The Cowboys have traditionally gone into the regular season with four safeties, which has made it more puzzling why going into training camp, they only have three: Xavier Woods, Kavon Frazier and Jeff Heath. Byron Jones, one of last year's starting safeties, was switched back to his original corner spot. While that was a great move for the cornerback group, it created a huge hole at safety.
It seemed likely Dallas would sign one in free agency, but March came and went and the Cowboys didn't sign one. Despite there being quality names available, the Cowboys chose not to try their hands.
The next logical step was to address the need in the draft. There were plenty of quality safeties, or even corners who could switch to the position. After 256 picks, Dallas had nine of their own. None of them were a safety.
It's been reported that the team intends to add another safety at some point. There are a few routes the team can go, but it's not just a matter of who the player is, but how the Cowboys get him.
Sign a Free Agent Safety
The team currently sits on about $8 million in cap space, which may not seem like much but might be enough to get a quality player for an agreeable price. The most frequently heard names are Eric Reid, Kenny Vaccaro and Tre Boston. All three all have plenty to offer, and would make the team's depth better, and bring a sigh of relief going into the summer.
Eric Reid is the most talented of the bunch, who would actually come in and potentially be up for the starting spot. However, he is currently in the middle of a collusion case against the NFL, claiming he hasn't been signed to a team as a result of his kneeling for the national anthem. Given this and Jerry Jones's stance on the pregame kneeling, this isn't a likely pairing.
Tre Boston had a great season in 2017, with five interceptions and eight passes deflected. It's puzzling that he not only made it to free agency, but that he's still available. He may be searching for a long-term deal after his one-year prove-it deal with the Chargers worked out so well. Tre Boston may have to wait and see if another team gets desperate.
Kenny Vaccaro makes plenty of sense. Not only did the Cowboys have interest in drafting Vaccaro back in the 2013 NFL Draft, but it was reported that the Cowboys tried to trade for him last season. His skills have diminished over the last few seasons, but he would be great in rotation. He probably isn't a starter any more, but he's only 27 and has plenty left to offer.
The Cowboys just got done with one position change with Byron Jones, but what if they want to switch another? While this seems like the unlikeliest scenario, it has been brought up that Chidobe Awuzie, last year's second round pick, could play safety.
Chidobe Awuzie played fantastic once he was given the starting spot last season, and it looked as if he's going to be the number one corner, but his tackling skills and ability to play all over may make him an option to switch to safety.
Truthfully, I think the Cowboys like a cornerback group featuring Awuzie, Byron Jones and Jourdan Lewis, lead by secondary coach, Kris Richard. I also know the Cowboys won't be afraid to switch a player out of position if they feel it's what's best for the team and gives them the best chance to win. Don't sleep on this option just yet.
Undrafted Free Agent
The Cowboys didn't draft a single safety. However, they signed three undrafted free agents who all play the position: Kameron Kelly, Tyree Robinson and Kyle Queiro. One of the three have a great opportunity to make the team despite not being picked. This looks like the likeliest way the team will go.
Kameron Kelly was surprisingly not drafted out of San Diego State. He was expected to be a day three selection, or possibly go as high as the fourth round. He's 6'2" 205 pounds and has the flexibility to play both safety and corner. He plays well in coverage and is a solid tackler despite his lack of speed. Kelly looks like the possible favorite to take the fourth spot.
Tyree Robinson is like Kameron Kelly in size. He's 6'3" 200 pounds out of Oregon. He's not the greatest tackler, but plays well in zone coverage. He has the size you want in a safety, but he needs a bit more developing before he's ready, and is likely to be a practice squad player.
Kyle Queiro comes from Northwestern and plays like a linebacker. He's 6'3" 220 pounds, and has played both the up and down safety spots. His skills are much like Kavon Frazier, and he's like a new type of safety/linebacker hybrid such as Mark Barron or Deone Bucannon. He plays well in zone coverage, but is not as refined in man like Kameron Kelly. If he doesn't make the transition to safety, he looks like he could be a good linebacker project.
