Today, March 11, teams around the NFL can start negotiating with Unrestricted Free Agents, but can't officially put ink to paper until this Wednesday, March 13, when the official league year starts. For those of us around Cowboys Nation, this means we might finally start to see some resemblance of a plan to the Dallas Cowboys approach to free agency and the 2019 NFL Draft.
With that in mind, I thought I would put together a list of several realistic and cost-effective free agent possibilities the Dallas Cowboys should sign before the draft. We all know they like to address as many needs as possible through free agency so that they can approach the draft without any glaring needs. That has been their approach the past several years and will more than likely continue to be so this year.
Below I've listed five free agents I would personally sign if I were the Dallas Cowboys. I think each and every one of them are a realistic possibility and won't break the bank. If things play out the way I hope they do, the Cowboys could enter into the draft and truly take the best player available.
Without further ado, here are the five free agents I think the Dallas Cowboys should sign before the draft…
RB, T. J. Yeldon
It was rumored the Dallas Cowboys have/had an interest in trading for Cleveland Browns Running Back Duke Johnson, but I for one didn't understand why considering T. J. Yeldon is available on the open market. Don't get me wrong, I like Duke, but I didn't like the idea of the Cowboys having to absorb his contract and give up a draft pick to acquire his services. Yeldon is the more cost-effective option and has the same kind of versatility.
According to sportrac.com, the Cowboys could sign Yeldon to a three-year deal that pays him somewhere between 3.5 to $4 million per season. For comparison sake, that's pretty much what the New England Patriots paid Rex Burkhead (3 yrs, $9,750,000, $3,250,000 annually). It's a little more than they'd have to pay a rookie RB, but Yeldon's versatility as a runner and receiving ability out of the backfield would definitely be an upgrade behind Ezekiel Elliott.
DE, Bruce Irvin
It's no secret the Dallas Cowboys could be looking to add more depth at the defensive end position after Randy Gregory's most recent suspension. They could wait and try to draft a pass rusher, but we all know rookies generally take a few years before they can to get accustomed to the speed of the NFL. That's why I believe the Cowboys would be wise to sign Bruce Irvin ahead of the draft. He shouldn't cost much and can literally hit the ground running.
The Cowboys could probably sign Irvin to a contract similar to what he signed with the Atlanta Falcons last year. He played under a one-year, $3.2 million deal in 2018, which is a bargain in my opinion considering he still more than capable of accumulating 6 to 8 sacks a year. He could even be a little cheaper considering he turns 32 in November. Anyway you slice it though, he would be a great addition, especially considering he has a history already with Kris Richard.
S, Adrian Phillips
Adrian Phillips isn't the safety a lot of Cowboys Nation was hoping for, but he could be the safety the Dallas Cowboys need. He isn't one of the bigger names amongst the free agent safeties this year, but he is one of the more versatile. With the Los Angeles Chargers he was a Swiss Army knife if you will and played a variety of different roles for them. He played strong safety, free safety, dime linebacker, and nickel linebacker. And that's not even mentioning he's also a Texas native (Terrell, Texas) and played at the University of Texas.
Phillips is a cost-effective versatile safety who could come in and be an immediate upgrade over Jeff Heath. He's already played in a similar defensive scheme under Gus Bradley with the Chargers and would give the Cowboys two interchangeable safeties alongside Xavier Woods. Last year he played under a one-year, $1.5 million deal and probably wouldn't command much more this season considering how plush the safety market is. I think that is the definition of a bargain deal, especially considering he won't be 27 years old until March 28.
TE, Tyler Eifert
The Dallas Cowboys may have re-signed Jason Witten, but that shouldn't keep them from upgrading the position further. Witten should be considered nothing more than a serviceable stopgap player in 2019, meaning they need a starting caliber tight end still for the future. If healthy, Tyler Eifert could be that guy and it shouldn't take much to bring him aboard.
According to sportrac.com, the market value for Eifert is a one-year, $6.4 million deal. I have a hard time seeing him receiving a contract of that type considering his injury history. A contract similar to what Witten ($3.5 million with incentives) just received from the Cowboys seems much more reasonable. If Dallas were able to add Eifert to the mix with Witten, Blake Jarwin, and Dalton Schultz on a heavy incentive-based contract, the TE position suddenly becomes a strength with a healthy dose of veteran leadership and youth.
