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Cowboys DL David Irving and Restricted Free Agency

Jess Haynie

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David Irving

One of the biggest names the Dallas Cowboys have entering free agency this offseason is defensive lineman David Irving. Unlike his teammate DeMarcus Lawrence, Irving will be classified as a "restricted free agent". What does this mean, and how does it impact Irving's likelihood to stay with the Cowboys?

A player must have at least four "accrued seasons" to qualify for unrestricted free agency. For example, Lawrence entered the league in 2014 and has played out his four-year rookie deal. Therefore, unless Dallas re-signs him before March or uses the franchise tag, DeMarcus can sign anywhere he wants and the Cowboys can't stop it.

Irving does not have those four accrued seasons.

He was an undrafted rookie in 2015 and did not get the typical four-year rookie deal. Dallas signed him off the Kansas City Chiefs practice squad that year. So now in 2018, Irving's current deal is expiring but he only has three accrued seasons towards free agency. Therefore, he is restricted.

David Irving

Dallas Cowboys DL David Irving

Restricted free agency is a mechanism that helps NFL teams keep players they've spent time developing.

The Cowboys can place an RFA tender on David Irving this year and retain the option to match any offer another team might make. Depending on the level of RFA tender Dallas uses, they can receive draft pick compensation from Irving's new team if the Cowboys decline to match.

The amount that David Irving will make in 2018 depends on the level of protection the Cowboys give him as a restricted free agent. The highest level requires a first-round pick in return and will likely pay a little over $4 million in 2018.

A second-round tender should pay close to $3 million; these amounts will be finalized closer to the start of free agency in March.

The third and final level will only pay about $2-million and comes with "original draft pick" compensation. For an undrafted guy like David Irving, that means all Dallas gets is the opportunity to match his offer. They won't get any draft pick compensation from the lowest RFA tender.

You can forget about that lower level, though. David Irving is one of the more exciting young defensive linemen in the league and is still just 24 years old. If Dallas wants to keep him, they will have to use at least a 2nd-round RFA tender to keep other teams at bay.

Not only is Irving young and versatile, but he's productive. He had seven sacks in just eight games in 2017. David missed the first four weeks from a PED suspension and then the last four due to a concussion. Assuming all such issues are behind him next year, Irving has potential to become a weekly game-changer for the Cowboys defense.

Without the baggage, Irving would be a slam dunk for the 1st-round RFA tender.

A $4-million salary is a steal for a dynamic defensive lineman who can get to the quarterback. Given Irving's age and what he's already shown on the field, there are teams that might even be tempted to surrender a late first-round draft pick to sign him.

But Irving's baggage can't be ignored. It cost him four games in 2017 and is the reason he went undrafted in the first place.

When asked about Irving returning to Dallas, Cowboys insider Bryan Broaddus responded:

Bryan Broaddus on Twitter

Do they really trust the player? https://t.co/LqyvFLQKg8

David Irving was dismissed from the Iowa State football team in 2014 due to his involvement in a campus riot. His PED suspension this year came -- per Irving -- from a sponsor's workout drink that did not disclose the banned substance in its ingredients. These hardly seem enough for the Cowboys to have doubts about Irving, so Broaddus' comments may speak to some other maturity issues we're not aware of.

This is pure speculation, of course, but the Cowboys staff media doesn't say things like that about a player without a reason.

That said, it's hard to imagine Dallas not using one of the two RFA tenders on David Irving. He's too young and exciting to let him go for nothing.

The 1st-round tender is only about an extra $1 million from the 2nd-round tender, so that's a lot of extra protection for a relatively small additional cost.

The Cowboys could elect to use the 2nd-round tender for one of two reasons.

  • One, obviously, is if they don't think another team will sign him and they can save that $1-million in cap space.
  • The other is that the 2nd-round pick might be enough to entice another team. A 24 year old with David Irving's physical skills and proven production may be more attractive than some mid-to-late-round rookies. If the Cowboys actually don't trust Irving, or see him in their future plans, they might be able to snag a second-round pick instead of losing him for nothing.

Answers are only a few months away. We'll see very soon just where David Irving stands with the Cowboys and how much they want to keep him.



Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

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1 Comment
  • DADD Productions

    I believe David Irving could be one of the most dominant Defensive Ends to ever play the game. Dallas should get some legitimate D-tackles (draft or free agency). Leave David at the D-end position and just watch the disruption happen every game.

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Could Cowboys DT Datone Jones Earn Starting Role with Maliek Collins Out?

Sean Martin

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Could Cowboys DT Datone Jones Earn Starting Role with Maliek Collins Out?

Dallas Cowboys Defensive Tackle Maliek Collins is out for Sunday's game at the Seahawks with a sprained knee, further opening the door for Datone Jones to earn his spot among the "Hot Boyz". The moniker given to the Cowboys front seven this season, the team's depth up front has been a strength in totaling nine sacks through two games.

Last season, Datone Jones was a part of this rotation late in the year. Coming on strong at the 3T position while Maliek Collins played at the 1T, Jones is the type of versatile defender with veteran experience that Rod Marinelli can get the most out of.

Returning from a knee injury himself, Jones may take some time to be the disruptive interior player we saw at the end of 2017. Through two games, the Cowboys had played Collins at his original position of 3T, with Antwaun Woods doing more than enough to continue playing at 1T.

This potentially makes Collins and Jones two players fighting for one spot. Collins followed up his performance at the Panthers with a sack of Cam Newton by constantly playing in the Giants' backfield last week.

