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Cowboys Can Sign Free Agents Without Affecting 2018 Compensatory Picks

Brian Martin

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Cowboys Able To Sign Free Agents Without Affecting 2018 Compensatory Picks

According to Field Yates of ESPN, the Dallas Cowboys can now sign unrestricted free agents without affecting the 2018 compensatory formula.

Field Yates on Twitter

Note: any unrestricted free agent signed after today will not count towards the 2018 compensatory pick formula. Example: LeGarrette Blount.

This is actually really good news for the Cowboys considering they are looking to be awarded four compensatory picks in 2018, which is by the way the max number a team can receive. That is because they lost more FAs than they signed.

Barry Church, J.J. Wilcox, Morris Claiborne, Brandon Carr, Jack Crawford, and Ronald Leary all played significant roles for the Cowboys last season and based on their salary/playing time, should net the Cowboys some pretty valuable compensatory picks in 2018. This is one of the reasons they weren't very active in free agency.

Well, that could change now that they aren't at risk of losing any of the potential compensatory picks next year. I personally don't believe they will be very active even now, but there are some available FAs still out there that can come in and upgrade the roster.

The Cowboys could use a change of pace/3rd down back behind Ezekiel Elliott and Darren McFadden. I've already shared with you 5 running backs that could fill that role, but what about another young offensive tackle with starting experience?

Enter Austin Pasztor, formerly of the Cleveland Browns.

OT/G Austin PasztorPasztor has started 43 of 58 games at both guard and tackle for the Cleveland Browns and Jacksonville Jaguars since entering the NFL. It's that kind of versatility the Cowboys like in their offensive lineman and with the right tackle and left guard position currently available, he makes a lot of sense.

Pasztor is just 26 years old, and at 6'7", 308 could possibly be the player the Cowboys are looking for to fill the void left by Doug Free at right tackle. He may not have been a consideration before because it would have cost them one of their compensatory picks, but he should be now.

I know they are experimenting with La'el Collins at RT right now and Jonathan Cooper at LG, but they have always believed Collins' best position is inside at guard. I tend to agree, which is why Pasztor makes sense.

Collins has the potential to develop into an All-Pro offensive guard, but I'm not sure the same can be said for him as a tackle. If not for a foot injury last season, he could've possibly joined Travis Frederick, Zack Martin, and Tyron Smith in the Pro Bowl.

The Dallas Cowboys certainly have several options available to them right now to put together a starting unit for the upcoming season, so the signing of Austin Pasztor seems unlikely. But, it's definitely something I think they should seriously consider.

The good news is they can go out and sign any unrestricted free agent and not lose any of their 2018 compensatory picks. Whether or not they bring in any more free agents is still a mystery and we will all just have to wait and see how it turns out.

Are there any free agents you think the Dallas Cowboys should sign?



Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

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23 Comments
  • John Williams

    Paztor sounds like the exact kind of player they would be interested in. Still young by OL standards and has the position flex that you mentioned. I’d be interested in him.

    • Brian Martin

      I would actually love for this to happen, but I think the Cowboys are probably going to stick with status quo for now.

  • Russ_Te

    My guess on Collins is that he will excel at RT. He could prove that wrong of course but he has the size at 6′ 5″, 322 lbs and the agility for it. And he started his last 2 years at LSU at LT.

    If so we will very likely get a pass-blocking upgrade from the years of Doug Free, who was a powerhouse run blocker but not quick laterally. As I mentioned previously when you factor in that he has not played a complete season in 2 at LG because of injuries, it’s possible the move outside will help keep him upright as well.

    Free at last! ;^)

    • Brian Martin

      I actually prefer Collins at guard because of his strength and agility. He is able to handle both the quicker and more powerful DTs because of those traits. Chaz Green is my choice at RT if he can remain healthy. I think Smith, Collins, Frederick, Martin, and Green would actually be an upgrade from last season.

