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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

1 Comment

  1. DADD Productions

    January 6, 2018 at 6:16 pm

    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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Report: Free Agent DL David Irving Not in Dallas Cowboys’ 2019 Plans

Jess Haynie

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David Irving

The Dallas Cowboys and troubled Defensive Lineman David Irving appear to be at an impasse. According to a report from David Moore of the Dallas Morning News, the team has "no intention" of trying to re-sign Irving and will allow him to become an unrestricted free agent.

Irving started the 2018 season with a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. He only appeared in two games after that, registering one sack and four tackles.

David Moore on Twitter

Source: Cowboys have no intention of keeping DT David Irving at this time https://t.co/vqMNZty6Aq via @sportsdaydfw

Despite reports of David's ongoing issues with an ankle injury, Dallas never placed him on injured reserve. Then came the reports that Irving was missing practices and team meetings while dealing with personal issues related to the custody of his daughter.

The team stayed pretty mum on the subject of Irving's status throughout the year, falling back on the ankle injury when pushed. But after months, it became clear that either David, the team, or both parties were disinterested in his return to football.

The Cowboys had high hopes after 2017, when Irving posted seven sacks in just eight games. They placed a second-round tender on him last offseason as a restricted free agent and were surely ready to give him a long-term deal if he'd built on that success.

But David's issues, physical or otherwise, have clearly done the opposite.

Dallas is known for working with troubled players, as we've recently seen with Randy Gregory. That they're closing the book on Irving suggests there's an issue with his desire towards football.

It's a sad loss for both. David's potential is enormous, as evidenced by his productivity when he actually does play. But he appears more likely to hit the Commissioner's exempt list in 2019 than the football field, given the reports of multiple failed drug tests over the last year.

Hopefully David Irving can turn things around one day and capitalize on his talent. But if it ever happens, it appears that it won't be with the Dallas Cowboys.



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BREAKING: WR Terrance Williams Gets Dropped by Dallas Cowboys

Jess Haynie

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Takeaway Tuesday: What We Learned From Cowboys Loss To Packers
AP Photo/Ron Jenkins

The Dallas Cowboys have ended their six-year relationship with Wide Receiver Terrance Williams. According to multiple sources, they have declined a team option on Williams' contract and he will now be an unrestricted free agent in 2019.

The move will reportedly save the Cowboys $2.25 million in salary space this year.

Williams was the team's third-round pick in 2013 and started 68 of the 83 games he played in. He developed into a solid number-two receiver by the end of his rookie deal in 2016 and was given a new four-year contract that offseason.

David Moore on Twitter

Terrance Williams career w/ the Cowboys is done. Sources say the club has declined the WR's option for 2019, making him a free agent. The move is no surprise. He caught just 2 passes for 18 yards last season. His departure frees up $2.25 million on the cap.

After another decent year in 2017, things took a bad turn for Terrance last season. It started with an offseason arrest for public intoxication that eventually led to a three-game suspension, although Williams served that while on injured reserve.

The Cowboys already appeared to be giving Williams' spot away when they made several offseason acquisitions at WR; Allen Hurns, Michael Gallup, and Tavon Austin all were brought in even before Terrance's arrest.

While Williams did start in two of Dallas' first three games in 2018, he only had three passes his thrown his way. The team finally put him on IR due to ongoing complications with a surgically-repaired foot.

While it didn't end well, Terrance Williams' time in Dallas was ultimately a solid return for a third-round pick. He made a few big plays and was a proficient run-blocker, good enough to start in almost 75% of the team's games since he was drafted.

The Cowboys now hope that another third-round pick, Michael Gallup in 2018, will do bigger and better things.



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A Lot Had to Happen for Amari Cooper to Join the Cowboys

John Williams

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Amari Cooper

Amari Cooper was a game changing player from the moment he showed up at The Star in Frisco, Texas. In the first game against the Tennessee Titans, you could just tell that this was a different kind of player. The Cowboys hadn't had a wide receiver with his mixture of size and skill.

Cooper to me showed off the brilliant route running of Cole Beasley, in a body similar to Dez Bryant. Oh, and with 4.4 speed.

Electric.

But Amari Cooper's presence with the Dallas Cowboys may not have happened in 2018 if any one of a number of dominoes didn't fall during the 2018 offseason and regular season.

