After being away from the internet for a month and not being in tune with Cowboys Nation, I'm playing a little bit of catch up and hearing talk that the Dallas Cowboys won't be able to afford to pay DeMarcus Lawrence, Zack Martin, and David Irving.
Let me just say, "Hogwash" to that notion.
Yes, the 2018 salary cap is a bit tight at the moment, but they can always find ways to create more room through extensions, restructures, and well-timed releases -- no I'm not advocating releasing Dez Bryant.
Extensions for Lawrence and Martin could also create more cap room.
But to keep it simple, let's just look ahead over the next couple of years and see what the Cowboys' salary cap projections look like in 2019 and 2020.
2019 Salary Cap Projections
According to OverTheCap.com, the Dallas Cowboys are looking at a cap space number of $55 million in 2019. Their "effective cap space," or the maximum cap space a team will have when it signs at least 51 players to its roster for that season, is $51 million.
The good news for 2019 is that right now, only Orlando Scandrick's dead money ($1.6 million) is on the ledger for next season. Tony Romo's dead money finishes on the 2018 cap, so that albatross is done.
They currently have 43 players under contract for the 2019 season and that includes Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams' contracts. If they make any moves with them, there will be some dead money added to the cap, but it would/could also free up some cap space as well.
Let's look at what Irving, Martin, and Lawrence could be paid when signed to long-term deals.
The highest paid guard in the NFL is Left Guard Andrew Norwell, who just signed his deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars worth $13.3 million annually. If we take that number and assume Zack Martin will get paid more than that, we're looking at $13-14 million annually.
At 4-3 defensive end, Olivier Vernon is still the highest paid at the position at $17 million per year. Jason Pierre-Paul is right behind him with the $15 million per year contract he just signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Vernon's contract appears to have been outside the market range for the top 4-3 defensive ends as no one else with a long-term contract is making more than $15 million a year.
For DeMarcus Lawrence, it's likely $15 million per year with 45% guaranteed over five years is probably the minimum he'd take.
I'd bet his agent is trying to get him closer to or more than what Vernon is making with the New York Giants, and probably the 50% guarantee that Calais Campbell got with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Let's say, for reference, Lawrence gets $17 million per year over five years, with 50% guaranteed. Between him and Zack Martin, now we have $24-million dollars remaining in "effective cap space" to sign David Irving and the rest of the top 51.
The average of the top-five 4-3 defensive tackles sits at $15.36 million dollars. Irving could get that on the open market. For the purposes of this article, let's say he gets $15 million per year, that would leave Dallas $8 million in cap space for the 2019 season.
Even if he gets the top contract for a defensive tackle, that's around $17 million, which would still leave the Dallas Cowboys with $4 million in cap space for the 2019 season.
A franchise tag for Irving in the 2019 offseason isn't out of the question, especially if they get deals done with Martin and Lawrence. Again, that's without cutting or restructuring any other contracts, which we know the Cowboys front office loves to do.
2020 Salary Cap Projection
So, you're concerned that those three contracts will eat up all but $8 million of the 2019 salary cap. Well, let me offer you some information to take some of that anxiety away.
In 2020, OverTheCap.com projects the Dallas Cowboys will have $138 million in cap space, or $118 million in effective cap space. Those numbers figure as the fifth-highest cap space available for 2020, at this point. Fifth!!!
When was the last time the Dallas Cowboys were in that kind of position?
Now, that doesn't include our estimated figure of $46 million that you'll be paying DeMarcus Lawrence, Zack Martin, and David Irving, but if we subtract that money, you're still looking at $97 million in total cap space, or $72 million in effective cap space.
At that point they'd only have 16 players (the three mentioned above included) under contract in 2020, but they'd still have a ton of money to get their team filled out.
Dez Bryant's contract would be finished. The only bad contract that is still on the ledger at that point is Tyrone Crawford's $9-million cap hit. But if you decide to move on from him, you save $8 million, with very little in dead money.
Dak Prescott will be free by 2020, so that will be a big contract. I'd figure Dak, right now, is in the $20-25 million per year range. Kirk Cousins just signed for $28 million annually and Jimmy Garopollo got $27 million annually. Derek Carr is making $25 million on a deal he signed just a couple of years ago. Dak, with a big season could set the bar for highest paid quarterbacks, but that would be surprising. Cam Newton is a free agent in the 2019 offseason, so his extension will be the one to watch for Dak's figure.
Hopefully the Dallas Cowboys can take advantage of Dak's $630,000 and $720,000 cap hits over the next two years, because quarterback is about to get expensive again.
The Dallas Cowboys front office will have to decide whether or not to pick up Ezekiel Elliott's fifth year option, which I think they'll do, or they'll extend him.
✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭
One of the skills of this Cowboys front office is their cap management ability. We look at contracts and the salary cap as a static thing that is hard and fast, like rock. They look at the salary cap and contracts like a potter looks at clay.
They know they can mold it and form it to look how they want it to look. Contracts are malleable to their creative workmanship.
The Dallas Cowboys front office can always find the money.