      • Assassin

        Dont forget we have Bryan Bell. Was a solid RT for Panthers before injuries forced him to LT. Out in 2016 with dislocated ankle. 72 career starts over the past five seasons

        • Brian Martin

          We do have Byron Bell, but I think his better position in the NFL is at OG. We will have to wait and see if he is a consideration at RT.

          • Assassin

            He made his mark at RT. Not very good at LT but not many are. He did play some OG but on a really bad and injured line. Would like to see him get a shot at RT and LG. Between Witten and Zach on the RT and Tryon and Frederick at LG

          • Brian Martin

            The position battle between RT and LG is really going to be interesting to follow this off-season. I personally like Smith, Collins, Frederick, Martin, and Green as my starting five. But, that would mean that both Collins and Green would need to stay healthy.

          • Assassin

            not sure that we’ve seen enough of Green to know if hes good enough to be on the NFLs bets OL

          • Brian Martin

            He looked pretty good as Tyron Smith’s replacement last year when he was injured.

          • Assassin

            True, but that was only for a minute. 2 starts I think. Not long enough to see if he can stay upright and move okay over the course of a season. The fact that they’ve told La’el to get ready for a move to RT may give us a clue. Mini-camps may tell us more.

          • Brian Martin

            Two starts is a lot more than Collins has had at tackle. And Green played LT in those two contests. I just have a feeling that they are just getting Collins ready in case Green isn’t ready. But, that’s just what my gut is telling me right now.

          • Assassin

            But you go with what you have. Hes certainly part of the equation

      • Assassin

        BTW – wonder if there is any hope for 6’10 OT Dan Skipper. Normally you would want OT to get up under the pads of the DTs/DEs but he’s probably too tall for that. We had a 6’10 1/2 OT that I played ball with in college, John Massengail. Had the same issues. They finally changed the way he blocked to ‘pushing down’ instead. Had better success

        • Brian Martin

          The Cowboys worked out Skipper pre-draft, so they must like him at least a little bit. But, like you said they may have to change up his technique, which probably means he needs a year or two to develop.

  • Russ_Te

    2018 Mock Draft ~

    The Super Bowl Champion Cowboys bundle up several picks to move up the 1st round, and get that dominant RDE they couldn’t get in 2017… ;^)

    Meanwhile I project it’s Lawrence moving back to RDE. He lacks the classic first step of a Harvey Martin or Charles Haley, but he is a good player with a good motor. It’s not awful there for 2017.

    To me that is more likely than Charlton at RDE. They will probably try him there but he looks to me like a DL who’s future is inside.

    Then you have the Jaylon Smith wildcard. The big if is the knee, and then how the Cowboys deploy him. I am trying him out at SS but the team is probably not going to listen to that… ;^)

    So at MLB, does his ability come off the field on long downs? I don’t think so. I think you move him around the LOS on those downs the way the Giants did with Lawrence Taylor. He attacks the QB as he sees fit.

    • Brian Martin

      I could see Lawrence moving back to RDE. I think Charlton is a classic LDE and that will be his position for years to come.

      Smith is going to be your MLB. He’s already said that he is going to start Week 1. He is in every down LB and his value really lies in his ability to use his speed from sideline to sideline in both the run and passing game. I doubt he is used as a pass rusher much until his knee is 100%.

  • Assassin

    Thanks Brian. Interesting prospect. Also CBs Jason McCourty from the Titans and Trumaine Brock from SF are out there. And if you want to go pure OT, King Dunlap from the Chargers or Ryan Clady from the Jets. OLB Elvis Dumervil has 99 sacks. Wonder if he would be worth a flyer? Has a lot of mileage on the wheels

    • Brian Martin

      There are definitely several FAs still available that can come in and help

  • Assassin

    So, right now I would think we get two 4’s, a 5 and a 6 in comp picks next year. Will comp us for the well spent 5th to get 6th rounder LaTech S Xavier Woods. Thought we might go for him in the 3rd or maybe 4th. Not sure that I would have imagined him available in the 6th

    • Brian Martin

      Xavier Woods was definitely a steal in the sixth round. And, your guess is as good as mine on compensatory picks, but that sounds about right.