Finally, what you've probably been waiting for me to get to -- the Earl Thomas to Dallas scenario is probably never going to be dropped until both sides definitively say it's not happening. However, it almost makes too much sense to NOT do it.
In 2019, Earl Thomas will be a free agent, and at that point he can go to Dallas of his own free will. Seattle would lose him for nothing. Earl Thomas has made clear his love for the Seahawks but would also love to play for his favorite team growing up. If the Seahawks want to avoid losing Thomas for nothing, they need to trade him this year.
If the Cowboys are able to trade for Thomas, they would have to give up either a reasonably high draft pick, like a third, or a late round pick plus a player Seattle is interested in. This is most Cowboys fans' favorite possibility, and would be a great add for Dallas.
Thomas will be 30 next May, and there's no telling what his value is. He was an All-Pro a season ago, so his skills haven't diminished and his price hasn't been affected. If an Earl Thomas trade can happen, it should happen. The Seahawks need to get younger and save some money, and the Cowboys have a squad that's ready to compete now. This might not be the likeliest way to go, but it would be the best.
Tony Romo Won’t Be the Next Dallas Cowboys Offensive Coordinator
The pipe dream has been going on since former Dallas Cowboys Quarterback-turned CBS Analyst Tony Romo hung up his cleats for the black blazer. Fans from all corners of Cowboys Nation have clamored for a return to the field or at worst the sideline as the Cowboys offensive coordinator.
Let me stop you right there. It's not happening.
First of all. He's never been a coach at any level of football, so to assume that he could leave the broadcast booth and step into coaching an NFL offense and doing so at a high level is a huge leap of faith in number 9. Sure, Jon Gruden left the Monday Night Football booth for his lucrative deal with the Oakland Raiders, but he had won a Super Bowl and had been an offensive coordinator and head coach in the NFL for years before joining the broadcasting ranks.
Tony Romo has an excellent understanding of football. He displays it on a regular basis during the CBS broadcasts. But doing from the broadcast view, seeing what the defense is trying to do, and calling the plays to counter what the defense is trying to do are very different things.
Secondly, the coaching job would be a major time commitment that at the moment he doesn't have. Even if he's working a 40 hour work week in preparation for his three-hour time slot, the demands on NFL coaches are easily twice that with many coaches putting in 100 hour work weeks in preparation for Sundays. Tony Romo has a family that even he's talked about as part of the reason that he went into broadcasting instead of looking to hop on with another NFL team.
Finally, the job would mean a significant pay cut from what Romo is already making. It's estimated that the former Cowboys quarterback is making anywhere from $5-10 million dollars a year with CBS. Jason Garrett is making $6 million per year as the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, so even if the Jones family was willing to pay first-time NFL coach Tony Romo a ton of money to come out of the broadcast booth, there's zero chance they pay him what he's making as a broadcaster. To do so, would be to undercut the head coach. Jason Garrett is Jerry Jones' guy. The owner and general manager wants Garrett to be the guy that leads the Cowboys to Super Bowl success, so there's zero chance he'd pay a coordinator close to Garrett's money, which would lead to constant speculation about the head coach and his future with the organization.
I love Tony Romo. His jersey is one of only two Cowboys jerseys that I own -- along with Darren Woodson -- and I think he could make a good coach one day, but I'd be hard pressed to see him come out of the coaching booth to take a coordinator job and have immediate success. The guys that are offensive coordinators in the NFL have been grinding for years to earn their jobs. Most started as position coaches -- see Sean McVay as Redskins TE coach. The Dallas Cowboys will spend the next few days, and perhaps weeks, identifying their replacement for Scott Linehan, but let's put to bed the dream of Romo as offensive coordinator.
It's just not going to happen.
Cowboys Sign WR Devin Smith, Former 2nd-Round Pick
The Dallas Cowboys have reportedly signed Receiver Devin Smith, previously with the New York Jets, to a futures contract. Smith was a 2nd-round pick, 37th overall, in the 2015 NFL Draft.
Before going pro, Devin was a college teammate of current Cowboys Ezekiel Elliott, Rod Smith, and Noah Brown. They were all members of the 2014 Ohio State Buckeyes team that won the National Championship.
