It's here! It's here! It's here! The NFL 2015 Schedule is FINALLY upon us! Let's take a look at all of our matchups, how we've done against them most recently, and how we think we're going to do against them this year.
Week 1: Giants - September 13th @ 7:30pm CST on NBC
I’ve been waiting all February, March and April long for Sunday Night Football!
The New York Football Giants will be in town and on prime time as the Dallas Cowboys open the 2015 season. It’s no surprise to find the Cowboys on NBC’s Sunday Night Football; this will be the fifth time in the last ten seasons that the Cowboys begin their season in that time slot.
Last time we met…
The Cowboys and Giants last squared off at AT&T Stadium on October 19th, 2014. Gavin Escobar had a break-out day and snagged two TDs from Romo as the Cowboys cruised to a 31-21 win.
The Cowboys and Giants duo is no stranger to the Carrie Underwood anthem. They hit the field at Texas Stadium back in a 2007 season that began Romo’s first full year as the starter, and the Cowboys handled them 45-35.
In a rematch six years later - this time at Cowboys Stadium - the Cowboys rode six turnovers to a 36-31 win. Even though Odell Beckham Jr. might catch 10 amazing balls over Brandon Carr, I think the Cowboys’ offense will be too much for the “rebuilt” Giants secondary. 34-24, Cowboys.
Week 2: At Eagles - September 20th @ 3:25pm CST on Fox
Get ready for the barrage of DeMarco Murray talk. It will be EVERYWHERE.
This game is on September 20th, which is approximately five months from the time of my writing this, so Chip Kelly will probably have executed 48 more trades and signed 83 new quarterbacks. This will undoubtedly be Fox’s America’s Game of the Week and will feature the always dreadful combo of Troy and Buck on the call.
Last time we met…
The last time that the Dallas Cowboys traveled to Philadelphia (December 14th, 2014), a lot hung in the balance.
Two weeks prior the Eagles thumped the Cowboys on Thanksgiving, and seven days after that the Cowboys traveled to Chicago for a nice Bears beat down. It was very obvious that the winner of that game would take an extreme advantage for the division crown into the final stretch of the season.
The Cowboys jumped out to a 21-0 lead, survived 24 straight points from Philly, and found a way to put the game away, winning it 38-27.
The Eagles will have a shorter week than the Cowboys as they play the Atlanta Falcons on Monday Night to start the season. There is a lot of media drama that is contingent on that game. Should there be no cohesion between all of Chip’s new toys, it’ll be a rough week for the former Duck Commander.
The Cowboys will know how important two straight division games are to start the year, and as last year’s 8-0 road warriors they should have no problem going into Philadelphia and getting the win. 30-16, Cowboys.
Week 3: Falcons - September 27th @ 12:00pm CST on Fox
Back to back birds. The Cowboys will come home from Philly only to play the team that the Eagles played to start the year, Atlanta.
Matt Ryan & Co. have had a difficult past two seasons. The change at head coach to Dan Quinn and the health of Julio Jones/Roddy White will most likely make them a better team. Justin Durant will be facing his former team and he’ll want to make a statement.
Last time we met…
The Cowboys most recently played the Falcons on November 4th, 2012 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. The Falcons were undefeated at the time and, while the Cowboys looked to break that streak, they ultimately fell short near the end by a score of 19-13.
Julio Jones scares me. Roddy White does not. Orlando Scandrick has really come on and, while he’s currently not reporting to voluntary workouts, he’s a very strong leader on this team. He’ll take away Julio to some degree and Atlanta will be forced to rely on an aging Roddy White.
Dez will be empowered by the Julio talk and have a great game. Cowboys improve to 3-0 by a margin of 24-10.
Week 4: At Saints - October 4th @ 7:30pm CST on NBC
I hope you like crawfish because the first game in October features the Cowboys heading down to the Bayou!
Sunday Night Football against the Saints is starting to feel like home. It seems like these two teams always meet in such a contest and it’s always a touchdown palooza.
