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A Case for Dez Bryant Remaining a Dallas Cowboy in 2018

Mauricio Rodriguez

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A Case For Dez Bryant Remaining a Dallas Cowboy in 2018 1
AP Photo / Ron Jenkins

Now that most of the coaching positions have been filled in Dallas, all of the attention will soon turn to the players. Who will be re-signed? Who will walk? And will the front office surprise us by releasing a big-name player? Mainly, I'm talking about Dallas Cowboys Wide Receiver Dez Bryant.

Even before the season came to an end, Dez was already a hot topic among Cowboys fans, and rightfully so. After failing to produce for three consecutive seasons, it's only fair for fans to have a discussion about him.

The question is whether or not the front office will discuss it and do something about it as well. Will Dez be wearing the Star on his helmet next season? Or will he be elsewhere?

I decided to write two cases for Dez Bryant. One in favor, one against. You'll be able to read the latter soon on Inside The Star.

A Case in Favor of Dez Bryant

It's very simple to look at Bryant's drops, lack of production and mistakes and think: "Hey, we should let this guy go, and draft a good wide receiver in April." Easier said than done. Even though Dez isn't currently at his best, he's still a very talented football player.

It won't be very easy to find a replacement for someone like Dez. He may not be an elite receiver anymore, but let's suppose they release him. Who're your receivers?

Will Terrance Williams be Back with Cowboys in 2018?

Dallas Cowboys WRs Cole Beasley, Terrance Williams, Dez Bryant

Terrance Williams, a guy who went without a single touchdown in all of last season?

Cole Beasley, who despite being great in 2016, failed to keep it up a year later?

Brice Butler (if re-signed), who flashed as a good receiver but didn't even start a single game?

Now don't get me wrong, these guys worked in 2016, and they might shine again next year if the offense finds a way to bounce back next season. But I don't know for sure that your offense looks a lot better without Dez Bryant.

Logically, if the Cowboys parted ways with #88, they would bring in someone from outside the building. Maybe a proven receiver, but will Dallas have the cap space to do a move like that? Maybe they lean towards the Draft... but aside from one or two guys, are the other wide receivers from this class really that reliable after the first round?

"You don't find No. 1 receivers hanging off trees like leaves." Michael Irvin on Dez Bryant and his future with the Cowboys.

Don't forget that the entire Dallas Cowboys' offense struggled this season.

During the second half of the 2016 season (after dealing with his injury and after Dak Prescott got some experience as a rookie), Bryant looked pretty good. This even led us to believe Dak would develop an amazing chemistry with him once they got back at it in 2017.

Dak Prescott isn't the kind of quarterback who will throw Bryant open or take risks with him. It's fair to point out that Prescott could be better off trusting Dez on contested balls and giving him opportunities to make plays.

We're losing perspective of what happened this past season. Without Ezekiel Elliott, the offense couldn't walk. Without Tyron Smith, Prescott got destroyed frequently. Almost no one from the Cowboys' offense managed to shine last year.

Michael Irvin may be right. The front office may be paying Dez a bit too much, but at the end of the day, if you release the guy, who'll take his place?

After a struggling season, changing the number one WR on the team may not be the wisest thing to do when you have a young QB like Prescott.

There certainly are a lot of reasons to believe the Dallas Cowboys would be wise to keep Bryant, despite the outside noise. Let's hope that if they decide to stick to their guy, they find a way to reduce his cap hit.

Tell me what you think about "A Case for Dez Bryant Remaining a Dallas Cowboy in 2018" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL 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!



I love to write, I love football and I love the Dallas Cowboys. I've been rooting for America's team all the way from Mexico ever since I can remember. If you want to talk football, I'm in... You'll find me at @PepoR99.

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12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. Travis Diggs

    February 3, 2018 at 11:09 am

    What’s the point of replacing all the position coaches if your going to get rid of the players. You changed position coaches to see if they can bring out something different in the players you already have while adding some FA and through the draft. Cowboys are in dying need of a true #1 to allow Dez to play #2. Dez has all his best games against the Breshaud Breelands of the worlds(no 2s is what im saying) Restructure Dez and look for a true no 1 like Josh Gordan or Allen Robinson

    • Mauricio Rodriguez

      Mauricio Rodriguez

      February 3, 2018 at 9:41 pm

      If the front office and Dez are able to work something out and PAY Dez like a #2, I’m all in for it. I bet it won’t happen though, which is the deal breaker for me. I see your point, though. If they decided to overhaul the coaching staff, might as well see what comes out of it. Thanks for reading, Travis!