Smith's agent, Jason Bernstein, tweeting the following earlier today:
Congrats to WR Devin Smith @dsmithosu for signing with the #DallasCowboys! Welcome back. https://t.co/hCMYoE8fEh
Thus far, Smith's NFL career has been marred by injuries. He has suffered two ACL tears in the same knee and only been able to appear in 14 games. He was waived by the Jets last summer and was not with any team last season.
Overall, the 2015 class of receivers has been disappointing. Amari Cooper has been a star and other later-round picks like Tyler Lockett, Stefon Diggs, and Jamison Crowder have been good. But the other big names of the class, such as Kevin White, Breshad Perriman, and DeVante Parker, have not lived up to the hype.
The Cowboys are known for trying to reclaim players who once had high draft status and bad starts to their careers. They are clearly hoping to cash in on Smith's previously perceived potential, which had him projected as a possible first-round talent at one time.
For both Devin and Dallas' sake, we hope it's a success!
Breaking: Scott Linehan and Dallas Cowboys Part Ways
Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network is reporting that the Dallas Cowboys and Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan have mutually agreed to part ways following a tumultuous season that saw the Dallas Cowboys offense finish outside the top 12 three out of his four seasons in Dallas.
Sources: The #Cowboys are firing OC Scott Linehan. Taking their offense in a new direction. An announcement is coming.
Scott Linehan was brought in prior to the 2015 season and saw his offenses finish 31st, fifth, 14th, and 22nd in his four years as the Cowboys play caller. The 2015 season can be excused as the Cowboys rolled out Kellen Moore, Matt Cassell, and Brandon Weeden for 13 starts after Tony Romo was injured twice during the season, but the team 2-11 in those 13 starts and the Cowboys failed to make the playoffs despite a strong performance on the defensive side of the football.
The Cowboys saw an offense that finished fifth in the NFL in points in 2016 decline each of the last two offseasons and Linehan has been continually criticized by analysts, fans, and players as well.
Many believe that the reason that Dez Bryant and Brice Butler weren't brought back in the offseason was because of the public criticism of the offense and the play caller instilling the offense and that criticism has carried over to this season when Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper acknowledged that the Philadelphia Eagles were sitting on the slant routes that they had run all game. Dak mentioned that he changed Amari's route to a go route, which led to a 75 yard touchdown that helped open up the offense.
Cole Beasley has been frustrated with his role for much of the season and deservedly so. He was often non-existent in the offensive game plan until the final five minutes of football games.
In the running game, the offense had become too predictable and reliant upon jumbo formations that led to Ezekiel Elliott having to run against eight in the box anywhere from 25-30% of the time. For perspective, Todd Gurley only ran against eight-man fronts around eight percent of the time. Scott Linehan never looked to attempt to take players out of the box, instead insisting on motioning more players into the box for the offensive line and Ezekiel Elliott to run against. It's amazing when you think about it, that Ezekiel Elliott was able to win the rushing title when facing loaded fronts as often as he did.
This was a move that needed to happen and the Dallas Cowboys didn't need to waste anymore time to make it happen. The offense had become stale and frustrating for the players as well as the fans. While Jason Garrett started the offseason saying he "didn't expect any changes," this was a move that absolutely had to happen for the offense to take a step forward. Below, you can read Jason Garrett's announcement on the move.
Cowboys have fired Scott Linehan
Even after the move for Amari Cooper, the offense looked better, but it still struggled at times to move the football.
The Cowboys have a young team with especially young players on the offensive side of the football. They have a quarterback who can throw from the pocket, but has excellent movement skills and capabilities of throwing the ball on the run. He's an excellent runner on designed runs. Despite us knowing all that, Scott Linehan looked reluctant to use him on designed quarterback runs that weren't read options or speed options. What you saw on designed runs in the Seattle game is what this team should be doing five times a game.
Now the question becomes, who should the Cowboys next offensive coordinator be? Our own, Staff Writer Brian Martin, laid out 5 Options to be the Next Offensive Coordinator earlier this week. I suggest you give it a read.
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