Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Terrance Williams is set to become a free agent this offseason, and the third round draft pick from 2013 will likely not be welcomed back with open arms by many in Cowboys Nation. With 32 career games with two or less receptions, it is understandable that a player like Williams could warrant replacing after holding down the WR2 job behind Dez Bryant through his entire Cowboys' career - with little competition to ever take advantage of his inconsistencies.
Before we even discuss the money it could take to keep Terrance Williams with the Cowboys, it is important to understand Dallas' approach to free agency in general. With last offseason being a great example, Will McClay and this front office have prioritized re-signing their own players in free agency prior to the draft - where they can then add players at needed positions for a much lower price.
Particularly, players that have had some success in whatever their (often limited) role was with the team under their first contract become key free agents for the Cowboys to retain. Jack Crawford and Kyle Wilber are examples of this on the defensive side of the ball coming into this season, as neither of their extensions made front page news, but both players added valuable depth at positions that would have required more resources to acquire this depth elsewhere.
Like it or not, Terrance Williams has been a pretty good second receiver for the Cowboys throughout his career, and his exit in free agency would leave a depth chart of Dez Bryant, Cole Beasley, and pending free agent Brice Butler.
Andy Jones is also still hanging out on the Cowboys practice squad, for those wondering.
Again, based on what we know about this team's philosophy in handling free agents like Williams, they would be unhappy to go into draft night with Bryant and Beasley as their only proven wide receivers. This would be a direct detriment to Dallas' "best player available" approach when on the clock, and adds all that much more value for Terrance Williams on this team.
Of course, every team in the league is also going to get a chance to look at Williams, and the bidding war that could ensue for an athletic WR like him may take the Cowboys right out of the running to retain #83.
I've been told to project that Dolphins WR Kenny Stills is in the 5-yr, $30M neighborhood on a new salary, with $12.5M-plus being guarantee.
Without fail, wide receivers get paid a pretty penny each offseason - mainly because of their ability to translate rather easily into new offenses, regardless of scheme.
Has Williams' production been good enough for the Dallas Cowboys to prioritize him that much, and allocate money that could be used to bring back Brandon Carr, Barry Church, or Terrell McClain to a defense that is going to need improvements as is?
On the surface, this answer is a steady no from most. Williams has had numerous opportunities over the past seasons to step up and establish himself further in this offense when Dez Bryant has gone down with injuries, and each time he has failed to be a true "number one".
Terrance Williams is a clear-cut WR2, and one that has been with Scott Linehan for some time now though. He has a carved out role in Linehan's offense at this WR2 position.
For as long as the Cowboys offensive line is in place, with Ezekiel Elliott being the featured back to utilize this line, Dallas will always be a better running team than they are passing.
This isn't to say that upgrades shouldn't be made to the cast of targets that Dak Prescott has to throw to, but he was certainly comfortable as a rookie getting the ball to Bryant, Beasley, Witten, and then Williams for 44 receptions and four touchdowns.
The entirety of the Cowboys organization realize that they are just a few players away from greatness, but these impact players need to be added at the positions where they will indeed make the biggest and most consistent impact.
While WR is one spot to expect improvement from in 2017, the same can be said about almost any position on defense.
If you want the Cowboys to shift their focus to this defense in the 2017 NFL Draft (a slight focus at that, with the BPA model still firmly in place), they will need to take a similar approach to free agency as they did a season ago. That is, emphasize re-signing the valuable players that make up this incredibly talented 53 man roster at a solid price, and add your stars through the draft.
The price might not be right for Terrance Williams, and he surely might not be a star, but don't be surprised when the Cowboys put plenty of energy into making sure that Williams wears the star in 2017 and beyond.
Maliek Collins Playing Excellent for Cowboys Defense
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.
Amari Cooper Wins 2nd NFC Offensive Player of the Week Award of 2018
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.
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!
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.
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