Last time we met…
The ‘Boys last played Payton & Brees on a Sunday Night back in Week 4 (September 28th, 2014) of the 2014 NFL season. It wasn’t close as the Cowboys got off to a super hot start and rode the wheels of DeMarco Murray to a 38-17 victory.
While Dallas’ last appearance in the Superdome was one of the more embarrassing ones in franchise history, I think that this time will be different. Jimmy Graham is gone. Kenny Stills is gone. The Saints are going to be forced to depend on Mark Ingram and Marques Colston.
They struggled offensively last year and unless they get something huge in the draft, they won’t be who we’ve seen them be in seasons past. Cowboys win a shootout, 45-30.
Week 5: Patriots - October 11th @ 3:25pm CST on CBS
The World Champs are coming to town, and they’ll most likely be coming in 4-0 against an equally 4-0 Dallas Cowboys team.
This has actually happened before. The two teams faced off, each at 5-0, on October 14th, 2007 at Texas Stadium. They were the two hottest offenses in the league. Marion Barber had the most incredible 2-yard gain in NFL history and the Patriots trounced the Cowboys 48-27.
This will be Tom Brady’s first visit to AT&T Stadium and it’s going to be a huge battle on America’s Most Watched Network.
Last time we met…
America’s Team traveled to Gillette Stadium on October 16th, 2011 to take on the New England Patriots and in a rare occasion wore their Cowboy navy uniforms. It was a low scoring affair that saw the Patriots win, 20-16.
Look, these are the World Champs. They are coached by a future Hall of Famer. They are quarterbacked by a future Hall of Famer. More than anything they always find a way to win. Being completely realistic the Cowboys could drop this game, and in absolutely no shame, take their first loss of the season 28-24.
Week 6: Bye Week
Week 7: At Giants - October 25th @ 3:25pm CST on Fox
Raise your hand if you’re pumped to be finished with the Giants before November. Go ahead, raise it!
The Cowboys will travel to Met Life Stadium in what is always a great game against the G-Men. By Week 7 teams have started to find their groove so this will undoubtedly be one of those classic NFC East battles that we all know and love.
Last time we met…
The last time that this team traveled to the Meadowlands, Brandon Carr was a part of a highlight that would live on forever in NFL history.
On a Sunday Night affair, Odell Beckham Jr. introduced himself to Mr. Car - and to the rest of the world - with his ridiculous one-handed catch. As great as that was, it wasn’t enough.
Romo led the Cowboys on an incredible game winning drive, that featured a final play in which he had no less than seven seconds to throw, and won 31-28.
Coach Garrett will have done quite a bit of studying after the New England loss and through the bye week. He and the staff understand how pivotal these division games can be, and what a luxury it would be to sweep the Giants before November.
In a strong defensive game, the Cowboys will establish themselves among the contenders and win 27-14.
Week 8: Seahawks - November 1st @ 3:25pm CST on Fox
Alas, another America’s Game of the Week. Troy and Buck will be oh so anxious to remind the world that the Cowboys stormed into Seattle last year (a game that Joe Buck did not call due to his World Series conflicts) for an impressive and season-defining win.
The Seahawks will be hungry and looking to dispel the theory that the Cowboys have their number.
Last time we met…
Do I really need to remind you? Seriously, if you don’t know then throw away your computer right now. The Cowboys took it hard to the - at the time - defending World Champion Seahawks in THEIR HOUSE on October 12th, 2014 by a score of 30-23.
The victory put the Cowboys on the NFL map as a team that was to be taken seriously, and a team that could run the ball on anyone.
As much as I would love to believe that we do have Seattle’s number and that they are a different team on the road, they play with a ferocity that is very rare in the NFL. They will be very focused and determined to wax the Cowboys.
Even though the offense will score on their famed Legion of Boom, Seattle will edge us out 28-21.
Week 9: Eagles - November 8th @ 7:30pm CST on NBC
Prepare yourself. The DeMarco Murray & Chip Kelly - and potentially Tim Tebow - train is rolling into town. The story lines will be everywhere.
