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Should the Cowboys Break the Bank for Dez Bryant?

Brian Leatherman



Cowboys Blog - Should the Cowboys Break the Bank for Dez Bryant?

I’ve been thinking a lot about the Dez Bryant contract situation as of late. Actually, I wrote a piece over the summer on Dez and his contract.

Some of the reasons I was for it has come up this season, and some of the reasons I would be against breaking the bank for him have been coming up as well.

I’ve went back and forth on this situation, and I’ve finally come to a decision on what I would do if I was handling the Dez Bryant contract situation - I would let him walk, IF he isn’t willing to work with the team.

Not a popular opinion I’m sure, and many people may have stopped reading after that, but it’s my decision and I’m sticking to it.

But please, hear me out as to why I wouldn’t break the bank to keep Dez Bryant. But before I do, I do want to say I don’t like how Dez keeps talking about the contract in the media. Yes, I know he keeps getting asked about it but he’s becoming a little cockier with his answers, in my opinion.

While he was with Eugene Parker - his former agent - Dez wouldn’t say a whole lot about the contract situation besides, “It will all work itself out” or something of that nature.

But since he hooked up with Jay Z and his crew, he’s been a little more vocal about the contract situation. And he said something the other day, which kind of rubbed me the wrong way. While doing an interview about his contract he was quoted as saying, “I’m a loyal guy, but don’t test my loyalty.”

Hmmm, not sure how to take that.

That seems like a back-handed threat to me. Also, I’m kind of confused on his comments, “it isn’t about the money, it’s about respect.”

So I guess if the Jones' don’t offer him $50 million guaranteed on a 10 year contract for over $120 million then they don’t respect you? Yeah, don’t hand me that crap!

You don’t feel respected unless you get all that cash. Just say it’s about the money and stop with the B.S..

It’s always about the money; I don’t care what any player says, from any sport.

It's Always About The Money.

But, in saying that, Dez saying all that isn’t the reason I would let Dez walk if he doesn’t work with team on a contract that’s good for both sides.

First and foremost, I wouldn’t put all my eggs in one basket.

This team has made so many mistakes going down that road before. Jerry & Stephen have offered big contracts to the wrong positions throughout the years; the latest being Brandon Carr. No disrespect intended for B.C. but he will never live up to the contract he signed to come here and honestly? He hasn’t played anywhere close to the contract he signed.

I’m not saying Dez wouldn’t live up to some huge top 5 WR contract, because Dez is a top 5 wide receiver in today's game, but my biggest concern is what about the other needs on this team?

Think about this for a second: Sean Lee, Anthony Hitchens, and Kyle Wilber are the only linebackers under contract who would get big playing time for the Cowboys next season. Bruce Carter, Justin Durant (Who - by the way - Rod Marinelli called the league’s best kept secret) and Rolando McClain will all be free agents.

I love Sean Lee, but we know he always seems to have something go wrong. Anthony Hitchens could be a star in the making, and Kyle Wilber is a solid player. But that’s not the three I want to see as the linebacker crew for this team.

Henry Melton has returned to pro bowl form. I shouldn’t have to tell you how important a pass rush is to a defense but I will say this; I think the push up the middle into a QBs face is the biggest factor to a pass rush.

He shouldn’t get the $9 million he is supposed to get if kept, however I feel like he should get something close to that number.

Also let’s not forget about a certain player that goes by the name of DeMarco Murray.

Dez Bryant wants to get paid and Murray wants to get paid. Can you pay both players what they want? I don’t think it can happen. Both guys are going to want top money for their positions.

Oh, we also have Dwayne Harris closing in on his last days of his rookie contract. Harris is one of those guys that does all the dirty work. He’s by far the best run blocker out of all the WRs and he’s an underrated punt returner and wide receiver.

Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing more I would like to see than Dez Bryant to remain a Dallas Cowboy for the rest of his career. But if it’s going to put this team in the type of financial situation known all to well in Dallas in recent years, then I’ll have to pass.

