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Cowboys WR Moves: Re-Signing Williams, Butler is Smart Business

Jess Haynie

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Dallas Cowboys Player Profile: WR #83 Terrance Williams 1

Many did not expect the Cowboys to re-sign receivers Terrance Williams or Brice Butler during this 2017 free agency. At the most, maybe you thought they'd bring back one of them. However, the Cowboys have taken the least expected route of all; both Butler and Williams are re-signed for next year's roster.

On Wednesday, the day before free agency opened, Brice Butler's return was announced. He got a one-year deal for $1.1 million and $300k guaranteed. This move appeared to be a low-cost insurance policy against Dallas not adding any other significant receivers this offseason.

Terrance Williams

WR Terrance Williams

Instead, it appears that the Butler signing may have been the leverage needed to force Terrance Williams to take a discount. The Williams news came about 48 hours after Butler. It also came in the wake of several other free agent receivers getting more lucrative contracts:

  • DeSean Jackson (Bucs) - $35 million, 3 years ($11.67M per year)
  • Kenny Britt (Browns) - $32 million, 4 years ($8M per year)
  • Terrelle Pryor (Washington) - $8 million, 1 year
  • Kenny Stills (Dolphins)) - $32 million, 4 years ($8M per year)
  • Robert Woods (Rams) - $39 million, 5 years ($7.8M per year)
  • Brandon Marshall (Giants) - $12 million, 2 years ($6M per year)
  • Torrey Smith (Eagles) - $15 milion, 3 years ($5M per year)

Coming in below all those other deals, Terrance Williams signed a four-year, $17 million contract to remain a Cowboy. It will pay him an average of $4.25M per season. The following breakdown of the guarantees was provided earlier today:

Aaron Wilson on Twitter

Terrance Williams Cowboys deal: $17M, $5M signing bonus, $9.5M gtd; salaries $1M (gtd), $3.5M (gtd), $3.5M, $4M; 2020 option year

Before free agency began, many were projecting that Williams would be competitive with those other listed receivers in the free agent market. We will never know what interest he did get from other teams.

Remember, even though free agency officially opened on Thursday, NFL teams could start talking to free agents on Tuesday. Were those days too quiet for Terrance Williams? Did he start to fear what his prospects were becoming as other receivers were being signed?

If Terrance was getting anxious, the Brice Butler re-signing couldn't have helped. Dallas now had at least covered themselves adequately in case Williams didn't come back. There's also been plenty of talk that the Cowboys might look at receivers in this year's draft.

We will never know how much Terrance really wanted to come back to Dallas. At the same time, we can't be sure how much the Cowboys really wanted him. Perhaps their own salary cap issues made a discounted return for Williams more of a necessary evil than an ideal situation.

In the end, Terrance Williams and Brice Butler are both back and at a total cost of less than $5 million for 2017. Here are two key reasons you shouldn't be disappointed by it.

Cowboys Headlines - Does Brice Butler Deserve A Bigger Offensive Role?

WR Brice Butler

Cowboys Still Have Flexibility

Even after these signings, Dallas can still consider other options at receiver. While they are probably done in free agency they shouldn't feel limited at all during the NFL Draft.

If the Cowboys draft a receiver who is ready to contribute now, they can release Butler for just a $300k dead money penalty. If the player they draft can serve as a kick returner, they could instead release Lucky Whitehead for virtually zero penalty.

Dallas has accomplished two critical strategic goals with these signings, covering themselves at the WR position while maintaining financial flexibility. If nothing else, they're bringing back the core of an offense that got you to 13-3 and a few plays from the NFC Championship Game. But if the opportunity to add more talent comes around, they will be free to take advantage of it.

Dez Bryant Salary Management

Making franchise WR money, Dez Bryant counts $17 million against the 2017 salary cap and $16.5 million each of the following two seasons. By keeping Terrance Williams at a low-cost and already having Cole Beasley making about the same money, Dallas has kept the rest of the receiver position cap-friendly to offset those big Bryant numbers.

