's biggest defensive priority?
The Cowboys have needs at linebacker, safety and nose tackle. Which one gets drafted first is sometimes based upon best available as well as which area needs the most help.
The Cowboys have a starting set of linebackers in Sean Lee, Jaylon Smith and Damien Wilson, but the depth behind them is not very good. Depth is much more important than realized when you throw in the injury history of Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith.
The Cowboys have plenty of talent and depth along the defensive line, but the biggest mistake made was playing Maliek Collins at the nose tackle position when he thrived at the 3-technique. A pure nose tackle is a big need, which could solidify the starting front four.
Finally, we reach the back-end of the defense.
Amazingly, cornerback is not a need this year, as it has been. With Byron Jones moving back to corner opposite Chidobe Awuzie, and Jourdan Lewis playing in the slot, the starting corners are set.
As far as the safety position, Xavier Woods looks like the most talented, and he has the ability to play multiple secondary positions. Jeff Heath and Kavon Frazier will compete for the other starting spot, but I wouldn't put it past the team to improve on the position sometime early in the draft.
Is Rico Gathers the future?
We all saw Rico Gathers ball out in the 2017 preseason, and then Cowboys fan's imaginations went wild. However, a concussion and subsequent neck injury caused Gathers to miss all of his second year.
With Jason Witten not getting any younger, James Hanna retiring, Geoff Swaim being more of a blocker than a receiver, and Blake Jarwin being all potential at this point, the tight end position is a question mark. We all want Rico to be "the guy," but how much longer can the team wait?
I wouldn't put it past the Cowboys to at least consider drafting a tight end. This year's tight end group is very deep, and all options should be considered. Undoubtedly, Rico Gathers is talented and could become a serious receiving target for the team, but by the time the draft is over, we may have our answers.
Is Earl Thomas still on the table?
Ever since Earl Thomas went into the Cowboys tunnel following their game against the Seahawks, Cowboys twitter has been buzzing. As we've gotten closer to the draft, these rumors have not died down in the slightest.
The Seahawks initially tried to get a first rounder for Earl Thomas, but that wasn't happening.
A more likely asking price is a second or potentially a third-round pick. Dallas being willing to trade one of those for Thomas is still a possibility.
Earl Thomas, wherever he ends up playing, wants a new contract, and it doesn't look like he'll get one. Richard Sherman is gone, and Earl Thomas could end up the same way. Not only does he want a new contract, he wants to go to a team of his choosing.
With the release of Dez Bryant, a contract extension for Earl Thomas is a bit more realistic. But whether or not the Cowboys are interested in trading for him, or if Seattle wants to part with him will be answered on Draft night.
Can the Cowboys Become Legitimate NFC Conference Contenders this Offseason?
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
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
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.
Could Loaded FA Safety Market Drive Down Earl Thomas’ Value?
It's no secret the Dallas Cowboys and Earl Thomas share a mutual interest in one another. Thomas has publicly stated his desire to join America's Team and the Cowboys did their darndest to make that happen last offseason. Nothing ever materialized a year ago, but it's looking as if the stars have finally aligned and a union between the two could merely be just weeks away.
Surprisingly enough, the Dallas Cowboys may have dodged a bullet last year when the Seattle Seahawks refused to part ways with their All-Pro safety. Not only would they have had to surrender a high draft pick, but they would've also had to extend Thomas' contract. Fortunately, timing is everything and now the Cowboys might just have to do the latter.
A potential contract between the Cowboys and Thomas is of course what I want to dive in today. I'm not going to get into numbers right now, because it's nearly impossible to project any kind of contract for any safety this offseason, especially for the former Seahawk, Earl Thomas.
Right now, it's a little difficult to know who might have the advantage in contract negotiations, Earl Thomas or the Dallas Cowboys. A lot of times the one that has the leverage, however slight, is the one that gets the better of the deal. As surprising as it may be, the Cowboys might just have the advantage here and I'll tell you why.
First off, this year's market for free agent safeties is pretty stacked with starting caliber players. See below:
- Earl Thomas
- Landon Collins
- Lamarcus Joyner
- Tyrann Mathieu
- Adrian Amos
- Clayton Geathers
- Ha-Ha Clinton Dix
- Glover Quinn
- Tre Boston
- Kenny Vaccaro
- George Iloka
- Jimmie Ward
- Adrian Phillips
Earl Thomas is obviously the headliner here amongst the free agent safeties, but having so many starting caliber players available could drive down Thomas' market value just a bit. This is especially true when you take into consideration the market for FA safeties just a year ago. It was almost a complete standstill last year, with only Kurt Coleman signing a three-year $16.5 million deal with the New Orleans Saints. Not even the "Honey Badger" Tyrann Mathieu could get more than a one-year deal.
With all of these safeties available in free agency, we could be looking at another stingy market. This of course could be good or bad news for the Dallas Cowboys, especially as it pertains to Earl Thomas. Since he is the top FA safety available, everything could once again be at a standstill until he is signed.
