We've covered a lot of Dallas Cowboys topics already this offseason, and there are plenty still to come with about a month until training camp starts. Given the importance of the quarterback position, it's arguable that no question is more important than this; how will Dak Prescott perform in his second NFL season?
The term "sophomore slump" is heard too often in football. While there is evidence to support it, there are many examples of players who did not regress in their second year. In fact, many quarterbacks who started as rookies had their worst times in that first season and then steadily improved. Our own Troy Aikman is a fine example, as was Peyton Manning.
The player you've heard Dak Prescott compared to a lot in the last year is Tom Brady. Both were taken in the later rounds of the draft and found themselves starting unexpectedly due to injuries. They were also linked by Prescott breaking Brady's record for most passes thrown before getting his first career interception.
One major difference is that Brady was in his second season already with New England, but he only threw three passes a rookie as he sat behind Drew Bledsoe. Brady also got the starting job after the season had already begun in 2001, while Prescott got his midway early in the third preseason game
In 2002, Brady's first full year as the Patriots starter, he improved overall from the previous season. Touchdowns went up 18 to 28 and yards-per-game rose from 190 to 235 yds. Despite throwing close to 200 more passes in this second year, Brady's 14 interceptions were only two more than in 2001. He was also sacked 10 fewer times in 2002 despite many more pass attempts, showing his improved awareness and decision-making.
Brady's positive response to the increased workload is especially impressive considering issues with the Patriots roster. The reigning Super Bowl Champions dropped to 9-7 and missed the playoffs because of turnover throughout the team. Many quarterbacks would have gone down with the team, but Brady's famous consistency came through even this early in his career.
Of course, Dak Prescott isn't Tom Brady. There's nothing that says his career will follow the same trajectory. In fact, Prescott has already set the bar higher for his next season than Brady did.
Prescott's first year as starter dwarfs Brady's in almost every statistical category. Whether it's the 68% completions, 23-4 TD/INT ratio, or the 104.9 passer rating, Prescott's numbers were great by almost any standard.
This high bar could create a perception issue. Dak could still have a great season and yet not hit these same numbers. Teams will now be much more prepared for Prescott and the new-look Cowboys offense. This is often where the "sophomore slump" comes from.
There's reason for optimism, though. Prescott's all-time rookie season was based on efficient execution and sound judgment. These traits don't go away, as Tom Brady and other great ones have proven over their careers. If anyone has the mentality and temperament to overcome new challenges and keep rising, it's Dak Prescott.
Not only that, but Prescott's teammates aren't going anywhere. Dallas should still have a potent running attack with Ezekiel Elliott and the top offensive linemen returning. Dez Bryant is reportedly healthy and Jason Witten, Cole Beasley, and Terrance Williams are all back. He may even have a new weapon to use in rookie receiver Ryan Switzer.
At worst, the Cowboys defense should be about the same as last year. If it improves, that will only help take pressure off Prescott and the offense and decrease opportunities for mistakes. Dak proved he can keep up in a shootout and even lead the team from behind if needed, but the less times he has to do this the better it is for any quarterback.
One factor we can't ignore is a probably rise in the strength of schedule. Dallas had a fourth-place schedule in 2016 after their abysmal 4-12 season the year before. They will now have a first-place schedule and should be facing stronger competition overall. Once you get into the season, though, this doesn't always prove true.
Indeed, projecting anything is never foolproof. We're little better than weathermen sometimes, going with what we have but ultimately being at the mercy of the wind. Dak Prescott's second season will be what he, teammates, opponents, and plenty of other factors make it to be.
The good news is that whatever challenges come, Dak has already proven himself to be one of the most level-headed and determined young players we've ever seen. His leadership is obvious and ripples through the entire team. No matter what the Dallas Cowboys face in 2017, we can feel confident in who's steering the ship.
Free Agent WR Allen Hurns Plans to Sign With Cowboys
It looks as if the Dallas Cowboys will be adding yet another wide receiver through free agency. According to sources, Allen Hurns plans on signing with the Cowboys.
WR Allen Hurns just told me, "I'm going to sign with Dallas." #Cowboys
This is a move that seemed unlikely after the Cowboys signed Deonte Thompson a few days ago, but I know a lot of Cowboys Nation will be excited about this transaction.
While this move is exciting, it does create more confusion for the Cowboys and their wide receivers. It's difficult to imagine all of these WRs sticking to the roster, which means there will be some tough decisions that need to be made.
What will the Cowboys do with Dez Bryant?
Will Cole Beasley be cut or traded?
Are the Cowboys comfortable absorbing Terrance Williams' cap hit if traded or released?
Will this keep the Cowboys from drafting a WR early?
All of these questions and more will have to be answered eventually. But, one thing is for sure, things are definitely about to get interesting.
Of course, there is a bonus here for the Dallas Cowboys. Since Allen Hurns was released by the Jacksonville Jaguars, he doesn't count against the Cowboys compensatory picks next season.
Please stay tuned and we will continue to keep you updated on contract details and any other news involving Allen Hurns as it becomes available.
What do you think about the Allen Hurns signing?
What Signing Thompson Means for Hurns and Cowboys WR Position
UPDATE: News of Hurns saying he will sign with the Cowboys broke as this article went live.
