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.
Cowboys en Español: Evaluando la Administración
Entre los aficionados de los Dallas Cowboys, pocas cosas son criticadas tan frecuentemente como la administración de la franquicia que no ha ganado ningún Super Bowl en más de dos décadas. Se ha convertido en un equipo que, a pesar de ser el más valioso en el mundo deportivo, no ha sido nada relevante en el emparrillado. Lo que alguna vez fue una dinastía se ha convertido en una unidad que rompe frecuentemente los corazones de los fans.
Jerry Jones y Stephen Jones, siendo los operadores del ámbito deportivo del negocio familiar, son criticados semana tras semana y en gran parte por justa razón. Pero en gran parte, por cosas no muy válidas.
Cambios de Coach
A mi parecer, lo más criticable para la administración de este equipo viene cuando hablamos de los coaches. Muchos se burlan de los Cincinnati Bengals y de la manera en la que están atascados con el Head Coach Marvin Lewis. Con Jason Garrett al volante, la situación para los Cowboys no es nada diferente.
A mediados de la temporada 2018, no parece que esta narrativa vaya a cambiar. Una vez más, los Cowboys arrancaron de una manera muy inconsistente y ya no sabemos que esperar de ellos. Gran parte de las derrotas, la mayor parte, es el coacheo.
Sin duda el equipo no será exactamente el mismo en 2019, pero ¿serán suficientes los cambios como para decidir quedarse con el mismo capitán que no ha podido mantener el barco navegando por años?
A diferencia de como se manejan muchos equipos en la liga, los Jones fungen como general managers de su propio equipo. Con la ayuda de Will McClay han logrado superar varios de los fracasos de los Jones de antaño, pero actualmente, siendo sinceros no han hecho un mal trabajo.
A pesar de las critícas de Abril, Leighton Vander Esch está probando haber valido más que la pena. Siendo objetivos, aparte de Taco Charlton en el 2017, todas las selecciones de primera ronda de los Cowboys han sido valiosas. La línea ofensiva, el corredor, un cornerback que por fin se está perfilando como uno de los mejores en la liga.
En cuanto a la segunda ronda, ha habido varias críticas, muchas con razón. Pero el mejor caza cabezas del equipo, DeMarcus Lawrence, el linebacker Jaylon Smith, Randy Gregory y más están teniendo un impacto muy fuerte en el equipo.
La administración se ha visto en la necesidad de tomar decisiones bastante difíciles después de una temporada de nueve victorias en 2017. El LB Anthony Hitchens fue liberado, Dan Bailey se fue inesperadamente, se confió en Byron Jones para tomar su opción de quinto año.
Hasta ahora, pura decisión digna de aplaudirse. Pero ninguna como la más reciente de todas: Amari Cooper.
Por más caro que haya salido, los Cowboys merecen bastante crédito por haber mejorado muchísimo su posición de WR. Si el equipo llega a tener una oportunidad esta temporada, será en gran parte por él.
No cabe ninguna duda en mi cabeza de que los Jones han cometido errores a lo largo de los años, el más evidente siendo la resistencia de dejar ir a Jason Garrett. Pero a pesar de esto, la administración ha tomado excelentes decisiones y ha realizado el draft muy bien. En ese aspecto en específico, les aplaudo.
Sack Numbers Don’t Tell DeMarcus Lawrence’s 2018 Story
Coming off of a career year in 2017, many fans expected DeMarcus Lawrence to continue his ridiculous sack production this season. After all, he is once again in a "contract year" due to the franchise tag, and fans are hoping the Cowboys can secure him longterm this offseason.
Through the first four games of 2018, Lawrence looked as ridiculous and unstoppable as ever. He had 5.5 sacks, tied for the league lead, and was dictating the pass protection schemes of every offense the Cowboys were facing.
Since that hot start, though, DeMarcus Lawrence has recorded just 1 sack, falling behind some of the league leaders he was once ahead of. This has some people scratching their heads and wondering if Lawrence's career year in 2017 was just that, a career year. One which he will never replicate again, and one which the Cowboys should factor out when talking contract extensions.
