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Can TE Rico Gathers be More Than a Just Receiving Threat?

Brian Martin

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Rico Gathers, Rams

Rico Gathers is trying to follow in the footsteps of Tony Gonzales, Antonio Gates, and Jimmy Graham as someone who has successfully made the transition from college basketball player to tight end in the NFL. Unfortunately, that transition hasn't gone quite as smoothly as he probably would've hoped.

To date, Gathers really hasn't been able to put a lot on tape. He spent his rookie season on the practice squad with the Dallas Cowboys, but did gain some valuable experience working with Tony Romo. Last year he was just beginning to show what kind of threat he could be in the passing game when he unfortunately sustained a concussion in practice, pretty much ending his season.

As you can imagine, Rico Gathers still has a lot to prove heading into the 2018 season. In no way is his roster spot guaranteed right now. He may still be the most talented and physically gifted TE on the Cowboys roster, but that will only get him so far.

I for one think Gathers can be a tremendous threat in the passing game. I think the flashes we saw in preseason a year ago are exactly the kind of weapon he can turn into for Dak Prescott. He is even working a route running guru, David Robinson, to become even better in the passing game. But, we all know the Cowboys coaching staff demands a lot more from their tight ends.

Rico Gathers, Dalton Schultz

Dallas Cowboys TE Rico Gathers

In the Cowboys offensive scheme, the tight end is an important position. They have to be able to block in several different areas depending on the formation, especially at the point of attack as an in-line blocker, sometimes being left one on one against a defensive end. That means they have to be assignment sound pre and post snap, with the ability to make the right adjustments in a split second.

For Rico Gathers, this is the area of his game holding him back the most right now. We all know what kind of threat he can be in the passing game, but the Cowboys coaching staff wants someone they can trust to leave on the field down after down. This is where Gathers will have to prove himself the remainder of the offseason.

The Dallas Cowboys knew Rico Gathers was a developmental prospect when they drafted him in the sixth-round of the 2016 NFL Draft. They didn't know how long it would take for him to be be able to contribute, but that time may be running out. Year 3 could be his last chance to prove himself in Dallas.

Gathers is a mismatch player in the passing game against smaller defensive backs, but that might not be enough for the Cowboys coaching staff to keep him around. I would personally get him involved in the receiving game, especially with all the new faces Prescott will be throwing to this season, but unfortunately I'm not making those decisions.

Do you think Rico Gathers is more than just a passing game threat?



Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

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28 Comments

28 Comments

  1. Chet Horton

    July 16, 2018 at 11:46 am

    No he won’t and he isn’t even a threat in the passing game. He is an awful football player. He is a horrible route runner and can’t block even a little bit. He doesn’t know the offense. He isn’t any faster and definitely not as quick as any of the real TE’s on the roster. The only thing he has on even the worst TE in the NFL is height and he can rebound. As a pro football player he is a waste of time, space, and money. The sooner we cut him and move on the better.

    • SmittyW

      July 16, 2018 at 12:07 pm

      Chet is pretty much on the money.
      With coaches still criticizing Gaither’s efforts and skill set, it’s pretty obvious a failed experiment.
      He either makes the team (which I doubt) or is cut by the end of this training camp.

      • N0L0VEThezzzhos...

        July 16, 2018 at 12:47 pm

        Chet is wrong about Rico…

    • Sidney Montgomery

      July 16, 2018 at 12:14 pm

      I wouldn’t say he’s the worst TE from what I’ve seen. I liked his receiving ability, I don’t know if by design but the Cowboys don’t show much tape on his technique. I don’t think they are happy with him but are afraid he might turn out to be pretty special on another team. I guess training camp will tell. Just don’t take too much time from other developing TEs.

      • kabob

        July 16, 2018 at 1:00 pm

        I honestly don’t think how a player would do for another team factors into the Cowboys’ roster decisions at all. In the past, they’ve parted ways with multiple players with potential that didn’t work out for them but could have or later did better on other teams. Heck, they’ve made a living banking on those same players on other teams working out here in Dallas with different coaching and scheme fit. If Gathers can succeed for another team, that’s a benefit to both him and the Cowboys. The other NFC East teams are stacked at TE so it’s not like a division rival would pick him up and start him.

        • Sidney Montgomery

          July 16, 2018 at 1:26 pm

          It’s not so much of what he will do for another team but they took a raw talent and in my opinion he is ok as a receiver but his blocking technique is lacking. If they still had a Jason Witten on the roster they could continue to develop that but they have too many young other young TE to work with. Perhaps if he goes to another team short at TE they would have time to work with him. I think at some point he will become a decent player. Remember, he is learning the position at the Nfl level.

          • kabob

            August 1, 2018 at 2:39 pm

            A team that picks up a player off another’s practice squad has to put him on the active squad. No team’s going to do that when he can’t even come close to making it with the Cowboys. He’d have to be cut and picked up off waivers.

