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5 Under the Radar Free Agent Targets for the Dallas Cowboys

John Williams



5 Under the Radar Free Agent Targets for the Dallas Cowboys

For years we've seen now that the Dallas Cowboys have become a bit gun-shy in free agency. They spent big money to bring in Brandon Carr, and while he was good, he wasn't worth what they paid him. Now, they're afraid to pull the trigger on any big money going to outside free agents. They've done a great job at building their team through the draft and will continue to do so this season despite not having a first round pick.

The Cowboys front office may make a splash in free agency this season, but recent history tells me they're only going to dabble at the buffet instead of filling their plate. So, let's take a look at some players who will be signed somewhere, but people aren't talking about just yet.

Jalen Richard, Running Back

The Dallas Cowboys need to go get a running back that can shoulder some of the load for Ezekiel Elliott. Yes, he's perfectly capable of handling 25-30 touches per game, but there's no reason he should have to do that. Jalen Richard of the Oakland Raiders would be an excellent compliment to Elliott.

Richard's 77 targets ranked eighth in the NFL, while his 68 receptions were seventh, and Richard had 607 receiving yards, which was sixth in yards among running backs. Richard also handle 55 carries this season. He's a dual purpose back that is capable of shouldering the load for a game or two and can spell Elliott with more effectiveness than Rod Smith provided.

Richard averaged 4.7 yards per carry, including 2.95 yards after contact. Richard had six of his 55 carries go for 10+ yards this season and ran for 12 first downs.

Ezekiel Elliott is one of the best running backs in the NFL and the Dallas Cowboys will continue to feature him. The Dallas Cowboys front office needs to look at taking some of the weight off of his shoulders to decrease the ware and tear. Especially if they're looking at giving him a second contract.

Adam Humphries, Wide Receiver

With it looking like Cole Beasley will be out the door this offseason amidst complaints of underutilization, the Dallas Cowboys will be needing another wide receiver and if you want someone who plays like Cole Beasley, look at Adam Humphries.

On the season, Humphries caught 76 passes on 105 targets for 816 yards and five touchdowns. From the slot, he caught 59 passes on 81 targets for 666 yards and three touchdowns. His 81 slot targets ranked fifth in the NFL. From the slot, he only had one drop on the season and ranked 18th in the NFL in receptions for first downs while playing second fiddle to Mike Evans, who was fifth in the NFL in receptions for first downs.

Now, I can hear people saying, "if you're going to sign a guy that plays like Cole Beasley, why don't you just sign Cole Beasley?" That's a fair question, and the simple answer is age. Cole Beasley will turn 30 in April, and if we've learned anything about the NFL over the years, it's that you don't pay aging players. Adam Humphries just turned 26, today. So if you were to sign Humphries to a three-year deal, you'd have him for his prime years.

Jesse James, Tight End

Many would argue that tight end is a position of need for the Dallas Cowboys this offseason, even with the emergence of Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz down the stretch. By all reports, this is an insanely deep draft class, so the Cowboys will likely come out of the draft with at least one tight end this offseason, but we know how they work. Enter Jesse James.

James hasn't caught fewer than 30 passes in a season since his rookie year. Early in the season this year, James caught five passes for 138 yards nd a touchdown in the Steelers explosive passing attack.

In years past, we've seen the Dallas Cowboys front office go into free agency looking to address the needs on the team so that they can be free of any needs-based analysis when it comes to drafting players. Last season, the Cowboys signed Allen Hurns and Deonte Thompson prior to the draft to fill the need they had at WR, then proceeded to select Michael Gallup in the third round and Cedric Wilson in the sixth round.

Jesse James has been a solid player for the Steelers who the Cowboys could bring in as veteran insurance if Jarwin or Schultz don't take a step forward this offseason or if they miss out on a tight end. Even if they draft one, it would be in their interest not to rely on the rookie this year as it takes 2-3 years for tight ends to find their footing in the NFL.

