Entering the final year of his rookie contract, Dallas Cowboys safety Byron Jones has reached a critical point in his career. 2018 could easily be his last year in Dallas if the former first-round pick does not clearly establish his role, and value, for the defense going forward.
The 27th-overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, Jones played cornerback in his rookie season just as he had at the University of Connecticut. However, even when he was first drafted, Byron was often looked at as having a brighter future at safety.
That transition came in Jones' second season and to good reviews. The expectations for 2017 were very high with a full year under his belt, plus the general rule when it comes to players entering their third professional season.
Unfortunately, last year did not see Byron Jones emerge as the elite safety we'd hoped for. Only one interception and very few other notable defensive plays were disappointing, especially given the improvements in the Cowboys pass rush from 2016.
That leaves Jones' future with the Dallas Cowboys as a pretty big question mark going into this fourth and final contract season. There are a few factors which could make 2018 his last with the team.
Since Byron was a first-round pick, the Cowboys do hold a team option for a fifth year on his rookie deal. That would be a costly move, though, as it would give Jones an $8.7 million salary and cap hit for 2019. He hasn't earned that kind of money yet, and Dallas certainly isn't in a position to pay it without seeing equal value on the field.
The arrival of Kris Richard from Seattle as the new Defensive Backs Coach could be major for Byron's future. Richard may like Jones better as a cornerback, given that he fits the physical mold of corners that Richard had with the Seahawks. Transitioning back to CB could be a good thing for Byron's career, but it also means competing with Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis for playing time.
What's more, many have speculated that All-Pro safety Earl Thomas could follow Kris Richard to Dallas via free agency. If Byron Jones is going to stay at safety, would he be paired with Thomas or would the Cowboys rather see Xavier Woods or Kavon Frazier competing for that spot?
There's plenty of room for Byron Jones to have a productive year and remain with the Cowboys beyond 2018. However, he clearly does not enjoy the same job security that guys like Travis Frederick and Zack Martin have had as their rookie contracts recently expired. Jones will need to become much more noticeable, a clear difference-maker, to ensure he remains in Dallas beyond next season.
Dallas Cowboys to Re-Sign Long Snapper L.P. Ladouceur for 2018
Continuity is the key to good special teams play in the NFL. Already losing long-time Special Teams Coordinator Rich Bisaccia to the Raiders - who promptly snatched ST aces Keith Smith and Kyle Wilber in free agency - the Dallas Cowboys have announced their intentions to re-sign Long Snapper L.P. Ladouceur for the 2018 season.
Returning on a one-year deal, the fan favorite Ladouceur will be back to do what he does best in cleanly executing almost every special teams snap for Chris Jones or Dan Bailey to handle.
Long snapper L.P. Ladouceur will re-sign with the Cowboys on Monday, according to sources, on a one-year deal. He will be in his 14th season with the franchise. Only Jason Witten, Ed "Too Tall" Jones, Bill Bates and Mark Tuinei will have more years of... https://t.co/yTQbMYyrIv
While Jones has improved as the Cowboys' punter with each passing season, Kicker Dan Bailey actually enters 2018 as another question mark on this unit. With the general belief around the team being that Bailey will be just fine moving forward, the Cowboys will no longer have to worry about who handles long snaps next year either.
L.P. Ladouceur is back in the silver and blue, and in this moment, everything can be alright with the world.
Report: Raiders Sign Former Cowboys LB Kyle Wilber
A Free Agency period filled with departures continued for the Dallas Cowboys today, as the Oakland Raiders have reportedly signed the now-former Cowboys LB Kyle Wilber.
The Raiders have signed LB Kyle Wilber: https://t.co/TaC6cqjval
Wilber has been with the Cowboys since 2012, and has played in all 16 games four of the past five seasons. Most of his time has come on special teams, but he did provide solid linebacker depth for the Cowboys since joining the team.
Dallas has now lost both Wilber and Anthony Hitchens, depleting their linebacker depth even further over the last couple weeks.
The Raiders have now signed two key special teams contributors for the Cowboys in Keith Smith and Kyle Wilber this offseason. Hopefully Dallas can replace these types of "replacement level" players throughout the rest of the offseason, especially during the NFL Draft.
Report: Cowboys Officially Release CB Orlando Scandrick
After requesting his release from the team just a few days ago, Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick has gotten his wish. According to ESPN's Josina Anderson, Scandrick has officially been cut by the Dallas Cowboys.
I'm told the #Cowboys have informed CB Orlando Scandrick he will be released, per source.
This move will reportedly save the Cowboys roughly $1.4M against the salary cap, as we hope they finally look to make some moves during the Free Agency period.
Scandrick's release comes after an offseason in which the Cowboys totally overhauled the back end of their defense, specifically their cornerbacks. With the emergence of young, promising players such as Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis, and the health issues of the aging Scandrick, the move makes a lot of sense.
In fact, after the Cowboys drafted Awuzie in the second round of last year's draft it was rumored the Cowboys were looking to move Scandrick for extra draft picks. Instead, one year later, they have cut him to save some cap room.
Orlando Scandrick should have a market to find a new team elsewhere, but his time in Dallas has now come to a close.
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