  2. Nick Russo

    February 3, 2018 at 12:47 pm

    Mauricio, I have to disagree in regards to keeping Dez. He may be an all time great WR for the boys (evidenced by his franchise leading 73 touchdown receptions), but he’s not what the cowboys need to win now.
    First, Dez is not a great route runner. He had success because of Romo’s ability to throw him open, and his athleticism to snatch the ball out of the air. Dak may get to that point further into his career, but for now he does better getting the ball to an open receiver.
    Furthermore, his attitude on the sideline during games is just too much. We put up with it when he was producing but it’s enough already. It can be argued his outbursts led to our demise in the Seattle game and as a fan I’m tired of seeing him cry so much. All in all he is being paid way too much money to cry and complain, and to not get open and drop the balls that he should catch.
    As I said he’s an all time great cowboy and between 2012-2014 I would always argue with friends that he was the best receiver in the league. Unfortunately those days are gone and we have to move forward.

    • Mauricio Rodriguez

      Mauricio Rodriguez

      February 3, 2018 at 9:39 pm

      I actually agree with you. This article is the first part of a two-post series I’m working on. This Sunday you’ll be able to read my article against him staying in Dallas another year. To me, it’s all about cap space. I think he’s talented, but I don’t think he’s justifying his salary on the field. Thanks for reading!

    • RJ

      February 6, 2018 at 9:08 pm

      Are you kidding me. Dez is a number one receiver on any NFL team. We just do not use him right. Running him down field INTO THE DOUBLE TEAM, WHO DOES THAT. The correct way to use him is run him underneath short five and ins, let him catch the ball and break tackles that is what he does. AND ROMO NEVER THREW DEZ OPEN, ROMO THREW THE BALL UP HIGH AND DEZ WENT AND GOT IT…All this crazy talk about trading Dez or letting him go is just that; crazy. Dez has always been and above the rim guy it’s what he does. Yes Romo threw some gems, but Dez went and got those gems, however, it has never been a case of anyone throwing Dez open…

      • Nick Russo

        February 7, 2018 at 9:45 am

        I have to respectfully disagree. As I mentioned in my initial comment, Dez was in my opinion, the top WR in football between 2012-2014. It might be the injuries, it might be other factors but dez hasn’t been close to that level in the past 3 seasons. Regarding his route running, I don’t think dez is a very good route runner. A majority of his touchdowns have been balls that he’s gone up to get because of his althleticism. The amount of times that he has run a slant route and then dropped it and had it result in an interception is not indicative of a WR1. I’m sorry but Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, and the other top receivers around the league figure out ways to get open and make plays even against double teams. Dez isn’t making those plays anymore. The biggest issue is the salary though. It’s not that he’s washed up and can’t play, it’s that for our cap situation, we can’t afford to pay $16 million to a WR on the decline.

        • RJ

          February 7, 2018 at 12:48 pm

          Addressing the money first. Dez is 29 and still the number one receiver in football. His numbers do say it, but if you watch the whole game you know what I am saying. Dez caught 50 balls in 2016, he upped it to 69 in 2017. That is not a decline to me.

          Why do I say he is number 1, you could say Jones and Brown are ahead of Bryant, in stats, but Brown and Jones have VETERAN AND who EACH guy has played multiple seasons with. Plus Brown called Big Ben out multiple times to include last season. Honestly Dez should be used more like Jones, short in routes and allow him to break tackles. Instead Beasley ran the short in routes in 2016 and he had 75 receptions. Dez your number one was left being a FREAKIN DECOY. He did it and for doing as he was asked to do for the steaMER USE THAT AS A REASON TO CUT JOM. Show some freaking LOYALTY WILL YOU.

          Give Dallas the last two season’s back with the veteran Romo and Dez has two thousand yard 100+ catch seasons. A receivers performance is on the qb as much as it is on the receiver.

  3. Jason Wagner

    February 3, 2018 at 4:51 pm

    Watching all of the games this year and every year at least once it’s my opinion Dez’s drop off is more because of Dak’s inaccuracy than anything else. Dez needs to get the ball in his hands early and often to be most effective and he’s a force when that happens. When he doesn’t get a chance to produce and help team win he gets over anxious and looses focus…thus the drops on tough catches he normally makes. ALL of the receivers numbers were terrible this season. Prescott needs to throw Dez open and work on ball placement because Dez has never been a burner who creates lots of space. I believe Dez is still in the top 10 receivers but needs a QB more accurate than Dak was last year. Getting Dez the ball early on some quick slants or reverses would heat him up and keep him focused for the tougher 50/50 balls. Lets hope Dak can improve or Dez will have to take a cut or find a better QB to prove his point. Hate to lose a leader like this!

