The Cowboys are continuing their strategy of shoring up roster needs prior to the 2017 NFL Draft. Today, Dallas signed sixth-year veteran safety Robert Blanton. He has previously been with the Bills and Vikings.
With holes at safety following the free agent departures of Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox, Dallas needed more experience at the position. Byron Jones is entrenched as a starter but behind him were only the semi-experienced Jeff Heath and even less seen Kavon Frazier.
Robert Blanton's signing with the Cowboys was first announced on Twitter by his agent:
Congratulations to @BlantonRobert on signing with the #DallasCowboys !
Blanton was a fifth-round pick by Minnesota in 2012. He became a full-time starter in 2014 and led the team in tackles, but then lost the job in 2015 to veteran Andrew Sendejo. A free agent last year, Blanton signed a one-year deal with Buffalo but suffered a season-ending foot injury in Week 11.
The Cowboys had Robert Blanton in a for a free agent visit on March 20th but did not sign him until now. Just a week out from the draft, it gives even more indication that Dallas may be focused on finding a defensive lineman and cornerback with their early draft picks.
Blanton has started 19 games in his NFL career, giving him a slight experience edge over Jeff Heath. In March, Stephen Jones said he was high on Heath but that the fifth-year safety would still have to compete for the starting role. Blanton will also be competitive, and at worst provides a veteran backup to supplement Kavon Frazier's lack of experience.
Cowboys TE James Hanna Retiring
In an unexpected bit of pre-draft news, Dallas Cowboys backup tight end James Hanna will be retiring after six seasons. He was drafted by the Cowboys in sixth round of the 2012 NFL Draft.
The news of Hanna's retirement was first reported by ESPN's Todd Archer:
The Cowboys will place James Hanna on the reserve/retired list as the tight end could not get over a serious knee condition that troubled him for most of the last two seasons, according to sources. Hanna was not involved in the early part of the team's... https://t.co/45BAZ2avSC
Hanna, who turns 29 in July, missed all of 2016 with that knee issue and has had two surgeries. He was active for all 16 games last season but wasn't used much on offense, only having four catches. James did catch his first and only NFL touchdown in the team's Week 4 loss to the Los Angeles Rams.
Many thought Hanna would be a salary cap casualty this offseason, but a retirement has the same effect on the cap. The Cowboys now save $2.75 million off his scheduled $3.5 mullion cap hit in 2018.
James Hanna has stuck around this long thanks to being a proficient blocker and one of the standout players on special teams. Geoff Swaim, entering the final year of his rookie deal, will likely be trusted to fill those roles.
That said, tight end was already a targeted position for the Cowboys in next week's draft. Losing Hanna only give the team more incentive to add more talent.
Optimistic Reports Emerge Around Randy Gregory
Good news are coming to Dallas just in time. Less than a week from now, the NFL Draft will be held in the Cowboys' home, the AT&T Stadium. But the team may count with a defensive talent many in Cowboys Nation have tried to forget for a while now. Randy Gregory's comeback may just happen.
There's a lot of positions in the roster that need more help than the defensive end one, but after finding the "War Daddy" Jerry Jones has always wanted in DeMarcus Lawrence, finding a RDE this offseason would be a dream scenario.
Sure, there's a lot of young talent in this football team and they'll be coming off a season that put a chip on their shoulders. Even so, they'll need all the help they can get.
Fortunately for the Cowboys, some help could come in form of a very talented pass rusher. Randy Gregory is reportedly applying for reinstatement very soon and according to Mike Fisher and Bobby Belt, there are positive reports around the situation.
Randy Gregory update: I'm told there is real momentum building. He is expected to apply for reinstatement in the week or two following next week's NFL Draft.
Cowboys Nation last saw the second round pick back in 2016, but his potential shouldn't be forgotten. Of course, the Cowboys shouldn't be considering Gregory for their 2018 plans, simply because there's risk of him not being available.
Even still, Dallas may get lucky at defensive end. After DeMarcus Lawrence has a breakout season in 2017, imagine the defensive line with Randy Gregory reinstated and rehabilitated to exploit his talent in the NFL.
UPDATE: We're told Randy Gregory camp is ready to present to NFL the fact the #Cowboys DE has passed a large number of drug tests, hasn't failed one since July 2016. https://t.co/Hjgu2CqRtC
Despite some TMZ "reports", it looks like Gregory has been clean for a while. It sure should make Cowboys' fans happy and not only form a football perspective. A comeback would definitely be something amazing. He has a chance to write a unique story for himself.
Everyone likes second-chance stories. Gregory is a guy who had his share of problems. By coming back to the NFL, he's showing players and fans that change is possible. This wouldn't just be epic for Dallas Cowboys fans but NFL fans in general.
If Dallas is fortunate enough to see Gregory reinstated by the NFL, their fight in the trenches might see a big upgrade next season. Randy still has a lot to work on and he might not even be a starter right away, but the potential is right there.
The Cowboys could become a team capable of dominating the line of scrimmage both on offense and on defense.
Hopefully, Gregory is able to come back and shine as a professional player. He, and NFL fans deserve a story like that.
BREAKING: Dallas Cowboys DT David Irving Reports to Voluntary Workouts
2018 gets better by the day as the NFL takes another step closer to the regular season with the beginning of team voluntary workouts. The Dallas Cowboys have their first voluntary workout today at The Star.
Clarence Hill Jr. is reporting that Dallas Cowboys' restricted free agent Defensive Tackle David Irving has shown up for the first day of workouts.
Cowboys DT David Irving has yet to sign his rfa tender but he did show up for first day offseason program, per source, for those questioning his commitment
Irving who was second on the team in sacks for the Dallas Cowboys in 2018 with seven, while only playing in 8 games, hasn't yet signed his restricted free agent tender.
Todd Archer from ESPN is reporting that David Irving expects to sign his RFA tender after today's workout guaranteeing him the second round tender figure of $2.91 million for 2018.
David Irving is expected to sign his restricted free agent tender today after the first workouts of the Cowboys' offseason program. Irving, who had seven sacks in eight games last season, will make $2.91 million. He is scheduled to become an... https://t.co/2EcPJ71OOe
As someone with as much production as Irving has had in the last couple of years, it's a bit surprising that teams around the NFL haven't jumped on that kind of interior presence. Teams looking for a player of Irving's caliber can still extend an offer sheet for the defensive tackle's services, but would have to give Dallas their 2018 second round pick.
The Dallas Cowboys would have the option of matching any offer sheet that David Irving signs. Perhaps they've indicated their intention to do so, given Irving's presence at the first day of practice.
It was quite a gamble, as many around Cowboys Nation believed that a team would quickly exchange a second round pick for Irving, but no one has offered him a contract to sign him away from the Cowboys.
David Irving has received criticism for his consistency after the 2016 season, but really found a stride in 2017 until a concussion derailed him toward the end of the season.
It's a great sign for the Dallas Cowboys that he's shown up ready to work for the 2018 season. David Irving is absolutely an ascending player and the sky is the limit for this defense with him as a part of it.
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