If they want Zack Martin, DeMarcus Lawrence, and David Irving to be on the roster, they'll find a way to have them on the roster. If for some reason they don't want them on the team, it will be for some reason other than money.
Jason Garrett Can’t be Serious About Retaining Scott Linehan, Can He?
One of the few positives most of us were looking forward to after the Dallas Cowboys Divisional Round loss to the Los Angeles Rams was the fact that Scott Linehan would no longer be the offensive coordinator for America's Team. Everything was pointing to his dismissal, but that may not be the case according to Head Coach Jason Garrett.
Jason Garrett said on 105.3 The Fan that offensive coordinator Scott Linehan will return in 2019. "We don't anticipate any significant changes on our staff," Garrett said.
I can't say that I was happy upon learning Jason Garrett plans on retaining Scott Linehan as the Cowboys OC in 2019. In fact, my first thought was… Well, something better left unsaid. I'm sure many of you can kind of read my mind, because I'm pretty positive you had all that the same thoughts running through your head as well.
In all honesty, I didn't think there was a snowball chance in hell Scott Linehan would return to Dallas after the conclusion of the 2018 season. After all, the Cowboys nearly fired him during the bye week earlier this season, meaning his job security was already on thin ice. He didn't do anything to improve things in my opinion.
I know Jason Garrett has said Scott Linehan will return as the OC in 2019, but not for a second do I believe it. We are less than 72 hours hours removed from the Cowboys exit from the playoffs and I highly doubt any of Dallas' decision-makers has had the time to sit down and discuss who stays and who goes. In fact, I know they haven't.
Stephen Jones says they won't comment on anything with coaching staff but that they need to take a deep look at why they fell short. Says it a little early to speculate about players or coaches. They haven't had a meeting about it yet.
I think once the Cowboys brass sits down and reevaluates the 2018 season, they will come to the conclusion they can do better than Scott Linehan as their offensive coordinator. There were just too many times throughout the season where the playcalling was a problem just. It's just time to move on, despite the vote of confidence by Jason Garrett.
Of course, this could just be me trying to read between the lines hoping and praying Scott Linehan is finally fired. Like many of you, I've grown way too tired of his predictable and dated playcalling. It's time to move on and find someone more innovative who can maximize the talent the Dallas Cowboys have on the roster, much like Kris Richard did with the defense.
You can either choose to believe Jason Garrett or not. I for one have a hard time seeing the Dallas Cowboys staying status quo with their coaching staff, especially their offensive coordinator. But, only time will tell.
Do you think it's time for the Dallas Cowboys to fire Scott Linehan?
Cowboys Rammed Out of Playoffs but 2019 is Bright
If you were to have clicked over to Sportsbook Review, you could have seen what all the premier online sportsbooks were dealing on the Cowboys/Rams game before kickoff. Sites like Bovada, which incidentally you can read a Bovada Review at Sportsbook Review as well, had the Rams favored in every quarter, in both halves, and installed LA as seven-point favorites over Dallas. As is often the case, the number was nearly spot on as the Rams bounced our 'Boys out of the postseason 30-22. It was a heart-wrenching loss for Dallas fans everywhere but for those who put their money where their mouths were, it was particularly painful in what turned out to be a one-point difference between losing and pushing.
Let’s look on the bright side, though. The Cowboys not only copped the division crown but the draft picks from April bore fruit this season. Linebacker and No. 19 overall pick Leighton Vander Esch is a certified stud while third-round pick Michael Gallup proved he is a bona fide NFL receiver. Second-round offensive lineman Connor Williams had difficulties at left guard, but at the very least, has a season under his belt at the next level and could turn into a legitimate bodyguard for Prescott in 2019.
And let’s not forget about the trade for Amari Cooper, which turned Dallas from a squad struggling to find its identity to an NFC East champ in winning seven of its last nine games since Cooper arrived. This year’s edition also bested a tough Seahawks team in the first-round of the playoffs.
Let’s face it, folks, no one expected the Cowboys to win a Super Bowl this season and what we got was about as much as we could have hoped with the current roster as it is presently constructed.
Dak Prescott has one more year on his rookie contract and will be looking to score a big payday at the end of next season, if not sooner. The Cowboys could enter negotiations and lock Prescott up for the foreseeable future, but it might be best for both parties to see what 2019 brings and go from there. Either way, Dallas will pay beaucoup bucks to keep Prescott in a Cowboys uniform so watching and waiting will most likely be the tact management takes with their star quarterback, with a franchise tag in 2020 as an option as well.
In the team’s immediate future will be signing their second-round pick in 2014, DeMarcus Lawrence. The talented defensive end provided the Cowboys with the edge rusher they needed for parts of this season and his combined 25 sacks over the last two seasons would be nearly impossible to replace. Dallas franchised him this season but will most likely put together a long-term deal for Lawrence in the offseason.
Ezekiel Elliott has also reportedly been hinting at his own contract extension even though he is contractually committed to the Cowboys for next season with a team option in '20.
