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I love Thanksgiving.
Stereotypical Thanksgivings involve the three F's: Food, Family, & Football. I'm fortunate enough that my experience on this national holiday involves that beautiful tripod, but if I'm being honest I feel like Thanksgiving gets ripped off a bit.
There are literally hundreds of Christmas movies... how many Thanksgiving movies are there?! Name one! I dare you!
I know of an incredible Thanksgiving movie. It revolves around Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade and a wide-eyed boy named Charlie. The two galavant around New York City while Charlie's mind is back at his prep school where he's being charged with damaging the headmaster's prized car (Spoiler Alert: Charlie merely witnessed the crime... but this movie is 24 years old so who's fault is this really?).
After the NYC adventure the Lieutenant Colonel (played by Al Pacino) and Charlie return to his school for his hearing. Al Pacino gives one of the finest speeches in cinematic history (which you can watch here) where he discusses integrity, courage, and overall boldness. Charlie is acquitted and Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade - upon initially hearing the news - lets out a "Hooah!" shortly before the crowd erupts. It is supremely epic.
This movie, particularly Al Pacino's speech near the end, summarizes the 2016 Dallas Cowboys season up to this point - Thanksgiving. In the face of many doubts, with twists and turns at every point, an unforeseen set of circumstances before them, despite zero recognition from afar... they have prevailed.
The Washington Redskins represent the chance for our "Hooah!" moment. This is our opportunity, in front of the entire world, to put an end to the silly narratives people come up with every week. This is a division rival, and it's the team that celebrated in our house during Week 17 last season as they marched towards the playoffs.
A win on Thanksgiving effectively eliminates the Redskins from NFC East title contention. Let's give that speech. Let's ruin their day. Let's eat some turkey. Welcome to my 5 Bold Predictions. Hooah!
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Ezekiel Elliott Eats Everything On His Way To A Career Day
There is no bigger rivalry in the NFL than Cowboys and Redskins on Thanksgiving. This is a historic matchup, and when you throw in the fact that uniform-wise it'll be Cowboys blues against Redskins whites this looks like something shot by the legendary Steve Sabol back in the day.
Rivalries are being ignited all across the football landscape this week. College football famously showcases games of this nature the weekend after Thanksgiving, games like Michigan versus The Ohio State.
Last year when the Buckeyes and Wolverines squared off (November 28th, 2015) Zeke carried the ball 30 times for 214 yards and 2 touchdowns for tOSU. We're ten games into Elliott's professional career and he has yet to break 200 yards; however, we're talking about a player who's celebration is literally eating playing on a day where gorging out is supremely glorified. Zeke is going to put the Skins to sleep like tryptophan with 200 yards.
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DeMarcus Lawrence Gets To Kirk Cousins Twice... Again
There wasn't a whole lot to be proud of when it came to the Dallas Cowboys in 2015, but one thing we hung our hat on was a big win in Washington on Monday Night Football.
One of the instrumental pieces to that big victory was Cowboys Defensive End DeMarcus Lawrence. He gave Kirk Cousins a hug-that-goes-to-the-ground twice that night, and considering DLaw didn't get to play when the Cowboys went to Washington in Week 2 due to his suspension... he's been itching for another opportunity to sack 'ol Kirky.
DeMarcus Lawrence strikes me as the type of fellow who eats his turkey and stuffing at the same time. He'll be doing that during this game when he munches on Mr. Cousins.
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Redskins RB Robert Kelley Fumbles And AT&T Stadium Chants "Cowgirls" As He Trots To The Sideline
So here's the thing about "trash talk." I have zero qualms with it, in fact I totally respect a well-crafted joke. If you're funny, you're funny. I'm good with that.
Washington Redskins running back Robert Kelley was asked on Tuesday if he knew much about the historic rivalry that is Cowboys/Redskins. Kelley, fully conscious and of normal brain function, responded that they hated "those Cowgirls." Yes, seriously.