Free Agency began a bit late for the Dallas Cowboys, but they've already done enough to get fans discussing about the latest additions to the roster. Adding help on offense, defense and special teams in form of tier-2 free agents may not be what Cowboys Nation wants to see, but I'm certain they wouldn't have enjoyed giving Sammy Watkins a three-year $48M contract, either.
However, the Cowboys are clearly in the wide receiver market after an offensively disappointing season. They have quite a few of this year's class of wide receivers prospects scheduled to visit Dallas, and they've hosted some WR free agents as well.
This week, they even signed one.
Deonte Thompson, who started seven games for the Bills last year, is coming to Dallas on a one-year $2.5M contract. The 29-year old could be the burner receiver this offense is missing and could end up being an improved version of Brice Butler for the Cowboys in 2018.
He hasn't had a great career but last season was his best year so far. Starting three games for the Bears and seven for the Bills, Thompson was able to rack up a career-high 555 yards and two touchdowns.
His best attribute as a player is definitely the speed he brings to the table and his ability to separate down the field, which he'll be looking to do on Dak Prescott's offense this season.
But there was another wide receiver visiting Dallas this week and now we wonder whether or not the Deonte Thompson signing will keep the Cowboys from targeting former Jaguars' WR Allen Hurns.
According to Todd Archer, that won't be the case.
Told the signing of Deonte Thompson does not close the door on the Cowboys' interest in Allen Hurns, who visited the team Wednesday and had dinner. Things could get interesting in the Cowboys' wide receivers' room. https://t.co/Ivt5uk9kBN
It shouldn't be. First of all, Hurns is a much better player than Thompson and would provide this offense with a receiver who can play in the "X" or in the "Z" role. We've been talking about getting Prescott a reliable target to try to give him a "best friend." Allen Hurns could be just that.
Sure, he's had a couple of down seasons, but the talent is there to take.
Simply put, the Deonte Thompson signing shouldn't stop the Cowboys from looking at WR in the first round of the NFL Draft. Allen Hurns would.
It sure would make things interesting in the wide receiver room for Dallas. Despite what many believe, Dez Bryant will probably remain a Cowboy even if Hurns is signed. Let's say the Cowboys go out there and get the 26-year old from Jacksonville and have to decide which six receivers to keep for the season.
They'd possibly have to decide among these:
- Dez Bryant
- Terrrance Williams
- Cole Beasley
- Ryan Switzer
- Allen Hurns
- Deonte Thompson
- Noah Brown
- A drafted rookie?
This is where a lot of dilemmas start taking form. Cole Beasley and Ryan Switzer are basically the same player and if you're not going to use them both at the same time, do you keep them anyway? What about Terrance Williams? He could be the worst receiver to make the cut just because of his contract.
Noah Brown showed promise in 2017, are they ready to move on from him? And finally, a rookie could very well end up beating Deonte Thompson, who was guaranteed a million in his contract.
Wide receiver is indeed one of the top needs for the Dallas Cowboys. They could head to the 2018 NFL Draft needing one in the top rounds or they could be fine signing Hurns and taking a late-rounder receiver to compete in training camp for a spot on the roster.
As long as they're having a tough time deciding because they are all good, it should be fine.
Cowboys Sign Free Agent WR Deonte Thompson
The Dallas Cowboys added some speed to their receiver corps today by signing free agent Deonte Thompson. He played for both the Chicago Bears and Buffalo Bills last season.
Thompson, who turned 29 last month, went undrafted in 2012. He had a quiet to start to his career as a reserve and practice squad guy in Baltimore and Chicago, but finally got a chance to shine with seven starts last year for the Bills. He 27 catches for 430 yards and one touchdown in just 11 games.
The #Cowboys signed WR Deonte Thompson, per agent @davidcanter. He gets 1-year, $2.5M with a $1M signing bonus.
Deonte brings some much-needed speed to the Cowboys offense. He ran a 4.31 40-yard dash as a rookie, and while he's 29 now he still poses more of a vertical threat than the current Dallas receivers.
Given the low salary in this deal, Thompson may not be seen as much than a replacement for Brice Butler near the bottom of Dallas' depth chart. We also have to wait and see what happens with the draft and other moves this offseason to know where he fits into the bigger picture.
For now, though, Cowboys fans can take a little comfort in knowing the front office hasn't completely fallen asleep at the wheel.
Want to help make Inside The Star better?
We’re collecting feedback from our readers about the site. It only takes <2 minutes to complete, and can be done from any device.
Don’t worry, your information will not be shared with anyone but me (Bryson T.).
Star Blog3 days ago
Should Cowboys Reunite Shea McClellin With Rod Marinelli?
Star Blog4 days ago
Xavier Woods, the Real Reason Cowboys Didn’t Pursue Tyrann Mathieu?
Dallas Cowboys1 week ago
Dallas Cowboys Have Missing Piece at Offensive Line
Star Blog2 weeks ago
3 Former Penn State Alumni Cowboys Could Target in Free Agency
Player News2 days ago
Dallas Cowboys Sign LB Joe Thomas to 2 Year Deal
Star Blog2 weeks ago
Cowboys Defense: Bigger Need at Safety or Defensive End?
Star Blog1 day ago
What’s the Next Move for Cowboys in Free Agency?
NFL Draft2 weeks ago
Final Cowboys Mock Drafts Before Free Agency Address Defensive Interior, Receiver