Ironically, one of the strengths of the Dallas Cowboys in recent years was a relatively weak link this season. The offensive line was decimated by injuries and Pro Bowler Travis Frederick missed the entire season. But those wounds will heal for next season and the old gang will be back together again.
The Cowboys have loads of cap space but are without a first-round pick due to the trade for Amari Cooper. Nevertheless, the young blood on the team looks poised to contribute for many years and there will be money available to woo free agents to a club now viewed as a legitimate contender.
If you want to look at next season’s odds, make sure to educate yourself on which online sportsbooks are the most reputable, trusted, and reliable. Read the Bovada Review over at SBR and see what customers are saying about one of the industry’s top sportsbooks. Then, when the lines come out on next season’s division, conference, and Super Bowl winners, you can be informed and maybe throw a few bucks on the 'Boys from Dallas!
Cowboys’ Window Depends On Maximizing, And Helping, Dak Prescott
Saturday night's Division Round loss was met with mixed reaction among Cowboys Nation.
Some fans, claiming they are the rational ones who hold the Cowboys to a higher standard, believe this might end up being their best chance at a Super Bowl for some time. The young players this roster is built around will only get older and more expensive as the years go by, and 2018 ends with yet another Jason Garrett-led playoff loss.
Other fans, claiming they are the rational ones, said that Dallas accomplished a lot this season, climbing back from a 3-5 start to win the NFC East and a home playoff game before losing a competitive game to one of the league's best. This group believes that the Cowboys championship window is as open as it has been in years, with young talent galore on Dallas' roster.
Whether this is true, however, hinges on the shoulders of two individuals. One of which, ironically, hasn't even been named yet and the other a source of constant debate among those same segmented fans.
Those people, of course, are quarterback Dak Prescott and whoever ends up as the offensive coordinator in 2019.
Dak Prescott is a good quarterback.
Let's start there. I firmly believe that Dak Prescott did enough during his third season to earn the contract extension he will likely receive from the Cowboys within one of the next two offseasons. Especially once the Cowboys acquired wide receiver Amari Cooper.
Clearly, Prescott is far from "perfect" is a passer. He makes mistakes in decision making, he sails some throws, and he sometimes exhibits inconsistent footwork when the pocket breaks down. But we focus too much on his mistakes while simply glossing over his accomplishments, talents, and upside.
Not only is Dak Prescott someone that the team responds to and believes in, but he is also a good football player. Prescott finished the 2018 season 12th in total Expected Points Added, ahead of quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Cam Newton, and Baker Mayfield. He's also finished 3rd and 4th in raw QBR during his first two seasons in the NFL respectively. And, despite his slow start to 2018, Dak Prescott ended his third season on the best run of games in terms of QBR he has ever had.
Prescott is improving, and this is evident each week. He played more comfortably in the pocket over the last 6 games of the season, panicking less, taking fewer dumb sacks, and abandoning his technique fewer and fewer. And, while he doesn't run as often as many would like, the times Prescott does carry the ball often change drives and games.
And while I despise "QB Wins" as a determining statistic, the fact remains that bad quarterbacks don't win at the rate Dak Prescott does. Three straight winning seasons has been rare in Dallas over the last 15 years, and Prescott orchestrated this his first three seasons as a starter.
Passing Wins Championships.
Though very different than the old cliche, this appears more accurate by the season. The final four teams remaining in the NFL are each top 5 in passing DVOA, while not a single one has a top 10 defense by DVOA.
Neither the Chiefs nor the Rams have had a good run defense at all this season, but stopping the run doesn't matter as much as stopping the pass most weeks in today's NFL. I know this sounds absurd after the Cowboys run defense got abused by Los Angeles, but the numbers often bear this out.
The Cowboys have to do everything in their power to aid Dak Prescott and the passing offense this offseason. They need to draft another pass catcher, preferably with their second round pick. They need to continue to improve the chemistry between Prescott, Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup.
And, maybe most importantly, they need to hire an offensive coordinator who can maximize this passing game.
Scott Linehan simply is not the answer. And if the Cowboys are going to make the most out of whatever title window they may have, the offensive play caller will be the most critical man in the building going forward.
Unfortunately, latest reports point to Linehan returning in 2019.
Star Blog6 days ago
Should Tavon Austin’s Role Get Expanded Against His Former Team?
Dallas Cowboys5 days ago
Texas Forever? Kris Richard Appears Closer to Staying with Cowboys
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
Amari Cooper Trade Looking Like a Real Bargain Now for Cowboys
Dallas Cowboys2 days ago
What’s Next for Cowboys Coaching Staff After Divisional Round Loss?
Dallas Cowboys6 days ago
It’s Time To Stop Doubting the Dallas Cowboys
Dallas Cowboys7 hours ago
Cowboys Getting Over $30 Million Cap Space from Expiring Dead Money
Player News1 week ago
Allen Hurns Injury: Status, 2019 Prospects, Teammate Reactions
Star Blog5 days ago
Blake Jarwin’s Injury Could Mean Expanded Role for Rico Gathers