Of course, we all know this will ultimately come down to determining Earl Thomas' market value. There is no denying he is still arguably the best free safety in the game today, but there are concerns about his age (30) and the two lower leg injuries he's sustained in the past three years.
Even with the loaded free agent market of starting caliber safeties and Thomas' age and recent injury history, he's still likely to receive a contract that earns him $10 million annually, give or take. It wouldn't surprise me at all if he gets another four-year deal worth $40 million, $25.7 million guaranteed, with a $9.5 million signing bonus like he signed with the Seahawks back in 2014.
The Cowboys of course would probably find a four-year $40 million deal for Earl Thomas acceptable. They would more than likely frontload the contract with a lot of protection in the details. They have the cap space to make this happen and still be able to sign their own, so money shouldn't be a problem.
Now, whether or not Thomas' market value may dip a little due to all of the above mentioned reasons will be something we will have to wait and find out. Regardless, I'd be a little shocked if Earl Thomas doesn't finish his career with the Dallas Cowboys.
Do you think Earl Thomas' market value will take a little hit this offseason?
Acquiring Brown Will Give Dallas Twin Turbo Terrors
What a difference a receiver makes, right? As Dallas fans, we know the impact of a player who can shake coverage, get open, and catch the ball. How was the season going before the Cowboys pulled the trigger for Amari Cooper in the deal with the Raiders? Cooper proved to be the lightning rod and a turning point in a season that was growing increasingly dismal. Dak Prescott and Cooper went together like peanut butter and jelly, while the Cowboys stormed to a division title and a postseason berth.
Now, imagine all of that times two… maybe even two and a half if Antonio Brown could be had from the Steelers. Scary right? We understand there’s only one ball to go around but that didn’t stop Kevin Durant from joining the Warriors, did it?
As of this writing, the best online sportsbooks like Intertops, are dealing Dallas as the seventh of 16 choices to win the NFC championship at odds of 12-1. Imagine how those odds would shrink if Brown wore a Cowboys uniform next season, giving Prescott the luxury of not one upper echelon wideout but that plus an elite receiver. Hut, hut, hut and a few clouds of smoke later the Cowboys would be moving the chains or celebrating in the endzone.
Brown and Cooper would be a devastating combination with Ezekiel Elliott coming out of the backfield. Brown was made for Dallas, it gives him an even grander stage than the one he shared with Ben Roethlisberger and Le’Veon Bell in Pittsburgh.
Despite the fact that the 'Boys haven’t won a Super Bowl since Barry Switzer was roaming the sidelines in the mid-90s, America’s Team still resides in Dallas. But we need a game-changer and Brown is just such an athlete. But what do we give in return and will that cost be worth whatever productive years Brown has left after this one? Let’s not forget that the mercurial Miami native will be 31 when the season begins and men who make a living with their legs don’t get better at that age. But Brown is so good and so unique that, even if he drops half a click, he's still amongst the best in the game.
That level of talent is hard to replicate and it could be the missing piece which allows Dallas to be a legitimate Super Bowl contender next season and the year after.
However, up to this point, we’ve been very good at dreaming of a Brown to Dallas trade but haven’t quite worked out the details. It takes two to tango and if we expect to get the Steelers’ attention we need to give them something valuable in return. Dallas surrendered their first-round pick (27th) this season when they traded for Cooper so that’s no longer an asset.
Pittsburgh would be vying for a first-round pick (and likely more) for Brown's services but some have speculated Dallas would consider dealing rookie-standout Leighton Vander Esch.
Wait... what? We know, you’re clutching your pearls, and the words are stuck in your gasp. We get it. The kid was a home run this past season, leading the Dallas defense in tackles and earning a Pro Bowl invitation in his inaugural NFL season. But this would be a Faustian deal.
The Cowboys give up a player who is poised to be a stud for years to come for a playmaker in Brown that could render a Super Bowl in the immediate future. Brown's expiration date will surely turn his milk sour sooner rather than later, but in the here and now, Antonio Brown could be the bell cow who leads the Cowboys to the promised land before he’s put out to pasture.
Just something to think about...
Star Blog2 days ago
Acquiring Brown Will Give Dallas Twin Turbo Terrors
Dallas Cowboys1 week ago
3 Free Agent Targets for the Dallas Cowboys Offense
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
Will Cowboys S Jeff Heath Be a 2019 Salary Cap Casualty?
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
How Does LB Joe Thomas Fit Into Dallas Cowboys’ 2019 Plans?
Dallas Cowboys1 week ago
Cowboys C Travis Frederick Provides Update on Recovery, 2019 Return
NFL Draft2 weeks ago
Mock Draft Analysis: Who are Experts Sending to the Cowboys?
Star Blog1 week ago
Dak Prescott Won’t Give A “Hometown Discount,” Nor Should He
Star Blog1 week ago
Should the Cowboys Try to Pry RB Duke Johnson Away From Cleveland?