        • Sexcdex Xfact

          July 17, 2018 at 12:15 am

          Wrong in your point about no NFC east team not picking him up
          Philly tried to pluck Jarwin just this past season
          I can see them using Rico like Ertz
          By the way, coaches, writers, & experts have the same bones with Jarwin blocking deficiencies
          &
          Yes Rico is a receiving threat
          He outshined them all last preseason & with all 3 Qb’s
          Experts favors Jarwin ahead of Swaim who has all 9 catches between TE’s

          So this dies cast a good light on Swaim
          &
          They say Schultz has quite a ways to go before he’s NFL ready

          Bottomline

          Dallas coaches say Witten can’t be replaced & they’re not trying
          PLUS
          The NFL is a copy cat league & we just assume Dallas will stuck withbthe status quo

          JG says Rico just needs to play more ball
          Practice won’t be enough

          This means he intended to play him to get him up to par
          Dallas is moving towards change & implementation
          &
          Why will they give opponents a heads up on our plans
          Haven’t we said we’re too predictable?
          So why assume we’re gonna stay the course TE-wise ?
          Or concerning any true gameplan for that matter?

          May the spirit of Bill Belichek supersede our coaching tendency to give family secret recipes away prematurely

          • kabob

            August 1, 2018 at 2:37 pm

            What you think now that training camp has proven Rico can’t run routes properly still, is slow out of his stance and he’s completely out of place with his hand, feet, and direction? Still looks like a beginner.

          • Sexcdex Xfact

            August 3, 2018 at 1:54 pm

            Schultz doing OK but blowing assignments
            Jarwin outdoing em all but has missed assignments
            Rico is progressing & being blasted for his missteps
            Ain’t been hearing much on Swaim
            Rico been showing out receiving wise
            He’s not far tat with Jarwin
            He’s also making very nice blocks
            This is from several days of padded practices
            &
            From analysists reviews

            Your point is secondary to what I plainly can see in video footage pointed out by staff writers & experts

            And by no means am I saying Rico makes the team
            But he made the 4TE roster with Jason Witten last year

            Why can’t he not make a 4TE roster this year?

    • N0L0VEThezzzhos...

      July 16, 2018 at 12:43 pm

      Rico will be a pro bowler anywhere he goes & gets an opportunity on the field… he’s special soft hands plays big… Cowboys hid Rico Gathers last year on the injured list… Gathers could have played more than half the season… The cowboys have very weak player development coaches/program… Release Rico & i guarantee he starts & becomes a pro bowler on the team that signs him…

      • SmittyW

        July 16, 2018 at 1:07 pm

        A pro bowler? Is that you Rico?

        Seriously, what evidence do you have that a guy who cannot make the roster is going to be an NFL active player much less a pro bowler ?

      • Chet

        July 16, 2018 at 3:12 pm

        No way no how will he ever even be a 3rd string TE in the NFL. He isn’t special. He isn’t fast. He isn’t quick. Every TE on the roster is as fast or faster than him and they are all quicker. He looks like he is running in slow motion when running routes. He gets zero separation. He doesn’t catch any better than any of the other Dallas TE’s. He doesn’t have soft hands his hands are average for the NFL. He can’t block. He can’t take a hit. The only thing he has going is that he is tall. He wasn’t even an above average Division I basketball player or he would be in the NBA making a lot more money. He is a horrible football player and will never amount to anything in the NFL.

    • Not your goat

      July 16, 2018 at 6:19 pm

      Did you watch the Cowboys in the preseason last year? Rico played like what Marty Bennett wanted to. Caught balls in traffic, red zone, on the run, all hand catches. I understand you have heard this and that about how bad he blocks but honestly it benefits keeping a practice squad player from getting plucked. After the initial hype over Jarwin last year we heard the same kind of stuff. The Cowboys have always been good at and emphasized teaching so Rico is definitely in the right spot. This team needs difference makers and I see 2018 as the year Jerry gets some credit for a few of these risky but high reward decisions he’s made recently. This team is seriously on the verge of not just being good but dominant and if TE, FS or WR is holding us back come camp the Cowboys will undoubtedly make a move anyways. We still have the cap to sign any contract we want besides a QB and if this team wins this year there’s enough cap next year to re-up EVERYONE!

      • Sexcdex Xfact

        July 17, 2018 at 12:24 am

        They just won’t believe it until they see it
        And I doubt some see it even then
        Other teams have rewritten the TE position with Rico type players, hybrids, etc

        It’s like we complain about staleness in coaching but play couch-coach in suggesting we should settle for being left behind by teams that do employ fresher schemes that keeps teams guessing

        I honestly feel J Jones, JG, & Co have damaged fanbase ability to rationalize anymore

        Now that the writings on the wall as far as extreme measures to adapt by the FO, the FANBASE is still stuck in the old mold

      • Chet

        July 17, 2018 at 11:10 am

        I have watched every pre-season and regular season Cowboys game for the last 10 years. Rico caught 7 passes last year against 3rd string pre-season players. He had very little separation from any of the defenders and any non drafted TE the Cowboys have ever had could have caught all of them. He is a horrible player both as a receiver and a blocker. The TE’s they have are so far superior than Rico he would never see the field then they drafted Schultz who is also a far better TE than Rico which further cemented Rico as the worst TE on the roster. In no way shape or form is Rico a difference maker, he is a liability. That sums up Rico so now let’s address why the Cowboys don’t need the type of TE you think Rico is. This is a running team and whether this team is dominate or not has nothing to do with the passing game and everything to do with the running game and the defense. The passing game is like Roger Clemens change up and slider both are good pitches but they are nothing without his fastball. Our running game is the single most important and only difference maker we need on offense to win a super bowl. So a slow, weak, poor blocking, poor route running, football ignorant TE is not a difference maker and is a waste of time, money, and air by those discussing him. He is irrelevant and will never be anything in the NFL but irrelevant.

