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Cowboys Free Agency: Week 2 Preview

Jess Haynie

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Cowboys Headlines - Cowboys Free Agency: Week 2 Preview 3

On March 4th I put out an article with the Cowboys’ top-five needs as I saw them at the time. We have had several transactions since then which have shifted priorities now as we had into the second week of NFL free agency. Here’s a quick reminder of those needs as I saw them nine days ago:

  1. Defensive End
  2. Cornerback/Safety
  3. Quarterback
  4. Defensive Tackle
  5. Linebacker

Let’s do a quick look at moves that gave impacted these positions and see how the rankings may have shifted.

Defensive End

Cowboys Headlines - Spending on Defensive End is a MUST 4

The Cowboys have let the first wave of free agency pass without adding a pass rusher. This was the position where a major signing was most expected.

ADDED: None
LOST: None
UNSIGNED: Greg Hardy, Jeremy Mincey

Dallas has sat back while names like Olivier Vernon, Mario Williams, and Jason Pierre-Paul flew off the shelf quickly. There was rumored interest between the Cowboys and Chris Long but no visit was ever scheduled.

With no additions and two of their key players from last year remaining unsigned, plus Randy Gregory facing a four-game suspension to start the year, defensive end remains the team’s biggest need. Long and Hardy are the two biggest names available but the Cowboys have yet to show any tangible interest in either. Much like we saw with the Cedric Thornton signing, Dallas could have their eyes on someone unexpected. I anticipate them signing someone with starting-level talent this week.

Cornerback/Safety

ADDED: Morris Claiborne, Josh Thomas, Jeff Heath
LOST: None
UNSIGNED: Danny McCray

Cowboys Headlines - Brandon Carr Decision Expected This WeekSo far the Cowboys have focused on talent retention over adding fresh faces. Not only have they brought back Claiborne and Thomas at cornerback and Heath at safety but, to the surprise of many, Brandon Carr remains under his existing contract.

Dallas had a visit with free agent Nolan Carroll, previously with the Eagles, on March 10th but then ended up re-signing Claiborne a day later. The visit with Carroll may have been a negotiating tactic to push Claiborne to accept their offer. Perhaps Carroll is who they’d like to sign if they end up releasing Carr. Either way, it doesn’t seem Dallas is interested in any of the top names in the cornerback market.

 

If Dallas keep Carr or adds another corner upon releasing him then it would all but confirm that Byron Jones will be a safety next year. Dallas would still have flexibility at safety as they can cut Barry Church for solid cap relief or release Heath as his restricted free agent tender is non-guaranteed. There would also be a minimal penalty for cutting J.J. Wilcox, leaving their options fully open.

Eric Weddle is still out there and many fans are clamoring for Dallas to give the veteran Pro Bowler. The Cowboys have been linked to Weddle but you never know how much stock to put in that, since Dallas gets thrown into almost every discussion to attract an audience. Still, Weddle remains an intriguing option and the only major name out there who I think Dallas could possibly be looking to add.

Quarterback

Cowboys Headlines - Cowboys Free Agency: Week 2 Preview

Matt Moore and Tony Romo have been teammates before. They appear to remain friends.

ADDED: None
LOST: Matt Cassel (Titans)
UNSIGNED: None

Veteran Matt Moore visited with the Cowboys last Thursday but remains a free agent. Despite still having Kellen Moore signed it appears Dallas wants to bring in another veteran to compete with him, as well as whoever they may add in next month’s draft.

Much discussed before free agency began as a potential target for the Cowboys, Robert Griffin III is still unsigned. Ryan Fitzpatrick, who many thought would get a starting job somewhere, may be looking for any kind of work if someone doesn’t call him soon. It appears likely that Dallas will add one of these veterans in the next few weeks.