DeMarco Murray returning to face his former team, Chip Kelly’s new toys and how they’re jiving together, and if Tim Tebow is the quarterback, God have mercy on us all.
Last time we met…
We last hosted the Philadelphia Eagles on Thanksgiving of 2014. It was a nightmare from start to finish as the Eagles steamrolled the Cowboys 33-10.
A lot of Cowboys fans like to give the team a pass on this game, as the players had a very short week. They played the Giants in New York on a Sunday night and had to turn around and play Philly less than four days later.
The Cowboys did very well on NBC’s Sunday Night Football last year, going 3-0. We’re a team that does well under the lights and the DeMarco Murray factor will help get the team hyped for the game. Cowboys win decisively 38-20.
Week 10: At Buccaneers - November 15th @ 12:00pm CST on Fox
This game will feature the Cowboys traveling to Tampa Bay to play what will - in all likelihood - be this year’s number one overall draft selection, Florida State’s Jameis Winston.
Tampa Bay’s Raymond James Stadium is one of the most iconic throughout the NFL, featuring a wooden ship that fires off cannons when the Bucs score. They go relatively unused...
Last time we met…
America’s Team hosted Greg Schiano’s version of the Buccaneers on September 23rd, 2012 at Cowboys Stadium. It was a sub par game in terms of excitement, although the Cowboys did win 16-10.
The biggest storyline surrounding this game was that Greg Schiano was one week off of his infamous attack-the-knee strategy against the New York Giants.
Assuming this team will be led by Jameis Winston, their offense isn’t exactly a pushover.
He’ll have huge targets in Mike Evans, Vincent Jackson and Austin Seferian-Jenkins to choose from. Let’s not forget that Gerald McCoy will be rushing Romo at will. I think this game will catch the Cowboys off guard and with the team coming off of a huge win against Philly, they might get lackadaisical and drop this one.
Tampa takes advantage of an emotionally spent Cowboys team, 24-21.
Week 11: At Dolphins - November 22nd @ 12:00pm CST on Fox
Back to back trips to the Sunshine State! The Cowboys will come home after a so-so performance in Tampa and begin preparation for Ndamukong Suh.
This game is also a rematch of Super Bowl VI (the first one that the Cowboys won) and a game against a former high-profile Texas high school quarterback, Ryan Tannehill.
Last time we met…
The last Super Bowl VI rematch happened on Thanksgiving 2011. It was a very different Dolphins team than we have today. Matt Moore hitting Brandon Marshall for a TD while Terrence Newman interfered with him is enough proof of that.
While the Dolphins weren’t an exceptional team in 2011, they gave the Cowboys a run for their money. In the end it wasn’t enough and the Cowboys beat them on a last second field goal (in Dan Bailey’s rookie year, I might add) to get the win 20-19.
This is the game before Thanksgiving. The Cowboys have made it a habit of making this game exciting. In 2011 they kicked a field goal (Dan Bailey the rookie again!) in overtime to beat the Redskins in Washington 27-14.
In 2012 they went to overtime again, this time at home against backup QB Brandon Weeden’s lowly Browns team, and Dan Bailey kicked us to a 23-20 victory.
2013 didn’t go to overtime, but it was a stressful finish as Tony Romo summoned all energy in New York and led a game winning drive that Dan Bailey finished to give us the 24-21 win.
2014 saw us in New York before Thanksgiving again - and Odell Beckham Jr. blow up again - but it was déjà vu as Tony Romo led an amazing fourth quarter comeback drive that he finished with a touchdown to Dez Bryant to seal the 31-28.
The Dolphins will be contenders in 2015 and, if history is any indicator, this will be a close Cowboys win decided by three points. Give me a 34-31 Cowboys win and stretchy pants to get ready for Thanksgiving!
Week 12: Panthers - November 26th @ 3:25pm CST on CBS
This will be the Carolina Panthers’ first appearance on Thanksgiving in their franchise’s history. It will be Cam Newton, Luke Kuechly and Kelvin Benjamin facing off against the Thanksgiving veterans.