Shunned by Sammy

Early in the free agency period, it was reported that the Dallas Cowboys had brought in Sammy Watkins and made him a lucrative offer that would have paid him around $16 million per year, but as Patrik Walker from 247 Sports discussed, he ultimately signed with the Kansas City Chiefs for more guaranteed money.

I recall first the feeling of dread when I heard about the pursuit of Sammy Watkins, immediately followed by relief when I saw that he signed with the Chiefs. I was in the midst of a government mandated internet blackout.

Don't get me wrong, Sammy Watkins is a fine player, but he isn't a $16 million per year player. Aside from his athleticism and size he doesn't really bring much to the table. He was pretty much a younger, and similarly injury prone -- at their respective points in their careers -- as Dez Bryant.

In 2018, Watkins only played in 10 games for the Chiefs and barely passed the 500 yard mark while catching only three touchdowns. Now, he's not the top priority in the Chiefs passing game, but he's not a player that can be relied upon to lead an offense.

Had the Cowboys signed Watkins last offseason, it's highly unlikely that they would have traded a 2019 first round draft pick to add another wide receiver in Amari Cooper.

Dez Bryant Goes Bye-Bye

The next thing that happened that may not have, was the release of long-time Dallas Cowboys Wide Receiver Dez Bryant. Dez Bryant had been with the team since 2010, when the team made him their first round pick that season. After post really good numbers from 2012-2014, Dez had a drop off in production, mostly due to injuries in the 2015-2017 seasons.

Dez Bryant, a fan favorite, was a player that relied upon his superior athletic ability, physicality, toughness, and ability to get passes in the air that made him special. Injuries to his legs and feet started to rob him of his athletic ability. Combine that with the fact that he and Cowboys Quarterback Dak Prescott could never really get on the same page when it came to fade routes, traditional or of the back shoulder variety.

Had the Cowboys not made the decision to move on from Bryant, the Cowboys offense would have probably been better the first seven games of the season. They may not have necessitated allocating a first round pick to acquire Cooper and it's possible he gets traded somewhere else or stays in Oakland altogether.

Poor Starts to the Season

The Oakland Raiders went into the 2018 season having made a lot of noise by signing Jon Gruden out of the broadcast booth and trading Khalil Mack to the Chicago Bears. After a 1-5 start to their season, the fire sale continued as they put Amari Cooper on the trade block.

The Dallas Cowboys started the season 3-4, but looked much worse on offense than what we could have anticipated. We knew they would take a bit of a step back in the passing game as they were trying to work in new faces, but it was bad for the first seven, and really eight weeks of the season.

The Cowboys went into the season with a plan to use their wide receiver group as a committee to try and fill their needs with several players of varying skill sets. Sounds good in theory, but in practice it was a debacle. Receivers not named Cole Beasley, struggled to get open and the offense was listless through the first two months of the season.

Had either team been better than they were to start the season, the chance of a trade taking place would have been small. Teams like to think they can get by with what they have. Had the Cowboys been 4-3 instead of 3-4, they may have thought they could get by with Allen Hurns, Cole Beasley, and Michael Gallup as their lead receivers.

Trade Compensation

It was rumored that prior to the Dallas Cowboys sending their 2019 first round pick to the Oakland Raiders that the Philadelphia Eagles offered a second. The Raiders, who were looking to stock pile picks to rebuild, held out for the first they desired for their former 2x Pro Bowler.

Had the Raiders took the Eagles offer as the best offer on the table at the time, the Cowboys would have missed out on Cooper and likely missed out on the division and the playoffs in 2018. On the flip side, we know how much the Cowboys value their draft picks. We've seen them pass on game changing player who would have cost much less because they value their draft picks and believe in their ability to find difference makers in any round.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

The Dallas Cowboys were really fortunate to end up with Amari Cooper. If any of the above things goes differently, it's extremely unlikely that he's wearing a Cowboys uniform in 2018 at all. Now, coming off a 1,000 yard season -- in only 15 games -- and a Pro Bowl appearance, Cooper is set to get paid some big money by the Dallas Cowboys front office. As they get ready to pay Cooper upwards of $16 million a year or more, they should have only one thought on their mind for the good fortune that brought Cooper to Dallas;

Thankfulness. 



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