Back in May, guard Ron Leary made it clear he wanted to be traded from Dallas. Leary wants to be a starter, and have a chance at earning starter money, while still in his prime and before his degenerative knees end his career. You can't blame him.
In February I speculated that we might be headed down this road. I wrote a piece outlining the Cowboys' moral dilemma in handling Leary's situation. Football is only a business when coaches and executives want it to be. The rest of the time, they preach about family and brotherhood. It's hard to have it both ways.
The same day that Leary made his desire for a trade known the Tennessee Titans suffered an injury to starting guard Byron Bell. That prompted to me look at the Titans' roster and hypothesize some trades. As fellow writer RJ Ochoa showed us yesterday, a Leary-to-Tennessee deal may still be on the radar.
However, another trade destination for Leary was proposed yesterday by a top media source:
While we wait for a potential #Cowboys QB trade, keep an eye on OL Ronald Leary. #Saints have pursued him to no avail over past few months
When I wrote about the Titans scenarios that was based on pure speculation. There were no reports of talks between Tennessee and Dallas. So, after Rapoport's news, naturally I had to check out the Saints' roster and see what they had to offer.
First, let's look at a few positions where the Cowboys clearly need some help:
The Saints only have three QBs in camp right now: Drew Brees, Luke McCown, and Garrett Grayson. They used a third-round pick to acquire Grayson last year as a developmental QB. Dallas already has two of those in Dak Prescott and Jameil Showers. That leaves McCown as the only potential target.
It would be ironic if Dallas ended up with Luke McCown, given that they were reportedly looking at his brother Josh just a few days ago. The younger of the two, Luke doesn't have quite the same name value but has managed to stick around as a NFL backup since 2004.
McCown is 35 years old but showed last year he can still produce. In Week 3 he had to start for an injured Brees on the road against the eventual NFC Champion Carolina Panthers. McCown was 31 for 38 on his passes (81.6%) and threw for 310 yards against one of the league's best defenses.
The Cowboys stated a few days ago that they were no longer pursuing a veteran QB. This may be their current stance but that could change if Prescott and Showers don't inspire confidence.
That said, McCown's availability could be dependent on how Garrett Grayson performs. The Saints may not want to give up McCown for the same reason that Dallas would be interested.
The other glaring issue for the Cowboys right now is at defensive end. You know about the DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory issues. Also, Benson Mayowa is currently sidelined recovering from a minor knee procedure. He will hopefully return for some preseason action.
Unfortunately, the Saints don't have much to offer in this area. They are in the second year of transitioning back to the 4-3 scheme after dumping Rob Ryan. That means they are still trying to stock their own depth chart and don't have many expendable assets. They have added band-aid veterans like Daryl Tapp and Matt Shaughnessy in the last few months, showing their own level of need.
I have maintained that Dallas shouldn't part with Ron Leary for less than a third-round pick. They gave him the second round RFA tender and would have received that back if a team had tried to sign him as a restricted free agent.
Some of you have said you would settle for a lower-round pick, wanting to get something for Leary rather than have him walk for nothing next year. It's not "nothing," though, to have him here as a highly skilled reserve option in 2016.
Leary already backs up both starting guards and perhaps even your center. Dallas is looking at Zack Martin to see if he can slide over and play center in case something happens to Travis Frederick. That's three different players who, if they go out, open the door for Leary to play. That makes him very valuable.
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The Saints' pursuit of Leary has likely been unsuccessful for these very reasons. They don't have many players who fit Dallas' need areas and are probably not offering a high enough draft pick.
The next four weeks allow plenty of opportunity for change. The hope that each team has in current players can be realized, crushed, or at least stymied by camp and preseason performance. Injuries can quickly change the landscape. Leary's value to either party can shift as we go.
Whether it's the Saints, Titans, or some other team, it's clear that Leary will remain a talking point up until the trade deadline.
BREAKING: Dallas Cowboys Sign Free Agent Safety George Iloka
The Dallas Cowboys have reached a one-year agreement with Safety George Iloka, according to ESPN's Todd Archer. Iloka spent 2018 with the Vikings after six years with the Bengals.
He's started 79 of his 99 career games since being a fifth-round pick by Cincinnati in 2012. Iloka turns 29 years old next week.
The Cowboys have agreed to a one-year deal with safety George Iloka, according to a source. Iloka met with the Cowboys on Friday and was the third safety to meet with the club during the week along with Clayton Geathers and Eric Berry. The Cowboys have... https://t.co/JB5nJLWepc
This isn't the safety that most Cowboys fans wanted. After over a year of pining for Earl Thomas, sights turned to Eric Berry after his free agent visit in Dallas last week.
However, it makes sense that Iloka would be attractive to the Cowboys. At 6'4" and 225 lbs, he fits the physical mold of what Defensive Backs Coach Kris Richard likes in his players. He also is younger than than Berry and Thomas without the same recent injury issues.
Iloka becomes one of many Boise St. products on Dallas' roster, joining Tyrone Crawford, DeMarcus Lawrence, Leighton Vander Esch, and others. He entered the league with college teammates Crawford and Kellen Moore, the Cowboys' new offensive coordinator, in 2012.
We'll have to wait and see how George Iloka fits into the current mix at safety with Jeff Heath and Xavier Woods. He spent most of 2018 as a backup with Minnesota, but Dallas will likely give him a chance to start.
What to Expect from Dallas Cowboys Wide Receiver Group in 2019
In a span of a week, the Dallas Cowboys have solidified their wide receiver group with the resigning of Tavon Austin to a one year deal and the signing of former Green Bay Packers Wide Receiver Randall Cobb. Despite the loss of Cole Beasley, the Cowboys have a created a really good group of receivers for Quarterback Dak Prescott to throw to.