It’s always great to get a bit of a throwback feel on Thanksgiving and see an NFC matchup on CBS. The navy Cowboys uniforms against the Panthers whites aren’t the greatest uniform matchup, but it’ll be a nice deviation from the norm.
Last time we met…
The last time we played the Panthers actually did feature Cowboys navy uniforms against their whites. It was October 21st, 2012 and a pretty snooze fest of a game. Ultimately the Cowboys won, with an awkward score, 19-14.
Two things stand out to me about this game:
- Morris Claiborne got his first career interception in this game. It was a tipped pass that sort of fell in his lap. Hopefully he can return to some sort of prominence in his 2015 campaign.
- I watched this game with some family and one person foolishly said that the Cowboys needed to trade Dez Bryant. Thank God we didn’t! Ha!
The Panthers will possess a high level of moxie as they step out under the Thanksgiving lights. The Cowboys will do all that they can to survive a short week, off of a big win in Miami.
Cam Newton is going to be a lot to contain, but Greg Hardy will be out to prove himself against his former team. The Cowboys have historically had a tough little window around this time of year and I think that they’ll drop this game. A game that Most will attribute to the short week syndrome.
Panthers take this one 27-17.
Week 13: At Redskins - December 7th @ 7:30pm CST on ESPN
DUN DUN DUN DUN! Monday. Night. FOOTBALL.
It’s always exciting to get under the Monday Night anthem and play some pigskin. As much as I can’t stand the Redskins, there is nothing like a prime time game there; it’s got that classic NFC East vibe to it and always makes for a great game.
Who knows what the status will be with their quarterback situation at the time? Will it be RGIII? Kirk Cousins? Colt McCoy? Or will they actually make a move for Marcus Mariota?
Last time we met…
The Cowboys traveled to FedEx Field (Who am I kidding, it’ll always be RFK) for the 2014 regular season finale. It was an exciting game that saw two Cowboys records broken.
- DeMarco Murray broke Emmitt Smith’s record for most yards rushed for in a single season and,
- Dez Bryant broke Terrell Owens’ record for most touchdown receptions in a single season.
The 44-17 victory marked the Cowboys 12th win of the regular season and their 8th on the road, giving them a perfect road record for 2014.
The Cowboys will have a nice little mini bye after Thanksgiving that will give them 11 full days of rest before they have to lace them up again.
They have shown that they have the ability to win on the road, and Washington has shown that they will always implode. The Cowboys will start December off on the right foot and get a nice win, 38-16.
Week 14: At Packers - December 13th @ 3:25pm CST on Fox
Lambeau Field. It is the holy grail of professional football.
This game has everything you could possibly want. Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson, Mike McCarthy, Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, Jason Garrett; and a rematch of one of the more exciting playoff games in recent memory.
This will challenge the record books as one of the most viewed games in history as its only competition for the day is a Broncos/Raiders matchup. Troy and Buck will be on the call and they’ll be talking about one thing all week… Dez Bryant’s catch (uh huh, I said catch).
Last time we met…
The Cowboys made the trek to the Frozen Tundra for last year’s Divisional Round of the Playoffs. While many gave the Packers a free pass to the NFC Championship game, the Cowboys would have none of it.
They withstood the injured Aaron Rodgers and were in line to put the game away before DeMarco Murray fumbled at the Cowboys 41 yard line early in the third quarter. The battle went back and forth and eventually saw the Packers take a 26-21 lead. Tony Romo mounted a comeback drive and on 4th and 2 from the Green Bay 32, launched a deep pass to the direction of Dez Bryant.
You all know what happened. An atrocious rule took precedence over what would have been one of the greater catches in NFL history, and the Packers booked their ticket to Seattle.
Dez Bryant will go off. I’m talking 200+ yards. He is going to be out to make a statement in this game. Yes, Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers will score some points; but Dez and the Cowboys are going to approach this game the way they approached Seattle in 2014.
It’s theirs and they’re going to take it in what will be one of the greater games of the 2015 NFL season, 45-41.
