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Considering an Earl Thomas Extension, Age is just a Number

John Williams

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Dallas Cowboys Wishlist: 2018 Free Agency Edition
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

When people consider whether the Dallas Cowboys should trade for Seattle Seahawks' Safety Earl Thomas, one rebuttal fans throw out there is his age, and for good reason. People get concerned about handing out contract extensions to players entering their age-29 season.

In the salary cap era of the NFL, it typically isn't good business to pay age as the team often doesn't get the value out of the player that the contract expects.

One position where I feel that isn't necessarily the case is at the safety position. Let's consider Earl Thomas' accolades for a moment and see if we can find some correlations.

Earl Thomas, in his eight-year career, has been to the Pro Bowl six times, missing out his rookie season and in 2016 when he only played 11 games. He's been selected to the NFL All-Pro's first team three times in consecutive years from 2012 to 2015.

So, let's go over to our friends at Pro Football Reference and see which other safeties have been to the Pro Bowl at least six times and have been selected as a first team All-Pro player three times.

Here's the list:

Considering an Earl Thomas Extension, Age is just a Number

The first thing you'll notice is the elite players on the list along with Earl Thomas. The likes of Rod Woodson, Ed Reed, Brian Dawkins, Troy Polamalu, Aeneas Williams, and Charles Woodson. Those are just the players whose career extended into 2000s.

Then if you consider Ronnie Lott and Cliff Harris, that's some amazing company.

The players with an asterisk are the players that are in the Hall of Fame. Reed, Polamalu, and Woodson will be in the Hall of Fame. Cliff Harris not being in the Hall of Fame is still an NFL injustice that needs to be righted as he was one of the key cogs to the success of the Doomsday Defense of the 1970s.

I know Deion Sanders is on the list, and he's only there because he did play some safety toward the tail end of his career, but we know that it was as a corner that Deion made his money. The key though is that Deion's switch to safety at the end allowed him to prolong his career.


Removing Earl from the discussion for a moment, the average length of the careers of the men mentioned above was 13.41 years. The longest career was Charles Woodson at 18 years followed by Deion at 17 and Brian Dawkins at 16 years. The shortest careers were the 10-year careers of Cliff Harris and Joey Browner.

So, if Earl Thomas, having played eight years, played to the short end of the career length, he'd still have another two years left, this season included. If he played to the average length of those listed above, he'd have another five years left.

Considering that half of the players listed above all played longer than the average, there's a good chance that Earl Thomas has another six to seven years left in his career.

So, when we think about an extension for Earl Thomas, we have to consider the fact that for someone who has had the career that he's had to this point, he's going to be able to play at a good to great level for the life of a four-year extension.

Earl Thomas is an elite player and is on track to one day be considered for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

If the Dallas Cowboys could add that to their young and developing defense for the next four years, they shouldn't worry about his age.

Obviously, anything can happen, and people may point to him missing games in each of the last two seasons, but prior to 2016, Earl Thomas played and started 100% of his team's games. That's a six season stretch of being available for every single game.

For a team that is really close to contention and has the makings of an elite defense, Earl Thomas could be the missing piece that could put them over the top, much like Charles Haley did for the Dallas Cowboys' dynasty of the 1990s.

Don't let the age thing distract you from adding one of the best safeties in the NFL and one of the best players in the league. Earl Thomas to the Dallas Cowboys just makes too much sense not to do it, and for the All-Pro safety, age is just a number.


Dallas Cowboys optimist bringing factual reasonable takes to Cowboys Nation and the NFL Community. I wasn't always a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quick as I could. Make sure you check out the Inside The Cowboys Podcast featuring John Williams and other analysts following America's Team.

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3 Stars from Dallas Cowboys Win over the Washington Redskins

John Williams

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3 Stars from Dallas Cowboys Win over the Washington Redskins
AP Photo / Evan Vucci

As the Dallas Cowboys put away the Washington Redskins Sunday afternoon, the Cowboys moved to 2-0 with their 31-21 win over their NFC East rival. Just as important, the Cowboys moved to 2-0 in the NFC East and in conference play.

Those things aren’t important now, but as the season goes along and inches toward December, those divisional and conference records matter when it comes to settling tie breakers. The Dallas Cowboys are off to an excellent start to the season and have clearly taken to the offensive coaching their receiving.

In their second double-digit win of the season, there were several players who stood above the rest and named this week’s three stars.