Defensive Tackle

ADDED: Cedric Thornton (Eagles)
LOST: None
UNSIGNED: Nick Hayden, Jack Crawford, Casey Walker

The Cowboys appear to have moved on from Hayden after three years with the addition of Thornton. After playing a 3-4 defensive end in Philadelphia Thornton will play inside in Dallas, having the size to play the one-technique but also some pass-rushing skills that could keep him on the field in nickel and other schemes.

Cowboys Headlines - Cowboys Free Agency: Week 2 Preview 1

(AP Photo/Brandon Wade)

Jack Crawford is a versatile lineman who can play both end and tackle, a role we’ve seen filled by both Mincey and Hardy over the last two years. I think Dallas could easily end up re-signing him after he’s been able to test the market a bit, likely getting him for a minimal deal. The need may not be as much as before the Thornton signing but versatile reserves are never a bad thing at any position.

With the Thornton addition and the continued employment of Terrell McClain and David Irving, not to mention Tyrone Crawford, it would appear that the Cowboys are fairly set at defensive tackle. At most they will add depth options, such as the aforementioned Jack Crawford, or mid or late-round rookie talent.

Linebacker

ADDED: Rolando McClain, Kyle Wilber
LOST: None
UNSIGNED: None

After re-signing McClain and Wilber the Cowboys now have their entire 2015 linebacker corps returning. McClain will re-join Sean Lee as assured starters while Wilber will be in the mix with Andrew Gachkar, Anthony Hitchens, Mark Nzeocha, and Damien Wilson for the third starting spot and backup roles. The financial details of Wilber’s deal are not yet known.

Dallas could still add talent in the draft but it would appear they are mostly done with the linebacker position in free agency. Not only are they bringing back all of their young prospects but Nzeocha is essentially a fresh face after missing most of last year with injuries. Compared to other positions, I think they will be content with the relative stability they have here.

~ ~ ~

So with those moves, how have the rankings changed? Here is my updated top five:

  1. Defensive End
  2. Quarterback
  3. Running Back
  4. Another Defensive End
  5. Center

We’ve already discussed the first two in detail. I put defensive end on here twice because the Cowboys are ridiculously thin at the position right now. Their Week One starters would be Demarcus Lawrence and Ryan Russell, who was active in just one game all last year. They clearly have to add some bodies and still need a starter opposite Lawrence who they can count on for a full year.

Cowboys Headlines - Cowboys Free Agency: Week 2 Preview 2At running back, the situation behind Darren McFadden right now isn’t great. Lance Dunbar is visiting other teams and Robert Turbin remains unsigned, leaving some guy named Rod Smith as the only backup. My free agent of choice is Alfred Morris, formerly of Washington, who has the kind of one-cut running style that suits our line very well. There are several other options out there but nobody jumps off the page as an upgrade to what Dallas would have by just re-signing Turbin. Whoever they add, we can all agree that significantly better depth is needed before entering a second year with McFadden. His history for performance and health problems after a big year is consistently ugly.

The departure of Mackenzy Bernadeau to Jacksonville leaves backup center as another important consideration. Ronald Leary is coming back but has not impressed when Dallas has tried him there before. There is talk that Zack Martin could play it in an emergency but that means impacting two positions. Another player with Bernadeau’s versatility would be great but, with Leary re-signed, Dallas can afford to add just a pure center as well.

Could the Cowboys be more active this week now that the first wave and the big contracts have passed? We’ll find out soon.

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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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3 Comments
  • Ethan

    I totally agree with this assessment. To say their approach is a head scratcher is quite an understatement. I get that they are afraid of free agency given their horrible recent past and are finally out from under dead $, but to bury your head in the sand when there are so many areas to improve a roster is an absolutely futile approach. We will find out in Jan-Feb if not before if this was a failed approach.

  • Randy Martin

    Good assessment Jess but I gotta call you out on something. We had CB/Safety as a need and we have signed Claiborne, Thomas, and Heath and all the sudden you now no longer consider it as a top 5 need! Big miss there bud. I would like to think with Claiborne another year removed from injury and Scandrick coming back from an ACL we have a foundation but Thomas is essentially a practice squad guy and Heath is special teams with the ability to play in a pinch. I still see CB as a major need as we haven't done much of anything to strengthen it.