What's more, the low-cost of bringing back Williams and Brice Butler helps Dallas avoid "breaking the glass" on restructuring Dez Bryant's deal. Because of some of Dez's red flags with age and injuries, it's not in the Cowboys' best interests to make any changes on his contract.

~ ~ ~

I know that this is the time of year that we get excited about fresh faces joining the roster. This is especially true when the previous faces weren't all that consistent or spectacular. Re-signing Terrance Williams and Brice Butler is far from the kind of "sexy" moves that fans look forward to during NFL free agency.

However, as we've explained here, they are the most practical and savvy moves that the Cowboys had at their disposal. They have preserved offensive continuity for their young quarterback and done the best things available for the team salary cap. These types of moves may not make big headlines in March, but they can help you win come September.



Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

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3 Comments
  • Travis Diggs

    Didn’t really expect them to resign both but I understand the move by keeping the core together I still think we should draft a WR because I don’t think Whitehead makes the team this year because his game is so limited.Maybe Andy Jones makes the team this year IDK but I do know We need another playmaker in the WR core

    • Jess Haynie

      I agree and I love how they left themselves open for just that possibility. As I said in the article, you can easily dump Butler or Whitehead depending on what you find in the draft.

      • Don

        I too was surprised that we resigned both and thought Williams would be gone. Hopefully what appeared to be lack of interest around the league for him is a wake up call and he steps up and becomes a consistent play maker. I thought Butler wasted several opportunities to come up big last season as well and thought he would have been a bigger threat than what we saw. Yes it’s a good move I suppose since the focus surely will be on defense.

Game Notes

Dallas Cowboys’ Path to Victory Over the Seattle Seahawks

John Williams

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Dallas Cowboys' Path to Victory Over the Seattle Seahawks

In every game, whether it's a sporting event or a board game there is a path -- and sometimes more than one -- to victory. For the Dallas Cowboys, it's no different. As they get set to face a Seattle Seahawks team that is 0-2 for the first time since 2015, they'll have to win in several areas to bring home the W.

After starting out 0-2 in 2015, the Seahawks finished the season with a 10-6 record and won their wild card game over the Minnesota Vikings before falling in the divisional round to the Carolina Panthers.

The Seahawks are one of those teams that you can get down, but can never count out. If the Dallas Cowboys want to come out on top in their trip to the Pacific Northwest, they are going to have to come ready to play.

In particular, these are the things that the Dallas Cowboys have to achieve to be the victors on Sunday.

Limit Big Plays

The Seattle Seahawks are a very interesting offensive case study. They have one of the better quarterbacks in the league, but have invested very little in trying to protect their most important asset.

They rely on Russell Wilson's improvisational ability and penchant for big plays.

In 2017, Wilson had a quarterback rating of 100.9 on attempts greater than 20 yards down the field, per Pro Football Focus. He threw the ball "deep" 91 times, completing 31 passes for 1,134 yards, 12 touchdowns and five interceptions. He had the most deep attempts in the league last season and tied with Alex Smith with the most touchdowns on deep attempts. Wilson's yardage was nearly 200 yards more than the next best in the NFL on deep passing.

Wilson's going to take some deep shots. If you watched the Monday Night Football game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Chicago Bears, you noticed that even though Wilson was getting battered, it didn't deter him from taking shots deep down the field. Sometimes into unfavorable coverages.

The secondary has an advantage over the Seattle Seahawks group of wide receivers, but they'll have to stay disciplined and not allow the big pass plays to beat them.

In a game where they were being dominated for more than three quarters, the Seahawks were able to hang around and had a chance at the end because of their penchant for big plays.

Don't get beat deep.

Wrangling Russell Wilson

The Seattle Seahawks have allowed the most sacks in the league through two weeks. They've allowed six in each of their first two games this season. The Dallas Cowboys are going to have opportunities to sack Russell Wilson this week.

They have to take advantage.

Like Cam Newton in week one, Russell Wilson is a very elusive quarterback. Not only is he really good at making plays with his legs, he can be difficult to bring down. The Dallas Cowboys will have to work to keep Wilson in the pocket and finish when they get an opportunity to bring him down. He's not a physical presence like Newton is, but he's slippery and has some of that Tony Romo elusiveness to him.