Tre Boston, Safety

Tre Boston was a name we threw around last season as a target for the Dallas Cowboys, though they expressed very little interest in the former Chargers turned Cardinals ball hawk. In 2017 with the Chargers, Boston had five interceptions. In 2018 with the Cardinals, he had three. He could really help an area where the Dallas Cowboys have struggled; creating turnovers.

The Dallas Cowboys only had two players with multiple interceptions on the season; Leighton Vander Esch and Xavier Woods. Xavier Woods was mostly good during his first full season as a starting safety for the Dallas Cowboys, but he needs to take a step forward going into his third year. The problem at safety this season, in my opinion, was Jeff Heath.

Heath led the Cowboys in missed tackles with 19 and allowed a 105.2 passer rating on a 77.6% catch rate this season when targeted. Tre Boston had 12 missed tackles, but only allowed a passer rating of 61 when targeted on a 60% catch rate.

The Cowboys defense is close, but safety is one of the areas that is holding them back. Earl Thomas and Landon Collins are hot names this offseason for the Cowboys to pursue, but if they don't land one of the big names for their secondary, they really need to do what they wouldn't do last season;

Sign Tre Boston.

Malcom Brown, Defensive Tackle

The Dallas Cowboys aren't typically in the business of making huge investment at the defensive tackle position, but they need help along the interior. Antwaun Woods was an excellent find this season for the Dallas Cowboys at the 1-tech defensive tackle spot and unless they make a move, should go into next season as the starting 1-tech for the Cowboys. However, Antwaun Woods could use some help and that could come in the form of New England Patriots Defensive Tackle, Malcom Brown.

As we saw in the Indianapolis Colts game and the Divisional Playoff game with the Los Angeles Rams, the Cowboys struggled to eat up blocks to keep the interior offensive lineman from getting to the second level. At the second level, those offensive lineman prevented Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch from doing what they do best; run and tackle.

Malcom Brown of the New England Patriots is a run-stuffing 1-technique defensive tackle. The former Texas Longhorn is  6'2 and 320 pounds. He won't turn 25 until February first. He was 26th in the NFL among interior defensive lineman with a run stop percentage of 8% (min 169 run snaps). It's his first season in the NFL where he didn't record a sack or a tackle for loss, according to Pro Football Reference, which means he could be cheap.

The Dallas Cowboys want to be a team that is able to physically bully opponents and in the most important game this season, their front four got bullied. They need another big, physical presence on the interior to make life easier for their dynamic linebacking duo.

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The Dallas Cowboys aren't going to be big spenders in the free agent period. That's not typically how they roll. If they do throw down some money on an outside free agent, I'd imagine it's for Earl Thomas or Landon Collins to come in and play safety.

The Cowboys rely on the draft to build the core of their roster and they've done an excellent job at that, but they'll make some signings for some guys that people aren't talking about because of the top-tier names that are available in free agency.

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Dallas Cowboys

Should Cowboys Address TE Need Via Free Agency?

Mauricio Rodriguez



Should Cowboys Address TE Need Via Free Agency?

A season after Jason Witten's retirement, the Dallas Cowboys still have a need at tight end. Replacing a future Hall of Famer is no easy feat so it's only logical that it would take longer than a season to feel good about who's in at tight end.

The Cowboys currently have two tight ends who could be pretty serviceable going forward. Fourth round pick Dalton Schultz did a very solid job as the team's TE2, specially toward the second half of the season. He turned into a pretty good run blocker and despite only racking up 116 yards in 12 catches, he's a guy the Cowboys' offense could use even more in the future.

Also on the team is Blake Jarwin, who functioned as the Cowboys' main tight end for most of 2018. His performance against the New York Giants in week 17 made us wonder whether or not he could be an important target on the Cowboys' offense.

These two could very well have more in them than what we've seen. With a new offensive coordinator in town, tight end is a position the Cowboys could start using way more. As Bobby Belt pointed out on Twitter a few weeks ago, Scott Linehan's offense doesn't benefit tight ends very much. Before we give a verdict on what Schultz and Jarwin can do, I'd like to see them work with Kellen Moore's offense.