  • Wilson Torres

    for me smith cooper federiclk, martin collins

    • Brian Martin

      That’s what it’s looking like as of right now. I personally really liked what I saw from Chaz Green when he filled in for Tyron Smith last season. He would be my preference to start at RT and keep Collins at LG. To me, that’s the Cowboys best starting 5. I like Jonathan Cooper also, but he just doesn’t play with the same kind of physicality as Collins. I don’t know if that would have a negative impact on the running game.

Star Blog

Neutral Perspective: Dak Prescott is NOT a 1-Man Army

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Neutral Perspective: Dak Prescott is NOT a 1-Man Army

It doesn’t take a lot to cause an overreaction in the NFL, and fans and the media alike can be very fickle. Thus, when the Dallas Cowboys were beaten by the Carolina Panthers in week one the discussions surrounding their title credentials began, and even more so because Dak Prescott and his Cowboys offense was only able to score 8 points. He left the stadium still looking for his first touchdown pass of the season and wondering what went wrong.

By all accounts, Prescott wasn’t great, and his quarterback rating of 81.1 reflects that. His performance left the fans concerned and some asserting there were no shades of the Prescott of 2016. Nonetheless, a quarterback has to be helped by his offensive line, and allowing him to get sacked six times shows that improvement is needed up front.

In week 2, against the New York Giants, Prescott started the game with a booming 64-yard touchdown pass to WR Tavon Austin on the first series of the game. It was a play four whole quarters of football in the making and made fans explode in celebration following the lackluster performance against CAR. Prescott's rating jumped to 95.4 and he wasn't sacked during the contest. Even still, he threw the ball for 10 fewer yards than in week 1 and was 1.5% less on his completion percentage too.

Prescott’s best defense is the Cowboys' lack of stand-out wide receivers. The loss of Jason Witten and Dez Bryant – neither of whom has adequately been replaced – is the biggest cause of this perceived fall from grace. Those departures have undeniably created a problem, but one that many great quarterbacks over the years have managed to overcome.

While the doom and gloom felt by Cowboys Nation after week 1 has abated some with a victory over New York, for a franchise that has enjoyed the often wow-worthy play of Tony Romo, Dak Prescott has a way to go yet, to say the least.

Dak Prescott's Top 10 Plays of the Dallas Cowboys' 2016 Season

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

The current situation is difficult for the Cowboys, but there are also psychological mitigations. One of these is their presence in a division with the reigning Super Bowl winners, the Philadelphia Eagles.

This has long since put the Cowboys on the back foot in the futures betting markets, with an average moneyline price of +210 that makes them the least likely team to win the NFC East division. Unlike betting on individual games themselves, the futures market is a starker reflection of a team's form, rather than the more reactionary moneyline prices on individual games.

Criticism, from experts and fans alike, always intensifies after a defeat, and starting the season off at 1-1 isn't always enough to overcome said criticism. So too will the moneyline price of the Cowboys besting the Eagles lengthen, although the rewards for keeping faith in the Cowboys to do that – if they somehow do – will be all the more greater if they proceed to underachieve.

NFC East Preview 2018 | T2F Podcast

On this episode, we are joined by Jon Cassel, a lifelong Philadelphia Eagles fan, to discuss each team in the NFC East (Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins, New York Giants, and Philadelphia Eagles) going into the 2018 season. SUBSCRIBE to T2F for more football content! SUPPORT us through Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/Time2Football Follow us on social media!

