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Anthony Hitchens’ Raise May Not Matter Once Jaylon Smith Returns

Jess Haynie

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Anthony Hitchens

Starting middle linebacker Anthony Hitchens will nearly triple his 2017 salary, thanks to a performance-based raise in his contract. However, the Dallas Cowboys may still give his starting job to Jaylon Smith.

Anthony Hitchens

AP Photo/Scott Boehm

As reported by ESPN's Todd Archer, Hitchens had enough playing time over the last three seasons to increase his base salary from $690K to $1.84 million in 2017, the final year of his rookie contract.

This is a provision for players drafted in the third round or later, rewarding those who emerge early as significant contributors for their teams.

Jaylon Smith is an obstacle for Hitchens

The irony for Hitchens is that Jaylon Smith, last year's second-round pick, will threaten his job just after getting this raise. The former Notre Dame standout, who was considered an elite draft prospect prior to a major knee injury, is reportedly making progress and on track to play next year.

The bulk of Anthony Hitchens' playing time has come thanks to problems with other players. Sean Lee missed all of 2014 with an injury and Rolando McClain missed all of 2016 with personal problems, both creating openings for Hitchens to have a larger role than expected. Anthony has performed solidly but has rarely been a standout player.

If Jaylon Smith takes the middle linebacker job as anticipated, Hitchens will likely compete with Damien Wilson for the SAM, or strong side, role on the outside. If Wilson continues developing the way he did this season, though, Hitchens may wind up forced into a versatile bench role.

Downside of Anthony Hitchens' raise

While more money is rarely a bad thing, there is a way that this raise could actually hurt Anthony Hitchens. His base salary jumps to $1.84 million along with roughly $100k in signing bonus. But this raise is not guaranteed, so now Dallas can shave about $1.8 million off their salary cap for the minimal cost of just the bonus money.

Given Hitchens' experience and versatility, plus the fact that Jaylon Smith has yet to prove himself, it's highly unlikely Dallas would make him a cap casualty. Still, it's interesting to consider how this generally good news for Hitchens comes with some increased liability.

While a loss of his role to Jaylon Smith would certainly hurt, especially with free agency coming in 2018, at least Hitchens should be making a lot more money for his trouble.


Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

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2 Comments
  • Russ_Te

    Jaylon Smith’s wikipedia says he started as an OLB then moved “inside” at Notre Dame. Doesn’t say if that was a 3-4 defense.

    It also says 4.4 speed. You’d think that LB would play outside and then Sean Lee at MLB, but they apparently see that a lot differently.

    Landry’s old flex was designed to keep blockers off the MLB – perfect for Lee – but he stays free for tackles anyway. Although he plays outside, Lee reminds me hugely of Jack Lambert. A bit undersized, fast, nose for the unfolding play, can’t get him blocked.

    They probably think Smith can reach either sideline from MLB with his speed. I think you would try to work that in to the blitz packages also.

    Hitchens can provide good utility depth and that raise still is not a lot of $ for that. I heard there was one Cowboy making $18 million on the bench… ;^)

    • Jess Haynie

      I think they will probably keep Lee as the WLB because of the wear and tear reduction. Smith might move out there when Lee’s times is over. Won’t really matter in the nickel scheme, either.

      And I agree that Hitchens isn’t bad depth at $1.9 million. However, if they’re happy with guys like Wilber and Nzeocha, plus another rookie they could add, Hitch may be expendable and put a decent amount of cap room back in play.

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Is Terrance Williams Roster Spot Safe with Dallas Cowboys?

Sean Martin

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Is Terrance Williams Roster Spot Safe with Dallas Cowboys?

This will hardly be the last article written about the wide receivers of the Dallas Cowboys entering the 2018 season. However, we can only hope it's the last off-field incident that will factor into the difficult decisions the Cowboys will make on their final depth chart at WR. Yesterday, veteran Wide Receiver Terrance Williams was arrested for public intoxication after leaving the scene of a crash involving his Lamborghini.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

Cowboys WR Terrance Williams released a statement on his recent arrest detailing several facets of the incident: "I have always been an upstanding citizen and handled the situation the best way I know how.

Details concerning the severity of the incidents that led to Williams arrest remain somewhat unclear. His on-field production certainly has not been though, putting himself in an expendable position by failing to catch a touchdown in 2017 and only going for over 100 yards once.

