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5 RFA Options for the Dallas Cowboys

John Williams

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Five Restricted Free Agent options for the Dallas Cowboys

With free agency coming up first in the offseason process, the Dallas Cowboys will explore every avenue to find players who can help their team win. If they find a free agent fit that makes sense -- both for the team and at a price they like -- the front office will make a move.

In the past few offseasons, we've seen Jerry Jones, Stephen Jones, and Will McClay go into free agency looking to fill holes on the depth chart before the draft so they can attack the draft with an open mind. I don't see anything changing this offseason.

While it's much simpler to go after unrestricted free agents (UFA), there are several restricted free agents who could make sense for the Dallas Cowboys.

David Irving is obviously at the top of this list, but being as how we know his story, and I think it's very, very likely that he will return, we'll save him for another day.

If Dallas were to sign an RFA, they would have to give up a draft pick to do so, making this highly unlikely, but given that they have three picks in the fourth round, the possibility exists that there could be a guy with a mid-round tender who interests them. I've got some names you may have heard before, and a couple that have likely never crossed your mind.

Here are some interesting restricted free agent names.

TE Cameron Brate, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

At only 26 years old, Tight End Cameron Brate may have played his last snaps for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

In the 2017 NFL Draft, the Bucs selected tight end O.J. Howard out of Alabama in the first round, which limited Brate's role in the offense this season.

Still, he scored six touchdowns and had more than 500 yards receiving. This just one year removed from leading all tight ends in the NFL with 8 touchdowns in just 15 games played (10 starts) in 2016.

Jason Witten is still the Cowboys' starting tight end, but if they wanted to find a guy who could begin taking over at the position now, Brate could be that guy. He is a good receiver and has been durable in his time in Tampa Bay.

Five Restricted Free Agent options for the Dallas Cowboys 1

Los Angeles Chargers WR Tyrell Williams

WR Tyrell Williams, Los Angeles Chargers

Tyrell Williams, who ran a 4.43 at his Pro Day heading into the 2015 NFL Draft, has speed and downfield ability that could help the Dallas Cowboys.

The Los Angeles Chargers -- that still doesn't sound right -- could opt not to bring him back, as they need to find more snaps for 2017 first-round pick, Mike Williams, and Keenan Allen is their WR1.

Williams, no relation, averaged 15.3 yards per reception in 2016 when he had his first 1,000-yard receiving season as the leading receiver for the Allen-less Chargers. In 2017, he averaged 16.9 yards per reception, while still posting a respectable 728 yards for a deep Los Angeles receiving group.

Earlier in the offseason, I discussed some unrestricted free agent options at wide receiver with some deep ball ability, and Tyrell is another option for the Dallas Cowboys to pursue.

DT Xavier Williams, Arizona Cardinals

The other day, I talked about Dallas' need to sign a legitimate 1-technique defensive tackle (or nose tackle), and here is another option. At 6-foot-4 and 311 pounds, Xavier Williams has the size to be an interior anchor for the Dallas Cowboys.

In 2017, Williams, also no relation, showed some promise in his third season with the Cardinals. He played in 11 games for Arizona and finished with 20 total tackles, two quarterback hits, a forced fumble, and a sack; while recording multiple tackles in seven games.

Five Restricted Free Agent options for the Dallas Cowboys 2

New Orleans Saints WR Willie Snead

WR Willie Snead, New Orleans Saints

Another wide receiver who could be available, and actually may fit Dallas' profile of free agent targets, is Willie Snead from the New Orleans Saints.

In the 2015 and 2016 seasons, Snead averaged 70.5 receptions for 939.5 yards and 3.5 touchdowns, while eclipsing 13 yards per catch. He was seemingly phased out of the offense in 2017 after serving a three-game suspension for substance abuse stemming from a DWI last offseason.

Prior to the Ted Ginn signing by the Saints last offseason, Snead was a favorite target of quarterback Drew Brees, as he saw more than 100 targets in 2015 and 2016 each. In 2017, he bottomed out with only eight receptions for 92 yards, and no touchdowns.

Heading into his 26-year-old season, he will have a lot to prove and would likely only cost a late-round pick if Dallas were to sign him to an offer sheet.

LB Mike Hull, Miami Dolphins

This is a guy who will not garner a lot of publicity. Just like the Dallas Cowboys like it.