Robert Kelley is a 24-year old man who plays professional football. He thought this was funny or clever or who knows what. The fact that Mr. Kelley thought that this was anything above a middle school-level insult is honestly shocking and makes me sad for the human race.
The most clever Washington Redskin there is, Robert Kelley, is going to fumble on Thanksgiving, and he's going to learn even more about this rivalry when he trots back to the bench. You see long ago when former Redskins QB Joe Theismann threw an interception at Texas Stadium on his birthday, the Cowboys faithful greeted him with a gleeful rendition of "Happy Birthday" on his miserable trot to the sidelines.
Welcome to the rivalry, Robert.
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Both Jason Garrett And Jay Gruden Go For Crucial 4th Downs
The longest-tenured Head Coaches in the NFL's most storied division will be standing on opposite sidelines when the toe meets the ball at AT&T Stadium this Thanksgiving.
Jason Garrett and Jay Gruden are not only the longest-tenured coaches in the NFC East, they're the only two who have won the division before. Plus these are two guys that aren't afraid to take a risk now and then.
We've seen both Garrett and Gruden attempt, and succeed, to convert critical 4th Downs when games have been on the line this season. This is unquestionably the biggest game of the season for both teams, and the Head Coaches are going to act like it. We'll see them both get a little frisky before it's all said and done.
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Ezekiel Elliott Hurdles Josh Norman
I realize that we already have a Bold Prediction centered around Zeke, but in the spirit of Thanksgiving/Zeke we're serving seconds! Hooah!
Look, the worst game of Zeke's short NFL career happened in Washington. He lost the ball twice and looked to have let the pressure of the game take over him. Zeke was even benched for former Redskin Alfred Morris who had to ice the game for the Cowboys.
Perhaps the lowest moment in that game for Zeke was when Josh Norman went Peanut Tillman on him and punched the football out for a fumble. Since then we've watched Zeke eat everything and destroy everyone... Norman is next.
Zeke is going to hit the open field, scan around, see Norman, and get airborne. It'll be one of the rare moments of the game that brings us to our feet - we're gonna be weighed down with turkey after all - and Norman will find a way to blame it on Robert Kelley.
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Bonus Bold Prediction #1
Remember, if you want YOUR Bold Prediction featured here, tweet it at me! It’s that simple! Here are this week’s contributions, thanks to all those who shared!
We have a bold prediction for @rjochoa this week! The winner of the Cowboys Thanksgiving game will win by at least 17 points. #DallasCowboys
Upon Further Review is hosted by my fellow Staff Writer Sean Martin, and he's a smart cookie. The Cowboys have only won one game by this wide of a margin (Cleveland) and the Redskins have lost just as many (Pittsburgh). The final score when they squared off in Week 2 was 27-23... I like the optimism, it just doesn't seem likely.
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Bonus Bold Prediction #2
This is a Disney movie that's pretty far off from coming true at this point. We're in a post-Romo world. This is "A.D." time - After Dak.
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Bonus Bold Prediction #3
@rjochoa @InsideTheStarDC My bold prediction is that the vaunted Redskins D will limit Elliott to less than 200 yards rushing. #FEEDZEKE
This bold prediction directly contradicts mine, so someone here is going to be right! I'd hardly describe the Redskins Run Defense as vaunted considering they've given up the 11th most yards with only the 25th most carries against them. Eat Zeke, eat.
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Bonus Bold Prediction #4
@rjochoa bold predictions: Alfred Morris scores against the skins and zeke has a huge day that leads to player of game turkey day honors
Chase is buying what we're selling as far as Zeke having a big game, and I like the Alfred Morris call! As we mentioned earlier, The Butler did have a touchdown when he visited his former team with his new/better one. Revenge game!
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Bonus Bold Prediction #5
@rjochoa Kirk will go deep often vs DAL and you just know it's happening: 1st pick for Byron onthanksgiving vs Redskins. ✭ #BOLDPrediction
I love this, and it pains me that I love it.
