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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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Cowboys DE Randy Gregory Reinstated, Will Join Team for Training Camp

Sean Martin

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Will the Dallas Cowboys "Get Lucky" at Defensive End?

The Dallas Cowboys patience with Defensive End Randy Gregory has paid off. Suspended for the better part of 2016 and all of 2017, Gregory has officially been reinstated to join the team for their 2018 training camp. The projected starter at RDE, Gregory will report to Oxnard with the rest of the team on July 25th.

From here, it will be all hard work for Gregory to reconnect with Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli and get his promising career back on track. The last time Gregory suited up for the Cowboys, he managed to sack Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback Carson Wentz in a week 17 win. The Cowboys will be expecting much more of this from a player they've supported through multiple violations of the league's heavily criticized substance abuse policy.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

Cowboys pass-rusher Randy Gregory's petition for reinstatement was not opposed, according to lawyer Daniel Moskowitz. He's back. "I've never been more proud of any individual in my life. I'm very excited for Randy and his daughter and the rest of the his family.

Among this support staff for Gregory were a number of teammates that wrote formal letters to the NFL as part of his bid for reinstatement. These last few days of preparation before the Cowboys are together again as a team will surely be uplifted by Gregory's presence.

They say no news is typically good news at this point in the offseason, something the Cowboys have come to realize far too often. Today's news shouldn't be confused with a pleasant surprise however, rather something the Cowboys were committed to in getting another premier pass rusher on the field.

Here is the NFL's official press release on their reinstatement of Randy Gregory:

Sean Martin ✭ on Twitter

Sean Martin ✭ on Twitter

https://t.co/za0u3lWgaY

Tell us what you think about "Cowboys DE Randy Gregory Reinstated, Will Join Team for Training Camp" 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 & DeMarcus Lawrence Fail to Reach New Contract

Jess Haynie

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Which 2018 Free Agents Will The Cowboys Retain? 1
Andrew Dieb/Icon Sportwire

DeMarcus Lawrence will definitely be a Cowboy in 2018, but now the future  beyond that remains in question. The Dallas Cowboys and their star defensive end did not agree to a long-term contract by today's deadline for franchise-tagged players.

According to NFL rules, teams had until 4:00 pm EST today to reach contract extensions with free agents who'd been assigned the franchise tag earlier this offseason. Players who did not get new deals will have to play the 2018 season on their one-year franchise tenders.

Jon Machota on Twitter

DeMarcus Lawrence and the Cowboys were unable to work out a long-term contract by today's deadline. Lawrence will play the 2018 season under a one-year franchise tag that will pay him $17.1 million

This does not mean Lawrence will be a free agent in 2019. The two parties can still discuss the contract in the months to come, but the deal cannot be made until after the end of the regular season.

Dallas also has the option of giving DeMarcus a second franchise tag next year. However, that would come at a considerably higher price for a second-straight season.

This year, Lawrence will still make plenty with one of the highest cap hits of any DE in the league. He earned the franchise tag last with 14.5 sacks in a breakout season.

Today's news may not really be a big deal in the long run. As long as Tank wants to stay in Dallas after this, the two sides now have over five months to keep talking and will hopefully agree on a new deal for 2019 and beyond.

There is risk on both sides, of course.

Lawrence's leverage could be less if his productions drops or he gets injured. On the other hand, his position could be even stronger with a second-straight year of strong play.

Now everyone, from the team to player to fans, is in wait-and-see mode until the end of the season.



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Will Cowboys WR Noah Brown Do Enough to Make the Roster?

Sean Martin

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Will Cowboys WR Noah Brown Do Enough to Make Cowboys Roster? 2
(Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News)

The Dallas Cowboys aren't short on numbers at wide receiver on their current 90-man roster. Looking to replace Dez Bryant and reshape their offense, the Cowboys will have to find the right group of pass catchers for Dak Prescott at their upcoming training camp.

This group includes Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, Allen Hurns, Lance Lenoir, Deonte Thompson, Cedrick Wilson, Michael Gallup, KD Cannon, Mekale McCay, and Marchie Murdock.

The odd men out from this group will likely be the ones that can't sustain a consistent level of play, doing so across multiple units if needed. All ten receivers will have their flashes, but with only four being true locks to make the team, new Cowboys Wide Receivers Coach Sanjay Lal will be in on some tough decisions right away.

One such decision may be moving on from last year's seventh round pick Noah Brown out of Ohio State. Vouched for by former Buckeyes teammate Ezekiel Elliott thanks to his blocking ability on the outside, it may now be this strength in the run game and deficiency as a pass catcher that spells the end of Brown's run in Dallas.

Normally, a seventh round pick being on the roster bubble wouldn't be this noteworthy, but Brown clearly showed the potential to outplay this draft status as a rookie. Appearing in 13 games, Brown is a true X receiver, although not the dominant one the Cowboys are searching for.

What Happens if WR Allen Hurns Doesn't Pan Out?

Dallas Cowboys WR Deonte Thompson, Cedrick Wilson, Allen Hurns (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

Moving away from fielding a true number one receiver, the Cowboys did sign Allen Hurns to play this spot while prepared to spread the ball around to Williams, Beasley, and Gallup after that.

This leaves Thompson, Wilson, Cannon, Lenoir, McCay, Murdock, and Brown to prove their worth in other ways to make the roster. I've written plenty about the potential rookie Cedrick Wilson has, so I'll be expecting a strong showing from him to earn a role in the Cowboys offense.

Wilson's skill set could push a depth signing like Deonte Thompson off the team, although his ability to back up Cole Beasley/Tavon Austin on special teams is important. The same can be said about Lance Lenoir, who like Brown has the advantage over first year players given his trials through training camp and the preseason a year ago.

Long shots to make the team, Cannon, McCay, and Murdock fall just below this group -- and somewhere in the middle is Noah Brown.

Increasing his role on special teams as the season went on last year, Brown had fans throughout a coaching staff that is now drastically changed for 2018. From their shift to more speed on offense, to drafting of both Gallup and Wilson, calling Brown a fringe player on the Cowboys roster really sets up the fiery competition to come at wide receiver.

Will Cowboys WR Noah Brown Do Enough to Make Cowboys Roster?

Dallas Cowboys WR Noah Brown (Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)

Should the Cowboys find a spot for Brown, one can only hope it means this new coaching staff has a clear plan for him to contribute on both offense and special teams outside of being a run blocker. A potential niche for Brown is his red zone ability, not afraid to put his body on the line for jump balls and fight through contact in his routes.

It won't be long until we sort out if this is enough to make the Cowboys as a wide receiver ahead of Quarterback Dak Prescott's third season.

Tell us what you think about "Will Cowboys WR Noah Brown Do Enough to Make the Roster?" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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