If the potential tackler doesn't get Wilson down on first contact, it could lead to big plays both through the air and on the ground. Wilson averages 33.6 yards per game on the ground in his career and 5.7 yards per attempt. In order to get off the field on third down, they're going to have to prevent Wilson from using his legs to pick up third downs.

Establishing the Pass to Set Up the Run

At this point in the Dallas Cowboys offensive approach, everyone in the world knows what the Dallas Cowboys want to do on offense. They want to run the ball.

The Dallas Cowboys did a great job using this knowledge to their advantage on the first series of the game against the New York Giants.

On the first play of the game, they used a Run-Pass Option, with a clear out to the flat by Tight End Geoff Swaim, and found Allen Hurns on a slant to set up a second and short. Then after picking up that second and short with a run by Ezekiel Elliott, they used a straight play action out of a two running back, one tight end set, and hit Tavon Austin for the 64 yard touchdown.

Dak's willingness to throw the ball deep on a couple other occasions helped open up the run. The deep ball has to be a threat in order to back defenses off the line of scrimmage and do what you do best: Run the Ball. If they aren't going to back off, then you have to keep throwing it until you hit the deep ball enough that it forces them to do so.

The Dallas Cowboys were able to run the ball pretty effectively for the rest of the game, even if they didn't hit a lot of big plays. With the New York Giants interior defensive line, it was going to be tough sledding anyway. Getting things going through the air, helped out immensely.

The Seattle Seahawks are going to try to do what everyone does; put the ball in Dak Prescott's hands. If they're going to win on Sunday, it's going to be because Prescott had another efficient game throwing the ball.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

This game sets up really well for the Dallas Cowboys to improve their record to 2-1 and keep pace with the upper tier teams in the NFC. Every win matters, but these NFC games matter even a bit more. No game in the NFL is a cakewalk and this game is no different. If the Dallas Cowboys aren't able to do the above, it could be a long day for America's Team. 



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Dallas Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys May Sit Atop NFC East for a While

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Ezekiel Elliott, Lions

If there's one thing we've learned in the past, it's that NFL seasons are unpredictable. Unknown factors, injuries and unexpected "breakout" players can shift the way we saw the league just a month ago, when we were still watching preseason games on TV. After two weeks of regular season action, Cowboys Nation might be surprised to see their Dallas Cowboys sitting on top of the NFC East, but that's precisely the case. Not only that, but they could remain division leaders for a while...

Now, let's not get carried away here. While the team might be on top right now, they're not even 2-0 and it's only week 3. The Cowboys' offense played well on week 2, but terribly on week 1. It's way too early to judge how this season will go based on what we've seen.

However, there is no denying that they seem to be in a very good position to remain the NFC East front runners in the coming weeks. The Cowboys had more reasons to celebrate last Sunday besides their victory over the New York Giants. Both the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins suffered losses in their respective games, giving Dallas the opportunity to control their destiny.

As previously mentioned, though, it's only week 3. But the team's next three opponents aren't as scary as they seemed prior to the season's start. Through two weeks of the NFL season, the Cowboys' next three opponents are winless, sharing a combined record of 0-6.

Dallas Cowboys May Sit Atop NFC East for a While

 

Starting by the Seattle Seahawks, who have been a dominant team in the NFL landscape for a few years now but that simply don't seem like a very threatening opponent right now. The main reason why is their weak offensive line, which I expect the Dallas Cowboys to exploit just like they did with the Panthers and Giants. Russel Wilson is a tougher guy to contain, being one of the best playmakers in the NFL right now, but I trust the defense to handle him. They've done such a good pressuring quarterbacks, I'll trust they will continue to do so.

Next in the calendar will be the Detroit Lions. Through two weeks, they've struggled more than we expected under the reigns of their new head coach, Matt Patricia. On week 1, Matt Stafford threw four interceptions in a game that was in control of the New York Jets all night long. But it's not the Lions' offense that I think the Cowboys will take advantage of, but their poor run defense. They gave up 169 yards on rushing against the Jets on week 1 and 190 last Sunday, when they faced the San Francisco 49ers.

