Ahhhhh... Training Camp is here, and football is in the air. Your 2017 Dallas Cowboys have taken the field and will begin practicing to try to repeat as NFC East Champions and return to the playoffs to potentially make a run at the Lombardi trophy.
In order to do so the pass rush has to improve, and the Cowboys' front office spent more resources this offseason trying to find that difference maker to get after the quarterback.
Cowboys Nation has very high expectations for first round pick, Taco Charlton, and Damontre Moore has been making a ton of noise this offseason, but one player who is moving along rather quietly is fourth year player, DeMarcus Lawrence.
DeMarcus Lawrence is entering his fourth year with the team and is looking to finally put together a productive, and healthy season.
After the Cowboys traded up in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft, Lawrence has played in only 32 of 48 playable games. In those 32 games, he has brought down opposing quarterbacks a total of nine times and eight of those nine total sacks came in his promising 2014 season.
There would be no argument if anyone would say Lawrence has been a disappointment so far in his short NFL career. Whether it's due to low sack numbers or because of injury, the word disappointment fairly surrounds DeMarcus Lawrence's name.
But the past is the past, and all that matters is what happens now, and for DeMarcus Lawrence good news is already coming his way.
Monday on 105.3 The Fan, Stephen Jones talked about his health entering camp.
This is fantastic news for the team heading into camp.
Now we have been lied to before so there is reason to pump the brakes just a little bit, but at this time last year Lawrence was recovering from offseason back surgery. We were also learning about the possible four game suspension that he was facing after failing a drug test.
With a lot of young and new faces along the defensive line, Lawrence is one of the few veteran players in the defensive meeting rooms. While he is one of the few veterans that doesn't mean he is locked in to be a day-one starter.
Entering 2017 he has plenty of competition on both sides of the line. Taco Charlton, Benson Mayowa, Damontre Moore, Tyrone Crawford, and Charles Tapper will all battle for a starting spot at either defensive end position.
What does Lawrence have on his side to help him earn back is starting job?
- His health - If he is 100% healthy--like Stephen Jones told us Monday--Lawrence should be in good shape to earn a starting spot by the time training camp is over.
- Contract Year - We have consistently seen over the last few seasons how good some players play in contract years. For Lawrence, after the 2017 season, he will be a free agent and the Cowboys will have to make a tough decision on his future with the team.
- Position Flex - Lawrence has played all along the defensive line, even rushing as a defensive tackle on some third down situations in his three years with the team.
- Veteran - Defensive end is one of the hardest positions to transition to from College to the NFL. Taco Charlton and Charles Tapper may start off slow and that could also help Lawrence's chances to start at left or right end.
We are still so early into training camp, so there are still plenty of questions surrounding the Dallas Cowboys pass rush, but the question still needs to be brought to our attention.
Do you think DeMarcus Lawrence will have a big season to end his rookie deal?
I certainly do.
Cowboys Sign Free Agent WR Deonte Thompson
The Dallas Cowboys added some speed to their receiver corps today by signing free agent Deonte Thompson. He played for both the Chicago Bears and Buffalo Bills last season.
Thompson, who turned 29 last month, went undrafted in 2012. He had a quiet to start to his career as a reserve and practice squad guy in Baltimore and Chicago, but finally got a chance to shine with seven starts last year for the Bills. He 27 catches for 430 yards and one touchdown in just 11 games.
The #Cowboys signed WR Deonte Thompson, per agent @davidcanter. He gets 1-year, $2.5M with a $1M signing bonus.
Deonte brings some much-needed speed to the Cowboys offense. He ran a 4.31 40-yard dash as a rookie, and while he's 29 now he still poses more of a vertical threat than the current Dallas receivers.
Given the low salary in this deal, Thompson may not be seen as much than a replacement for Brice Butler near the bottom of Dallas' depth chart. We also have to wait and see what happens with the draft and other moves this offseason to know where he fits into the bigger picture.
For now, though, Cowboys fans can take a little comfort in knowing the front office hasn't completely fallen asleep at the wheel.
Dallas Cowboys Sign LB Joe Thomas to 2 Year Deal
At long last, the Dallas Cowboys have their first free agent addition of this offseason. Having lost starters Jonathan Cooper and Anthony Hitchens at left guard and linebacker respectively, the team has added depth at LB with Joe Thomas signing a two-year deal.
The 2018 season will actually mark Joe Thomas' second stint with the Dallas Cowboys, as he was signed to their practice squad in 2015. The team that signed Thomas out of South Carolina State following the 2014 draft, the Green Bay Packers, added Thomas back to their active roster for the 2015 season.
Source: Cowboys have agreed to a 2-year deal with free agent LB Joe Thomas. He visited the Cowboys today. Thomas has played in 42 games over the last three seasons with the Packers. He had a career-high 70 tackles in 2016.
Thomas has spent the last three seasons starting eight games for the Packers, recording 70 tackles and an interception in 2016.
A contingency plan of Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith carrying the Cowboys for 16 games at LB requires adequate depth, which is exactly what the Cowboys are typically in the market for come free agency. Waiting longer than usual to make their first splash, the Cowboys absolutely need an addition like Thomas to perform better than last year's FA class.
Used in sub packages by the Packers while also playing special teams - where the Cowboys have lost core players in Keith Smith and Kyle Wilber - Thomas will have a great chance to impress two new Dallas coaches in Ben Bloom and Keith O'Quinn.
Cowboys Trade for FB Jamize Olawale from Raiders
Less than a week after the Cowboys lost fullback Keith Smith to the Raiders in free agency, the two teams have worked out a trade to send FB Jamize Olawale from Oakland to Dallas.
Fullback trade! The #Raiders are sending FB Jamize Olawale to the #Cowboys, sources say. Dallas has its fullback, one who was with Oakland since 2012.
To facilitate the trade, the Cowboys will send their fifth-round pick (173rd overall) to the Raiders for their sixth-round pick (192nd), moving back just 19 spots.
In return, Dallas not only brings in a veteran replacement at FB but a player they already know.
Jamize Olawale was an undrafted rookie free agent of the Cowboys in 2012. Despite a strong showing in that preseason, Dallas did not have room for him on the roster. He was on the team's practice squad until December, when Oakland poached him.
Since then, Olawale has been a regular roleplayer in the Raiders' offense. He's missed just six games since 2013.
Jamize brings more offensive firepower to the FB position than Keith Smith had. He's scored at least one touchdown in each of the last three seasons. He can be effective both running and receiving.
Through the trade, Dallas picks up the final year of Olawale's current contract. It calls for a $1.5 million base salary in 2018.
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