The 2019 offseason may be far from over, but the major waves of free agency have already come and gone. Players have come and gone, and guys who are still with the Dallas Cowboys from last season may have seen their status improve or worsen as a result. So, who are the biggest winners and losers so far?
Granted, today's winners could become losers in a few weeks after the NFL Draft. Someone who looks like a 2019 starter now might feel less secure if Dallas spends its second-round pick at his position.
But for the most part, we have an idea of the pecking order at most of the Cowboys' positions. Because they lack a first-round pick this year, Dallas' draft selections are mostly going to be about depth and future potential. Immediate impact is going to be a lesser focus.
So, as of today, who has been helped and hurt most by the Cowboys offseason moves?
S Xavier Woods
If the Cowboys had signed veteran Earl Thomas then it could have meant a backup role for Woods. Both play the free safety position, and Xavier is a little undersized for the strong safety role. Jeff Heath may have kept his spot and put Woods on the bench.
But instead of a flashy signing Dallas went with a bargain option in George Iloka. Not only does Iloka project more as a strong safety, but his minimal one-year contract means he isn't even guaranteed a starting role.
That said, Iloka is still just 29 and has 79 career starts. He is not just here for simple depth. At worst, he will likely be part of a rotation with Woods and Heath.
Dallas has plenty of reason to be committed to Xavier Woods. He still has two years left on his rookie deal and has flashed some game-changing ability already. Last year, Pro Football Focus had him graded almost identically to Giants' Pro Bowler Landon Collins.
Likely, Woods' positive showing is one of the reasons that the Cowboys felt comfortable not overspending for a guy like Earl Thomas.
We'll see if Dallas goes after a safety with one of their top draft picks. But for now, their offseason moves appear to be a vote of confidence in Xavier Woods.
TE Blake Jarwin
Jason Witten's surprising return may seem like a negative for Jarwin, who was starting for the Cowboys by the end of 2018. But Witten and the team are promising nothing more than a supporting role for the veteran, and that is a good thing for Blake's current prospects.
After all, the Cowboys could have made a play for a proven receiver like Jared Cook or taken a chance on former first-round pick Tyler Eifert. They also might've tried to re-sign Geoff Swaim, who was the starter last year before injury.
But instead they have Witten coming back in what sounds like a bit of a player-coach role, and learning from the master could do wonders for Jarwin's game.
As we've said already, the draft could change this discussion a lot. Tight end is still a spot where Dallas could go with one of their early picks, and that player would probably knock Jarwin and Dalton Schultz down the depth chart immediately.
However, as currently constituted, the TE position appears to be operating with at least a committee approach. The door is open for Blake Jarwin to build on last year and earn even more opportunities if things stay this way.
DE Taco Charlton
You'd like to think a first-round pick entering Year 3 would be moving into a starting role, if he didn't have one already. But Taco Charlton is starting to look more like an afterthought than a part of the team's future.
Dallas' biggest move so far has been trading for veteran Robert Quinn, who should waltz into the starting role opposite DeMarcus Lawrence. Negotiations between Tank and the Cowboys are ongoing, albeit contentious, and the odds are still on Lawrence playing in Dallas next year.
The Cowboys also signed Kerry Hyder from Detroit, who had a big year in 2016 but has been hampered by injury and a scheme change the last two seasons. This is in addition to hopes that Randy Gregory will be able to play and still having Dorance Armstrong under contract.
If Dallas was ready to count on Taco then they wouldn't have needed to add both Quinn and Hyder, and perhaps neither. It shows their lack of confidence in Charlton, which is highly disappointing given his perceived potential two years ago.
Some have even wondered if the Cowboys might try to trade Taco during the draft for a mid-round pick. He still has two years left on his rookie deal and the fifth-year option in 2021, which could entice a new team who liked him in 2017.
Whatever happens, suffice to say that Taco Charlton isn't nearly the factor he should be at this point for the Dallas Cowboys. Their offseason moves only emphasize his low status with the team right now.
S Jeff Heath
We already mentioned the way safety moves have helped Xavier Woods, and the negative corollary is the impact on Heath. For as much as Xavier's position has been strengthened, Heath's has become shakier.
Not only does the George Iloka signing threaten Heath's starting job, but it could even put him in harm's way for a salary dump. Dallas can save $2.5 million off the cap by releasing Jeff from his contract.
Even if he winds up on the bench, Heath still has enough value to justify his $2.9 million cap hit. He's a versatile, experienced backup and a special teams leader.
But moving to a reserve role would be tough for Jeff with just one year left on his deal. He will be turning 29 during the 2020 offseason and would enter free agency after taking a backward step in his career.
However, as we've said, Iloka isn't guaranteed to start. A three-way competition is likely coming between Heath, Iloka, and Woods for the two starting roles, or at least between Heath and Iloka for strong safety. Jeff should get to fight for his spot.
That said, Heath's job security has definitely taken a hit this offseason.
Jason Garrett Reminds Everyone That Kellen Moore Calls the Plays
There's a lot of blame game being played around the Dallas Cowboys right now after a demoralizing home loss to the Minnesota Vikings. Even the head coach seems to be getting in on the act as Jason Garrett went out of character and got unusually specific in explaining Kellen Moore's responsibility for play-calling.
Garrett is not known for calling people out. In fact, many fans have criticized him for not being more critical of his players. He tends to speak in vague, nebulous terms when it comes to discussing the Cowboys' weaknesses or failings after a loss.
But in a radio appearance this morning, Garrett didn't mince words on who was deciding the plays during the Cowboys' final drive.
Jason Garrett on @1053thefan on the two run plays late: "Kellen's calling the game. In that situation it's 2nd and 2. He felt like he had a good opportunity against a favorable box to run the ball in those situations. On each of those plays we had options beyond just the run.