Ezekiel Elliott will have that defense dreaming nightmares before their matchup in week 4.

Cowboys Headlines - Dallas Cowboys Vs Houston Texans: 5 Bold Predictions

Finally, on week 5, the Cowboys will face their in-state rival, the Houston Texans. Surprisingly, the Deshaun Watson-led team is 0-2 after facing the New England Patriots and the Tennessee Titans. This might be the team that hands the Cowboys their second loss of the season. They have a balanced offense that will pose no challenge for the Cowboys' defense, but this could be a dangerous game for the offense.

The Cowboys will rely on Ezekiel Elliott for this one as well. On the defensive side of the ball, Byron Jones and Chidobe Awuzie will have to replicate their success versus Odell Beckham, only this time they will be facing Deandre Hopkins, one of the best wide receivers in the league.

✭✭✭

Even though the Cowboys were terrible in Carolina when they opened their season, the defense has been looking so good that I don't doubt their ability to carry the team to victories for the time being. If the offense continues to improve, then this team might be able to take full advantage of the unexpected head start it got in the NFC East.

I can't say it enough; it's only week 3... but look out. It could take some time before the Cowboys give up that #1 spot in the division.

Tell me what you think about "Dallas Cowboys May Sit Atop NFC East for a While" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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Game Notes

#SEAvsDAL: Betting Preview, Trends, And Prediction

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Wishlist Christmas Edition: Seahawks @ Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys found a way to get their first win last Sunday, defeating the New York Giants from start to finish, 20-13.

Now at 1-1 and locked in a three way tie for 1st place in the NFC East, Dallas is looking to string together a few victories and create some early separation. Seattle is now sitting at 0-2, and while that's typically a hole teams cannot climb out of in the NFL, the Seahawks will be desperately fighting to avoid an 0-3 start.

The Seahawks opened up as 3 point home favorites against the Cowboys, with the over/under set at 44.5 points.

Dallas Cowboys

After an abysmal season opener against Carolina, the Cowboys came out firing against the Giants on Sunday night. Dallas led by as many as 17 points in the fourth quarter, and ended up holding on as the Giants made a late garbage-time run.

Dak Prescott looked as comfortable in the pocket as he as in weeks, finding Tavon Austin for a 64 yard touchdown pass on the opening drive. Ezekiel Elliott scored another rushing touchdown, and the Cowboys defense was straight up dominant.

Now, the Cowboys defensive line has another chance to increase their sack total against the Seahawks' weak offensive line. And you know DeMarcus Lawrence is salivating.

Dallas improved to 1-1 straight up and against the spread, covering the 3 point spread set by Vegas a week ago. Both Cowboys games have gone under thus far as well.

Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks fell to 0-2 on Monday night with a tough road loss to the Chicago Bears. Khalil Mack dominated the Seahawks offensive line, dictating protections and keeping Russell Wilson uncomfortable all night long.

The Seahawks haven't been able to get much of a run game going this season, despite their insistence upon doing so. Russell Wilson is their offense, and if the Cowboys can pressure him and force him into hero-ball throws, they should have success on Sunday. After all, this was the Bears recipe for success on Monday night.

Seattle is 0-2 straight up and 0-1-1 against the spread this season.

Trends

  • The score total has gone under 5 straight Cowboys' games.
  • Dallas is 2-4 against the spread their last six times playing at Seattle.
  • Seattle is 1-5 against the spread their last six games at home.
  • The under has hit 4 of the last 5 Cowboys/Seahawks games.

Prediction

While I've thought hard about picking the under for the third straight week (I'm 2-0 doing so), I'll pick the actual game for you guys this time. I think the Cowboys will get this road win and improve to 2-1 behind dominant defensive line play and a strong running game.

This match up favors Dallas in multiple ways and I expect them to take advantage of Seattle's weak spots.

I like the Cowboys +3 a lot this Sunday.



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