Week 15: Jets - December 19th @ 7:25pm CST on NFL Network
The Rex Ryan-less J-E-T-S will make their way to AT&T Stadium in one of the two Saturday night games of the 2015 season. These games are always so much fun as college football has reached a standstill so Saturdays are available for our perusal.
The Jets have a newly rebuffed secondary (Revis and Cromartie back for round two) that will be a big talk all week, but the Cowboys' win over Green Bay will be the bigger story as the Cowboys begin their run at securing a first round bye.
Last time we met…
These two teams last squared off on the ten-year anniversary of one of the greatest tragedies in American history, September 11th, 2011.
The Cowboys kicked off the Sunday Night Football game to begin the 2011 season in New York and the Ryan brothers (Rex and Rob) got a whole bunch of love. It was a really unorganized game for the Cowboys that saw some fourth quarter mistakes result in a 27-24 Jets win.
The Cowboys will have begun to catch fire by this point in the season. They will have the division and a first round bye well in sight and look to take advantage of a Jets team that has been fairly weak for the last few years.
It’ll be great to get this win locked up on a Saturday night and enjoy the Christmas decorations as Dem Boyz cruise to an easy 41-17 victory.
Week 16: At Bills - December 27th @ 12:00pm CST on Fox
You thought you dodged Rex Ryan when we played the Jets, didn’t you? Rex is going to talk his way all the way up to the sidelines all week-long before this matchup.
The Cowboys will have to face LeSean McCoy for the last time for four years (barring ANOTHER Cowboys and Bills Super Bowl in that time span) and all of Buffalo’s other offseason acquisitions: Percy Harvin, Charles Clay and Matt Cassel.
Last time we met…
The Cowboys and Bills squared off on November 13th, 2011 in a game that was never close. The Cowboys scored quick and early and often riding Laurent Robinson (two touchdowns that day) to an easy 44-7 win.
One of the more notable moments was when Bills receiver David Nelson caught a touchdown and handed the ball to his girlfriend Kelsi Reich… who was a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader! The story was everywhere and was a lot of fun.
The Cowboys last traveled to Orchard Park for a Monday Night game in early October of 2007. It was one of Tony Romo’s more memorable performances as he threw five interceptions and fumbled once… and still led the Cowboys to a 25-24 win.
There will most likely be some type of clinch scenario at this point (assuming I’m a prophet and everything that I’ve said comes true). The Cowboys will likely be able to clinch the division and/or a first round bye with this victory.
They’ll come out strong, but so will the Bills. Rex will absolutely get his team up to play America’s Team and The Ralph is an underrated place to play. I think it’ll be close and low scoring, but the Cowboys will pull it off 20-13.
Week 17: Redskins - January 3rd @ 12:00pm CST on Fox
Happy New Year! Hopefully you got Cowboys gear for Christmas and are excited to see us finish the regular season against Dan Snyder and his band of misfits.
In all likelihood this game will (hopefully) be meaningless, as we have secured enough to make us feel comfortable heading into the playoffs. The Cowboys and Redskins matchups are never boring, though, so this will surely be exciting… and not just because it’s your fantasy football Super Bowl.
Last time we met…
The last time that Washington visited AT&T Stadium is hard to truly evaluate. Tony Romo was infamously knocked out of the game, and later returned, while Brandon Weeden was unable to do much and we got a very scary look at what life without Romo looks like.
The Cowboys lost in overtime 20-17 to a Colt McCoy led team and had to deal with a very long week of sadness and unknown.
Coach Garrett showed last season in Washington that he will play his guys no matter what we’ve secured. I think that we’ll play the guys for a bit, but the Redskins will have too much pride on the line and win a low scoring affair 20-16, while we smile and get ready for the playoffs.
Obviously there is a lot yet to be determined about the 2015 NFL season. The NFL Draft is quickly approaching and that will drastically influence the composition of all of these teams.
Unfortunately, injuries will happen. As will the most improbable and unforeseen things… this is the NFL, right? The important thing is that the NFL Schedule is here, which can only mean one thing: the 2015 NFL Season is quickly approaching and trying to get to us as fast as it can!