        • Sexcdex Xfact

          July 17, 2018 at 3:25 pm

          Witt couldn’t get separated either these past few years like he use to
          But your point solidify Gathers ability tohighpoint a catch
          & Dak being able to advantage his tight window throws genius in using Rico & others
          Rico’s height advantage makes up for any speed deficiencies
          Plus
          Rico has NFL preseason experience to schultzs

        • Not your goat

          July 18, 2018 at 12:55 am

          Hahaha, I couldn’t even read 3 lines of that stat search contradiction. No separation but somehow still making uncontested catches anyone could make, hahaha, I wasn’t aware anyone could score in the NFL, I really need to look into this. Like I said, go watch the tape, you clearly just googled stats because those weren’t ordinary catches, 1 of them was tipped in front of him while another guy was lining him up and he outperformed every TE on the roster, not against 3rd stringers like you say either. And I’m pretty sure you might be the only person denying Rico’s physical ability, he’s a superior athlete at his position and denying that for the sake of your argument just sounds silly. I’m just curious where this analysis you have of Gathers comes from? Your own private practice sesh with him or just pure esp? My 1st cousin that I grew up w/ has an office in the Star and works for the NFL Network (you know who this person is) tells me Rico is a monster and not only is he running better routes but he’s becoming a physical blocker. Don’t believe everything you read and when a coach not known for dropping any information on any player suddenly drops negative info, it either had a different purpose or he simply wanted to motivate his young player.

      • Chet

        July 17, 2018 at 11:11 am

        I do agree we are really close to being very special just disagree about how.

      • N0L0VEThezzzhos...

        July 17, 2018 at 3:20 pm

        ✔…

  2. Not your goat

    July 16, 2018 at 5:53 pm

    I understand the concern over his pass/run blocking but on a team short of potential passing mismatches or just targets period it would be foolish to not give Rico every chance to contribute on offense. If you honestly look at this Recieving core as a whole the only 2 guys that have the potential physical ability to do things that are undefendable are Rico and Tavon. That’s a scary balance of size and speed and pure speed to gameplan against. Unproven but again on a team short of difference makers I’d give every opportunity to the guy who can impose his will and make plays that other options on the team can’t.

    • Sexcdex Xfact

      July 17, 2018 at 12:28 am

      Question

      If Rico is on the field with
      (say for example)
      Swaim & Jarwin or Schultz & Swaim in a 2-3 TE set defenses just cant assume run or pass

      Just how hard is this to phantom for God’s sake?!

      I agree with you

      • Not your goat

        July 17, 2018 at 3:34 am

        Schultz was widely considered the 2nd best run blocking TE (w/ a min. catch amount) in College Football, the best 1 we picked up as a UDFA. If we can use a 4th rd pick in hope of teaching a man to catch we certainly can teach a blue chip athlete how to block or at least do the bare minimum. Don’t forget we have a few All-Pro Linemen that love to pull and clean up linebackers. Those 2-3 TE sets would be so scary to teams. Most people think defenses stacked the box because we had Zeke, no the did it because Witten never left the field and he’s not fast. Imagine running the Wishbone over and over on a hurry up offense and Rico slips past a safety or 8 plays later on 2nd down we sub Austin, Thompson and Cedric Wilson. Doesn’t seem very scary yet but considering those guys all run legit 4.3’s and we just punched it down the throat of your heavy D-sets these guys will be running wild. I can’t wait, this team is so complete I can’t stand waiting anymore.

        • Sexcdex Xfact

          July 18, 2018 at 8:35 pm

          Philly, LA Rams & others are employing more college schemes with success
          Dak says part of Dak-friendly is spread offense & other techniques he’s accustom to
          So yeah, I can see something of the sort

  3. Russ_Te

    July 17, 2018 at 12:50 am

    If RG is just too much of a liability as a blocker, that will show up and he’ll be cut this preseason. If he has upside there, then get him in the pre-season games a lot and let’s see how much of a target he is. The team needs an inside weapon badly enough this year, to tolerate a learning curve as a blocker.

  4. SmittyW

    July 17, 2018 at 3:42 pm

    Rico if you spent more time training instead of using a fake name to comment on articles about you, it’s possible though unlikely you will make the team.

  5. Sexcdex Xfact

    July 18, 2018 at 8:32 pm

    Yesssss
    And it will allow for much pressure off the up & coming-together receiving corp

  6. kabob

    August 1, 2018 at 2:37 pm

    Oh yeah, Rico looking so great in training camp…. NOT. Dude is about to be cut from the team.

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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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