Dak Prescott Needs Support Like Never Before

The likes of Cole Beasley, Michael Gallup, Deonte Thompson and Allen Hurns aren’t going to be reaching the Hall of Fame, but they are more than capable of helping Dallas score more than 8 points in a game. Take away the opening-drive shot from week 2, the only TD pass Dak has thrown in 2018, and the Cowboys scored just 13 points against the Giants. It's hardly confidence inspiring, yet.

There have been numerous points so far where the Prescott of 2016 would have found the receiver, but for whatever reason, those throws just aren’t being made with any consistency right now. That is especially bad considering the breathing room that is given by an elite level running back, which can be found in the form of Ezekiel Elliott.

Zeke got the ball 15 times for 69 yards against CAR and 17 times for 78 yards against NYG, both of which have to be less than he would have liked. Yet, the Panthers were out to stop him, specifically, and the Cowboys offensive line couldn’t cope, which allowed Elliott to lack effectiveness and their quarterback to be put to the ground half a dozen times. The opening drive against the Giants certainly helped alleviate pressure on Prescott, but it's clear that the defense beat the Giants, overall.

These, however, are problems that an offensive coordinator needs to overcome, and Scott Linehan didn’t cover himself in glory either.

Ultimately, above all else, there seems to be a bit of disunity within the offense. The receivers feel unloved, the running backs face a lot of defenders on each play, and the quarterback must improve his accuracy.

These situations are where you need creative play calling and a unique approach.

Dak Prescott & Ezekiel Elliott: Top 5 Moments of The 2016 Cowboys Season

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

Spirit of 2016 Can Still Make an Impact

With every defeat, the next game is hugely important, in the mind if not on paper. If the Cowboys can step up and convincingly rack up some wins, then – as ever – it will start to go quiet.

One aspect that sometimes goes overlooked is the defense. Conceding 16 points against Carolina and 13 against New York should usually be more than low enough to secure a win. Thus, if the Cowboys keep up that level of performance, then they should win a lot more games than they lose. But that's because most offenses in the NFL are capable of scoring 20-or-more points a game. With the Cowboys defense performing as they have been thus far, the onus is on the offense the close out games.

There's a reason the quarterback position is regarded far above all others, and Prescott needs to carry the team with him to keep that winning feeling in the Cowboys’ locker room.

He needs to give the opposition’s defensive line more to think about, and make them fear the pass as much as Elliott’s or his own rushing ability. That will give his receivers more confidence and Elliott more space. If his offensive line isn’t doing its job then he and Linehan need to think of ways to get the ball out quickly and on target.

Doom and gloom often surrounds any first loss of a season, but if Prescott and Elliott can work together as they did in their first win of the season, then it’s going to be very hard to beat them, especially if their defense keeps playing to such high standards as they have.

Regardless, the Super Bowl is anything but a lock at this point, and the problems need to be fixed quickly, before "distant" becomes mathematically "impossible."



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Can WR Brice Butler Help Improve Cowboys Passing Game?

Brian Martin

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Can WR Brice Butler Help Improve Cowboys Passing Game?

In a somewhat confusing move, the Dallas Cowboys decided to re-add Wide Receiver Brice Butler to the roster in order to get something more out of the passing game, which to be honest has been pretty putrid in the first two games of the 2018 season. Something needed to be done, but I'm not sure that Butler is the answer.

I'm going to agree with my fellow Staff Writer, Jess Haynie, in saying that the Cowboys decision to reunite with Brice Butler makes no sense. Jess is actually much more polite than I would've been when I initially found out about this transaction. I personally hate the move and I'm not afraid to say it. But ultimately, it wasn't my decision to make and the only thing that really matters here is whether or not Butler can help improve the passing game?

With all of the questions surrounding the Cowboys receivers, Butler's addition just adds another one. Unfortunately, we are two games into the 2018 season and the receiver position still remains the biggest unknown. No one has really stepped up their game and with the exception of Tavon Austin's touchdown catch last week, there hasn't been any big plays in the passing game.