Cowboys OT La’el Collins Could Become Major Bargain
When you talk Cowboys offensive line, you always think of Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, and Zack Martin first. Right Tackle La'el Collins still has to prove he belongs in the same sentence with his elite teammates. If he does that in 2018, Collins could become one of the best bargains on the roster.
Making the move from left guard to right tackle last year, Collins improved with time and was playing his best football at the end of the year. This was despite ongoing back issues that had him on the injury report most weeks.
La'el started all 16 games at right tackle and did enough that the Cowboys committed to keeping him there in 2018, even despite a big hole back at left guard. They are hoping consistency and stability will allow Collins to really blossom this season, building on the strong progress shown last year.
For 2018, Collins has a $5.76 million cap hit. According to Spotrac, that makes him the 13th-most expensive right tackle in the NFL this year.
That middle-of-the-pack expense is consistent with where La'el currently rates among NFL right tackles. Bleacher Report ranked Collins as the 16th-best RT in football last year.
But that ranking was based on the season as a whole. If La'el plays all of 2018 the way he was playing towards the end of last year, he will have emerged as one of the better right tackles in the game.
If Collins develops as we hope, that salary suddenly becomes a major bargain. The most expensive right tackles in the NFL are making $7-$9 million this season.
But this can go a couple of ways. With his 2019 cap hit rising to $7.9 million, La'el needs to next step forward.
If Collins were to struggle this year, it could make him a potential cap casualty next offseason. Dallas can save $6.5 million in cap space if Collins is released or traded in 2019.
Dallas could elect to give Connor Williams, their second-round pick this year, a look at right tackle next season. It's the position he played in college.
They could also consider veteran backup Cameron Fleming, who will still be just 26-year-old. Fleming has two Super Bowl rings and several starts, including in the postseason, from his time with the Patriots.
While we think of La'el Collins as a first-round talent, it's important to remember that he was ultimately an undrafted free agent. Dallas did not have to invest anything to acquire him, and ultimately that makes it easier to let him go.
Naturally, we prefer the other side of this coin. If Collins builds on 2017, he will join the upper echelon of right tackles in the league. And if the Cowboys' offensive line isn't already the best in the NFL, that would only cement them as the best unit in football.
If La'el makes the leap, it could mean huge things for the Cowboys' offense and team success this year.
How Cowboys Could Benefit From Randy Gregory’s Suspension
Randy Gregory is back! His suspension is officially over and he will be able to join the Dallas Cowboys in Oxnard, California when training camp gets underway less than a week from now.
Speculation has already started as to what this could mean for the Dallas Cowboys defense this season, and shockingly expectations are rather high for a player who hasn't stepped foot on the field in over a year. But, that's not what I want to talk about today. Today I want to focus on Gregory's mess of a contract, because it is rather interesting.
Randy Gregory was signed to a four-year contract after being drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the second-round of the 2015 NFL Draft. Gregory's rookie deal was set to expire at the conclusion of the 2018 season, but his multiple suspensions have now changed that expiration date.
You see, Gregory has only played in a total of 14 games in his career, 12 as a rookie and two in Year 2. His third year in the NFL was completely wiped out due to his year-long suspension. If you were to add that all up, it equates to just one accured season in the NFL. Remember that, because it could have a huge impact on his contract down the road.
What all of this means is that the Cowboys can pretty much stretch out Gregory's contract now that they are three years in on the deal and have only gotten one accured season out of the agreement. That basically means they can push his contract back a year, meaning his 2017 salary ($731,813) gets pushed back to 2018, his 2018 salary ($955,217) gets pushed to 2019. That would essentially make him a Restricted Free Agent (RFA) in 2020.
Or does it?
Depending on how the Dallas Cowboys handled paying Randy Gregory during his suspension could actually make him an Exclusive Rights Free Agent (EFA). This is a similar situation in which David Irving found himself in after the 2017 season. The Cowboys placed a second-round tender on him in order to secure his services for another season, albeit at a $2.91 million price tag.