John Owning on Twitter

Guessing that means no Irving, I'd say Tyrone Crawford then Antwaun Woods. I have high hopes for Datone Jones once he returns though. https://t.co/9frjFK2J9J

A player determined to not let his team's misuse slow down his progress, after an incredible rookie season at 3T, Collins is returning from his second broken foot in three years.

Through his five years in the NFL, Jones has only played a full 16 games once.

The most games Datone has started in a season is four. Maliek Collins should like his chances of playing over Jones once both are healthy, and the Cowboys should be equally thrilled with the opportunity to keep both fresh in rotation.

Following Sunday's game in Seattle and next week against the Lions, the Cowboys can return David Irving from suspension to play all over their defensive line - his best position also being at three technique.

Without the wealth of talent they now have at all four positions up front, the Cowboys have had too many bodies to fill similar roles in the past. Thanks to the addition of Kris Richard along with strong edge play from Taco Charlton and rookie Dorance Armstrong, the Cowboys defensive line can do no wrong in 2018, and using Jones in week three and beyond should only add to this.

The Cowboys biggest key to success against the Seahawks will be containing Russell Wilson. Pressuring him in his face to collapse the pocket gives Dallas a chance to really slow the Seahawks offense, something they'll be relying on Jones to help them do as DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory also work with favorable match ups at defensive end.

Tell us what you think about "Could Cowboys DT Datone Jones Earn Starting Role with Maliek Collins Out?" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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Cowboys WR Terrance Williams Facing Multi-Game Suspension

Jess Haynie

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Terrance Williams
Ric Tapia via AP

An arrest last May for public intoxication may finally result in a suspension for Dallas Cowboys Receiver Terrance Williams.

David Moore of the Dallas Morning News, who reported the pending suspension, outlined the details of Williams' case. Charges were ultimately dropped once Terrance completed an alcohol education course and paid damages to the city.

David Moore on Twitter

Sources: Cowboys WR Terrance Williams faces suspension stemming from May arrest for public intoxication https://t.co/3RmwQOllim via @sportsdaydfw

However, as Cowboys fans know too well, the NFL reserves the right to suspend players under the Personal Conduct Policy regardless of legal outcomes. The 2017 season was marred by the league's persecution of Ezekiel Elliott for domestic violence despite no arrests or charges coming from any legal or police entity.

In Williams' case, there's no dispute of his guilt. It is unlikely he will appeal any decision the NFL makes.

The potential that Terrance will be missing for 2-4 games helps explain the Cowboys' move earlier this week to bring back WR Brice Butler. With both currently active, Dallas has an unusually high seven receivers on their 53-man roster.

It's already Friday, so the suspension is doubtful to come for this week's game in Seattle. But Terrance could easily be one of the seven inactive players on game day, having received the fewest snaps of any Cowboys WR last week against the Giants.

We'll see soon enough, likely as soon as next week, just what the league has in store for Terrance Williams.



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Report: Dallas Cowboys to Sign Free Agent Wide Receiver Brice Butler

John Williams

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5 Bye Week Adjustments Cowboys Hopefully Made

The Dallas Cowboys look to be making a move at the wide receiver position as they attempt to bring some life to the position. No they aren't trading for Cleveland Browns Wide Receiver Josh Gordon, but bringing back former Wide Receiver Brice Butler.

According to a report from Saad Yousuf from The Athletic, the Dallas Cowboys are set to resign the former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver but first have to release someone from the 53-man roster.

Saad Yousuf on Twitter

Cowboys officials are in the process of signing wide receiver Brice Butler, multiple sources tell @TheAthleticDFW. The team has to make a roster move to bring Butler onto the 53 and is trying to decide whom to release to make room for Butler before a final decision is made.

Brice Butler was signed in the offseason by the Arizona Cardinals but was released after training camp. It was a surprising move for the Cardinals. They don't have a ton of wide receiver depth aside from future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald.

Butler's caught 73 passes on 133 targets for 1,177 yards and eight touchdowns in his five career. In 36 games with the Dallas Cowboys Brice Butler caught 43 passes on 81 targets for 794 yards and six touchdowns. In his time in Dallas, he averaged 18.5 yards per reception.

He never really got a lot of playing time with the Dallas Cowboys who had Dez Bryant, Cole Beasley and Jason Witten on the team for the duration of his time in Dallas. The Cowboys coaching staff placed a higher premium on Terrance Williams' run blocking than Butler's big play ability.

To the coaching staff's credit, Butler was never a consistent enough player to be relied upon week in and week out. In 2017, his last season in Dallas, Brice Butler was never targeted more than three times a game and he never caught more than two passes a game. Butler, however, only played 24.51% of the Dallas Cowboys' offensive snaps in 2017.

If the Dallas Cowboys do make this move it's at a curious time. Sources tell 247 Sports' Mike Fisher that the Dallas Cowboys have zero interest at the moment in Cleveland Browns Wide Receiver Josh Gordon. You'd think their lack of interest would be because they still like the wide receiver room as it is.

If they do complete the signing of Brice Butler, you'd have to expect that Deonte Thompson would be the wide receiver on the chopping block. They cut him at the end of the preseason and then brought him back during week one.

This signing is unlikely to have an impact on the Dallas Cowboys week two matchup with the New York Giants, but will probably be completed early Monday to get Butler to Frisco to begin preparing for their week three matchup.

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I don't think this is a move that makes a lot of sense for the Dallas Cowboys. They've been down that road before and haven't received the results they wanted. Brice Butler does offer some big play ability, but it was thought that is why they brought in Deonte Thompson and Tavon Austin. Is it possible the Dallas Cowboys are already down on those two players after one game? They wouldn't be bringing Butler back if they didn't have plans for him.

Good or bad, do you think bringing Brice Butler back is the right move for the Dallas Cowboys?



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