First

Dak Prescott, Quarterback

For the second week in a row, the number one star goes to the most valuable player on the team, Dak Prescott.

After another shaky start to the game that saw Prescott go 4 of 7 for with an interception, he finished the day 26 of 30 for 269 yards, three touchdowns, and the interception. Prescott also added 69 rushing yards on five carries.

Of Dak’s four incompletions, two of them were dropped by the wide receiver, one was a throwaway out of the back of the end zone, and the other was the interception that bounced off of Randall Cobb’s hands. He was nearly perfect on the day and got the Dallas Cowboys on the board with a beautiful deep ball to Wide Receiver Devin Smith for 51 yards.

As he did in week one, Dak Prescott continued to show a tremendous command of the offense. His pre-snap recognition has been sublime through the first two weeks and he’s done a fantastic job getting the ball out on time and spreading the ball around.

On Sunday, eight different Dallas Cowboys caught passes. Four wide receivers, two tight ends, and two running backs.

Dak Prescott is playing at a very high level right now and with the tanking Miami Dolphins up next on the schedule, there's no reason to believe he can't keep up this career-best pace.

Second

Devin Smith, Wide Receiver

Called into action as Tavon Austin deals with concussion-like symptoms, Devin Smith made the most of his first target of the season, beating Josh Norman deep for a 51-yard touchdown strike. The big play got the scoring started for the Dallas Cowboys and sparked an offense that wasn’t getting much accomplished in the first quarter of the game.


Smith’s ability to win deep also helped him catch another couple short passes as the Washington Redskins’ secondary had to respect his deep speed. He caught two other passes, one of which went for a first down and likely catapulted ahead Tavon Austin on the wide receiver depth chart moving forward.

Smith finished the day with three receptions for 74 yards and a touchdown. With his productive day on film now, Dallas Cowboys’ opponents have another weapon to account for in the Dallas Cowboys passing game. As if Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and Randall Cobb weren’t hard enough to scheme against, the Cowboys now can deploy four wide receivers who can win down the field.

After his excellent game on Sunday, look for Devin Smith to get more opportunities.

Third

Ezekiel Elliott, Running Back

On Sunday against the Washington Redskins, Ezekiel Elliott looked fully up to speed. The Washington Redskins did a good job of rallying to Elliott at the second level, but he did a fantastic job reading his blocks and making people miss to get to the linebacker and secondary levels of the field.

Elliott didn’t break any big runs, but he was close several times and did a good job finding cut back lanes.

On the day, Ezekiel Elliott finished with 23 carries for 111 yards and a touchdown. He also added two receptions for nine yards.

After sitting out all of training camp, Elliott showed up in good shape. It only took him two weeks of practice to return to his typical workload. He was an important piece late in the game as the Dallas Cowboy went to work grinding out the clock with a big lead.

Despite the big performance by the passing game the first two weeks of the sesaon, Elliott and the run game will continue to be a huge part of the Dallas Cowboys offense. The big difference this season, however, is that teams are going to be forced to respect Dak Prescott and the passing game. That should only help Ezekiel Elliott by giving him much more favorable defensive fronts to run against. 

In the first two games of the season, the Dallas Cowboys have shown off an elite passing game, to go with their now highly regarded passing game. If the offense can maintain this kind of balance moving forward, they’re going to be incredibly difficult to stop. 


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Dak Prescott Dominates Redskins, Ties own Career-High for Consecutive Completions

Matthew Lenix

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Dak Prescott Dominates Redskins, Ties own Career High for Consecutive Completions

Dak Prescott had a historic day in last week's season-opening win against the New York Giants. He set a franchise record for passing yards in a season opener, threw four touchdowns and had a perfect 158.3 passer rating. Prescott would be named NFC Offensive Player of the Week and set up a huge early-season road test against the arch-rival Washington Redskins, a team he's had great success against. If there were any thoughts of a letdown performance by Prescott, they didn't last very long.

The first quarter was a nightmare offensively for the Dallas Cowboys. They only managed 36 yards on 9 plays and found themselves in a 7-0 hole. About midway through the second quarter, Prescott led a seven-play 97-yard drive that was capped off with a 51-yard touchdown pass to Devin Smith. Just before halftime, he engineered an eleven play 83-yard drive that ended with a touchdown pass to Jason Witten and gave the Cowboys a 14-7 halftime lead.

