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?
Loss to Minnesota Could be the Final Nail in Jason Garrett’s Coffin
The 2019 NFL season kind of seemed like a do or die situation for the Dallas Cowboys current Head Coach Jason Garrett. He is currently in the last year of his contract and his future with the Cowboys organization could be hanging in the balance, especially after the devastating loss to the Minnesota Vikings.
If Jason Garrett isn't extended beyond this season, this loss to Minnesota could possibly be where his career with the Dallas Cowboys started to circle the drain. There are still several games left on the Cowboys schedule this season, but this one loss could be the one that ends up knocking them out of the playoffs. If that's true, it's hard to believe JG will be retained.
Jerry Jones, and son Stephen, have both fully supported Jason Garrett since he became the Cowboys full-time head coach back in 2011 after serving as the interim HC for Wade Phillips in 2010. That's nearly a decade of the Jones' sticking by JG through all of the thick and thin over years. That unwavering support however could be coming to an end though.
The proof is in the pudding as they say. As a head coach Jason Garrett is slightly above average according to his all-time win/loss record. His regular-season record as the HC with the Cowboys is 82-62 (.569) and he's 2-3 (.400) in the postseason. Add all of that up and he's 84-65 (.564) in his career… slightly above average.
If I know anything about the Jones', I know getting the Dallas Cowboys back to the promised land as one of the best teams in the NFL is at the top of their list. That's why we've seen them over the years take chances on players other teams wouldn't in order to put together the most competitive roster they possibly could. Now that attention might need to be shifted from the players to the head coach.
Much like the Jones', I've supported and stood by Jason Garrett over the years. That support is dwindling though after each and every loss this season, at least on my part. Personally, I'm ready to find some new blood and move on. What the Jones' end up doing though is completely up in the air.
I want to believe the Dallas Cowboys are ready to move on from JG, but I'm not completely convinced. The fact that his current contract is about to expire after the season suggests they're at least considering parting ways, but that's all it does. I think how the rest of season turns out after the devastating loss to the Vikings will end up determining his fate.
If JG somehow sneaks the Cowboys into the playoffs it could save his job. That unfortunately is no easy thing to do with the teams they have left to play this season. Because of that, the Week 10 loss to the Minnesota Vikings could end up being the final nail in Jason Garrett's coffin.
What do you think? Is it time to part ways with Jason Garrett?
Lions QB Matthew Stafford’s Status Still Unknown for Cowboys Game
The Dallas Cowboys are headed to Detroit this Sunday for a Week 11 meeting with the Lions. As Dallas tries to get back to winning games, they may get a boost from the absence of Lions' Quarterback Matthew Stafford. After missing last week's game with a back injury, Stafford's status for this week remains unclear.
Stafford was a limited participant in practices all of Week 10 for Detroit and went into their game with the Chicago Bears as a game-time decision. He was ultimately ruled out due to fractures in his back; the first start Stafford's missed for the Lions since the 2010 season.
Jeff Driskel got the start as the Lions fell in Chicago. He is 1-5 as an NFL starter overall, going 1-4 in games for the Cincinnati Bengals in 2018.
The Lions are now 3-5-1 on the year and at the bottom of the NFC North. They are also far behind in the Wild Card race, which leads to speculation that they could shut Stafford down for the season to preserve his long-term health. Based on Matthew's contract, the earliest Detroit can easily get out from his contract is after the 2020 season.
For his part, Matthew Stafford has said he has no plans on staying out this season as long he's medically cleared to play. He certainly would love to be active this Sunday against the Cowboys, the team of his youth, after playing his high school football in Dallas.
Even if Stafford plays, Dallas has done solidly overall against opposing quarterbacks in 2019. They are sixth in passing yards allowed per game and 14th in opponent passer rating.
Detroit is fourth in passing offense right now in the NFL but that was based on eight games with Stafford at QB. Jeff Driskel will not perform at that same level, and the Lions' rushing attack has been very weak since Kerryon Johnson went on injured reserve.
We'll see in the coming days if Matthew Stafford is at practice for Detroit and to what extent. But even if he does practice some, as he did last week, it could once again be a last-minute decision for the Lions if Stafford actually plays on Sunday.
With the Cowboys desperate for a win, they'll take all the help they can get.
The Time has Come to See More of Tight End Blake Jarwin
When Jason Witten made his triumphant return from the Monday Night Football booth to the Dallas Cowboys' locker room, the addition was met with a bit of reserved optimism. On the one hand, it was awesome to get one of the best players in the history of the franchise back on the field and in the locker room. On the other hand, it meant that he would eat into the snap counts of Blake Jarwin, Dalton Schultz, or any rookie they potentially drafted in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Though, upon arrival, the Cowboys and Witten stated the future Hall of Famer would only play roughly 25 snaps a game, it didn't take long to figure out that Witten was the starting and full-time player at tight end. In training camp, Witten got a majority of the first-team snaps. In the first nine games of the 2019 season, Witten's played nearly twice as many snaps as Blake Jarwin.
It's an unfortunate turn from the narrative we were being fed in the offseason as Blake Jarwin provides a receiving dynamic that no other tight end for the Dallas Cowboys can. He's quicker, more agile, and has much more athleticism than Jason Witten.
On a per snap basis, Blake Jarwin is offering more in yards per snap and in yards per route run. Jarwin has accrued 0.811 yards per snap to Jason Witten's 0.711. Basically, if you prorate Jarwin's yards per snap total of 0.811 to Jason Witten's snap count of 475, Jarwin would theoretically have nearly 50 more receiving yards than Witten while providing another downfield threat to the passing game.
If we look at yards per route run, Jarwin's outpacing Witten 1.97 to 1.37 per Pro Football Focus. If you were to give Jason Witten's number of routes run to Blake Jarwin and prorated based on Jarwin's production in 2019, he would have roughly 484 receiving yards or 150 more receiving yards than Jason Witten.
Obviously, Jarwin's still got some development that needs to happen as a run blocker to be able to get on the field more. The Cowboys coaching staff, however, has still elected to roll with Jason Witten over Blake Jarwin even in pass-heavy situations as we saw on Sunday Night Football. This is the first game of the year where the Cowboys needed to be in heavy passing mode, but they continue to keep one of their more athletic weapons on the sideline when they need to get chunk plays.
Jarwin's ability to attack up the seam can help open everything up for everyone else in the offense. Just having another vertical threat on the field can create space for Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and Randall Cobb underneath.
Jason Garrett and the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff isn't going to flip their snap counts anytime soon, but the time has come for Blake Jarwin to get more of the situational passing work. When the Cowboys get into obvious passing situations -- 3rd and longs or in two-minute situations -- Blake Jarwin needs to be the tight end on the field.
We've seen each of the last two weeks what Jarwin can do once he gets the ball in his hands. Against the New York Giants, he ripped off a game-changing 42-yard touchdown run and catch. On Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings, Jarwin had a big 26-yard reception that helped get the Cowboys going offensively.
Jason Witten will go into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and into the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor. It's time he and the coaching staff recognizes that the Dallas Cowboys could be an even more dynamic offensive team by getting the more athletic Blake Jarwin on the field more.
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