  4. Russ_Te

    February 4, 2018 at 2:24 am

    Cap hit being the main issue probably, not age or injury. Dez has to move to a power-possession role at this stage of his career, and work underneath WR’s who stretch secondaries and get the coverage rotations off of him. Then Linehan has to cash that in & get Dez involved.

    If all that gets done, I think he has some career left in Dallas. Whether Dez will give back $ to stay on the team, unknown. He won’t match his current deal elsewhere if cut – so he might do it. I’m good with it if all these boxes are checked.

    The unit needs a serious infusion of new speed, and that is square 1 IMO. I’m not interested in 4.5, 4.4 WR’s. We need to bring in a 4.3 / 4.2 WR who will force the FS to stay deep. Then I’m holding onto Butler to add to that, and going to Switzer in the slot on the idea of turning some of those routes downfield also.

    I don’t want Dak throwing the ball to covered receivers. I want him to readily see someone open when he sets up. Give him that and 4 seconds, he’ll return to the QB he was in 2016. And with more experience of course.

  5. EverybodyTalks

    February 4, 2018 at 5:07 pm

    When you start looking at the money, it becomes evident that Dez needs to take a pay cut. For that matter Beasley may need to do the same along with Williams.
    The whole receiving corp makes up a substantial part of salary cap, 28million, which is only 2nd behind the O line at 47million, which doesn’t include the upcoming Zack contract. You look down the road, there is nearly 9 million to absorb from Romo this year and 2019 is the last year for the Dak rookie contract.
    I could see Dez going. 8 million towards the cap, 3 million for Hanna. 3 million for Mayowa. That almost matches what we have available on the cap. Lawrence will probably eat up most of that. Irving and Hitchens can now be contracted and possibly Zack long term, if the pay is back-ended. That makes for a more stable D line and O line. So both lines kept for letting go of Dez. Hard to turn down, especially if he won’t budge on a pay cut.

  6. RJ

    February 6, 2018 at 9:04 pm

    Ball not even close to Dez and the Skins Defender is all inside his jersey…No FLAG. This is the difference in the way defenders can D-up Dez, but our Defenders have to give the opposing team’s receivers THREE FEET…Just isn’t the same, at least not for the Cowboys…People see that…

  7. John Williams

    John Williams

    February 8, 2018 at 5:06 am

    Good analysis of keeping him. I am of the mind that you keep him. You can work out cap space if necessary through cuts, restructures, etc, but you can’t find a WR that helps you replace Dez in 2018 on the FA market for less than $12 million a year.

    Dez won’t likely take a pay cut, which is his right. He and the Cowboys signed a contract and though he has been an elite WR at times in his career, 2015, the first half of 2016 and 2017 have all been let downs. The problem is, Allen Robinson isn’t coming here and he only has a year of production on his name.

    Sammy Watkins isn’t better than Dez, but you are going to have to pay him like he’s as good.

    Then there’s the $8 million in dead money that goes on the cap if you cut Dez. Even a post-June 1st cut only gets you $8 mil in savings with 8.5 in dead money.

    So then the question becomes. Would you rather have a cap hit of 16.5 million and have Dez on your team or 8 million for him to play elsewhere.

    I’d rather have Dez.

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Star Blog

Cowboys en Español: Hablemos de los Coaches

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Cowboys en Español: Hablemos de los Coaches
Smiley N. Pool / The Dallas Morning News

Lamentablemente, la temporada 2018 de los Dallas Cowboys ha llegado a su fin. Lo hizo cuando el equipo visitó Los Angeles para intentar sorprender a los Rams en su propio campo en la Ronda Divisional de los playoffs. Ni siquiera con una invasión exitosa de la afición de Dallas pudieron ganarse un pase al Campeonato de Conferencia. En vez de eso, los Cowboys estarán viendo desde casa y la afición estará preguntándose: ¿qué sigue para los Dallas Cowboys?

Parece ya una tradición anual que no podemos dejar pasar. Este momento en el que comenzamos a cuestionar, una vez más, que entrenador es digno de quedarse en la franquicia y cual debe irse. En esta edición de "Cowboys en Español," hablaremos específicamente de los tres principales coaches en el equipo.