Prescott came out firing on the opening possession of the second half going 5 of 5 and finding Amari Cooper for a touchdown that put the Cowboys up 21-7. The Redskins added a touchdown and the Cowboys added a field goal before Ezekiel Elliott's touchdown in the fourth quarter put the game out of reach 31-14, which they eventually won 31-21.

Prescott ended the game with 18 consecutive completions which tied his own record. In the second half, Prescott was a perfect 14 of 14 for 159 yards and 2 touchdowns. Through two games, he's 51 of 62 (82.3%) for 674 yards and 7 touchdowns with only one interception. He joins only Don Meredith in 1966 as the only Cowboys quarterbacks to have 7 touchdowns in the first two games of the season. His passer rating is an amazing 142.9 as he's led the Cowboys to their first 2-0 start since 2015.


Coming into this season there were still a lot of doubters when it came to Prescott's ability to throw the football accurately on a consistent basis. Even a perfect passer rating in week one those questions were still a topic of discussion considering the Giants weren't seen as a real test. When his All-Pro teammate Ezekiel Elliott was asked about those who continue to doubt his quarterback, he was firm in his stance.

"They don't matter, " Elliott said. "All that matters is what we think in this locker room. We all support each other and we know Dak is one of the best QBs in this league. They can doubt all they want. We'll keep proving them wrong."

All the offseason preparation by Prescott with Quarterbacks Coach Jon Kitna and Offensive Coordinator Kellen Moore is paying huge dividends so far. The chemistry between himself and his pass-catchers can't be denied, as he's off to the best start of his career. He'll look to make it 3 for 3 this Sunday in Arlington against the Miami Dolphins.


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3 Bets Involving Cowboys Players in 2019

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Three Bets Involving Cowboys Players in 2019

With 674 passing yards, seven touchdowns and a completion rate of 51/62, Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott has Cowboys fans excited about what the team can achieve this year, and that is reflected in the betting as Dallas have been cut in the Super Bowl, NFC Championship and NFC East markets following their victories against their divisional rivals.

If you are looking to place a bet on the Cowboys, here are three markets you may want to turn to outside of the conventional outright odds on the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

Prescott Looks Like a Great Value at +2500 to be MVP

New offensive coordinator Kellen Moore has picked up a lot of praise for his play-calling against the Giants and Redskins. The former Cowboys back-up quarterback is already being talked about as a future head coach in the league. Although he does not have the same wealth of experience that his predecessor Scott Linehan had, we have seen over the last few years, particularly in LA with the Rams who reached the Super Bowl last year, that youthful coaches can have success.

The offense, and particularly Moore's former teammate Prescott, seemed to enjoy executing the plays that Moore dialed up, something which is only going to help Dallas’ number four deliver some big numbers this year. If he continues where he left off against the Redskins, he is a fantastic value in the betting at +2500 to be named as the league’s MVP.

Cowboys +800 to Win the NFC Championship

The Cowboys have not won the NFC Championship since 1995, however, this looks like their best chance of doing that in a long time. One of the big turning points last season was Dallas’ trade for Oakland Raiders’ Wide Receiver Amari Cooper. He has transformed the offense. The former Raider will be supported by Randall Cobb and Michael Gallup in 2019, giving Prescott plenty of options down the field.


Arguably the biggest player to return to action for the Cowboys though, which makes them NFC Championship contenders again, is Center Travis Frederick. The offensive line is far more solid with the four-time Pro Bowler in there.

The Rams, Saints, and Eagles are all going to be threats for the NFC title, however, the Cowboys may be good enough to eclipse those sides in 2019. Bookmakers such as bet365 are offering odds of +800 for the Cowboys to reach the Super bowl. Based on this review, bet365 is one of the best bookmakers to use in Canada and they offer a $200 sign up bonus.

Ezekiel Elliott is a Lock in the Betting for Top Rushing Yards

Regarding Running Back Ezekiel Elliott, there were real concerns that Dallas’ former first-round pick would be unavailable for week one, however, Jerry Jones got the deal done just in time for Elliott to face their divisional rivals. The 2016 and 2018 league leader in rushing yards looks to be in great shape with no suspensions looming over him this year, he should be set for a full year.

Elliott is a generational RB, therefore, it is no surprise that he tops the list with the bookmakers to win the leading rusher trophy for a third year. If you are looking for a lock this year in NFL betting, Elliott is your bet at +400.

Whatever happens this year, it should be a fun season with the Cowboys as they are good enough to give any team in the NFL a game, and who knows, they may just be the best of the pack.


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