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Is Charles Tapper the Next DeMarcus Lawrence for Cowboys?

Brian Martin

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Is It Time To Replace Taco Charlton With Charles Tapper?

On the surface, it would seem that DeMarcus Lawrence and Charles Tapper have nothing in common with one another other than the career they have chosen and the position they play. But, if you dig a little deeper, you will notice a lot of similarities with the way they have started their professional careers with the Dallas Cowboys.

Each player has had a problem staying healthy, which has limited their effectiveness on the field and stunted their development. Both Tapper and Lawrence have had back problems and foot injuries that landed them on injured reserve. It's not the way they wanted to start their careers, but that's just the way things go sometimes.

Entering his fourth season in the NFL, DeMarcus Lawrence was finally able to get healthy and rewarded the Dallas Cowboys patience with a fantastic 2017 campaign, which earned him a trip to the Pro Bowl. The Cowboys now have their "War Daddy", but it might just be pure luck it happened at all.

Heading into the 2017 season, Lawrence was no surefire thing to make the final 53-man roster. Many fans had grown tired of his reoccurring injuries and were ready to move on. The Cowboys may have felt the same way, but they were pretty much forced to hang on to him out of pure need.

It was lucky they did, because Lawrence turned into one the best defensive ends in the entire NFL and now looks like a cornerstone player for the defense. But, the Cowboys could now use someone to play opposite him and I think that player could be Charles Tapper, who has had a similar start to his career.

Charles Tapper

Dallas Cowboys DE Charles Tapper (Paul Spinelli via AP)

Tapper is kind of the forgotten man amongst the Cowboys DEs. He was part of the fantastic 2016 draft class for the Cowboys, but has ended up on injured reserve his first two seasons in the league with a back injury as a rookie and a broken foot this past season. Pretty much the same injuries that held Lawrence back as well.

I know it's a little bit of a reach, but I think Charles Tapper could end up being the next DeMarcus Lawrence for the Dallas Cowboys. If Tapper can ever get healthy, I think it can be a difference maker.

There is no questioning Tapper's talent. He was one of the most physically gifted DEs in the 2016 draft class, his Combine numbers prove that, but I also think he is one of the best on the Cowboys roster.

I truly believe Charles Tapper would've finished somewhere in the range of 6 to 8 quarterback sacks in 2017 if he wouldn't have broken his foot. With his explosive first step, he looked really good last season in his limited playing time and finished the year with one QB sack on just 37 defensive snaps.

For comparison sake, Tyrone Crawford finished with four QB sacks on 626 defensive snaps and Taco Charlton had three sacks with 399 snaps. You can see it's not a reach to believe Tapper couldn't have done better with more playing time.

I don't know about you, but I personally have high hopes for Charles Tapper next season and I think he could be the player to start opposite DeMarcus Lawrence on the right side. Of course, all of this depends on if he can finally stay healthy for an entire season. If that happens, watch out!

Do you think Charles Tapper can follow DeMarcus Lawrence's footsteps?



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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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Nick Russo

    February 2, 2018 at 8:28 am

    Really glad you wrote this article Brian. Since we drafted Tapper I’ve thought he could come in and be an impact DE. He played well at Oklahoma considering that he was essentially playing out of position in their defensive scheme. It was unfortunate that he had to miss his entire rookie year but coming into this past season, seeing how Tapper would perform was near the top of my list for the defense. As you mentioned, he was only able to play in two games before the foot injury sidelined him the rest of the year. But in those two games he was explosive and was able to get to the quarterback. I think that he will be an impact on the D-line if he can stay healthy.

    • oneputter

      February 2, 2018 at 9:07 am

      Completely agree Nick. I was really looking forward to him contributing in year one. Was a fan of his while at OU and you’re right he played well in a scheme that was not necessarily a good fit for him all the time.

      He did show some in his limited action. We can only hope that he gets to finish a season upcoming.

  2. Travis Diggs

    February 2, 2018 at 10:22 am

    What have we seen from him to make us believe that

  3. Corey

    February 2, 2018 at 12:00 pm

    I would like to think he can be a bookend to Lawrence, because he was pretty good at OU. It is just too bad he hasn’t been able to show more of what he can do because of injuries. Hopefully that will change in 2018

  4. EverybodyTalks

    February 3, 2018 at 4:31 am

    Still a Tapper fan.
    Thanks for the article Brian. To get a DLaw type DE from a 4th round pick is not out of the realm of possibility. I mean we were able to get our franchise QB with the 4th round pick AFTER Tapper. Hope he can remain on the roster and show us his stuff. Tapper only played 2 games and had a sack…so optimistically, in 16 games, that projects to 8 sacks..not bad!

