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Cowboys’ Job Security: QB, WR, TE

Jess Haynie

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Cowboys Blog - Cowboys' Job Security: QB, WR, TE

With eight games in and at least eight to go, it seemed a fine time to evaluate the roster. There are many different perspectives you can go with, but if you know me at all then you know I love to put my General Manager hat on. Today we're going to look at players within the context of job security, the likelihood that they will still be Cowboys next season. Today we'll look at the quarterbacks, receivers, and tight ends. Tomorrow we'll hit the running backs and offense line. And then over the weekend we'll cover the defense.

QUARTERBACKS

Tony Romo - Signed through 2019

If the needle has moved at all on the Cowboys' appreciation of Romo during the first part of this season, it's only increased in his absence. The highest-rated passer in 2014, Romo will hopefully return to the field next week in Miami and pick up with the same level of play. Even if the season is over for the Cowboys, seeing strong play from Romo will be inspiring for next year's campaign.

Romo's future with the team was never in doubt. Even if they wanted to part ways, the $31 million in dead money makes it practically impossible. Romo will certainly be the quarterback through 2016 and likely a year or two beyond, provided he can hold up physically.

LIKELIHOOD TO RETURN: 100%

Matt Cassel - 2016 Unrestricted Free Agent

Dallas has recently treated their backup quarterback position with more hubris than in years past, content with the risky Brandon Weeden over more trustworthy options like Brad Johnson, Jon Kitna, and Kyle Orton that have backed up Romo before. Cassel would be more akin to those players and I could easily see Dallas offering him a solid one or two-year deal to stick around.

The big question for Cassel and the Cowboys will be if Dallas finally looks to the draft for Romo's eventual replacement. I don't see Dallas spending a high enough pick, like first or second round, to where they'd be comfortable with that guy as their primary backup. Even if they bring in a rookie for grooming, I expect Cassel or some other veteran would still be the number-two guy next year.

LIKELIHOOD TO RETURN: 70%

Brandon Weeden - 2016 Unrestricted Free Agent

Even if Dallas can't get Cassel to stick around they will likely look elsewhere for a veteran backup. Weeden hasn't shown any growth from the player he was last year, let alone how he played in Cleveland. I might look at it differently if he was still under contract, but I can't see much reason to negotiate a new deal with him.

I'm only giving Weeden's return the slimmest of chances in the possibility that they simply can't find anybody better in free agency if Cassel's not retained.

LIKELIHOOD TO RETURN: 10%

WIDE RECEIVERS

Dez Bryant - Signed through 2019

I don't need to explain this one, I hope. Dez just got a new deal and has plenty of X's left to throw up in Dallas.

LIKELIHOOD TO RETURN: 100%

Terrance Williams - Signed through 2016

Williams has been disappointing this year but not enough to be shown the door. He will only count $872k against the cap in the final year of his rookie contract. Even if he falls out of the starting lineup next year, that's still a great salary for an experienced backup. They have no reason to cut him loose.

LIKELIHOOD TO RETURN: 100%

Cole Beasley - Signed through 2018

Like Dez, Beasley just got a new deal and isn't going anywhere anytime soon. He reminded everyone what an asset he is last week and should only keep that production going once Romo returns.

LIKELIHOOD TO RETURN: 100%

Devin Street - Signed through 2017

There was talk during the offseason from some Cowboys insiders that Street was every bit as good as Terrance Williams. I haven't seen that on the field, and it's not like Williams has been lighting it up.

Street will get every opportunity to keep his job next year in camp and preseason. However, it's not hard to see Brice Butler, Lucky Whitehead, or some new face from the draft or even the current practice squad work their way up and force Street out. I'll give him a slight edge as the incumbent, but I think he'll be in a dogfight for his job.

LIKELIHOOD TO RETURN: 60%

Lucky Whitehead - Signed through 2017

We've not only seen Lucky get used more on offense lately but he rewarded the team's trust with a big kickoff return against the Eagles. He has special skills and won't be easy to let go. Anyone near the bottom of the roster can't be too much of a lock, but if he keeps showing than Whitehead could all but secure his spot before the season's over.

LIKELIHOOD TO RETURN: 75%

Brice Butler - Signed through 2016

The Cowboys have Butler's original rookie contract having traded for him with Oakland. He is a cheap option with experience and has even shown up in a few games for Dallas. He will likely compete with Street for a roster spot next offseason, and I think he has a great shot at making it.