I listed quite a few names where that big money could be spread out to, and I would much rather have to replace one great player, instead of struggling to replace 4 or 5 really good players.

Brian has been a football junkie from the time he was 5 years old. He lives, eats and breathes the game. Brian is a college graduate living in the south who loves his faith, his family, and his Dallas Cowboys.


Player News

Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence and CB Byron Jones to Start 2019 Camp on PUP

Jess Haynie



DeMarcus Lawrence

The Dallas Cowboys will be missing two of their defensive leaders when they open 2019 training camp this Saturday. Defensive End DeMarcus Lawrence and Cornerback Byron Jones will both start camp on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) List as they recover from offseason surgeries.

Lawrence, who got a new five-year contract in April, immediately underwent shoulder surgery once his deal was finalized. DeMarcus reportedly was waiting for contract negotiations to be completed before he had the procedure.

Jones had hip surgery in late May. He is playing 2019 on the fifth-year option from his original contract, and is no doubt hoping for his own long-term extension sometime in the near future.

David Moore on Twitter

Sources: DeMarcus Lawrence and Byron Jones will open Cowboys camp on PUP and won't practice in California via @sportsdaydfw

Neither Lawrence or Jones, who are both coming of Pro Bowl seasons in 2018, are expected to be absent once the regular season starts in September. But either participating in this year's training camp is doubtful, and even preseason appearances are in question right now.

With DeMarcus out at DE, newcomers like Robert Quinn and Kerry Hyder will get plenty of chances to show their stuff.  It's also a nice opportunity for Taco Charlton, assuming he's recovered from his own offseason surgery, to get some work against the first-team offensive line.

No Byron at CB will give Jourdan Lewis a nice opportunity to work with the starters as well. He was likely stuck at the 4th spot behind Jones, Chidobe Awuzie, and Anthony Brown but should now get more time on the field and against the best competition.

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Breaking News: Allen Hurns Released

Matthew Lenix



Breaking News: Allen Hurns Released

The Dallas Cowboys are releasing Wide Receiver Allen Hurns after just one season with the team according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Adam Schefter on Twitter

Cowboys releasing WR Allen Hurns, per source.

Hurns was brought in as a possible replacement for Dez Bryant considering they had a similar skill set, but that never quite worked out. He only managed 20 receptions for 295 yards and 2 touchdowns in 7 starts. He's coming off a horrific leg injury suffered in the Cowboys playoff win against the Seahawks last season.

This saves the Cowboys 5 million in cap space putting them around 24 million overall heading into the 2019 season currently. This now opens up snaps for some of the younger receivers on the Cowboys roster.

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Is Ezekiel Elliott the Most Dominant Running Back in the NFL?

John Williams



Safe to Say, Ezekiel Elliott Not an Offensive Line Product

There's no player in football that is more hotly debated at the moment than Dallas Cowboys Running Back Ezekiel Elliott. Though much of the debate surrounds his potential contract extension, which would likely make him the highest-paid running back in the NFL, there's also been a lot of debate about his standing as the best running back in the NFL.

On Thursday, Bleacher Report's Kristopher Knox released his list of the most dominant players at each position. It's a fantastic read and not just because he listed Ezekiel Elliott as the most dominant running back in the NFL.

It's certainly easy to see where he's coming from despite the debate that rages across the NFL's fanbases. Ezekiel Elliott's lead the NFL in rushing two of the three season's he's been in the league. Both of those seasons, Elliott only played 15 games, getting the benefit of the Cowboys playoff positioning being solidified prior to week 17. In 2017, he would have probably ran away with the league's rushing title again, which would make him the three-time defending rushing champion heading into 2019.

In that 2017 season when he missed six games and had a game against the Denver Broncos where he only rushed for seven yards on nine carries, Elliott still finished in the top 10 in rushing.