I don't really know how Brice Butler is supposed to improve things. Is he supposed to be the "go to" receiver now? Is he any better than what the Cowboys already have on the roster? Or, will he end up being more of a progress stopper? Like I said, he just adds more questions to be answered.

I for one don't see any upside in adding Butler. Yes, Quarterback Dak Prescott has a bond with him, but nothing ever really materialized there when #19 was here previously. He showed flashes, like he has at all of his stops in the NFL, but his inconsistencies couldn't convince the coaching staff to play him more. So, what's changed?

Brice Butler, Cole Beasley, Dez Bryant

Dallas Cowboys WR Brice Butler

The obvious answer here would be the subtraction of Dez Bryant and Jason Witten in the passing game. That's quite a bit of production missing that has yet to be accounted for. But again, I am still not buying into the Butler addition as a solution.

I know it sounds like I'm slamming Brice Butler pretty hard, but there was a time when I wanted to see him on the field more. Like many of you, the past few seasons I wanted to see him receive a promotion over Terrance Williams, but unfortunately that never happened. But, that was then and this is now.

Personally, I would much rather see Allen Hurns, Tavon Austin, or Michael Gallup be worked more into the offensive game plan. I just feel that we have already seen what Brice Butler has to offer and it just wasn't good enough for him to stick around before. It's time to move forward, not back.

There is a reason Butler was a free agent. I mean, he wasn't even good enough to stick with Arizona Cardinals, who probably have more problems at WR than the Cowboys. But who knows? Maybe I'll end up being wrong and he'll finally play up to his true potential and talent. Wouldn't that be great?

Now, this is just one person's opinion, but I just don't see Brice Butler improving the passing game for the Dallas Cowboys. I think the only way that happens is if Dak Prescott reaches the next phase in his development. Until then, I don't see things improving much. But, that's an article for another time.

How do you feel about the Dallas Cowboys reuniting with Brice Butler?



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Despite Seattle’s Record, Sunday Is No Cakewalk For Cowboys

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Blog - 2016 Contract-Year Cowboys: DT David Irving 2

As Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson threw a game-ending pick six on national television Monday night, all of Cowboys Nation was suddenly giddy.

Somehow, the team which looked completely lost and inept offensively to open the season was now staring down a chance at a 3-1 start if they could take care of back-to-back winless teams.

The first of those winless foes being the Seattle Seahawks.

Though the last 5 years or so have conditioned us to believe that Seattle is a defensive minded, physical football team, more recent history suggests they’ve fallen off quite a bit. No longer are prime Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor patrolling their secondary, or are waves of top tier defensive linemen cycling through during the game.

Now, the Seahawks are defined by a shaky offensive line, a lack of playmakers on the perimeter, and Russell Wilson hero-ball.

It’s an odd, and typically ineffective formula for winning games, but it’s the one the 0-2 Seahawks are currently stuck with.

Despite all of this, however, Sunday’s game will be an important test for the Cowboys. Though they were favored by 3 points last week, this game is the first time in 2018 that Dallas is truly “expected” to win. Ironically, they come in as Vegas underdogs, but it’s difficult to find informed football analysts who are on Seattle this Sunday.

This, of course, has more to do with how poor Seattle has played to open their season, but they’ve still been incredibly competitive in both losses, losing both games by just one possession.

Going to Seattle and getting a win is a task teams have dreaded for years, even before Russell Wilson and the Legion of Boom brought the Seahawks back to relevancy.Earl Thomas, Seahawks

Now when you add in factors such as this being Seattle’s home opener, and that they will be desperately fighting to avoid a potential season-killing 0-3 start, this is shaping up to be a very tough test for the Cowboys.

The young Cowboys need to handle their business the next two weeks and take advantage of 0-2 conference foes. These games will be huge down the stretch for potential playoff tie breakers and give them a chance to “fatten up” before entering the more challenging parts of their schedule.

Like two match ups with the Philadelphia Eagles, and running the rest of the NFC South gauntlet during the later months of the year.



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