I can't think of any position group on any team that has received as much criticism and blame as the Dallas Cowboys secondary has over the past decade or so.
Trust me, they've been easy to blame.
The downfall of Terence Newman in 2011, the failed Alan Ball experiment in 2010, and even the (so far) disappointing career of Morris Claiborne are all examples which detractors will point to in order to prove the Cowboys secondary as inadequate.
The thing is, the last couple of seasons, the Cowboys secondary hasn't been bad whatsoever.
Last year, they ranked fifth in pass yards against in both per game and overall categories. Though the interceptions weren't there, you could argue that the unit improved as a whole.
And the signs are pointing towards them being even better in 2016.
One cog in the 2016 defensive backfield machine will be Terrance Mitchell, whom the Cowboys are giving a chance to move from his original cornerback position to safety during OTA's.
Mitchell failed to make the Cowboys 53-man roster in 2014 after an overall lackluster preseason performance, but found himself back on the team later in 2015.
Though he saw very limited time last season, Mitchell recorded the first interception by a Cowboys cornerback in almost a full calendar year when he finally saw game action week 15 against the New York Jets.
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As Sean Martin profiled here on Inside The Star, Mitchell has displayed the athleticism and versatility to play all over the field. He also plays well in space, and has shown the ability to make open field tackles, something the Cowboys current safeties have had a problem with.
Moving Mitchell to safety makes a ton of sense for the team.
JJ Wilcox has been average at best during his tenure at safety for the Cowboys, His contract is expiring soon, and Byron Jones has emerged as the next free safety.
Though the team drafted Central Michigan safety Kavon Frazier in the sixth round of the 2016 draft, there isn't a whole lot known about how Frazier will translate to the NFL. The team obviously likes Frazier, and wants to give him a shot, but you don't want to bet the future on a sixth round rookie just yet.
Barry Church is starting to age, and has performed inconsistently as a whole during his career in Dallas. For now, he is the strong safety, but this could very well change as soon as 2017.
All of this makes Terrance Mitchell's potential move even more important to the Cowboys future moves at the safety position.
If Terrance Mitchell can play safety consistently, chances for other cornerbacks may open up as well.
This could open the door for Purdue Boilermakers sixth round corner Anthony Brown, who I profiled for the film review series, and enjoyed watching play.
As I talked about in the film review, Brown has some redeeming NFL qualities, and I would like to see him make the 53-man roster.
The issue for Brown is the numbers game of an NFL roster, but if Mitchell moves to safety permanently, Brown will be able to find more reps at corner in practice and may have more chances to prove himself.
There is, of course, the possibility (or probability) of either Morris Claiborne or Brandon Carr not being on the 2017 roster, which would make Brown's position even more important.
Bryan Broaddus of DallasCowboys.com has been skeptical of the move, believing that in the end, Mitchell will return to corner. However there have been other reports of Mitchell looking good at safety when given the chance, so far.
We won't know the outcome of this move until training camp concludes this summer, but at the moment, Terrance Mitchell has a real chance to help this secondary as a safety and nickel corner immediately.
Cowboys Offseason: Landon Collins Cleaned Out Locker, Set to be FA
It's no secret that the Dallas Cowboys are heading into the 2019 offseason looking to upgrade at the safety position on a defense that finished inside the top 10 in 2018. With much of the focus on Earl Thomas, New York Giants Safety Landon Collins has become the center of attention in the last couple of days.
Per a report by Josina Anderson, Collins cleaned out his locker on Wednesday as he gets ready to go into free agency for the first time.
I'm told that Giants S Landon Collins cleaned out his locker today at the team facility and said his goodbyes to teammates, coaches and trainers. It doesn't seem like Collins expects to be a Giant for much longer, per sources.
After Paul Schwartz attempted to assert that there was no claim to the report...
Attention those who care about the New York Giants: Landon Collins HAS NOT cleaned out his locker at the team facility. Repeat: Landon Collins HAS NOT cleaned out his locker at the team facility. Go about your business and have a nice day.
And Landon Collins had this to say...
@NYPost_Schwartz The stuff in that locker that I have left I do not need💯
If cleaning out a locker is any kind of evidence, then Collins is prepared to hit the market when free agency opens on March 13th. He joins a loaded safety group that includes Thomas, Houston Texans Safety Tyrann Mathieu, Los Angeles Rams Safety LaMarcus Joyner, Glover Quin of the Detroit Lions, Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix formerly of the Green Bay Packers, but most recently of the Washington Redskins, and several others who could find new homes this offseason.
