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Contract Year Cowboys: What Role Will DL Tyrone Crawford Have?

The Dallas Cowboys have had significant turnover on the defensive line this offseason. What will these changes mean for 9th-year veteran Tyrone Crawford, who is entering the final year of his contract in 2020?

One of the Cowboys’ longest-tenured players at this point, Crawford has surprised many by lasting this long. He’s had one of the team’s worst contracts for the last five years; one of the team’s most expensive defensive players without providing commensurate impact.

Tyrone has survived on a variety of factors. His versatility as a DE or DT has been the key, plus a good relationship with teammates and coaches. He’s gotten by on being good enough on the field and a leader in the locker room, serving as a team captain for several seasons before 2019.

This value hasn’t stopped Crawford from being targeted as a potential salary cap casualty for several offseason. Now in the final year of his deal, Tyrone costs $9.1 million against Dallas’ cap and they would only have $1.1 million in dead money if he was cut.

Nevertheless, it’s mid-May and Tyrone Crawford is still a Cowboy. And believe it or not, his job security may have actually increased.

The departures of Robert Quinn and Maliek Collins in free agency created big voids on the defensive line. The Cowboys handled the tackle shortage with big-name signings in Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe, plus drafting Neville Gallimore in the 3rd Round of the 2020 Draft.

Defensive end hasn’t received the same attention. The Cowboys are taking big risks by hoping in the reinstatements of Randy Gregory and Aldon Smith. And while they did get a 5th-round steal in rookie Bradlee Anae, expecting immediate contribution from any Day 3 pick is not smart team building.

At this point, Tyrone Crawford is the insurance policy against all of Dallas’ rolls of the dice.

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Dallas Cowboys DE/DT Tyrone Crawford

The question now is if the Cowboys might be willing to cancel that policy at final cuts. By the end of August we could have Gregory and Smith looking good, plus whatever prospects like Anae, Dorance Armstrong, and Joe Jackson are showing.

Could that be enough for Dallas to go ahead and cut Tyrone Crawford, or at least look for a trade partner?

You can get to 11 defensive linemen very quickly without Tyrone on the roster. I just listed five above, not to mention DeMarcus Lawrence. Then there are McCoy, Poe, Gallimore, Trysten Hill, and Antwaun Woods at defensive tackle.

If there’s no other free agent out there that the Cowboys want then they don’t need the cap savings from releasing Crawford at this time. But if they feel secure about their other players at final cuts, Dallas could be motivated to pocket those savings to rollover into the 2021 salary cap.

This 2020 training camp and preseason, assuming they happen at all, are set up to have intense competitions throughout the Cowboys’ roster. The defensive line will be no different; veterans and young prospects waging war for three starting jobs (I think Lawrence might be safe) and playing time outside of them.

Tyrone Crawford comes into that fight with some real challenges. The cap savings work against him, as does this begin the last year of his contract. He doesn’t project as someone who will help Dallas much in the compensatory pick formula, so keeping him for that reason isn’t great incentive.

No, Crawford is going to have to be a standout on the practice field. He’s also may need a few things to go his way with other players either not impressing or getting injured.

Honestly, the fact that we’re still talking about Tyrone Crawford in 2020 is pretty shocking. But he keeps surviving by providing just enough value while other players haven’t emerged.

That same recipe could earn him one more season with the Dallas Cowboys.

What do you think?

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Jess Haynie

Written by Jess Haynie

Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

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  1. I like crawford, but the $$ isn’t right anymore and his supporter marinilli is gone, so I would release him and go after griffen(ex minesota) or make a play for kerrigan, heard he might be on the trade block,,,

  2. the Cowboys have said “NO” to an Everson Griffen signing. So I don’t expect to see that happen. Crawford will be on the roster at least until final cuts. If there are injuries, he will stay. If he outplays the competition, he will stay. The Cowboys won’t let him walk away unless they are absolutely sure they have his replacement.
    Starters:
    Demarcus Lawrence
    Dontari Poe
    Gerald McCoy

    Backing up Lawrence will be Dorance Armstrong.
    Backing up Poe and McCoy should be Tyrone Crawford, Neville Gallimore and Antwuan Woods, however, Coach McCarthy has said he prefers to go with 4 DTs.

    Possible Right DE Starter and backups:
    Joe Jackson
    Bradlee Anae
    Ron’Dell Carter
    Randy Gregory
    Aldon Smith

    Hybrid EDGE and LB:
    Jalen Jelks

    Trade bait:
    Trysten Hill

    Camp Bodies:
    Justin Hamilton
    Garrett Marino
    LaDarius Hamilton

    • When did the cowboys say NO to an Everson Griffen signing!? I haven’t heard about that one yet!! They were pretty much saying NO to a Jadeveon Clowney signing, but I haven’t heard them say anything about not signing Everson Griffen!!

    • You completely ignored udfa Kamara. Fast as all get out and potential GREAT edge candidate… Google him

    • I generally don’t include UDFAs on a projected roster until they give me a reason to. That’s especially true when you have this many drafted and veteran players in the mix right now at DE/DT for the Cowboys.

      We’ll see what he does in a few months.

  3. There’s no reason to cut him at this point. Unless and until Smith and Gregory are reinstated Dallas needs Crawford, inflated salary or not. As a vet he won’t need/get many reps in camp or preseason so he won’t hurt evaluation of younger players. If a better AND cheaper FA alternative is available great, if not just hold on til final cuts and decide then.

  4. For those who believe in clubhouse chemistry and leadership, Crawford still has value. My concern with this defense is that its’ so-called leaders (Lawrence and Jaylon Smith) don’t lead by example in a manner that particularly impresses me … but then again, I’m old school. Crawford and Lee are still the best examples in the lockeroom, but I don’t know if that warrants keeping him. But even saying all that, as of this moment he is the starting RDE … until someone beats him on the field and not with “potential”.

      • I just prefer a lead-by-example type moreso than the I’ll-talk-like-a-leader type. Don’t get me wrong, they’re both good players and I’m ecstatic about both being Cowboys, etc. This perception of mine could be completely off-base. Perhaps the media could help by not always choosing to highlight the same interview over and over (as we always get with Jaylon)? His skill set and position warrant the perception that he should lead … I’m just not sure he’s developed as THAT leader yet.

        But Smith specifically. Every single post-game interview he spewed the same “we know what we have to do. It’s about us. We just have to be accountable. We’re working hard and we’ll get it corrected.” Well that got old after week-7 and absolutely nothing was changing. He’s too Garrett-like in that the same message over and over again loses its weight.

        That said, I have no way of knowing what goes on behind closed doors. but there’s been no evidence to suggest that he is a commanding leader in that clubhouse. I do think Lawrence’s voice carries more weight, but his voice tends to come across somewhat selfish, to me anyway. Mine is just an opinion …

  5. I have een wanting Crawford gon. He is solid but not good and as mentioned been costing us way too much for little impact. Bye Bye.

  6. We should trade dam to Jacksonville for their disgruntle DE and 2nd rd pick in 2021! And then sign Cam

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