Handling this Terrance Williams situation in whatever the "right way" is will be yet another critical decision the Cowboys make under Head Coach Jason Garrett. A team that has clearly valued continuity under Garrett, there is precedent for the Cowboys keeping a now-troubled player like Williams if the void he'd leave behind is too large.

It is widely believed that this is a Cowboys coaching staff working to keep their jobs in 2018. Losing Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, and Terrance Williams in one offseason may very well be too much.

Already dealing with a broken foot that expects to keep Terrance Williams out of football activities until training camp though, it is becoming increasingly easier for Williams to become forgotten about in new WR Coach Sanjay Lal's room.

New additions to this unit include FA signings Allen Hurns and Deonte Thompson, along with rookies Michael Gallup and Cedrick Wilson. Joined by the likes of KD Cannon, Lance Lenoir, and Malik Earl, all of these receivers are going to stake their claims for a spot on the Dallas Cowboys before Williams even catches another pass from Dak Prescott.

Takeaway Tuesday: What We Learned From Cowboys Loss To Packers

Dallas Cowboys WR Terrance Williams (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

Once perceived to be fighting for positions below Hurns, Williams, and Cole Beasley as locks on the final 53 man roster, Williams' arrest is the epitome of "next man up" in Dallas. Even if Williams remains with the team in 2018 - as cutting him would only make moral sense for the Cowboys, not financial - his days as a starting receiver may very well be numbered.

As mentioned, this won't be the first look we have at the status of the Cowboys receivers. I'm already on record having high expectations for Michael Gallup, and believe Cedrick Wilson was one of the steals of the draft for the Cowboys in the sixth round. The unproven nature of this pass catching unit (through to TE with rookie Dalton Schultz) is going to make for fascinating training camp battles, competing for spots in an offense that could still be one of the league's best.

Tell us what you think about "Is Terrance Williams Roster Spot Safe with Dallas Cowboys?" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!


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BREAKING: Terrance Williams Arrested For Public Intoxication After Car Accident

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Will Terrance Williams be Back with Cowboys in 2018?

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Terrance Williams is in jail after crashing his car, a Lamborghini, into a light pole, per the Star Telegram. The incident occurred approximately at 3:00 AM, according to the reports and Williams, who fled the scene was arrested two hours later. He was arrested for public intoxication and was also charged for leaving the scene.

According to Clarence Hill, Williams was still in jail as of 11:30 AM.

Kate Hairopoulus, from SportsDay, reported that according to Frisco Police, the Lamborghini was found without a driver. After determining that the car belonged to the Cowboys' wide receiver, they proceded to arrest Williams near his residence, where he was riding an electric bicycle.

This certainly explains why T-Will wasn't arrested for DUI instead of public intoxication. Hairopoulus also reported that Williams has been released on a $369 bond.

Without much more details, Terrance Williams' future with the Cowboys doesn't look very promising as of right now. After hauling a lot of receivers during the offseason, the WR room in Dallas will feature a lot of competition.

Williams, who's recovering from a fractured foot and missing the offseason programs, has something to prove. Certainly, an accident like this doesn't help much his cause.

Here at Inside The Star, we'll keep you updated with more details about Terrance Williams' arrest.

Last updated at 2:20 PM CDT.

Tell me what you think about "BREAKING: Terrance Williams Arrested For Public Intoxication After Car Accident" in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 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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WATCH: LB Jaylon Smith Moving Without Brace

Kevin Brady

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Jaylon Smith Voted Cowboys' Ed Block Courage Award Winner 1

When the Dallas Cowboys shocked the world and selected linebacker Jaylon Smith early in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft, most could not picture a day where he would be going through drills without a brace on his injured knee.

Well, as has been previously reported, that day is now.

New footage has emerged of Jaylon Smith moving laterally without the brace, posted to Youtube by "Cowboys Fan Club." And to say he looks smooth doing so would be an understatement.

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Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

The 50 second video clip above shows Jaylon Smith looking rather explosive laterally, something we feared he may never be able to do again. When at his best Smith was able to utilize his athleticism and range, and if he can get those attributes all the way back the Cowboys linebacker group will be in very good shape.

Combining him with the athletic Leighton Vander Esch and consistent Sean Lee would be a solid trio of linebackers in 2018. Of course, there is a lot of time between now and the opening game against the Carolina Panthers, however, but it's okay to be excited about his progress.

Let's hope Jaylon Smith continues to progress as the offseason moves along and we inch closer to the 2018 season.


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