At 36-years-old and in his 13th season, Carson Palmer has just had the best regular season of his career for the 13-3 Arizona Cardinals. One state over, another great quarterback lost nearly his entire season to injury. Tony Romo's twice-broken collarbone was the key issue this year, but before that he's had several season of recurring back problems. Dallas Cowboys fans should look west for hope as Palmer's re-emergence as a top performer is a great sign for Romo's future.
Last year Palmer was anything but healthy. A nerve injury in his shoulder kept him out from Weeks 2-5 and then a torn ACL ended his season in Week 10. He was still solid when available, having a 95.6 passer rating in the seven games he played. Still, there was plenty of concern about how this aged veteran could hold up going into 2015.
Palmer hasn't just stayed on the field this year but has been spectacular. His 104.6 passer rating is third in the NFL and higher than the likes of Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and Aaron Rodgers. He didn't many any snaps due to injury, only being spelled by Drew Stanton when the Cardinals had built comfortable leads.
Most impressive is that Palmer's success has come with a lot of suspect offensive talent around him. Larry Fitzgerald is deep into his twilight. Chris Johnson was an aged running back desperate for work. Michael Floyd is a solid but unspectacular receiver. They have nobody of consequence at tight end. Palmer's leadership has helped this group become greater than the sum of its parts, ranking first in the NFL in yardage and second in scoring.
So you Dallas fans reading this are probably starting to think, "that's lovely, but what does it do for us?" Well, consider that Palmer is just five months older than Romo. The fact that a guy at age 35-36 can have this kind of uptick in his level of play is remarkable. Even better, Palmer's actual mileage is far higher than Romo's. Palmer has been starting since his rookie season in 2004. Romo didn't start playing until midway through the 2006 season. Palmer's resurgence is happening with a lot more tread on the tires than Romo will have next year.
Even more specifically, Palmer has bounced back from missing lots of time and repeated injuries to the same body part with his knee. Sound like someone we know? Romo broke this same collarbone in 2010 as in 2015, plus has the chronic back issues. But now that he has a full offseason to heal and the best modern medicine has to offer, he has every opportunity to come back just as strong as Palmer has been.
Sometimes we have to remember what decade we're in when assessing football players' health. The old timetables for career longevity and the toll of injuries aren't what they were in the 1990s. Sports medicine is better than its ever been and players in all sports are seeing more success coming back from even catastrophic injuries. We can only hope that Romo is part of that trend.
Now, to be clear, none of this is to say that Dallas shouldn't be thinking about the future at quarterback. Romo's chance at re-injury, or even something new, are higher than normal given his age and wear. Even without health problems, I could see Romo being ready to hang it up and get back to his golfing within the next few seasons. Dallas would be wise to have a legitimate prospect, and not another of their undrafted flyers, learning and preparing behind him as soon as this year.
Whatever the future may hold for the position, we know that Romo will be the guy in 2016. He'll be there with Dez Bryant and Jason Witten, who are superior to what Palmer's working with in Arizona. He'll have an offensive line which, as good as the Cardinals' line has been, is stronger. As long as he enjoys a full recovery from the collarbone injury, which he has more than enough time for in the offseason, Tony Romo has every opportunity to be the league's top-rated passer again next year as he was in 2014.
Thankfully, as Carson Palmer has shown us, it's not an unrealistic goal.
Dallas Cowboys Restructure Travis Frederick’s Contract, Clear Cap Space
Patience is a virtue for football fans everywhere this time of the year, especially those of the Dallas Cowboys. A team known for using free agency to deal with their own expiring contracts and players, Cowboys Nation has been anxiously awaiting an addition to improve this roster before the draft. While the wait will continue for outside help in Dallas, the Cowboys have created $7.5 million in cap space by restructuring the contract of Center Travis Frederick.
C Travis Frederick will restructure his deal to help clear up roughly 7.5M in cap space for the #Cowboys per source informed
Restructuring the contracts of their cornerstone players is nothing new for the Cowboys. Rarely doing so with a clear "next move" in sight, the market for top FA talent at WR and OL may have already passed the Cowboys.
Having the space to negotiate with available players now opens the door just slightly further for Earl Thomas or Tyrann Mathieu acquisitions to become realistic. Reportedly, the Cowboys have inquired about both safeties (Thomas via popular trade talks and Mathieu as a free agent, released by the Cardinals) and have been met with price tags the Jones' were forced to turn away.
Giving up assets for players that will warrant large future contracts is not currently the Dallas Cowboys' way, but being able to sign somebody in free agency has been. To avoid a repeat of 2017, a season arguably derailed as soon as the team's free agent class failed entirely, the Cowboys will need to find proven players that can contribute on the market in the coming weeks.
With the help of the anchor to their star-studded offensive line, the Cowboys can come to this market with slightly thicker wallets now. Keep the optimistic tweets alive, and tip Travis Frederick accordingly.
Cowboys Place 2nd Round RFA Tender on DL David Irving
One of the more anticipated Cowboys free agency moves has finally happened. Defensive lineman David Irving has been given the 2nd-round Restricted Free Agent tender, which would result in a $2.91 million contract for 2018.
Source: the Cowboys have used a 2nd round tender on DT David Irving. The cost is $2.91 million.
If another team offers Irving a contract, that would have to send their 2018 second-round draft pick to the Cowboys.
There was no doubt that Dallas would extend an RFA tender to Irving, one of the bright young stars on their defense. The question was at what amount; they could have gone with the $4.1 million tender which raises the compensation to a first-round draft pick.
With a difference of only about $1 million, some might argue that the Cowboys went lower to entice other teams to try to sign Irving. Perhaps they don't foresee giving him a big long-term deal next year, so want to get something for him now.
It's a logical argument, and one that means there may be more to this story before the offseason ends. For now, though, David Irving's closer to remaining a Cowboy than he was yesterday.
REPORT: Cowboys CB Orlando Scandrick Has Requested Release
Cornerback Orlando Scandrick has requested to be released by the Dallas Cowboys, according to a report from ESPN's Todd Archer. The veteran has been with the team since 2008, when he was drafted in the fifth round.
Archer's report can be found here:
Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick has requested his release from the team, according to a source. Scandrick hopes to get into the free-agent market when it opens Wednesday. Cowboys seem to have moved on at corner with Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis,... https://t.co/oBgAn2Riqt
The end of Scandrick's run in Dallas comes as no surprise. He had fallen behind the youth movement at cornerback with Jourdan Lewis, Chidobe Awuzie, and Anthony Brown all arriving in the last two seasons. Now with talk that Byron Jones may move back to CB, there's just not place for Orlando.
Unfortunately for the Cowboys, releasing Scandrick doesn't provide any great salary cap relief.
If Dallas cuts Scandrick outright, they will get back about $1.4 million from his $5.3-million cap hit in 2018. If they make him a June-1st cut, the cap relief increases to $3 million and pushes $1.6 million of dead money into 2019.
If not for all their younger options, the Cowboys might have elected to stick with Orlando for one more season. But given what they already have at corner, Dallas was likely planning to release him even before this request.
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