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Cowboys Can Find the Money for Lawrence, Martin, and Irving

John Williams

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Could Any of These 3 Cowboys Disappoint Cowboys Nation in 2017?
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

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.

As Inside The Star's Jess Haynie detailed, there are a few moves they could make with Tyrone Crawford and James Hanna to create more cap room.

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.

Cowboys en Español: 14 Millones Disponibles, Carroll Arrestado

Dallas Cowboys RG Zack Martin (AP Photo/James D Smith)

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.

DeMarcus Lawrence

Dallas Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

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.

Feel better?

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.



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.

Star Blog

A Look Around The NFC East: Week 2

Kevin Brady

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Film Room: How Dak Prescott Beat The Giants' Blitz

The usually competitive NFC East got off to a shaky start last week, with half the division winning their season opener and the other half falling short.

Now entering week 2, the Eagles and Redskins have a chance to begin to distance themselves from the loser of the Cowboys/Giants game, and both of those 0-1 teams are looking to "save" their season. Yes, that sounds dramatic, but a home loss within the division to fall to 0-2 could be debilitating for the Dallas Cowboys moving forward.

Regardless, let's go around the division and see what each team has on tap for this Sunday.

Philadelphia Eagles

The defending champs opened up their 2018 campaign just as we expected: with a home victory over the Atlanta Falcons. Atlanta sort of gave that game away last Thursday night, but if the Eagles can stack Nick Foles-led wins on top of each other they'll put themselves in a great spot to win the East when Carson Wentz returns.

The Eagles will be on the road this week for the first time, traveling to Tampa Bay to play the 1-0 Buccaneers. The Bucs pulled the upset of the weekend last week, defeating New Orleans 48-40. It's hard to imagine that "Fitzmagic" continuing against the vaunted Eagles defense, though.

Philly is a three point road favorite against Tampa Bay this Sunday.

Washington Redskins

My "sleeper" team in the NFC East, and pick to finish second in the division, looked rather impressive in their week one drubbing of the Arizona Cardinals. Of course, Arizona isn't a very good team, and will probably be picking top 5 in the draft next April. Still, it was a good showing for the Redskins to open the season.

Washington got Adrian Peterson going on the ground for nearly 100 yards and a touchdown, and Chris Thompson helped keep them on schedule offensively as well. Washington hasn't been talked about much this offseason, but is sitting at 1-0 with a game against the 0-1 Colts on the horizon.

Washington is a 6 point favorite against Indianapolis this Sunday, and has a good chance of starting 2-0 on the year.

New York Giants

Though we are just one week into the 2018 regular season, an important matchup is brewing within the NFC East. After falling to 0-1 with a home loss in their season opener, the Giants will travel to Texas to face the Cowboys on Sunday night football this week.

With both teams sitting at 0-1, neither can afford to put themselves into a nearly-insurmountable hole with a second straight loss. Since the merger 90% of teams who fall to 0-2 fail to make the playoffs, and it would be back-to-back seasons of missing out for both the Cowboys and Giants.

New York is a three point road underdog on Sunday, and it seems like most of the football world is leaning towards them and their weapons coming away with the victory.

Either way, this game will have massive implications on the 2018 season.



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Star Blog

Cowboys en Español: ¿Qué Sigue Para la Ofensiva de los Cowboys?

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Cowboys en Español: ¿Qué Sigue Para la Ofensiva de los Cowboys?

En lo que fue una de las actuaciones más decepcionantes de la semana 1, los Dallas Cowboys no fueron capaces de avanzar en la ofensiva más que en una serie en la que anotaron un touchdown y una conversión de dos puntos. Fue un juego en el que nada funcionó más que la defensiva, la cual limitó a Cam Newton y compañía a sólo 16 puntos en un partido que pareció parejo, pero realmente no lo fue.

Ahora, antes de que los Cowboys jueguen su primer partido divisional del año contra los New York Giants, los aficionados del America's Team se preguntan ¿qué sigue para la ofensiva de los Dallas Cowboys? La ofensiva que tanto prometía hace un par de años, cuando Ezekiel Elliott y Dak Prescott lideraron a su equipo al primer sembrado de la NFC como novatos.

No se puede culpar a una sola persona por lo que sucedió el domingo pasado. La actuación fue tan deficiente que se tiene que señalar todo lo que falló. En primera instancia, hablemos del pésimo plan ofensivo de parte del coordinador de esta ofensiva, Scott Linehan.