Cobb joins a really nice group of players that includes incumbent starters on the outside in Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup as well as solid depth players in Austin, Allen Hurns, and Noah Brown. Throw in Cedric Wilson, the Dallas Cowboys sixth round pick from the 2018 NFL Draft and the Cowboys may have one of the deeper receiving corps in the NFL.
The question is, how will the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff delineate the roles?
Let's take a look.
As I mentioned before, the Dallas Cowboys are returning their top two options on the outside in Amari Cooper, who is the X wide receiver and Michael Gallup, the Z receiver. Both players will go into week one as the starters at their respective positions in two-wide receiver formations.
Despite some of the overthrows from Dak Prescott to Michael Gallup, Gallup had a really nice rookie season and got better as the year went along, even leading the Cowboys in receiving in the playoff loss to the Los Angeles Rams. In that game, Gallup recorded the first 100 yard game of his career. Sure, it was in an attempt to comeback by the Dallas Cowboys, but it is impressive nonetheless. His touchdown catch against the Seattle Seahawks the week before was clutch. The Cowboys needed that to take the lead at the end of the first half. 2018 was only the beginning for Michael Gallup. He showed an ability to win with a full offseason to work with Dak Prescott, their chemistry and connection should only improve.
As for Cooper, his presence was felt right away as the offense just looked different once he stepped on the field. It's no coincidence that Dak Prescott's two best career games in terms of passing yardage came with Cooper in 2018. He's such a threat that he opens up space for the rest of the wide receiver group. His route running, speed, ability to run after the catch make him a threat to score any time he's targeted.
Behind Cooper and Gallup, you have options in the event that one of them gets hurt. Allen Hurns, Tavon Austin, and Noah Brown are all players who took snaps on the outside for the Dallas Cowboys in 2018 and did so with effectiveness. Hurns best game of the year came just before the Cooper deal was made as he went for five receptions for 75 yards.
Tavon provided down field speed on several occasions and provides some gadget quality that the Dallas Cowboys love to have. Noah Brown is a player that the Dallas Cowboys love to deploy as a blocker in the running game. While it looked like he might get more run in the passing game in 2019, the depth additions will limit him again to a specialty role. If needed, though, he could be an option to take snaps on the outside as his big frame allows him to box out defensive backs down the field.
There will be snaps on the outside for someone when the Cowboys go to 11 personnel, because of Amari Cooper's ability to slide into the slot.
Obviously, the writing is on the wall with who the Dallas Cowboys are planning on deploying in the slot as things stand right now, and that's Randall Cobb.
While Cobb should be penciled in as the starter in the slot, I doubt that he's going to get 100% of the snaps there in 11 or 10 personnel groupings. Amari Cooper, Allen Hurns, Tavon Austin, Noah Brown, and Cedric Wilson could all push for playing time from the slot.
Last month, I wrote a piece about Allen Hurns and his effectiveness in the slot and why the Cowboys should feature him there. With Cobb coming off an injury laden season, the Cowboys would be wise to give some snaps to Hurns along with Tavon Austin.
In Jacksonville, Hurns was incredibly effective from the slot running posts, slants, and ins and outs. His size and route running made him an effective mismatch against linebackers, safeties, and cornerbacks alike. Remember, it wasn't long ago that Hurns had a 1,000 yard season with Blake Bortles at the helm.
Tavon Austin's quickness is an asset that could be very effective in the slot as well. Though he lacks size, he's a player that opposing defenses have to account for because of his ability to make big plays once the ball's in his hands.
✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭
The Cowboys haven't been shy about carrying seven wide receivers on their 53-man rosters and it's possible, though unlikely that they could do it again in 2018. As things stand now, I see Noah Brown and Cedric Wilson as the potential odd men out. Of course, this could all get reshuffled if the Dallas Cowboys use a top 100 pick on a wide receiver in the draft.
With Amari Cooper, Allen Hurns, Tavon Austin, and Randall Cobb only under contract through the 2019 season, the Dallas Cowboys would be wise to invest at the position despite the strength of the position in 2019.
Report: Dallas Cowboys Set to Meet with Safety George Iloka
As the Dallas Cowboys continue the process of building a roster capable of taking them back to the playoffs, and hopefully to a Super Bowl, this next season, they’re bringing in another safety to try and strengthen their top 10 defense. This time it’s free agent safety George Iloka, formerly of the Minnesota Vikings.
Per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Dallas Cowboys are set to meet with
The #Cowboys are hosting former #Vikings and #Bengals safety George Iloka for a visit tomorrow, source said. They're still looking to add in the secondary.
It will be the third meeting this week that they’ve had with a veteran safety after hosting recently resigned Indianapolis’s colts Safety Clayton Geathers and former Kansas City Chiefs Safety Eric Berry.
The Cowboys feel really good about Xavier Woods at safety, but definitely could use some depth at the position as they head toward the 2019 NFL Draft.
Iloka is coming off a season where he was relegated to a reserve role for the Vikings. In five of the last six seasons, Iloka’s played all 16 games, and the one season he didn’t, he played 12. He has nine career interceptions, and has three seasons with more than 70 total tackles.
Back in August of last year, Brian Martin argued that the Dallas Cowboys should pursue Iloka after being released by the Cincinnati Bengals. He would play the strong or box safety role in the Cowboys defense if they were to come to an agreement.
Stay tuned for more Free Agency coverage from us here at InsideTheStar.com.
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