Bobby Belt on Twitter

One thing you consistently see when Scott Linehan takes over an offense is a drop in the starting tight end's production. Randy McMichael, Byron Chamberlain, and Jason Witten all saw drops in yards per catch, receptions per game, and yards per game once Linehan took over.

Here's the thing. If the Cowboys are not taking a tight end in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft, are they really upgrading what they already have? I'm not sure we'll be convinced about that if they draft a player for the position until the third or fourth round. Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not advocating for the Cowboys drafting a TE in the second round, because I believe there are more pressing needs on the team. However, signing a veteran free agent might be the better option for upgrading the position.

Should a veteran TE be an option?

This year, there are quite a few interesting names in the tight end market. Veterans such as Jared Cook, Tyler Eifert and even Antonio Gates will be looking for a new team pretty soon. I know, that would be "getting older." But it could also mean getting better. Building a solid TE committee with a veteran leading Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz could be the way to go for this football team.

Should Cowboys Address TE Need Via Free Agency? 1

TE Tyler Eifert (Aaron Doster / USA TODAY Sports)

Eifert is a great tight end... when he's on the field. Durability is his biggest weakness, as he hasn't played more than 10 games since 2016. The Cowboys could take a risk on him and constantly rotate him with Jarwin and Schultz. It may be a huge risk, but it could pay off big time. If the price is right, Eifert should be targeted by the front office.

The 2018 Oakland Raiders had a season to forget, winning only four games. Even still, Jared Cook's season was impressive. He finished the year with 896 yards and multiple 100-yard games. The biggest issue with Cook is his age. He turns 32 in April. But hey, he's literally coming off from a career year.

Jesse James is a younger guy who could also be worth it. He's not an a potent receiver, but he gets it done in the passing game and is one hell of a blocker. James could be a legit, cheaper option for the Cowboys in free agency.

There are a lot of names out there the front office could look at. Charles Clay was just released by the Buffalo Bills and Nick Boyle will be looking for new job after new arrivals pushed him out of the Baltimore Ravens' roster just to mention a few names.

We'll see what the front office's plans are soon enough, but right now, I'd say tight end is a need the Dallas Cowboys should at least try to address in free agency instead of the NFL Draft.

Tell me what you think about "Should Cowboys Address TE Need Via Free Agency?" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!

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Dallas Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys 2019 Offseason Preview: Cornerback

Jess Haynie



Byron Jones

Unlike other positions on their roster, cornerback appears ready to off the Dallas Cowboys stability in 2019. However, that doesn't mean the team can just ignore it this offseason. There are still a few decisions to be made.

Thanks to a shrewd move in April of last year, Dallas will be enjoying Byron Jones' services at a bargain. They picked up the fifth-year option on his rookie contract and will be paying him just $6.3 million next season.

That's a steal for a Pro Bowl corner, who generally make more than double that amount in a single year. But the Cowboys are still left the decision of whether or not to give Jones a long-term deal now or wait until he hits free agency in 2020.

It's easy to say that they should enjoy the discount and worry about it next year. But then you risk a second Pro Bowl trip and the lure of the open market. Byron's asking price could only go up.

Of course, Dallas could then also have the option of using the franchise tag.

Keep in mind that Jones will turn 27 this September. Dallas could decide that it makes sense to play through the rookie deal this year, franchise him in 2020, and then reassess when he's about to turn 29 years old.

If they give Byron a long-term deal now then they'll have to pay him like one of the top corners in football. It may be wise to wait.

Chidobe Awuzie, Giants

Dallas Cowboys CB Chidobe Awuzie

Another decision facing the Cowboys is if they think they can improve at the second starting position. It was an up-and-down year for Chidobe Awuzie, but he was playing his best toward the end of the season. Dallas could hope that a second year with Kris Richard's coaching, and just more general growth for a third-year player, will elevate Awuzie's game.