Jason Garrett, Scott Linehan

Dallas Cowboys coaches Scott Linehan and Jason Garrett

Si algo hemos escuchado decir una y otra vez acerca de la ofensiva de Dak Prescott y los Cowboys es que es una sencilla, pero una difícil de vencer. Naturalmente, eso ha cambiado los últimos dos años. Esta ofensiva ya no debería de ser la misma que tomó a la liga por sorpresa en el 2016, no obstante, lo es.

En varias ocasiones, los Panthers no tuvieron ningún problema "telegrafiando" las jugadas de los Cowboys en cuanto sacaban el balón, resaltando la poca creatividad en la ofensiva de Linehan. Peor aún, en los momentos en los que se podría decir que fue creativo, lo fue en un mal sentido. Después de firmar y obtener a tantos receptores talentosos (que a pesar de no tener un claro #1, hay mucha profundidad), Dallas se alineó con dos tight ends en formaciones con cinco jugadores abiertos. ¿Por qué?

Esto le dio muy pocas oportunidades a Dak Prescott, quien hizo el problema más grande. Cuando tuvo esas pocas ventanas para lanzar profundo, la puntería del QB les costó bastantes series a los Cowboys. La más notable de estas, un pase profundo en la que el TE Blake Jarwin se había desmarcado y pudo haber llegado muy lejos, incluso quizá a la zona de anotación. En cambio, Prescott apenas llegó el balón a sus pies.

Sin embargo, la puntería profunda de Prescott es la menor de mis preocupaciones. Siempre hemos sabido que no es un Aaron Rodgers ni un Tom Brady. Lo que más me sorprende es la falta de calma de Dak. Siempre se le respetó por eso como novato, pero ahora se ve incomodó en el bolsillo, algo que tiene que cambiar inmediatamente puesto que era una de sus fortalezas.

Finalmente, la línea ofensiva, que se supone es una de las unidades más fuertes del equipo, se vio mal. La'el Collins y Tyron Smiths fueron responsables de múltiples castigos de holding, que terminaron matando series ofensivas. Connor Williams tuvo un debut bastante complicado contra el DT Kawann Short. Joe Looney, a pesar de ser un backup, se vio bien.

La pregunta de muchos es, ¿habrá cambios?

 1

La respuesta a corto plazo es un rotundo no. Nada cambiará en el equipo de coaches ni en la posición de quarterback durante este inicio de la campaña 2018. Sin embargo, si el equipo continua perdiendo y se llega a topar con un récord muy perdedor en la semana 8 o 9, preparémonos.

Comenzaré diciendo que el primer cambio que considero más probable es en la posición de coordinador ofensivo. Si bien Dak puede resultar no ser el mariscal franquicia que tantos queríamos, ¿no vale la pena verlo jugar bajo el mando de otro coordinador? Un coordinador que lo ponga en una mejor posición para tener éxito y que se encargue de reducir el aparente miedo que hay a la hora de lanzar a lo largo. Eso sería ideal para el desarrollo de Dak, si es que llega a haber cambios.

Lo mismo para Jason Garrett, quien para mantenerse vivo debe voltear el rumbo de su equipo ya que lo que vimos en la primera semana fue desastroso. Garrett podría estar en peligro si las cosas no cambian pronto, sobre todo considerando la presencia de alguien como el coach de la secundaria defensiva, Kris Richard.

Finalmente, hablemos de lo que le espera a Dak Prescott.

Si Dak no corrige su manera de jugar y continua actuando como lo hizo la primera semana, habrá problemas en su futuro. Considerando que una extensión de contrato se avecina, Dak tiene que demostrar que puede tomar ese siguiente paso. Esperemos que lo logre, porque al final de cuentas, esperamos que todos en el equipo mejoren, pero ¿qué pasa si no es así?

Un juego no es suficiente para quitarle el trabajo, pero una mala temporada podría serlo. Ya sea por agencia libre o por medio del NFL Draft, los Cowboys podrían estar buscando alternativas si Prescott continua con este nivel todo el año.

Personalmente, tengo fe en Prescott. Creo que a pesar de que no será un MVP que cargará al equipo a la gloria, puede hacerlo con un buen apoyo. Y francamente, creo que Dallas tiene justo eso. Simplemente hay que ejecutar. Puede ser la parte más difícil de todas, pero hay mucho talento en el roster como para ser limitados a ocho puntos.