We've called for Byron Jones' first career interception week after week. I want it. I need it. MAKE IT A THANKSGIVING MIRACLE!
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Bonus Bold Prediction #6
Donny and I usually park our cars in the same garage when it comes to these Bold Predictions, and sure enough we are in sync again.
Zeke is getting 200. Book it.
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Bonus Bold Prediction #7
@rjochoa my prediction Jeff Heath will have a int.. Morris will have a TD
Jeff Heath is the greatest football player in the history of the universe. He had two interceptions when the Cowboys traveled to Tampa Bay last season. If mere mortals can have one, Heath will of course do it. Additionally, the Alfred TD is obviously a popular opinion this week. It's also happening.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving one and all, Hooah to you and yours! Go Cowboys!
Terrance Williams Was OK, But Cowboys Need More From Michael Gallup
Just yesterday, the Dallas Cowboys declined an option on Wide Receiver Terrance Williams' contract and ended his six-year tenure with the team. One reason the veteran was no longer in their plans was the presence of Michael Gallup, who the team has high hopes for entering just his second NFL season.
It's interesting to compare Gallup and Williams on several levels. Just as Terrance's time ends, having only made a few appearance last year in just three games, Michael was a fast learner as a rookie and emerged as the team's number-two receiver by the playoffs.
Both were third-round picks, with Williams (74th) being selected just seven spots higher overall in 2013 than Gallup (81st) was in 2018.
Terrance came to Dallas when Dez Bryant was firmly entrenched as the team's primary receiver. Michael was drafted less than a month after Dez was released, but Amari Cooper soon established himself as the number-one WR midway through the year.
In both cases, the Cowboys hoped that their third-round selection would yield a player who could at least play a complimentary role as a solid roleplayer, if not regular starter.
For all his warts Terrance Williams was ultimately a solid draft pick. He started in about 75% of the games he played in and was a proficient run blocker, helping both DeMarco Murray and Ezekiel Elliott have big years. He also made some highlight reel catches in his time.
But with those big plays came some big blunders. Terrance often had a bad drop for every good catch he made. A huge mental error may have cost Dallas the 2016 season opener against the Giants. And if the team wasn't already starting to turn on him, his 2018 arrest for public intoxication seemed to push them over the edge.
That said, the biggest issue with Williams was his inability to produce without other plays drawing attention. He didn't rise to the occasion when Dez Bryant was injured. He rarely even made defenses pay for giving Dez too much attention.
At his best, Terrance was a solid number-two receiver. Plenty of teams who've spent first-round picks on receivers wish they could they'd gotten as much in return. Nobody should be disappointed with how that 2013 third-round pick turned out.
But when it comes to Michael Gallup, Dallas should hope that Williams' career is the floor for Gallup's potential. As teams key on Amari Cooper going forward, can Gallup do damage in ways that Terrance rarely could?
Even more importantly, if Cooper were to ever get injured, could Michael step up and take on a larger role? Can Dallas finally have a number-two receiver with the capacity for occasionally taking the lead?
That may be putting too much pressure on young Mr. Gallup but it's really not an unfair expectation. Recent drafts have produced highly productive third-round receivers such as Keenan Allen, Cooper Kupp, Kenny Golladay, and Tyler Lockett.
Even more pressure comes if Cole Beasley leaves the team in free agency. While his role lessened toward the end of 2018, Cole remained one of Dak Prescott's favorite options in clutch situations. He was almost impossible to stop with just one man covering him, and that gave defenses a real dilemma once Amari Cooper arrived.
Can Gallup fill those shoes? Can he become a reliable target when the game is on the line?
In the end, all Michael has to do is be a solid starter to provide a great value for his draft selection. The Williams standard isn't a bad measure.
But if the Cowboys ever want to win more than just the occasional playoff game then they need another receiving threat who truly punishes opposing defenses. They need the next Alvin Harper, not the next Terrance Williams.