Primarily a special teams player for the Miami Dolphins over the last couple of years, linebacker Mike Hull saw an increased snap count with the defensive unit from year two to year three. Hull, a Penn State alum like Sean Lee, started three games for the Dolphins, including a 10-tackle game to open the season before settling into the depth chart as a backup.

He won't be a starter for the Dallas Cowboys, but he could provide valuable depth with a bit of starting experience, and Hull can play special teams.



Dallas Cowboys optimist bringing factual reasonable takes to Cowboys Nation and the NFL Community. I wasn't always a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quick as I could.

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Travis Diggs

    February 2, 2018 at 6:04 pm

    We all know this isn’t cowboys like, they’re caught up in this “homegrown” thing through the draft which has worked to an extent but not really because it hasn’t led to results. We haven’t had a impact free agent since Greg Hardy as bad as that sounds. Just don’t see them using draft picks on free agents. Offseasons are pretty boring around here

    • John Williams

      John Williams

      February 5, 2018 at 2:30 am

      They will take a chance on guys if the money is right. Several of these RFA’s would cost like a 6th or 7th in draft compensation or nothing at all.

      Others like Brate or Williams would be closer to a 4th, which they have multiple picks in that round. They are pretty boring, but a lot of times its the unheralded signings like David Irving that have boom potential.

      I’m not saying they will do it, but that these would be solid options to look at.

  2. EverybodyTalks

    February 3, 2018 at 3:49 am

    How are we going to afford any of these guys? Are we letting DLaw, Hitchens, and Irving go? Are we holding off on signing Zack Martin? I just don’t see where the money is coming from for any of these guys. Would love to have a couple of them, but….

    • John Williams

      John Williams

      February 5, 2018 at 2:31 am

      None of these guys is going to prevent you from signing any of the guys you mentioned. Brate and Tyrell Williams would likely be the most expensive, but wouldn’t expect more than 5mil per year. Snead would be porbably around 3 or 4 mil and Hull and Xavier would likely be minimum salary contracts, but have a bit of upside do to age.

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Star Blog

Could Loaded FA Safety Market Drive Down Earl Thomas’ Value?

Brian Martin

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Could Loaded FA Safety Class Drive Down Earl Thomas' Price Tag?

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.

Earl Thomas

Free Agent FS Earl Thomas (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

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.

Earl Thomas

Free Agent FS Earl Thomas (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

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?



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Star Blog

Acquiring Brown Will Give Dallas Twin Turbo Terrors

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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...



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Star Blog

2018 In Review: CB Anthony Brown Bounces Back

Kevin Brady

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Anthony Brown's Resurgence A Great Sign for Cowboys Defense
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

To say it's been an up-and-down start to the career of young cornerback Anthony Brown would be an understatement.

As a sixth round pick in 2016, everything Brown contributed during his rookie season was a plus. Due to injury he was asked to step into a greater role as the season went on, and he performed well enough to make the front office comfortable allowing multiple veterans to walk for nothing in free agency the following Spring. Brown looked like a legitimate starting cornerback in the league, and when Dallas brought in Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis during the next draft, the young secondary seemed set.

Then 2017 happened. And Anthony Brown struggled. Really struggled.

These struggles, coupled with the emergence of both Lewis and Awuzie during their own rookie seasons, made Brown's status heading into 2018 rather uncertain. Some wondered if they would trade him for a day three pick, others thought Brown could even end up being cut. Jourdan Lewis and Anthony Brown were slated to compete for the nickel cornerback job in training camp, and as it turned out, all Brown needed was that one extra chance to compete.

Brown won the job outright during the preseason, and began 2018 as the starting nickel. A fan favorite, most thought Lewis would reclaim his rightful spot on the depth chart sooner or later, but Anthony Brown's play (and Kris Richard's preferences) kept Lewis on the bench for much of the season.

Simply put, Anthony Brown balled in 2018, and was the Cowboys' second best corner for most of the year. By the end of the season Chidobe Awuzie had regained form, but Brown and Byron Jones were the most consistently reliable corners on the roster all of 2018.

Brown tallied 44 tackles, 2 sacks, and an interception in 2018, and finished third on the team in pass breakups with 8. As the slot corner Brown had an excellent season, especially for a former sixth round pick.

Now he enters a contract year, and with the Cowboys having so many guys to pay over the next two offseasons, he could find himself as an unrestricted free agent in 2020. And if he can keep up his play from last year moving forward, he could be in for a nice payday that Spring.



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