In 2018, he bested Saquon Bakley by 127 yards rushing. Had Elliott played in the week 17 finale last season and rushed for his season average, he would have won the rushing title by more than 200 yards. And he did that in what many considered to be a down season for Ezekiel Elliott and the Dallas Cowboys rushing attack. Pro Football Focus even graded Elliott as the 30th best running back for 2018.

In 2018, Elliott had 2,000 total yards, besting his 2016 number of 1,994 total yards as a rookie. His rushing total was down in 2018 from 2016, but he still had an excellent season.

No disrespect to Todd Gurley, Saquon Barkley, Alvin Kamara, Le'Veon Bell, or Chrisitan McCaffrey, but they don't have the credentials that Ezekiel Elliott brings to the table. Those guys are great running backs in their own right, but Elliott has lead the NFL in rushing in two of the three seasons he's been in the league and would have probably lead the league in 2017 had he not been suspended.

Per Game Table
Rushing Receiving
Rk Player From To Att Yds TD Rec Yds TD
1 Saquon Barkley 2018 2018 16.3 81.7 0.7 5.7 45.1 0.3
2 Le'Veon Bell 2015 2017 21.1 94.4 0.6 5.6 42.6 0.1
3 Ezekiel Elliott 2016 2018 21.7 101.2 0.7 3.4 30.0 0.2
4 Todd Gurley 2015 2018 18.0 78.4 0.8 3.2 32.5 0.2
5 Alvin Kamara 2017 2018 10.1 52.0 0.7 5.2 49.5 0.3
6 Christian McCaffrey 2017 2018 10.5 47.9 0.3 5.8 47.4 0.3
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 7/18/2019.

Since 2015, only Le'Veon Bell has averaged more total yards per game than Elliott, but Elliott's close and he's not used as much in the passing game as Bell. Only Todd Gurley has a higher average of rushing touchdowns per game than Elliott.

Elliott's 3.4 receptions per game through the first three seasons of his career is only slightly better than Todd Gurley who ranks sixth among this group of players. The Dallas Cowboys attempted to get Elliott more involved in 2018 but didn't work him downfield enough in his targets for him to be anything more than a dump-off option. In 2019, the Dallas Cowboys should work to get him running more intermediate routes in the passing game because as we saw in the Detroit game last season, Elliott's got really good hands.

Historically, Elliott is off to a great start to his career. His first three years in the NFL compare quite favorably to two Hall of Famers and one of the most dynamic running backs of the early 21st century.

No player with more than 100 career attempts in the NFL has averaged more rushing yards per game than Ezekiel Elliott.

Think about that for a second. Through his first three seasons, he's averaged more rushing yards per game than Emmitt Smith, Barry Sanders, Terrell Davis, Eric Dickerson, Adrian Peterson, Tony Dorsett, Walter Payton, and the list goes on and on.

If you look at what he's done compared to other players during their first three years. Only Eric Dickerson, Earl Campbell, and Edgerrin James averaged more rushing yards per game than Ezekiel Elliott in the first three seasons of their respective careers.

One of the things that people have used to knock Ezekiel Elliott has been the volume of carries that he's received, but there's a reason that the Dallas Cowboys lean on him so heavily. They've created a run-first identity and though at times it has made the offense somewhat inefficient, it's not because the player they're handing to is not a good player, but because every team in the NFL is expecting the Dallas Cowboys to run the football with Ezekiel Elliott.

In 2018 in particular, the Cowboys offensive coaching staff, namely the departed Scott Linehan, didn't do enough to create favorable matchups in the running game. Too often it was a first down run out of heavy personnel that the defense was expecting.

With two rushing titles already in the bag, there's no reason to expect anything different from Ezekiel Elliott in 2019. It's anticipated that the offensive gameplan and execution will be better in 2019 than it was in 2018. The offensive line will be better and with Kellen Moore as the offensive coordinator, there's a thought that the Dallas Cowboys are going to be less predictable moving forward.

The debate will continue to rage over the value of extending Ezekiel Elliott with a contract that will carry him to his age 28 or 29 season, but there is no debating that Ezekiel Elliott is the best and most dominant running back in the NFL.

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