The NFL has suspended Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott for six games, the long-awaited ruling on an investigation into domestic violence allegations that has lasted for over a year.
The domestic violence accusations came from a former girlfriend of Elliott's who has twice claimed that Zeke physically abused her. The credibility of the accuser has been in question, though, from evidence that she was lying and asking friends to do the same. Elliott has explained that the woman is bitter over their relationship and trying to hurt him in the public eye.
Even if the domestic issue was entirely false, Zeke's had some other problems and hits to his reputation. He was seen at a marijuana dispensary in Seattle during the 2016 preseason, which isn't illegal in the state of Washington but still a bad look given the league's policy on cannabis.
Last March, Zeke was caught on camera briefly lifting a female friend's shirt up during a St. Patrick's Day parade. It quickly became clear that this was in keeping with their relationship, but still poor judgment in Elliott's part given the ongoing domestic violence investigation.
Elliott also received a speeding ticket for going 100 mph on a 70 mph highway in April. In July, he was at a nightclub where a fight occurred and police were called in. It was initially rumored that he'd been involved in the altercation, but that was never confirmed or charged officially.
The wait for the NFL's initial ruling is over, but the fight may have only just begun for Zeke and the league. He does have the right to appeal the suspension, the process for which was outlined by sports attorney Daniel Wallach on Twitter:
Elliott must file his appeal within 3 business days, and #NFL would then have 10 days to conduct a hearing. https://t.co/SU7ecnLnlC
The idea has been out there that Elliott and the Cowboys might use the appeal process strategically. Zeke's suspension is not enforced while under appeal, meaning he can keep playing until it's over. Even if they don't believe the suspension would be reduced, keeping Elliott available for the season opener against the New York Giants makes a lot of sense.
Based on the timeline provided by Wallach, the NFL's internal appeal process would be done by August 29th or 30th (depending on if today counts as one of the three days to file appeal). The Giants will be here on September 10th. Obviously, that doesn't work.
However, Elliott could then seek an injunction against the NFL and take his fight to the courts. The effect would be the same; Zeke could keep playing while the process plays out through the legal system. As we saw with Tom Brady, that could potentially delay things for an entire year.
There is always the potential, though, that Zeke doesn't want to go through all of this and will just accept the suspension. If so, Dallas will likely be looking to Darren McFadden as they did in 2015. Even with Tony Romo out of the year and no real passing threat from Matt Cassel, Brandon Weeden, or Kellen Moore, McFadden still had over 1,000 yards on the ground and 300 receiving. With Dak Prescott under center, McFadden could conceivably do even more.
That said, McFadden was 28 then and turns 30 in a few weeks. That's a long time in RB years. Thankfully, the Cowboys still have Alfred Morris and the emerging Rod Smith to help lighten the load. We may see more of a rotation during Zeke's absence than we're used to from recent seasons.
What the Cowboys do next depends on Ezekiel Elliott. Will he appeal? How far will he take that fight? I hate to say it after all this time, but we're still in wait-and-see mode.
Cowboys Offseason: Landon Collins Cleaned Out Locker, Set to be FA
It's no secret that the Dallas Cowboys are heading into the 2019 offseason looking to upgrade at the safety position on a defense that finished inside the top 10 in 2018. With much of the focus on Earl Thomas, New York Giants Safety Landon Collins has become the center of attention in the last couple of days.
Per a report by Josina Anderson, Collins cleaned out his locker on Wednesday as he gets ready to go into free agency for the first time.
I'm told that Giants S Landon Collins cleaned out his locker today at the team facility and said his goodbyes to teammates, coaches and trainers. It doesn't seem like Collins expects to be a Giant for much longer, per sources.
After Paul Schwartz attempted to assert that there was no claim to the report...
Attention those who care about the New York Giants: Landon Collins HAS NOT cleaned out his locker at the team facility. Repeat: Landon Collins HAS NOT cleaned out his locker at the team facility. Go about your business and have a nice day.
And Landon Collins had this to say...
If cleaning out a locker is any kind of evidence, then Collins is prepared to hit the market when free agency opens on March 13th. He joins a loaded safety group that includes Thomas, Houston Texans Safety Tyrann Mathieu, Los Angeles Rams Safety LaMarcus Joyner, Glover Quin of the Detroit Lions, Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix formerly of the Green Bay Packers, but most recently of the Washington Redskins, and several others who could find new homes this offseason.
The Cowboys are very familiar with Landon Collins, as they've seen him nearly twice a year over the last four years. The three time Pro Bowler was one of the best players on the Giants defense. They would line him up in the box and at time use him to cover Cole Beasley.