LIKELIHOOD TO RETURN: 50%

TIGHT ENDS

Jason Witten - Signed through 2017

Witten's last game as a Cowboy, barring injury, will be because he's retiring. There's no sign of that from Jason in at least the next few seasons.

LIKELIHOOD TO RETURN: 100%

Gavin Escobar - Signed through 2016

Drafting Escobar made a lot of sense if you were preparing for the future without Witten, or if you planned on getting him plenty of work in the receiving games. Neither of these appear to have been in the Cowboys' plans, making that pick pretty questionable in retrospect.

Escobar should return to play out his rookie deal. I'm leaving out a slight chance, though, that Dallas looks to move him to a team needing a starting tight end that could be enticed by Escobar's athleticism. They could then look to add a more balanced player with better blocking skills, or just stick with James Hanna, moving forward.

LIKELIHOOD TO RETURN: 90%

James Hanna - 2016 Unrestricted Free Agent

Hanna's in a tough spot as he enters free agency. He's done well when called upon here but hasn't been given enough opportunities to show his stuff. Dallas likely values him more than any other NFL team will, which could help him to at least find work.

The issue will be Hanna's asking price and ambition. He's likely going to have to take a minimal deal for Dallas to keep him, given that he'd be no better than the number-three player on the depth chart. If he willing to accept a low salary and a lesser role here for fear of what could happen on the open market? Only he knows.

LIKELIHOOD TO RETURN: 50%

Geoff Swaim - Signed through 2018

The seventh-round rookie will at least be back for another offseason and has shown solid potential. I imagine he will be at least the fourth tight end, if not the third, next season.

LIKELIHOOD TO RETURN: 75%



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!

Dallas Cowboys

Jimmy Johnson Could Be Next Cowboys Ring of Honor Inductee

Jess Haynie

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AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

According to reports, former Dallas Cowboys Head Coach Jimmy Johnson may finally be joining the team's Ring of Honor.

Clarence Hill of the Star-Telegram reported this morning, per a source, that Johnson could be among the next group of inductees to the franchise's version of the Hall of Fame.

The other potential candidates mentioned were former scouting guru Gil Brandt from the Tom Landry era and Tight End Jay Novacek, who won three Super Bowls in Dallas in the 1990s.

Novacek would join Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin, Charles Haley, and Darren Woodson as Ring of Honor members acquired during Jimmy Johnson's brief but historic run as Cowboys coach.

It is that heavy presence of Johnson's players in the Ring, not to mention the three championships that crew won from 1992-1995, that has long merited Jimmy's inclusion in the Cowboys' most exclusive club.

Jimmy was only personally on had for two of three titles, but even that ties him with Tom Landry for Super Bowl wins in Cowboys history. And as many would argue, that 1995 championship team was still running on what Johnson put together.

Jimmy Johnson Could Be Next Cowboys Ring of Honor Inductee

Jimmy Johnson and Jerry Jones

Jimmy's place among the Cowboys' greatest contributors is irrefutable. But whether he'd ever get into the Ring of Honor has always been questioned due to his contentious breakup with team Owner and General Manager Jerry Jones.

Johnson left the Cowboys after the 1993 championship season as he and Jones could no longer have a working relationship. Jerry's bitterness over the credit that Jimmy got for building the 90s dynasty, and Jimmy's refusal to pass any of that along to his Jones, led to Johnson's resignation as egos drove a wedge between friends.

Time appears to have healed the wounds, for the most part. As pictured above, Jimmy was in attendance for Jerry's 2017 Hall of Fame induction and public comments between them have become far more cordial in recent years.

At ages 75 and 74, respectively, Jerry and Jimmy should close this book while they still can. There is no better way to do than by Johnson taking his rightful place in the Ring of Honor.

Not only will that move bring a resolution to their story, but it will also help Jimmy in his pursuit of the Pro Football Hall of Fame to be recognized on the team level.

Jimmy Johnson belongs with Troy, Emmitt, Playmaker, and the rest who he brought together. He was responsible for the most successful era of Dallas Cowboys football in the team's history. He also provided the catchphrase that has endured for almost 30 years now, "how 'bout 'dem Cowboys?"

