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.
Despite Going Undrafted, Kameron Kelly A Welcome Addition to Cowboys Secondary
The Dallas Cowboys best move of the offseason may very well be hiring Kris Richard as their new passing game coordinator. Despite not signing any free agents or drafting added talent for Richard to work with in the secondary, the Cowboys have plenty of reasons to feel great about their current starters - along with an intriguing class of UDFAs.
The prospects of Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, Byron Jones, and Xavier Woods working with Richard to sharpen their skills with Seattle's "Legion of Boom" fabricator is as good as it gets. In a very short period of time, the cornerback position has turned into one of the hardest spots for fringe players to make the Dallas Cowboys roster.
Don't tell this to San Diego State's Kameron Kelly. Neither Richard or Kelly may be household names around the NFL, but San Francisco 49ers Cornerback Richard Sherman certainly is. Sherman also happens to be the player the Cowboys are looking for Kelly -- an undrafted free agent that didn't receive a single college offer from "power five" schools -- to emulate.
Given all that Sherman meant to Richard's defenses since being drafted by his Seahawks in the fifth round of the 2011 NFL Draft, these feel like impossible expectations for Kelly to live up to.
The 6015 (6' 1 5/8") defender didn't even play the same position as Sherman until his final collegiate season, slowly making the transition from WR to DB at SDSU by starting as a Sophomore and Junior at safety.
Now just another player in a blue jersey with white numbers at The Star, Kelly is looking to earn the star on a team that may look to remain young, deep, and most importantly versatile in the secondary by keeping one or more UDFAs.
That is, if any of these long shot players deserve a spot on the final 53-man roster. Kelly already has an edge on this field, blessed with the length and daunting frame that allows Richard and the Cowboys to dream of featuring their own Richard Sherman.
"I think he’s trying to turn me into his next Richard Sherman or something". - Dallas Cowboys Cornerback Kameron Kelly
Kris Richard is going to coach everybody he comes across hard. He knows no other way. Kam Kelly is already embracing this, seeing the Cowboys vision for him and not backing down from the challenge.
Turn on the tape for this "diamond in the rough" prospect, and you'll see a player that carries this same competitive toughness onto the field.
Will a DB compete / tackle ? Top of screen- flat footed read on bubble- trusts eyes and goes ! Just checking boxes- I see you, kameron Kelly of SDSU.... https://t.co/fJM4s16Eq1
Kelly joins Charvarius Ward, Donovan Olumba, and Tyree Robinson as the Cowboys class of UDFAs at both cornerback and safety. An athletic DB out of Oregon, Robinson has made a strong initial impression with several plays on the ball in drills so far.
However, it was Kam Kelly that set up an interception for Jameill Showers in yesterday's practice by getting in the face of rookie Wide Receiver Michael Gallup.
Projecting anything that resembles a starting lineup for the Cowboys defense in the last week of May is silly. So too is realistically expecting Kelly, Ward, Olumba, or Robinson to ever crack this lineup.
The Cowboys could find themselves without enough practice snaps to go around for starting caliber players like Awuzie, Lewis, Jones, Anthony Brown, and even Marquez White. This does not bode well for Kam Kelly, who is only going to continue generating buzz from fans and the Dallas media.
For now, Kelly is getting his chance though. The Cowboys are ever-so-slowly getting back into form for 2018 - doing so with many familiar faces no longer on the roster. This team is going to look different on both sides of the ball come September, and Cowboys Nation can only hope it's for the better given the impressive amount of depth all over the field.
Kam Kelly won't back down from the depth the Cowboys have at CB, expecting to impress his new coach Kris Richard in the mold of three-time All-Pro Richard Sherman.
Rico Gathers’ Absence in 2018 Wasn’t About Health
A sixth-round pick out of Baylor University, Rico Gathers was supposed to be one hell of a football story. A basketball superstar, Gathers hadn't played college football at all, but the traits he had were enough for the Dallas Cowboys to take a chance on him during the final day of the 2016 NFL Draft to find a potential heir to Jason Witten.
After spending his entire rookie season developing in the practice squad, it felt like Gathers would have his chance in 2017. However, after suffering a concussion in the preseason, he never saw the field during the regular season. Despite initially making the 53-man roster, he was quickly placed on injured reserve.
Cowboys Nation hoped to see him back after the mandatory eight weeks in IR, but the much-anticipated comeback never took place.
The narrative was that the concussion was more serious than previously thought and that there was also a jaw injury involved. And through it all, there were some whispers about Gathers' absence being more coaching related than health related.
Last Wednesday, the former Baylor basketball star talked to the media about his situation and brought some very interesting responses to the table.
Cowboys TE Rico Gathers said he was cleared from his concussion after Week 7 last year to return to practice. "But I could just tell by the drift of the season and the drift of the coaching staff that I probably wasn't going to play this last year anyway.