OT, Ty Nsekhe
The Dallas Cowboys could try to re-sign Cameron Fleming to another one-year, $2.5 million contract like they did in 2018, but if it was me I'd go after Ty Nsekhe. Nsekhe has been the Washington Redskins swing tackle for the past several years and played under the second-round tender ($2.91 million) last season. The Cowboys could probably sign him to a similar deal like they gave Fleming last year, possibly even cheaper since he's turning 34 years old in October.
Nsekhe is capable of playing either on the left or right side and could possibly come in and challenge La'el Collins for the starting RT position. What I really like about him though is the fact he's used to filling in as an injury replacement. It's something he's done quite a bit of for Trent Williams, who like Tyron Smith, has had to miss a few games here and there the past few seasons due to reoccurring injuries. At worst he would be an upgrade at the swing tackle position, but with starting ability.
Do you think this would be a good free agent haul for the Dallas Cowboys?
BREAKING: Ezekiel Elliott Handcuffed After Incident with Security Guard
TMZ has released footage of Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott being handcuffed and escorted by police after an altercation with security at a Las Vegas music festival over the weekend.
Elliott was not arrested and no charges have been filed.
Ezekiel Elliott handcuffed but not charged after incident at Las Vegas music festival https://t.co/NJQ6csGgnv
The video shows Zeke engaged in what appears to be an argument with a female companion. Elliott is seen following her through the crowd, and then security starts to get involved after Zeke moves his body to block her from walking away.
One of the security guards says something that attracts Elliott's attention, causing him to move in closer. The guard falls backward from minimal contact. It as soon after that police get involved.
There isn't much here that would cause trouble for the average player, but that's hardly Elliott's situation. He's one of the most prolific stars in the NFL and already has history with the league for domestic violence and personal conduct issues.
Remember, no charges were filed when the NFL gave Elliott a six-game suspension in 2017 after accusations from an ex-girlfriend of domestic violence.
We will have to wait and see how Roger Goodell chooses to treat this latest issue.
Ezekiel Elliott ‘Excited’ About Dallas Cowboys ‘Promise’ in 2019
There's a lot to look forward to as the team gears up for offseason training activities and minicamp. The 2019 Dallas Cowboys look like a potential contender in the NFC after making it to the divisional round of the playoffs before falling to the NFC representative Los Angeles Rams by a score.
The offseason additions the team has made in addition to the draft have many in Cowboys Nation excited about the Dallas Cowboys heading into the 2019 season. That includes Running Back Ezekiel Elliott.
Ezekiel Elliott: "I'm just excited about the group of guys we have. I'm excited about the talent we have on this team. I'm excited about the leadership group we have. I think we have a lot of the right pieces. I think we have a lot of promise for this season.
I think the Cowboys are right to be optimistic about their team heading into the season. They had one of the top 10 defenses in the NFL and an offense that was trending in the right direction over the last half of 2018.
On both the offensive and defensive side of the football the Dallas Cowboys have gotten better as a team.
The offense sees the return of Travis Frederick to the middle of the offensive line and though Joe Looney was good, he's no Travis Frederick. Frederick's return will improve communication along the offensive line and improve their run blocking up the middle; an area where the Cowboys struggled with consistency in 2018.
Another veteran returning to the Cowboys for 2019 is Tight End Jason Witten. Though he's slowed down some at 38 years old, having his leadership and veteran presence on a team attempting to make a deep playoff run is very important. Witten's as steady a player as has been in the NFL and should still be able to make plays in the run and pass game.
The additions of Randall Cobb and Tony Pollard give the Dallas Cowboys a more versatile group of players for new Offensive Coordinator Kellen Moore to toy with. This versatility will allow them to keep teams off balance. With Randall Cobb, the Cowboys will be able to move Amari Cooper around the formation in order to find favorable matchups in the passing game. Tony Pollard gives the Cowboys a durable gadget option and big-play threat in the run and pass game. Pollard's ability as a returner could help the Cowboys get more favorable field position in 2019.
Ezekiel Elliott himself stands to benefit a great deal from the additions and changes the Cowboys made to the offense. Pollard is an upgrade as a running back to Rod Smith, so the Cowboys can cut Ezekiel Elliott's workload a little and keep him fresh by expanding on the two series a game the coaching staff used to give Smith.
On defense, they added Robert Quinn to a defensive line that already boasts one All-Pro pass rusher in DeMarcus Lawrence. Christian Covington, Kerry Hyder, and Trysten Hill provide depth to an interior that struggled against the Rams in the playoffs and the Indianapolis Colts during the regular season. The defensive line.