We can only hope, as the team does, that Michael Gallup is up to the task.
Deep Dive into the Dallas Cowboys 2019 Salary Cap
The Dallas Cowboys are heading into free agency, which opens March 13th, in really good shape. The Cowboys will be able to be aggressive in the free agent market if they want to. They have the 10th most cap space in the NFL. It could make for a fun free agency period for the front office and Cowboys Nation, however, we know how this team has felt about spending on outside free agents since being burned by the Brandon Carr signing.
In years past, they’ve opted to bargain shop. Last year was a departure from the norm though, as they chased the mythical unicorn that is Sammy Watkins last offseason.
Sometimes the best deals are the ones you don’t make.
They haven’t generally been a team that chased big-time free agents, though this could be the season that all changes with several free agent safeties that could be immediate upgrades.
We know they’re going to spend a lot of money on their own with Demarcus Lawrence coming free and Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott, and Dak Prescott looking for contract extensions, but they’re could Ben opportunities to bring in a star from another player to come where The Star.
I hope Jerry Jones has his signing hand ready, it’s going to be putting in a lot of work over the next couple of months.
For the last couple of weeks, I’ve had people on Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, Google+, MySpace, AOL Chatrooms, and via USPS correspondence express concern about whether the Dallas Cowboys will be able to afford all their guys and chase free agents.
Not to worry Cowboys fan, with a little salary cap and contract gymnastics, the sky’s the limit.
Let’s take a look.
Current Cap Space
According to OverTheCap.com, the 2019 Salary Cap is estimated to be around $190 million. After the release of Terrance Williams, the Dallas Cowboys are expected to have nearly $48 million in cap space available to them when free agency opens on March 13th.
When you look at that number by itself, it doesn’t look like a lot with big money contracts coming to DeMarcus Lawrence, Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott, and Byron Jones. Remember, though, the salary cap may be a fixed number, but contracts are pliable, meaning the team can do several things to create cap space through releases, how they structure new contracts, and restructures.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, the Dallas Cowboys will have the money they need to sign the players they want to sign.
Sean Lee, Linebacker
Age and injury catch up to everyone and this is where we are with All-Pro Linebacker Sean Lee who will be turning 33 in July. Lee’s career has just been unlucky from the time he set foot in Dallas.
Since coming to the Cowboys in the 2010 draft, Lee has only played in 64% of the possible 149 games that the Dallas Cowboys have played in that time frame. Contrast that with a player like Zack Martin who has played in all but two games in his five-year career. That’s a 92% availability rate for his career.
The Dallas Cowboys don’t typically pay age. The difficult choice with Lee is that he’s long been a leader for the Dallas Cowboys. However, with the emergence of Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch, it’s extremely difficult to justify a $7 million cap hit to a part-time player.
Allen Hurns, Wide Receiver
Allen Hurns was a roller coaster ride in 2018.
First, it appeared he was brought in to be an upgrade at the number two spot. Then when the Cowboys shocked the world and released Dez Bryant, he immediately moved up the wide receiver pecking order, but was generally ineffective. After the Cowboys acquired Amari Cooper, Hurns became somewhat of an afterthought in the wide receiver snap distribution. Then he was lost in the win over the Seattle Seahawks with a gruesome ankle injury.
Allen Hurns is a fine player, but the Cowboys could get $5 million in cap relief by parting ways with the former 1,000 yard receiver.
A couple weeks ago, I outlined why I think Hurns could be a solution to the problem facing the Cowboys if Cole Beasley walked away. Hurns best attributes shine when deployed in the slot and asked to run over the middle of the field.
Coming off of the ankle injury, the Cowboys could easily move on and use that $5 million to extend one of their own or go after a big name in free agency.
Unlikely, but not Impossible Releases
The next few players are players that will most likely be on the squad in 2019. But as we saw with Dez Bryant, there can always be surprises.
