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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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Maliek Collins Playing Excellent for Cowboys Defense

John Williams

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Maliek Collins

For the Dallas Cowboys on the interior, a lot of the news consistently surround the availability of Defensive Tackle David Irving, but Maliek Collins is playing excellent right now. While I'm willing to be very patient with Irving because of the elite talent he brings, Maliek Collins should continue to start for the Dallas Cowboys at 3-technique defensive tackle.

Collins has been a player that the Cowboys have bounced between the nose tackle and the 3T position with the hopes of getting their best players on the field, and because of the lack of a consistent presence at the 1-technique or nose tackle position. Well, with Antwaun Woods taking control at the 1T, Collins has been able to play at the position where he's at his best. The 3-tech.

He hasn't put huge numbers in the sack column this season, but that doesn't mean he's been absent from being the disruptive player he's been through his first two and a half seasons.

During the Dallas Cowboys five game winning streak, Maliek Collins has led the Dallas Cowboys defensive tackles in total pressures with 13, according to Pro Football Focus. PFF combines sacks, quarterback hits, and hurries into their "pressures." Collins hasn't recorded a sack during the winning streak, but he has four quarterback hits and nine hurries. He's tied with Tyrone Crawford for third in total pressures behind DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory over the last five weeks.

Over the last five weeks, Collins leads the defensive tackles in solo tackles with five and is tied with Crawford and Antwaun Woods with three run stops on defense, according to Pro Football Focus. Collins has also has two tackles for loss in the last five games and recovered Tyrone Crawford's force fumble on Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Collins had six sacks in his rookie season when he played primarily as the 3T, which allowed him to see more one-on-one blocks against opposing interior offensive linemen. Especially with the way the rest of the defensive line is playing.

With the Cowboys on the road to face the Indianapolis Colts this week, Collins is going to have a tough matchup with a very good Colts offensive line, in particular, rookie Quentin Nelson. Collins ability to get pressure on Andrew Luck on the interior is a huge key for the Dallas Cowboys this week. We know that Gregory and Lawrence will get their pressures, but if Andrew Luck is able to step up into a clean pocket, it will make for a much more challenging game for the Cowboys secondary.

Collins has proved to be up to any task over the last five weeks and if he's able to keep playing at such a high level, he'll make the Cowboys coaching staff, and the rest of Cowboys Nation forget about using other defensive tackles. For the Cowboys to make a deep push in the playoffs, they'll need Collins to be a big time player for them moving forward.



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Amari Cooper Wins 2nd NFC Offensive Player of the Week Award of 2018

Jess Haynie

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Amari Cooper

For the second time in just three weeks, Dallas Cowboys receiver Amari Cooper has been named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week.

Cooper scored three touchdowns, including the game winner in overtime, to lead the Cowboys to victory last Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles. He has 10 catches for 217 yards, which led all NFL receivers last week.

Dallas Cowboys on Twitter

After his record-setting performance during week 14, @AmariCooper9 is the FIRST #DallasCowboys to win NFC Player of the Week twice in a season! → https://t.co/kvBDIeOgBd #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote

As the official website stated, Cooper is the first Cowboy to win the award twice in the same year. He's also the first Cowboy to be named Offensive Player of the Week since Ezekiel Elliott in 2016.

Before this year, Elliott was the only Dallas player to win the Offensive award in three seasons. Cooper has now done it twice in three weeks.

Since being traded to the Cowboys, Amari Cooper has amassed 40 catches for 642 yards and six touchdowns.

His wasted time in Oakland may keep Cooper out of the Pro Bowl this year, but he's already become a fan favorite in Cowboys Nation. Congratulations to Amari for another well-deserved award!



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David Irving Out Again for Cowboys, Does Defense Need Him?

Sean Martin

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David Irving Out Again for Cowboys, Does Defense Need Him?

Dallas Cowboys Defensive Tackle David Irving, once a key member of the team's defense, will not make his return after all against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. For the second straight week, Irving was reportedly trending towards suiting up before being ruled out. The Cowboys haven't missed his unique presence for 13 weeks (playing against the Jaguars and Redskins), including through an ongoing four game win streak that began with a win against these Eagles on the road.

In that road win, veteran Tyrone Crawford recorded a sack and three tackles, while Antwaun Woods added two for a Dallas defense that held Philadelphia to 23 first downs and 71 rushing yards. The Eagles managed to cross the Cowboys' 30-yard line just four times.

There are many scenarios in which the Cowboys could have cut ties with Irving for not being worth the off-field trouble he's caused - beginning the season with a four game suspension. The absolute best case scenario is what they've realized amidst this turnaround, with other defensive linemen taking advantage of the opportunity left behind by Irving.

While it can still be true that Irving would make more splash plays than the likes of Crawford, Woods, Maliek Collins, and Caraun Reid, this defensive tackle group deserves praise for their ability to step in. Pass rush ability is one thing teams can't have enough of, and the Cowboys are missing some with Irving, finding ways to win thanks to the other traits these defenders bring to the table.

Cowboys Passing Game Coordinator Kris Richard may effectively be the team's defensive coordinator with an emphasis on the back seven, but DC Rod Marinelli's impact is still felt - particularly up front. Regardless of where they're lined up and deployed, the Cowboys front four is expected to be disruptive on every snap, something this scrappy unit excels at.

Prepared once again to play on the edge this season, Crawford is thriving at his original position of 3T-DT. Crawford has two sacks, nine total tackles, and three other hits on the quarterback over the past four weeks. Leading by example with a relentless spirit on every play, Crawford has meant just as much to the Cowboys defensive ends as Irving could.

In a short period of time, the Cowboys have gone from building up Irving thanks to his transcendent ability to make those around him better to simply -- and importantly -- being better across the defense.

Led by DeMarcus Lawrence as their premier rusher, the Cowboys defensive line is a lot for opposing offenses to contain. The "Hot Boyz" work up front has allowed Linebackers Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch to play fast and make plays all over the field.

Maliek Collins, battling back from his second broken foot in three years, is proving again he's a patented Marinelli guy. Collins' play speaks for itself when considering if the Nebraska product is best as a 3T or 1T tackle. Wherever he's asked to play, Collins creates penetration with an explosive first step and can finish at the quarterback with an array of power rush moves.

At 7-5 and fighting for their playoff lives, the Cowboys are done making excuses on the 2018 season. Their strides on defense speak for themselves, and with a group that keeps Dallas in every game they'll play, the door remains open for David Irving to earn snaps again when ready.

The Cowboys don't know any better than their play without Irving right now, and as winners of four straight, it's worth questioning if we'll see Irving over the last three weeks of the regular season.

Tell us what you think about "David Irving Out Again for Cowboys, Does Defense Need Him?" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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