Cowboys DC Rod Marinelli Should Be On The Hot Seat

Coordinador Defensivo Rod Marinelli

El futuro del coordinador defensivo de los Dallas Cowboys no se puede tratar sin mencionar a Kris Richard. Fue la defensiva la que llevó al equipo hasta la postemporada y fue la unidad que cargó al equipo en muchas de sus victorias. Incluso con la llegada de Amari Cooper a Dallas, la defensiva fue siempre el pilar de la franquicia esta temporada.

Jaylon Smith y Leighton Vander Esch sorprendentemente se perfilaron como uno de los mejores duos de linebackers en toda la liga, la línea defensiva fue muy exitosa con Randy Gregory y DeMarcus Lawrence en los extremos y con la grata sorpresa que fue Antwaun Woods en el centro. La secundaria vio la mejor temporada en la controversial carrera de Byron Jones e hizo un excelente trabajo con un talento decente, pero no genial.

Todo esto, y el haber terminado como la sexta mejor defensiva en puntos permitidos (20.2) y la quinta mejor contra la corrida (94.6), hace a Rod Marinelli merecedor de una ronda de aplausos. Sin embargo, Richard probablemente merezca más aplausos.

Fue Richard quien revolucionó la defensiva de los Cowboys y la convirtió en un grupo mucho más agresivo. Fue él quien implementó jugadas de "blitz" en el equipo (algo no común con Marinelli) y quien en un punto de la temporada, comenzó a seleccionar las jugadas desde la banda.

En esta posición, me parece que los Dallas Cowboys tienen que enfrentar la dura decisión de decirle a Marinelli que es tiempo de dejarle el puesto a Kris Richard. Si bien no se llevó un trabajo de head coach, es muy probable que le llovieran ofertas a Richard si no se hace con el título de coordinador defensivo en Dallas.

Scott Linehan Acknowledges Need for New "Wrinkles" in Cowboys Offense

Dallas Cowboys OC Scott Linehan (Tim Heitman / USA TODAY Sports)

Coordinador Ofensivo Scott Linehan

Con un equipo tan polémico como este, la afición de Dallas no concuerda en muchas cosas. Sin embargo, lo hacen al hablar del pésimo trabajo que Scott Linehan ha realizado mandando las jugadas en ofensiva. Realmente ha sido doloroso de ver y es en mi opinión, el mayor problema que tiene el equipo actualmente.

Semana tras semana, fuimos testigos de pésimas decisiones en la ofensiva de los Cowboys. Vimos como el equipo se aferraba a llenar la caja de defensivos antes de correr el balón con Ezekiel Elliott. Vimos incontables pases pantalla en tercera oportunidad y largo. Pero no solo es lo que vimos, sino lo que no vimos.

A pesar de la innegable habilidad para correr el balón de Dak Prescott, Linehan se rehusó a explotar esta versatilidad de su QB. Vimos pocos "QB sneaks," jugada donde el mariscal toma el balón bajo centro y consigue poco yardage detrás del empuje de su línea ofensiva.

Siendo honestos, los Cowboys llevan dos años sufriendo por este coordinador. Dejarlo volver en el 2019 sería una decisión ridícula. Los comentarios en la radio de Jason Garrett no lucen prometedores, pero realmente sería una sorpresa que fueran ciertos. Linehan no debe volver... punto.

Jerry Jones Delivers Vote of Confidence in "Real Deal" Jason Garrett

Head Coach Jason Garrett

El futuro en esta posición será muy debatido durante los próximos meses, pero de los tres que hemos mencionado es sin lugar a dudas el más seguro de todos. Nos guste o no, Jason Garrett estará al frente del equipo la próxima temporada.

Garrett está lejos de ser un gran coach y aún le hace falta demostrar que puede cumplir las aspiraciones de los Cowboys de traer un sexto Trofeo Lombardi a casa. Pero siendo honesto, este equipo debería tener suficiente con Garrett y un par de buenos coordinadores. ¿El problema? No hay un par de buenos coordinadores en el equipo.

Sin embargo, Garrett ha demostrado que cuenta con el amor y apoyo de sus jugadores. Ha demostrado que efectivamente, puede ganar la división (lo ha hecho en tres de los últimos cinco años). Este año el equipo le dio la vuelta a la temporada después de comenzar 3-5.

Lo más preocupante en mi opinión, es la falta de urgencia para despedir a Linehan, por ejemplo. Quizá a puerta cerrada Garrett quiere un cambio en su staff, pero nunca lo sabremos.