Las primeras impresiones son duraderas, pero no siempre son ciertas. Esperemos que el equipo encuentre una manera de darle la vuelta al barco cuando se enfrenten a los Giants este domingo en el NBC Sunday Night Football que se transmitirá en ESPN 2 en México.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: ¿Qué Sigue Para la Ofensiva de los Cowboys?" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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Star Blog

Film Review: Analyzing The Sacks Given Up Vs. Carolina

Kevin Brady

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Film Review: Analyzing The Sacks Given Up Vs. Carolina

There's no question the Dallas Cowboys passing game failed as a whole on Sunday in their season opener. But, as usual, everyone is looking to assign the blame to someone in particular.

Was it the offensive line? The receivers? The coaching? The quarterback? In reality, it was a little bit of everyone. The stars on the team did not perform to their ability, and the role players looked bad at times.

The Cowboys vaunted offensive line surrendered six sacks, and Dak Prescott appeared to be under duress all afternoon. Of course, this doesn't all fall on the offensive line, though. Prescott could not find open receivers down field often, even when they were there to be found.

So, once the All-22 came out on NFL Gamepass, I decided to take a look and see who's "fault" each of the six sacks was. Of the six (one of which looked more like failed quarterback draw) I placed three "on" the offensive line/pass protection and two "on" Dak Prescott.

Let's examine a few of these sacks in greater detail.

dalvscar2018 sack 1

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The first time the Panthers got to Prescott looked way too easy. Backed up in their own territory the Cowboys came out in the I-formation with a tight end inline on the right side. Prior to the snap Carolina shifts their weakside linebacker over the left tackle, creating a two-over-one situation on the backside.

This should have been a red-alert for a blitz, and should've been communicated across the line of scrimmage. Instead, with veteran center Travis Frederick out, there seemed to be communication issues.

Tyron Smith steps down to take care of his inside gap, allowing the blitzing weakside backer to run free. On paper, this should be Ezekiel Elliott's man, but that is a damn-near impossible block for him to make coming across the formation.

Still, it is his responsibility, and he fails to pick up that block. This sack falls "on" the pass protection, but it really has to do more with poor pre-snap communication.

dalvscar2018 sack 2

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Later on in the game we see one of the sacks which really falls on Dak Prescott. The Cowboys come out in trips to the near side, and Ezekiel Elliott and a tight end stacked to the right. Carolina once again shows two-over-one, this time over the right tackle.

This screams blitz, and Elliott is able to step up and take the blitzer head on this time. The interior is where this pass protection breaks down, as left guard Connor Williams gets flat-out beat by the 3 technique.

Despite being beat relatively quickly, there's no excuse for Prescott to take a sack here. He has his tight end flashing open quickly in the middle of the field, and has the option to tuck it and run with green grass in front of him if he doesn't want to try to fit it between zones as well.

Prescott has to process the coverage and blitz quicker here to avoid the negative play. He also has to run more often, but that's another point for another post.

dalvscar2018 sack 4th qr

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This third sack falls mostly on the offensive line, and once again can be attributed to poor communication on the interior. Carolina brings a bit of a modified cross-dog blitz, with the 2i technique defensive tackle occupying both Williams and Looney, allowing for the blitzing linebacker to run free through the b-gap.

Joe Looney and Connor Williams have to communicate this better. Williams completely turns his hips and shoulders rather than staying square, and is unable to slide off the 2i to the linebacker. Looney should take the down lineman over, allowing Williams to slide off.

This has more to do with lack of familiarity than anything else, and is actually somewhat encouraging. This should get better as the season goes on.

dalvscar2018 sack 4th qr 2

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

dalvscar2018 sack 4th qr 2 wide view

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

These final two clips are the same play, just from different angles. I wanted to highlight how sometimes, you just get beat, and I don't think you can really blame any one person alone.

From the end-zone angle you can clearly see Connor Williams get beat by the 3 technique once again, and on first view it appears the sack is his fault. But when you really look at the whole play progression, you see that both the play design and Dak Prescott are also to blame.

Carolina is in two-deep coverage attempting to avoid the big play. Dallas is already down multiple possessions and with time running out, they know they can just sit back and play this type of off-coverage.

Dallas is looking to push the ball vertically down the seams, but both deep safeties are able to sit on the hash and just wait for the receivers to reach them on their route. You could argue that Prescott should have hit the hitch route on the far side, but it doesn't appear to be on his radar.

Overall, Carolina just won on this play. Sometimes that happens, those guys get paid to play too.

If there's a conclusion to be drawn, it's that just about everyone was bad at Sunday. If Dak Prescott, the offensive line, Ezekiel Elliott, the receivers, and the coaches are all this bad going forward, it's going to be a long season.

But, as you can see, simply getting some familiarity with one another and communicating better should help this offense develop throughout the season.



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