  5. Albert Smith

    February 5, 2018 at 2:42 am

    I agree Brian I was amped about this season and the injury happened, really for the defense as a whole I thought it would improve. I watch a lot of film and so when many of my friends and family were in panic mode early on I told them to exercise patience which can be trying but in the end they saw the upside to our young core.

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Star Blog

Can the Cowboys Become Legitimate NFC Conference Contenders this Offseason?

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Can the Cowboys Become Legitimate NFC Conference Contenders this Offseason? 2

Super Bowl LIII is in the books, and the Dallas Cowboys can look back on a better-than-expected 2018 campaign. Having won the NFC East with a 10-6 record and bowing out to eventual finalists Los Angeles Rams, the Cowboys' young team can look ahead to 2019 as a chance to take another step forward.

The offseason is now upon us, with the NFL free agency period opening in the middle of March and the NFL Draft coming around at the end of April. Until those times, experts, pundits, and fans are left to assess their teams and predict their activities in the running to the start of next season.

The Dallas Cowboys are in a precarious position, with the team exceeding expectations, still being very young and having plenty of cap space, but also having many top-end players set to become free agents and being without a first-round pick in this year’s draft. There does, however, appear to be a way for the team to make improvements and solidify their place atop the NFC East and potentially go on to win in the Conference Finals.

Lock Down the Big Guns

Can the Cowboys Become Legitimate NFC Conference Contenders this Offseason?

@Randy81MossRetires, via Twitter

Many see DeMarcus Lawrence as the top potential free agent this spring, so the Dallas Cowboys need to do everything in their power to lock down the 26-year-old defensive end.

Vice President Stephen Jones has emphasized the team’s target of retaining their own stars, per Star-Telegram, with Lawrence, Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott, and perhaps Byron Jones being in the discussion for long-term deals.

As it stands, the team will have roughly $48.5 million in cap space for next season, which leaves plenty of space to re-sign their top players. They look set to let go of Tavon Austin, David Irving, and quite possibly Cole Beasley, among others, leaving a need to add reinforcements.

Adding New Talent

Can the Cowboys Become Legitimate NFC Conference Contenders this Offseason? 1

@brkicks, via Twitter

One of the most heavily rumored moves for Dallas in this free agency is picking up native Texan and former Legion of Boom linchpin Earl Thomas, per Forbes.

Against the Rams in the playoffs and throughout the season, the Cowboys lacked a defenseman who could make plays on the pass. Thomas is one of the notorious ball hawks in the league, boasting 28 career interceptions, three of which came in just four games of last season.

If the Cowboys can re-sign their stars while keeping some space for an Earl Thomas-sized contract, which clocked in at $10.4 million in 2018 for the Seattle Seahawks, their odds of going all the way next season will significantly increase.

Right now, the expected names of the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs lead the odds to win the next Super Bowl at +750. Behind them, the Rams sit at +900 having suffered a suffocating defeat in this year’s Super Bowl. Much further down are the Cowboys at +2500 right now with redbet. If they re-sign Lawrence, pay their young stars, and bring in Thomas, they’ll shoot up the table of favorites.

Then, there’s also the additions in the draft to consider.

The Cowboys may be without a first-round selection, but that may end up working in their favor. Round one of the 2019 NFL Draft is set to be laden with defensive selections according to most mock drafts, with a few quarterbacks sprinkled around and a minimal selection of offensive weapons. If the Cowboys re-sign Lawrence, they’ll be looking good at defensive end, so should then turn to giving Prescott another weapon in the passing game, which will also help to keep defenses honest and give Elliott more room to operate.

As stated, the NFL is a passing league, and Prescott exploded once he was given a viable option in Amari Cooper. Michael Gallup is expected to take another step forward next season, but just in case, the Cowboys can add another strong receiving option in the draft thanks to the strength of the defensive class. A.J. Brown of Ole Miss will almost certainly go in the first round, but exciting talents in D.K. Metcalf, Parris Campbell, Marquise Brown, and Deebo Samuel could all still be available when Dallas rings in during the second round.

Improving Dallas' pass options and pass defense will go a long way toward improving the team and allowing them to push on to a bigger and better campaign in 2019.



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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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