Here's why those people are wrong.
Let's first talk about what makes DeMarcus Lawrence so good, and then we'll get into the full context of the Cowboys defense and how that explains some of the drop in sacks.
Lawrence, unlike some of the league's other top pass rushers, is a complete 4-3 defensive end. He is one of, if not the best run defending defensive ends in football, as shown by his 12 tackles for loss on the season (only Aaron Donald and Danielle Hunter have more).
Much of the year, the Cowboys run defense has boiled down to Lawrence making splash plays, as we saw against the Washington Redskins. Adrian Peterson was gashing the Cowboys during that game, and the only one who did anything to stop him was DeMarcus Lawrence, as indicated by his 3 tackles for loss that Sunday.
There's also the point that 6.5 sacks through half the season is, well, good. It's really good! And when you couple his sack numbers with his solid pressure and QB hit stats, you can see that Lawrence is having a very good season.
Then there is the context of this entire Cowboys defense, specifically their defensive line and pass rush. To put it bluntly, DeMarcus Lawrence has been their only consistent rusher this season. Though we came into the year with high hopes for Randy Gregory, and cautious optimism about first round pick Taco Charlton, neither have been all that impressive this season.
Somebody, anybody, has to step up and become a threat opposite of Lawrence. David Irving could help matters with his interior pass rush ability, but he has been unavailable for basically the entire season.
Without another pass rusher for offense's to even think twice about, Lawrence is getting double teamed and/or chipped by a tight end or running back on just about every rush. It's becoming rare that Lawrence is in a true one-on-one pass rush situation.
Of course, if you are elite, offenses are going to shift protections to you in this way and you still have to find ways to be productive.
And thus far in 2018, DeMarcus Lawrence is doing just that.
Can QB Dak Prescott Steal Back His Mojo From Atlanta?
When the Dallas Cowboys last traveled to Mercedes-Benz Stadium they were completely throttled by the Atlanta Falcons. It's a game a lot of Cowboys Nation would like to forget, but no one more so than Quarterback Dak Prescott. That game could very well be where his struggles really began.
It's almost exactly a year later and the Dallas Cowboys still find themselves haunted by that brutal beating the Atlanta Falcons handed them in Week 10 of the 2017 season. The Cowboys seemed to lose all confidence in themselves after that game, but it was almost as if it was the exact point in time where Dak Prescott lost all of his mojo as well.
Before that match up against the Falcons, Prescott was still playing at a pretty high level. But since then, he has been in a slump and there have been very few signs of recapturing any of that magic he once had. Heading back to Atlanta maybe the key for him finding and stealing back his mojo.
Things could definitely go a little differently this time around. The Cowboys will have Ezekiel Elliott and Tyron Smith in the lineup this week. Zeke missed the game last year due to the league mandated six-game suspension, and Tyron missed due to an injury. Having those two back in the lineup could pay huge dividends, especially for Prescott.
Without his starting left tackle and running back, Dak was pretty much beaten to a pulp by the Falcons defense a year ago. They applied relentless pressure, hitting and sacking him on a number of occasions. Unfortunately, I think that's where he started seeing ghost in the pocket and its haunted him ever since.
The beating he took at the hands of the Falcons has really thrown off his entire game. His mechanics, accuracy, and effectiveness as a scrambler can all be traced back to that one matchup. He just hasn't been the same QB he was prior to that game.
Prescott's stats prior to the Falcons game:
66.7 completion percentage
102.4 passer rating
Prescott's stats since the Falcons game:
63.3 completion percentage
83.1 passer rating
As you can see, that's a notable difference. His passer rating has shockingly dropped nearly 20 points since last playing the Falcons and it's really hurt the entire offensive production. It's time for that to change.
Prescott has no choice this week. He has to get back up on the horse that bucked him off and hopefully regain that mojo he left in Atlanta a year ago. Fortunately for him, his confidence might be is as high as it's been since that last meeting after pulling off the upset against the Philadelphia Eagles last week.
Now, he just has to go out and prove it!
Do you think Dak Prescott can regain his mojo against the Atlanta Falcons?
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