    • Jess Haynie

      I don't disagree at all. However, right now they have Scandrick, Carr, Claiborne, Mitchell, Olatoye, and Thomas at corner. They have Wilcox, Church, and Heath at safety. Byron Jones is probably moving to safety but you never know. That's ten defensive backs already under contract for 2016. I'm not dismissing the need for better talent. However, in terms of just fielding a team they appear to have covered their bases. They may be banking on Scandrick's return as their "improvement" from 2015, given that he missed the whole season.

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WR Brice Butler Makes Waves With Controversial Comments

Kevin Brady

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Los Angeles Rams @ Dallas Cowboys: By the Numbers

Heading into this 2018 offseason, the Dallas Cowboys have to answer some critical questions about their wide receiver corps.

  • Is Dez Bryant still worthy of being labeled/targeted as a number one receiver?
  • Is Ryan Switzer ready to dethrone Cole Beasley as the team’s starting slot receiver?
  • What in the world do you do with Terrance Williams?
  • And, lastly, do you bring back last year’s WR4 Brice Butler?

Well, it appears that final question answered itself earlier this week.

Free agent wide out Brice Butler took to Fox Sports to voice his opinions on his future with the Cowboys, stating that if he isn’t going to be a starter, he isn’t going to come back at all.

“I think in this league, when you think about the business aspect, you’ve got to follow the money trail… Both of our starters made money. Terrance [Williams] just got paid last year. So there were times where I was like, ‘I’m making plays, aren’t we trying to win games? Why am I not on the field?’ But that’s the only thing that I can really think of.” -Brice Butler

Butler also made waves with a comment on Fox’s Undisputed, claiming that if given the same chances as Dez Bryant, he would have been more productive than Bryant was this season.

I am totally for a player getting the money he feels he deserves, and I wasn’t really “for” the Cowboys bringing back Butler anyway, but he probably sealed his fate In Dallas with his comments. This is the same team that cut Lucky Whitehead last offseason to send a message, and has tried to “clean up” their locker room with the “right kind of guys” lately, so it’d be hard to imagine them re-signing Butler now.

Even though I don’t think it’s that outlandish of a comment for him to make. I mean, why shouldn’t he want an opportunity to start somewhere? Unfortunately for Butler, I doubt that opportunity is in Dallas.

Plus, we all thought Butler should’ve gotten more chances during his time here, dating back to the disastrous season in 2015. And when he did get chances, Butler showed flashes of how valuable he can be.

Still, I think the Cowboys should draft a wide out to be their much-needed Z receiver, and signing Butler would just add to the log jam of pretty mediocre players at the position already.

Could Brice Butler have been more productive than Bryant? I guess we’ll never know. But it’s astounding how this rather average football team cannot help but make the news each and every day.

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Straight Outta Dallas: Cole Beasley Releases His First Rap Single

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Straight Outta Dallas: Cole Beasley Releases His First Rap Single
Getty Images / Ronald Martinez

During an offseason filled with concerns for Cowboys Nation, Cole Beasley sure helped fans take their minds off coaching changes, free agency and draft prospects for a moment. Bease took Twitter by storm when he tweeted a link to his first single as a rapper… yes, you read that right.

Cole Beasley: an NFL Wide Receiver by Day, Rapper by Night

Cole Beasley on Twitter

80 Stings – Single by Cole Beasley on Apple Music

Listen to songs from the album 80 Stings – Single, including “80 Stings”. Buy the album for $0.99. Songs start at $0.99. Free with Apple Music subscription.

“ColdNation Records” is the name of the company Beasley created alongside music producer Victor Clark, to release his first single. You can listen to “80 Stings” on iTunes, Spotify and just about every digital store, as the tweet above mentions.