You can't tell the story of the Dallas Cowboys without Jimmy Johnson. It's time to give his chapter a happy ending.



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Dallas Cowboys

Which Cowboys Benefit From David Irving’s Suspension?

Jess Haynie

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David Irving

While losing David Irving for the first four weeks of 2018 is a bad thing for the Dallas Cowboys defensive line, it does create opportunities for some of the other defensive tackles. Who has the most to gain from Irving's suspension?

Because he was mostly going to be used inside as the 3-technique DT, David's absence will naturally benefit the guys who are best suited to play that role. Thankfully, Dallas isn't lacking for those types of players.

Veteran Tyrone Crawford can use all the playing time he can get. As a likely salary cap casualty next year, Crawford doesn't want to get buried on the depth chart as Dallas focuses on their younger players who project to stick around beyond 2018.

With Irving out, Dallas will likely lean on Tyrone as they often do when someone is missing on the defensive line. With more talent now at defensive end, Crawford was going to be competing with Irving, Maliek Collins, Jihad Ward, and other younger guys for work at tackle.

But now there's a problem, and it's easy to slide Crawford into the 3-tech role that Dallas once envisioned him being a star at. Remember, it was their projection of Tyrone as a breakout DT that got him his big contract to begin with.

Yes, Irving's only gone for four weeks. Dallas will still be giving him work in camp based on the role he should fill for the majority of the season. But that's why a veteran like Tyrone Crawford is a great temporary plug-in, because he doesn't need all of the practice reps to step in and perform.

Maliek Collins

Dallas Cowboys DT Maliek Collins

Another key beneficiary could be third-year DT Maliek Collins. Last season, Collins got stuck playing 1-technique and not getting the same opportunities to make plays and get noticed that he had his rookie year.

But now Dallas has several guys in Jihad Ward, Richard Ash, and Brian Price who can play the 1-tech role, which will hopefully get Collins back where he belongs. Maliek's athleticism belongs a little further away from center, letting him try to take on guards in single coverage.

Collins is dealing with a foot issue now but should be back for the preseason. That's enough time for him to be where he needs to be Week One, provided he's healthy.

How Dallas would balance playing time between Collins and Tyrone Crawford could be a matter of how much they play certain schemes. One could see Collins, the bigger guy, playing more in the base defense and then Crawford being used in passing situations.

There is always a lot of rotation in a Rod Marinelli line, so discussions about playing time can get a little silly. Unless you're a true stud like DeMarcus Lawrence who you don't want to take off the field, the Cowboys like to keep guys fresh.

But that's why this is a big opportunity; David Irving has that stud potential. He's the kind of talent who could keep solid players like Crawford and Collins out of view if he hits his stride.

For the first four weeks, though, Irving will be in the NFL doghouse and Dallas will likely lean on its two most experienced defensive tackles to fill the void. There will be more reps for guys like Datone Jones and Jihad Ward too, but Crawford and Collins have way more skins on the wall

That trust should keep them on the field more while David Irving's suspended, and perhaps beyond.



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Player News

BREAKING: David Irving Suspended For 2nd Consecutive Year

Mauricio Rodriguez

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David Irving

For the second consecutive year, Defensive Lineman David Irving is being suspended for four games by the NFL. This time, the suspension comes after Irving violated the NFL's policy on substance of abuses, as Ian Rapoport reported.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

Cowboys DL David Irving is being suspended 4 games for violating @NFL policy on substance of abuses, sources say. Another big-time D-linemen hit with a suspension for Dallas.

Irving will play for the Dallas Cowboys after the team placed a second-round tender on him earlier in the year. Why no team was interested in picking such a talented defensive tackle for a second round pick is becoming clearer and clearer as the time goes on.

In April, when David Irving got hacked by his former girlfriend one of the tweets that stood out the most was one which said "Wait until you all find about his failed drug tests." Now, we're seeing what the tweet was about.

Irving is a very talented player that could have a great career ahead of him. Of course, with this being the second consecutive year in which he receives a suspension to start the season, one could question how much he wants it.

The Cowboys will play the Panthers, Giants, Seahawks and Lions to start the season. They'll have to do it with one of their most promising defensive players in David Irving.

Here at Inside The Star, we'll keep you updated with this story and every Dallas Cowboys news.

Tell me what you think about "BREAKING: David Irving Suspended For 2nd Consecutive Year" 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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