Joe Looney, Center
The 2018 season seemed almost sunk when news came down that Center Travis Frederick was diagnosed with Guillen-Barre Syndrome during training camp. One of the stories of the 2018 season, was the play of Frederick’s backup Joe Looney. Looney may not have been the most valuable player, but you can’t understate how important he wasn’t to the success the Dallas Cowboys had in 2018.
We’ve seen what happens when backups who are incredibly inferior to the starter they play behind see action. Think back to Atlanta in 2017. If the Cowboys get better play from Chaz Green and Byron Bell, that game and perhaps the season turns out differently. Kind of like when Cameron Fleming filled in for Tyron Smith this season. It was a completely different result. Was Fleming perfect? No, but he wasn’t a disaster and the Cowboys were able to win games without their All-Pro left tackle.
Joe Looney is going to be with this team unless someone loses their center and wants to trade for him. In the event the Cowboys wanted to get some cap relief, they could save $1.5 million in 2019, with only $125 thousand in dead money on the cap.
I don’t see them making this move, but for those of you curious, there are the numbers.
Joe Thomas, Linebacker
Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch got all the glory at the linebacker position in 2018, and for good reason, but Joe Thomas was an important piece to the puzzle as well. He provided excellent depth and a lot of good snaps for the Cowboys in 2018, which is why I think he’s back next year.
He only saves you about $2 million on the cap, but if you didn’t want to pay a backup linebacker $2 million, then you could part ways with him.
Jeff Heath, Safety
Jeff Heath is a solid player, but gets relied upon for a little more than he should. He’d probably be best served with being a rotational safety in the NFL. He has a penchant for making plays, but also has some maddening snaps as well, like the final play against the Rams where Jared Goff was able to scramble for a first down. Heath never saw the bootleg and was late getting to Goff to keep him from picking up the first down.
The Dallas Cowboys like him as a player and he’s likely to stay with the team. He helps on special teams and provides valuable depth.
If they were to move on, they could save $2.5 million.
La’el Collins, Tackle
It’s not often you hear people talk about releasing a starting tackle, and I’m certainly not here to advocate for that.
Collins has had some up and down games, but in his short two-year stint at right tackle he’s been pretty good. He’s stood tall against some of the best pass rushers in the NFL.
His contract will carry him through the 2019 season, but if the Dallas Cowboys wanted to part ways, again, not saying they should, they could save a whopping $8.5 million in the salary cap.
$8.5 million could be the cost of Earl a Thomas or a Tre Boston. That’s pretty big chunk of change.
When it comes to restructures, the Dallas Cowboys have been selective over recent years with who they choose to flip the switch on.
A restructure doesn’t change the money owed to the player, just changes when the pay out happens. When a team and a player agree to a restructure, the cap hit or base salary is lowered to a more manageable amount and the difference is paid out as a bonus. The bonus is then spread out evenly over the remaining years of the contract.
Player A has four years remaining on their deal with a cap hit of $16 million per year for the rest of the contract. The team and player A agree to restructure the contract to decrease this season’s base salary to $1 million dollars. The $15 million difference is then paid out as a bonus and then the cap hit is added to the final three years. So instead of the cap hit being $16 million per year for the remainder of the contract, it is now $21 million per year.
The problem with restructuring contracts is that you better hope that the players you restructure make it to the end of their contract otherwise you could end up with big dead money holds on your cap.
The Dallas Cowboys could restructure the following players:
Tyron Smith, Tackle
The Dallas Cowboys All-Pro Left Tackle may be the best draft pick they’ve made in the last 10 years. He’s been one of the best in the game at his position for nearly his entire NFL career and until recent seasons, had been incredibly reliable.
According to Over The Cap, if the Cowboys decided to restructure Smith’s contract, they could get $7.26 million added to the salary cap this season.
That’s a big number, which would help you get your hands on a top safety or defensive lineman in free agency. The reasons why you wouldn’t do it surround Tyron’s health.