I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t know what to expect. But when I turned the volume up and played the song for the first time, I was surprised. It’s awesome.

When Beasley caught that football behind his helmet versus the Giants back in week 1, I thought “man, that’s it. Beasley can’t surprise me anymore.” Well, he proved me wrong.

“80 Stings” isn’t only performed by him, but also written by him.

It turns out Cole Beasley has been writing since he was in college. And if you already listened to the single, you know he’s awesome at composing, and his flow is actually very quick.

The whole song is pretty entertaining, but it does have some verses that stick out more than others. We all know Beasley has been an underdog his entire football career, so it comes as no surprise that he introduces himself as “Mr. Slept On”, for instance.

Throughout the song, the 28-year-old receiver shouts out his wife and his children (and the fact he’s saving money for when they go to college, something we had already seen him proudly mentioning on Twitter.)

Jerry Jones and Dak Prescott both got their own name-drops on Beasley’s “80 Stings”, too.

“But Sunday, Jerry’s boss now,

I’m a dog when Dak get the ball out,

Pull the sauce out…”

– Cole Beasley on his first single, “80 Stings”

The rest of the album, according to “Killa Beasley”, will be released this Spring.

Cole Beasley insisted this is just a passion and that in no way will it affect his football career. So, really… don’t worry about it. Just enjoy this awesome thing he decided to share with his fans.

This time of the season can be sort of stressing for Cowboys Nation. A lot of changes in the coaching staff that may not be the desired ones, a lot of players Dallas needs to bring back, and just the aftermath of a disappointing 9-7 season.

It’s nice to have something like this to talk about, for a few days at least.

From all of Cowboys Nation, congratulations on this achievement, Mr. Slept On!

Tell me what you think about “Straight Outta Dallas: Cole Beasley Releases His First Rap Single” in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!

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RG Zack Martin, DT Maliek Collins Undergo Successful Surgeries

Sean Martin

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Zack Martin

With the NFL Draft, free agency, and of course the ongoing playoffs, providing so much for fans everywhere to focus on, it can be easy to forget that recovery is one of the most critical aspects of every team’s offseason. After the grind of a 17-week season, the Cowboys are recovering — both physically and mentally — as they slowly turn their attention towards building their 2018 roster.

Starting RG Zack Martin and DT Maliek Collins are both expected starters at their respective positions next year, and both players are now coming off of offseason surgery.

Zack Martin, whose name will remain in headlines through the spring as the Cowboys look to sign their franchise RG to a long-term deal, underwent successful elbow surgery. This will cause Martin to miss this month’s Pro Bowl, which he was named to for the fourth time in four years.

LT Tyron Smith is also not expected to play in the Pro Bowl.

https://twitter.com/dallascowboys/status/950846277071396864

In what was an inconsistent season for the Cowboys’ offensive line in performance, health, and cohesiveness, Zack Martin and this minor procedure should be the least of Dallas’ worries. The expectation is, of course, that #70 will be just fine to lead the way for Ezekiel Elliott moving forward, and likely paid considerably more by the time he takes the field again.

For DT Maliek Collins, it was surgery on his left foot that was minor enough to wait until the offseason — although the injury did appear for Collins on the team’s weekly injury reports throughout the season.

With David Irving effectively losing his 2017 season — a four-game suspension followed by a lingering concussion — Collins was asked to play more of the 1T position in his second season with the Cowboys.

Overcoming a broken foot from his rookie training camp to flash real potential as a 3T in 2016, expectations for Maliek Collins had to be tempered once he transitioned to the less “glamorous” 1T spot.

Defensive tackle is not a position the Cowboys have invested in heavily during recent years, so monitoring the health of Collins, while deciding where he best fits Rod Marinelli’s scheme, will be important as we approach the draft.

Like Martin, Collins should also be available for April’s return to work for the Dallas Cowboys.

Tell us what you think about “RG Zack Martin, DT Maliek Collins Undergo Successful Surgeries” in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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