Jason Garrett no es un coach excelente, pero podría ser suficiente para llevar a los Cowboys a un Super Bowl si tiene un equipo adecuado. Todo parece indicar que su trabajo está seguro (incluso más de lo que pensamos) así que es tiempo de esperar que se arreglen sus coordinadores.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: Hablemos de los Coaches" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL 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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Star Blog

2018 Draft Class Season Review: LB Leighton Vander Esch

Kevin Brady

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Leighton Vander Esch Lands on List of NFL's Top 10 Rookies

As the first round draft pick of America's Team, any player would be under a ton of pressure from all angles. Whether it's from the fans on the outside or the organization on the inside, the expectations around being a first round pick for the Cowboys are immense. But the pressure placed upon linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, from the second he was announced as the 19th overall draft pick, was second to none.

It felt like Cowboys Nation let out a collective groan when Vander Esch was taken, with fans hoping for a more glamorous first round selection. Someone like wide receiver Calvin Ridley or edge rusher Harold Landry would've done the trick, but after Vander Esch's rookie season it's hard to imagine either of those players would have had the impact Vander Esch did in 2018.

Though he didn't start a game until week 4, and didn't become the unquestioned full-time starting WILL until week 10, Vander Esch earned Pro Bowl honors for his rookie season. Tallying 140 total tackles and 2 interceptions, Vander Esch made his presence felt week in and week out.

No counting stats can fully measure Leighton Vander Esch's impact as a rookie, however.

Prior to the 2018 season, the Cowboys defensive success often came down to the health of Sean Lee. When available and playing at his best, Lee led an overachieving Cowboys defense to solid performances each week. But, when Lee went out (as he often did), the entire Cowboys defense seemed to fall apart.5 Studs and Duds From the Dallas Cowboys 2018 Season

This year, though, that all changed. When Sean Lee was out with injury the Cowboys defense got better. Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith became a versatile, hard hitting tandem the NFL immediately feared, and helped to direct the Cowboys defense to signature wins throughout the 2018 season.

There are arguments against taking any off-ball linebacker in the first round, as the value of the position has been questioned due to the new style of offense in the NFL. Nowadays linebackers are relegated to two-down players, taken off the field in favor of faster defensive backs on critical passing downs.

Leighton Vander Esch is athletic enough to be both an old school run stopper, but also a three down linebacker in today's fast paced NFL.

Despite the doubts which surrounded the pick, the Cowboys absolutely nailed their first round selection in 2018. And Leighton Vander Esch made Dallas' front office look like geniuses each and every Sunday.



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Star Blog

What Is The Cowboys Most Pressing Offseason Need?

Kevin Brady

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Can we Believe General Manager Jerry Jones?

Finishing their season with a Division Round loss, Dallas Cowboys fans are getting a somewhat late start on the 2019 offseason. Of course, we'd much rather a later start, but the results are what they are.

Now Dallas must get better, and re-tool before heading into Dak Prescott's fourth season, and the Cowboys' 2019 campaign. Though they didn't feel all that close to a championship this season, looking around the roster, it's actually tough to identify one key need the Cowboys must address.

They are filled with young, talented players that they have high hopes for across the board. And in the places they are "older," such as across the offensive line, they have established veterans who aren't going anywhere anytime soon.

So what is the Cowboys' most pressing offseason need?

Well, despite already using their 2019 first round pick to address it, the answer very well might be wide receiver.

Adding Amari Cooper midseason provided a massive jolt to the Cowboys previously anemic passing attack, but on his own he is not enough to take this passing game to where it needs to be to compete in this new NFL.

Third round pick Michael Gallup is going to be a very good pro, and progressed really well as his rookie season went on. I think he can play opposite Amari Cooper nicely, and be the number two option in the passing game going forward.

Though arguably their best wide out against man coverage, Cole Beasley is a free agent, and if the reports are true about Scott Linehan returning in 2019 it could very well mean Beasley will not be opting to sign back with Dallas.

Regardless of Beasley's decision, however, the Cowboys need to seriously evaluate their pass catchers heading into next season.

This is a passing league. The rules have dictated that you must be able to pass the ball efficiently if you want to compete with the best of the best around the NFL. To take the next step in their progression, and reach an NFC title game and/or Super Bowl, Dak Prescott will need to have as explosive a group of pass catchers as possible.

The Cowboys have already taken solid steps to making this a reality, but another move or two this offseason could go a long way to putting Dallas in the conversation with teams like the Rams and the Saints in 2019.



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