He’s missed games each of the last three seasons because of back issues. He’s signed through the 2023 season, which is his age 33 season. It’s entirely possible that he continues to play at a high level through the end of the contract, but you’ll always be a bit concerned about his back.
Zack Martin, Guard
If Tyron was the best draft pick, Zack Martin is a close second. He’s been the definition of reliability as he’s provided elite guard play through the first five years of his career making the All-Pro team each of his first five seasons.
If I were managing the cap for the Dallas Cowboys, it would be a no brainer to restructure Martin who is signed through the 2024 season; his age 34 season. Offensive lineman can play at a high level well into their 30’s barring injury and Zack has the ability to be one of those guys. At his current pace, he could one day end up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
By restructuring Martin, the Dallas Cowboys could save $7.36 million on the 2019 salary cap.
Travis Frederick, Center
Last summer was a scary situation for Travis Frederick and by all accounts his recovery is going well. It sounds like he should be ready to go by training camp, and if that’s the case, there’s no reason to believe that Frederick won’t be the player we’ve all come to expect and missed during the 2018 season.
He’s a leader on the offensive line. He’s an excellent communicator and really good at blocking other big humans.
Getting Frederick back for the 2019 season is as big of an upgrade as you could have on an offense. He changes everything. He helps set protections and call out stunts. He will make Conor Williams a better guard just by being present. The offense as a whole will be better by having Frederick available.
Like Smith and Martin, there’s no reason to believe that he won’t play out his current contract at a high level. Even if he’s only 75% of his previous self because of the illness, that’s still a really good football player who is worth every bit of the $10 million a year he’s getting paid.
Travis Frederick has five more years left on his contract. If the Cowboys were to restructure his deal, they could gain another $4.1 million in cap relief this offseason.
Tyrone Crawford, Defensive Line
If ever there was a player that was a victim of his contract it’s Tyrone Crawford. The Dallas Cowboys signed him to an extension thinking he would be the answer at the 3-technique defensive tackle spot. He was good on his rookie deal but his contract was more of a projection than a deal based on prior production.
Unfortunately, Crawford hasn’t lived up to his deal, but he’s been a reliable and versatile player for the Dallas Cowboys. His ability to play both at defensive end and defensive tackle has been huge over the years and he’s come up with some timely defensive plays.
Crawford has two years remaining on his contract that runs through the 2020 season and it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Cowboys keep him around. He’s a leader on the defense and he gives you good quality snaps. As they continue to wait for Randy Gregory and/or Taco Charlton to take steps forward, Crawford is a guy that they like and will continue to find snaps for.
If the Cowboys restructured Crawford’s contract, they could get a little over $3 million in cap savings this year. $3 million may not sound like a lot, but in combination with the other moves they could make with the cap, it can help. Every bit helps when constructing a roster. That money could go to paying for the 2019 draft class.
The Dallas Cowboys front office has a lot of decisions to make this offseason and several of them will be in the form of extensions for their own players. They’ll have to figure out a way to use the contracts to their advantage.
If they did everything that could be an option to them, they could create another $48.22 million in space in the salary cap. If they didn’t release any of the “unlikely releases,” they could still free up another $33.72 million by releasing Lee and Hurns and restructuring Smith, Martin, Frederick, and Crawford.
So, they’ll be going into the offseason with at least $48 million in cap space, but through a few moves could have as much as $81-$96.22 million in cap space when it’s all said and done.
None of this even accounts for the way the Cowboys could structure the contracts of Elliott, Dak, Cooper, Lawrence, and Byron Jones. With some smart salary structuring, they won’t necessarily have to eat much of their cap hits in year one of their new contracts.
Don’t worry Cowboys fans. The Cowboys will be able to create enough money to get the things done that they want to get done. If they don’t sign anyone of note in free agency or extend your favorite player, it won’t be because they couldn’t afford to.
It’ll be because they didn’t want to.
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.
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