As you can see, the Dallas Cowboys pretty much hold all the cards when it comes to Randy Gregory's contract situation. It's all a little confusing, but that's what makes it such a unique and interesting situation.
Of course, the Cowboys could decide to extend Gregory early if he completely dominates upon his return this season. It's highly doubtful though considering his past suspensions, but still technically a possibility. If it does happen, you can go ahead and ignore everything I've written previously.
Earl Thomas: Age is Just a Number Part II
Yesterday, I wrote a piece attempting to assuage the fears that many in Cowboys Nation have about handing a contract extension out to Earl Thomas, who is 29 years old as we enter the 2018 NFL season.
In the comment section, a reader posed a very good question that is the basis for the rest of this article:
It's a great question that certainly required some research, but Cowboys fans all across the world should be encouraged by my findings.
Just to refresh, here are the players we looked at as favorable comparisons to Earl Thomas at this point in his career. I searched Pro Football Reference for safeties who had at least three All-Pro First Team selections and at least six Pro Bowl appearances.
The average age of the players listed at the time when they reached their third All-Pro was 31 years old. I'm removing Deion Sanders and Roger Wehrli from the equation as most of their work was done at cornerback.
Let's look at a chart that outlines what these guys careers looked like at age 29 and beyond to get a better picture. Remember, Earl Thomas already has three All-Pro selections and six Pro Bowls. Many of these guys didn't reach those kind of accolades until their 30s.
The first thing I noticed as I looked into this question is that only two players had three or more All-Pro First Team selections prior to age 29, like Earl Thomas has. Those players were Rod Woodson and Ronnie Lott. Every other player on this list didn't hit their third All-Pro selection until age 29 or later.
Only one player reached his sixth Pro Bowl prior to his age 29 season, that player is Ronnie Lott, who many NFL Analysts consider to be the greatest safety of all-time. Most of the players didn't achieve their third All-Pro selection until their age 29 season or later. Earl Thomas reached his third All-Pro selection at age 25.
Here's a hot take for you: Earl Thomas, when it's all said and done could be considered the greatest safety of all-time. I'll just leave that there to marinate and if a trade does happen, we'll come back to that.
Back to the chart.
Another thing I want to point out is that none of these players were 100% healthy. Such is the life in the NFL, especially as you get older, but they were available for at least 14 games a majority of their seasons aged 29 or later. Health is an unpredictable animal in the NFL, but the safety position allows for much more longevity than many other positions. And as the chart depicts, it's a position that ages well.
So, as you can see in the chart, players who were highly productive prior to their age 29 season were also highly productive for several seasons after. These players went onto average almost seven more years in the league from their age 29 seasons.
Most players continued to average a healthy amount of interceptions. The player that saw the biggest decline from the early part of his career to the post-29 part of his career was Brian Dawkins. The former Philadelphia Eagles and Denver Broncos safety went from three interceptions per season prior to 29 to 1.9 interceptions per season 29 and after.
When it comes to the safety position, the elite seem to be able to get the most of their bodies and their abilities and can prolong their prime. The position relies as much on intelligence and awareness as it does quickness and athleticism. Earl Thomas has the mental capacity to play the game for many more years and there's been zero evidence to suggest that he is experiencing any physical decline.
At the rate of his career that he's on, Earl Thomas is destined for the Hall of Fame. He's one of the faces of the Legion of Boom defense that propelled the Seattle Seahawks into the elite category of teams in the early part of this decade.
If and when an Earl Thomas trade does occur, don't sweat an extension for Thomas.
Thomas' credentials put him in an elite group of players who played the game for a very long time and there's no reason to believe he won't continue to do so.
The Dallas Cowboys aren't that far off from having a Super Bowl contending defense built in the image of the Seattle Seahawks. Going to get the All-Pro, future Hall of Fame safety is the final piece to the to the Dallas Cowboys completing construction on "Doomsday III."
Everything else is there for the Dallas Cowboys, now all they have to do is: Go. Get. Earl!
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