The Cowboys are very familiar with Landon Collins, as they've seen him nearly twice a year over the last four years. The three time Pro Bowler was one of the best players on the Giants defense. They would line him up in the box and at time use him to cover Cole Beasley.
Collins ranked first in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus in run stop percentage at 7.2%. Meaning on running snaps, he made a tackle that rendered the running play ineffective 7.2% of the time.For further reference, Jeff Heath made a run stop on 4.2% of his run plays, which was 15th in the NFL among safeties.
The only positions to have more of an impact on the running game were linebackers and the defensive line. Even if you include linebackers, his run stop percentage was 31st in the NFL. Leighton Vander Esch led the Dallas Cowboys with a run stop percentage of 11.3%, which was third among linebackers. Collins number nearly matched the run stop percentage of Jaylon Smith at 7.6%.
Add Collins to a defense that stops the run as well as the Dallas Cowboys did last season and you take your team to another level against the run.
Landon Collins will probably get the most money this offseason. He's only 25 and has had success in the NFL. Many teams will be reaching out to Collins when free agency opens and the Dallas Cowboys should certainly be one of those teams. Collins would be an excellent addition to the Dallas Cowboys defense and would allow Xavier Woods to stay in his role as the free safety.
We're just under three weeks away from the start of NFL free agency and the drama will only get bigger as the Cowboys look to add to their team.
Report: Free Agent DL David Irving Not in Dallas Cowboys’ 2019 Plans
The Dallas Cowboys and troubled Defensive Lineman David Irving appear to be at an impasse. According to a report from David Moore of the Dallas Morning News, the team has "no intention" of trying to re-sign Irving and will allow him to become an unrestricted free agent.
Irving started the 2018 season with a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. He only appeared in two games after that, registering one sack and four tackles.
Source: Cowboys have no intention of keeping DT David Irving at this time https://t.co/vqMNZty6Aq via @sportsdaydfw
Despite reports of David's ongoing issues with an ankle injury, Dallas never placed him on injured reserve. Then came the reports that Irving was missing practices and team meetings while dealing with personal issues related to the custody of his daughter.
The team stayed pretty mum on the subject of Irving's status throughout the year, falling back on the ankle injury when pushed. But after months, it became clear that either David, the team, or both parties were disinterested in his return to football.
The Cowboys had high hopes after 2017, when Irving posted seven sacks in just eight games. They placed a second-round tender on him last offseason as a restricted free agent and were surely ready to give him a long-term deal if he'd built on that success.
But David's issues, physical or otherwise, have clearly done the opposite.
Dallas is known for working with troubled players, as we've recently seen with Randy Gregory. That they're closing the book on Irving suggests there's an issue with his desire towards football.
It's a sad loss for both. David's potential is enormous, as evidenced by his productivity when he actually does play. But he appears more likely to hit the Commissioner's exempt list in 2019 than the football field, given the reports of multiple failed drug tests over the last year.
Hopefully David Irving can turn things around one day and capitalize on his talent. But if it ever happens, it appears that it won't be with the Dallas Cowboys.
BREAKING: WR Terrance Williams Gets Dropped by Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys have ended their six-year relationship with Wide Receiver Terrance Williams. According to multiple sources, they have declined a team option on Williams' contract and he will now be an unrestricted free agent in 2019.
The move will reportedly save the Cowboys $2.25 million in salary space this year.
Williams was the team's third-round pick in 2013 and started 68 of the 83 games he played in. He developed into a solid number-two receiver by the end of his rookie deal in 2016 and was given a new four-year contract that offseason.
Terrance Williams career w/ the Cowboys is done. Sources say the club has declined the WR's option for 2019, making him a free agent. The move is no surprise. He caught just 2 passes for 18 yards last season. His departure frees up $2.25 million on the cap.
After another decent year in 2017, things took a bad turn for Terrance last season. It started with an offseason arrest for public intoxication that eventually led to a three-game suspension, although Williams served that while on injured reserve.
The Cowboys already appeared to be giving Williams' spot away when they made several offseason acquisitions at WR; Allen Hurns, Michael Gallup, and Tavon Austin all were brought in even before Terrance's arrest.
While Williams did start in two of Dallas' first three games in 2018, he only had three passes his thrown his way. The team finally put him on IR due to ongoing complications with a surgically-repaired foot.
While it didn't end well, Terrance Williams' time in Dallas was ultimately a solid return for a third-round pick. He made a few big plays and was a proficient run-blocker, good enough to start in almost 75% of the team's games since he was drafted.
The Cowboys now hope that another third-round pick, Michael Gallup in 2018, will do bigger and better things.
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