Collins ranked first in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus in run stop percentage at 7.2%. Meaning on running snaps, he made a tackle that rendered the running play ineffective 7.2% of the time.For further reference, Jeff Heath made a run stop on 4.2% of his run plays, which was 15th in the NFL among safeties.
The only positions to have more of an impact on the running game were linebackers and the defensive line. Even if you include linebackers, his run stop percentage was 31st in the NFL. Leighton Vander Esch led the Dallas Cowboys with a run stop percentage of 11.3%, which was third among linebackers. Collins number nearly matched the run stop percentage of Jaylon Smith at 7.6%.
Add Collins to a defense that stops the run as well as the Dallas Cowboys did last season and you take your team to another level against the run.
Landon Collins will probably get the most money this offseason. He's only 25 and has had success in the NFL. Many teams will be reaching out to Collins when free agency opens and the Dallas Cowboys should certainly be one of those teams. Collins would be an excellent addition to the Dallas Cowboys defense and would allow Xavier Woods to stay in his role as the free safety.
We're just under three weeks away from the start of NFL free agency and the drama will only get bigger as the Cowboys look to add to their team.
Report: Free Agent DL David Irving Not in Dallas Cowboys’ 2019 Plans
The Dallas Cowboys and troubled Defensive Lineman David Irving appear to be at an impasse. According to a report from David Moore of the Dallas Morning News, the team has "no intention" of trying to re-sign Irving and will allow him to become an unrestricted free agent.
Irving started the 2018 season with a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. He only appeared in two games after that, registering one sack and four tackles.
Source: Cowboys have no intention of keeping DT David Irving at this time https://t.co/vqMNZty6Aq via @sportsdaydfw
Despite reports of David's ongoing issues with an ankle injury, Dallas never placed him on injured reserve. Then came the reports that Irving was missing practices and team meetings while dealing with personal issues related to the custody of his daughter.
The team stayed pretty mum on the subject of Irving's status throughout the year, falling back on the ankle injury when pushed. But after months, it became clear that either David, the team, or both parties were disinterested in his return to football.
The Cowboys had high hopes after 2017, when Irving posted seven sacks in just eight games. They placed a second-round tender on him last offseason as a restricted free agent and were surely ready to give him a long-term deal if he'd built on that success.
But David's issues, physical or otherwise, have clearly done the opposite.
Dallas is known for working with troubled players, as we've recently seen with Randy Gregory. That they're closing the book on Irving suggests there's an issue with his desire towards football.
It's a sad loss for both. David's potential is enormous, as evidenced by his productivity when he actually does play. But he appears more likely to hit the Commissioner's exempt list in 2019 than the football field, given the reports of multiple failed drug tests over the last year.
Hopefully David Irving can turn things around one day and capitalize on his talent. But if it ever happens, it appears that it won't be with the Dallas Cowboys.
BREAKING: WR Terrance Williams Gets Dropped by Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys have ended their six-year relationship with Wide Receiver Terrance Williams. According to multiple sources, they have declined a team option on Williams' contract and he will now be an unrestricted free agent in 2019.
The move will reportedly save the Cowboys $2.25 million in salary space this year.
Williams was the team's third-round pick in 2013 and started 68 of the 83 games he played in. He developed into a solid number-two receiver by the end of his rookie deal in 2016 and was given a new four-year contract that offseason.
Terrance Williams career w/ the Cowboys is done. Sources say the club has declined the WR's option for 2019, making him a free agent. The move is no surprise. He caught just 2 passes for 18 yards last season. His departure frees up $2.25 million on the cap.
After another decent year in 2017, things took a bad turn for Terrance last season. It started with an offseason arrest for public intoxication that eventually led to a three-game suspension, although Williams served that while on injured reserve.
The Cowboys already appeared to be giving Williams' spot away when they made several offseason acquisitions at WR; Allen Hurns, Michael Gallup, and Tavon Austin all were brought in even before Terrance's arrest.
While Williams did start in two of Dallas' first three games in 2018, he only had three passes his thrown his way. The team finally put him on IR due to ongoing complications with a surgically-repaired foot.
While it didn't end well, Terrance Williams' time in Dallas was ultimately a solid return for a third-round pick. He made a few big plays and was a proficient run-blocker, good enough to start in almost 75% of the team's games since he was drafted.
The Cowboys now hope that another third-round pick, Michael Gallup in 2018, will do bigger and better things.
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