However, with plenty of cap space to work with, Dallas could pursue a solid veteran option and then allow Awuzie to play the nickel role. It would not only perhaps improve the CB2 position but also bolster depth overall.

Speaking of depth, Anthony Brown returns for the final year of his rookie deal. While never spectacular, Brown has been a gem as a former sixth-round pick with 29 career starts. He brings exceptional value and may even compete with Awuzie for the starting job.

While arguably the team's best young corner in 2017, Jourdan Lewis comes into this season with a lot of uncertainty. He fell out of favor last season, perhaps for not fitting the physical style that Richard likes. But he did manage to snag the game-clinching interception in Dallas' upset win over the New Orleans Saints.

If a scheme mismatch is the issue, the Cowboys could look to trade Lewis this offseason. He still has two years left on his rookie deal and was considered a first-round prospect by some in 2017. A cornerback-needy club might have more use for him than Dallas seems to.

If they did move Jourdan, the Cowboys might turn to Donovan Olumba to fill out the depth chart. He was one of their surprising performers in last year's training camp and spent the year on the practice squad. At 6'2", he has the size that the team seems to be looking for now in its corners.

More than likely, Dallas will ride with this group in 2019 with no big changes. I do think a Lewis trade is possible, especially with the Cowboys short on draft picks this year. But don't expect any major cap space or draft capital to go at one of the team's more solid positions.

With all the other work Dallas needs done this offseason, a little stability at cornerback is a luxury.

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Dallas Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys 2019 Offseason Preview: Center

Jess Haynie



Dallas Cowboys 2019 Offseason Preview: Center
James D. Smith/Dallas Cowboys

Even with Dez Bryant's release and Jason Witten's retirement, the loss of Travis Frederick last season may have been the most damaging to the Dallas Cowboys. The team looks forward to getting their All-Pro center back in 2019 while also having a reliable backup still under contract.

Just within the last few weeks, Frederick has provided encouraging updates on his status for next year. It looks like he'll be able to participate in all offseason activities, but the Cowboys would settle for Week One. There appears to be plenty of cushion for that to happen.

Travis' absence in 2018 was seen in various ways. Dak Prescott was sacked 56 times, second-most in all the league, after just 32 and 25 times the previous two seasons. Part of that is missing Frederick's blocking ability, but also the way he would assist with reading the defense and making pre-snap adjustments.

Dallas would've loved having Frederick out there to help Guard Connor Williams, who worked with Travis throughout the offseason only to lose him in late August. It was not an easy way for the rookie to start his career.

We also saw issues in the run game. Even while Ezekiel Elliott led the NFL in rushing, short-yardage situations weren't as easy as they used to be. The Rams were able to neutralize the Cowboys' rushing attack in Dallas' playoff loss, something that Frederick might have helped overcome.

Joe Looney

Dallas Cowboys G/C Joe Looney

This isn't saying that Joe Looney did a bad job. On the contrary, Looney was more than adequate and helped keep Dallas from suffering far greater damage without Frederick.

After Joe's work in 2018, Dallas won't blink at keeping him on the $1 million salary he's due next year. It's a bargain for a backup of his quality, and especially given his versatility as an option at guard as well.

Not only are Frederick and Looney locked in for 2019, but Dallas also still has backup Adam Redmond under contract through next season. He was added after final cuts last year to be Looney's backup and should return to at least help the team through July and August.

With these guys already in place, there's no reason to think that Dallas will give much attention to the center position during the offseason.

At most, a mid-round draft pick might be used on a player who could potentially replace Looney in 2020 as the backup. Joe's contract ends next season, and he could be competitive for starting jobs with other teams at that point.

With lots of other concerns throughout the roster, Dallas is fortunate to have so much security at center. All signs are positive on Travis Frederick's return, and that is a huge boost to the team as it looks to push forward from last year's playoff run.

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