If his comments are true, it really confirms that the fact that Gathers didn't get any playing time at all last season wasn't only concussion-related. If he was truly ready to go since week 8, then him not being on the field shows how the Cowboys coaching staff isn't sold on the player like the fans are.
Sure, it'd be one hell of a story. And of course, he seemed to make a statement during the preseason. However, it's not like Dallas had very special backup tight ends behind Jason Witten. As much as it hates to admit it, maybe Gathers simply isn't as good as some thought he was.
This was not the only interesting comment from Rico as he also said that the jaw injury never happened, claiming that was something media-related. This obviously brings up an even more interesting question: Was the team lying about Gathers' health to keep him on IR and avoid having to get him on the practice squad and risking him being pouched by another team?
We might never get to know the absolute truth in this case, but it's still worth noting.
Right now, Gathers' fight is all about making it to the regular season.
Rico Gathers: "The biggest thing for me this year is just making it to the regular season. I have to make sure I'm healthy and make sure I'm able to be on somebody's 53-man roster.
"Somebody's 53-man roster" is the quote that sticks out from this comment. If Gathers makes it to a roster for the 2018 season, it just might not be with the Dallas Cowboys. Perhaps it's for the best. The team has a chance to give Dalton Schultz an important role from day 1 and continue with Geoff Swaim's and Blake Jarwin's development going forward.
Rico Gathers may still be in the picture, for sure, but don't be surprised if he's shown the door before expected. I think every fan out there agrees that having a kid who hadn't played football since he was 13-years old turn into a quality starter in the league would've been remarkable.
But it's time to realize that that doesn't look to be the case.
Right now, Gathers is fighting for a spot on the roster. He's going to have to put up a big fight if he's to prove he's worthy of wearing the Star. Luckily for the Dallas Cowboys, with a deep TE room, they won't be desperately relying on his success to find the new starting tight end of the franchise.
Cowboys RB Bo Scarbrough Tabbed to “Exceed Expectations” in Rookie Season
Given their rich history at the position, and current resources allocated to the running game, the addition of any running backs to the Dallas Cowboys roster is always noteworthy. Making two-time national champion Running Back Bo Scarbrough their last pick of the 2018 NFL Draft, the Cowboys did as well as they could at 236th overall.
Naturally, a prospect that played at Alabama has garnered plenty of attention as a potential compliment to Ezekiel Elliott in Dallas. This would of course be exceptional value for the Cowboys to get out of their ninth player drafted.
NFL.com's Lance Zierlein gets much further into the draft than just the recognizable players such as Scarbrough. This is why it's noteworthy to see the rookie back land on his list of "seven late-round picks likely to exceed expectations in 2018".
In his brief overview of the loaded backfield that Scarbrough finds himself in, Zierlein writes that:
"Ezekiel Elliott is clearly capable of handling the lion's share of duties on all three downs, but Scarbrough is a downhill runner who has the size and demeanor to help the Cowboys continue to impose their will on the ground when Elliott is resting. I can envision Scarbrough thriving in a complementary role similar to the one the Titans' Derrick Henry has played behind DeMarco Murray for much of his career. Landing Scarbrough in the seventh round could turn out to be a tremendous steal this season."
The name clearly missing from this quote is Rod Smith. Likely posing the biggest threat to Scarbrough's roster spot, Smith embodies what the Cowboys are looking for in a back that can do it all - spelling Elliott as a capable runner and receiver while also contributing on special teams.
Proving himself on just 55 carries for 232 yards this season, Smith's roster spot feels safe entering 2018. As seventh round picks should have to do in making a contending team's roster, Scarbrough will have to excel in ways he never did at Alabama in order to earn a spot behind Smith.
It's also interesting to see Zierlein mention former Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray in the scheme of two physical running backs coexisting.
If their better understanding of what Rod Smith can do on offense wasn't enough of an indicator, the Cowboys also traded for two backfield additions this offseason in Tavon Austin and Fullback Jamize Olawale.
There is little doubt that the Cowboys will hold true in their commitment to backfield depth again this season. The versatility and overall readiness of this unit is a direct extension of the best positional group in the league, being the Cowboys offensive line.
The idea of handing the ball to Bo Scarbrough late in games against a defense already shredded by Elliott is a great one for Cowboys Nation. It is one that many national writers will continue to mention in their discussions of how the Cowboys can return to form after a surprising 9-7 setback last year.
Unless Scarbrough is able to elevate his game on special teams or as a pass catcher, he faces an uphill battle to live up to nearly any expectations on the table for him right now. Nonetheless, the Cowboys have an exciting player to utilize this summer through the preseason in hopes of maximizing Scarbrough's upside.
In his more in-depth scouting report of Scarbrough, Zierlein sees the player similarly, giving him an overall grade of 5.50. This translates to Scarbrough having a "chance to become an NFL starter," a position happily occupied by Ezekiel Elliott for hopefully years to come in Dallas.
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