In addition to all that, the Cowboys will get to see what kind of progress their 2018 rookie standouts make in year two.
Leighton Vander Esch was a second-team All-Pro in 2018 and should have won defensive rookie of the year with his play. Connor Williams looks to have gained the necessary size and strength to play left guard in the NFL. A second offseason at guard should help him to improve at his new position. Michael Gallup was a revelation in the third round of the draft last year. After slowly being worked into the lineup over the first half of the season, he emerged as the Dallas Cowboys second wide receiver.
The NFC East and the NFC is a tough place to play. Every year, it's an uphill climb to win enough games to win the division or make the playoffs, but the Cowboys have put themselves in a fantastic position to do just that. Though no team has been a repeat winner of the NFC East since the early 2000s, the Dallas Cowboys have built a team that will be able to compete with any team in the NFL.
From the roster to the coaching staff, the Dallas Cowboys have built a squad that should get anyone excited. Are there questions as the team heads to training camp? Of course. But every team has questions at one position or another. The Cowboys have done an excellent job to minimize those questions through free agency and the draft and have one of the best teams in the NFL on paper.
The excitement that Ezekiel Elliott feels is warranted. The Dallas Cowboys do have a lot of promise as we look ahead. Now as they get ready to start ramping up practices, it's time for Elliott and the rest of the team to go prove it.
And I have a feeling they'll live up to that "promise."
DT Leonard Williams May be Available, Should the Cowboys Explore a Trade?
Per a report by Rich Cimini of ESPN, the New York Jets may be exploring a trade for their star defensive lineman Leonard Williams. With Williams set to hit free agency in 2020, the theory is the Jets may not be interested in locking up Williams long-term after just drafting Quinnen Williams with their top five selection in 2019.
Here's what Cimini had to say in his report:
"There's already talk in league circles that Gase could be looking to move on from Williams, who will be a free agent after the season. He's due to make a guaranteed $14.2 million in the final year of his contract. Gase hasn't said anything about Williams that would spark speculation, but it's not hard to connect the dots when examining the defensive line situation."
Rich Cimini - ESPN.com
Williams has been a really good player for the New York Jets who has played 3-4 defensive end and some defensive tackle for the Jets in his four-year career. A former sixth overall pick has had as many as seven sacks and as few as two sacks a season, but he's played in all 64 games in his career, starting 63. He's stayed healthy and been productive on a Jets defense that hasn't been very good over the last few years.
For the Cowboys defense, he would project as a 3-technique with the ability to be the Cowboys 1-technique in passing situations. Among interior defensive lineman, Leonard Williams finished 21st in run stops per Pro Football Focus and sixth in total pressures with 53. Williams was third among interior players in QB hits with 16 ahead of Kansas City Chiefs Defensive Lineman Chris Jones and Seattle Seahawks Defensive Tackle Jarran Reed. For reference, DeMarcus Lawrence had 63 total pressures and 11 QB hits in 2018, while Tyrone Crawford had only 37 total pressures.
The Dallas Cowboys have been working to reinforce their defensive line this offseason after struggling in the playoff loss to the Los Angeles Rams when the Cowboys gave up over 200 yards rushing. Though they like Antwaun Woods and Maliek Collins, they obviously weren't satisfied with the going into 2019 with just those two in the Dallas interior.
In free agency, the Cowboys added Christian Covington and Kerry Hyder and then drafted Trysten Hill with their second-round pick. They also added Daniel Wise, a player that was seen as a fourth or fifth rounder in most people's minds as an undrafted free agent and will compete for a roster spot.
As intriguing as Covington, Hyder, Hill, and Wise are in addition to Maliek Collins and Woods, Williams would be an immediate upgrade at 3-tech and the Dallas Cowboys should explore it, even if they don't plan on resigning him beyond 2019.
The Cowboys could swap expiring contracts by sending Maliek Collins to New York and a draft pick. Collins is unlikely to be resigned by the team in the 2020 offseason as they have plans for Hill as their 3-tech of the future.
The Dallas Cowboys showed with the trade for Robert Quinn that they're alright going after the one-year rental player. Leonard Williams would make their defense better for 2019 and while they have high hopes for Trysten Hill, Williams is a known asset right now and wouldn't prevent you from giving Hill snaps at 3-tech.
For a team hoping to make a Super Bowl run, adding a player like Leonard Williams makes a lot of sense. He's another disruptive player that would immediately improve your pass rush and also helps your run defense. The Dallas Cowboys have a team ready to win now, so now's the time to go get players that help you do so.
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