Jason did try to excuse his offensive coordinator's decisions with some context, but he also made sure to clarify who was responsible for those calls. It was not very Garrett-like, and it may speak to his own growing frustration and concern over his future.
Garrett is on the final year of his contract and the Cowboys' front office has made it clear that any extension depends on the results of the 2019 season. With Dallas now dropping to 5-4 and only leading the division by a head-to-head tiebreaker over the Philadelphia Eagles, the future is increasingly unclear.
Jason Garrett famously uses "we" and "us" terms when talking about the negatives, not wanting to assign blame to any particular player or person when things aren't going well. That he strayed from this well-established behavior today may be an anomaly, but it shouldn't be ignored.
With a tough second-half stretch coming in this 2019 schedule, Garrett may be starting to feel like a dead man walking. We'll see in the coming weeks if this leads to anymore shifts in his usual demeanor with the media.
Dallas Cowboys Good, Bad, and Ugly from Week 10 Against Vikings
Well Cowboys Nation, the Dallas Cowboys let yet another winnable game slip to their grasp Sunday night after the devastating 28-24 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. By my count, that's three out of four games the Cowboys probably should have won this season. But, probably… maybe… and should have don't mean diddly squat in the NFL.
I'm not going to beat around the bush today because I would likely end up going into a long winded rant about what took place last night. So, let's go ahead and jump right into this week's edition of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. As always, please feel free to use the comment section to voice your opinions and thoughts on the subject.
Unlike in weeks past, I had absolutely no problem deciding what to go with this week for this category from the Dallas Cowboys Week 10 matchup with the Minnesota Vikings. I don't think anyone would argue that the good had to be Quarterback Dak Prescott's play and the Cowboys overall passing game. This unit was the sole reason they had a chance to win at the end.
Prescott was simply phenomenal Sunday night. He threw for 397 yards, three touchdowns, and only one interception. He was on point last night and was dropping dimes all over the place. It's one of the reasons why both Amari Cooper (147 yards, 1 TD) and Randall Cobb (106, 1 TD) both went over the 100 yard mark in receiving, and Michael Gallup wasn't too far behind (76 yards, 1 TD). All in all it's an MVP caliber performance from No. 4, but unfortunately it wasn't enough to seal the victory.
I thought and thought about what I wanted to go with in this category and I'll have to admit, I had a hard time deciding. There were individual players who deserved a nomination here, but in the end I think the bad for the Dallas Cowboys was them getting off to yet another slow start against the Minnesota Vikings. Unfortunately, it's been a trend for them this season.
It all started when Jason Garrett decided to send out Kicker Brett Maher to attempt an ill-advised 57 yard field goal. Maher is capable of making such kicks, but there's a time and place to use that kind of weapon. Last night on the opening drive of the game was not one of those times. After the missed FG, the Vikings had excellent field position and scored a quick TD. Not long after they scored another TD to go up 14-0 after another stalled drive by the Cowboys offense. It's a hole they were never quite able to dig themselves out of.
Deciding what to go with here in this category was pretty easy after narrowing down what I wanted to put in the bad category. I think the ugly for the Dallas Cowboys Sunday night against the Minnesota Vikings was their defensive play. In all honesty, it was absolutely sickening to watch the Vikings have their way with the Cowboys defense. Dallas has far too much talent on that side of the ball to be manhandled like they were.
The tackling was atrocious and so was the execution. I'm pretty sure the game plan was to neutralize Dalvin Cook the way they did Saquon Barkley in Week 9, but the league's leading rusher (Cook) would have none of that. He pretty much did what he wanted. He ran through arm tackles and had room to run, whether it was as a rusher or receiver. It looked a lot like what Green Bay Packers RB Aaron Jones did to the Cowboys in Week 5. It was completely inexcusable and unacceptable!
What is your good, bad, and ugly from the Dallas Cowboys Week 10 matchup?
Randall Cobb has Breakout Game in Tough Loss vs Vikings
When NFL free agency began this past March the Dallas Cowboys spent the month making several additions to their roster. Veterans George Iloka (only one not currently on the roster), Kerry Hyder, Christian Covington, and Robert Quinn were added to help on the defensive side of the ball.
Offensively, there was a huge hole to fill when Wide Receiver Cole Beasley signed a four-year 29 million dollar deal to play for the Buffalo Bills. The Cowboys would then sign Randall Cobb about a week later to a one-year deal. The seasoned pro was brought in as an upgrade over Beasley in the slot to compliment Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup. Also, with his unique ability to play on the outside as well, it would allow Offensive Coordinator Kellen Moore to present different looks for opposing defenses.
In his first seven games of the season, Cobb struggled to find his place within this offense. He produced 25 receptions for 274 yards, with his lone touchdown coming in the season opener vs the New York Giants. He had four or fewer receptions five times and his most productive game only produced 69 yards. However, last night against the Minnesota Vikings was a glimpse of how productive Cobb can be in this system.
Cobb finished with six receptions for 106 yards Sunday night. This was his first 100-yard game since Week 1 in 2018. Four of his catches went for 20 yards or more, five went for first downs and he scored his second touchdown of the season. Dak Prescott showed supreme confidence in looking for Cobb on crucial third-down situations.
That's exactly what Cobb can do for this offense. He provides another reliable threat in the Cowboys aerial assault. When Cobb plays at a high level it will only free up Cooper and Gallup to wreak havoc on the outside.
Last night's game was a perfect example of this. Cooper had 11 receptions for 147 yards and Gallup added four catches for 76 yards, each scoring touchdowns. It doesn't allow a defense to lock in on one receiver and take them completely out of the game.
Cobb playing well also has an impact on the running game. The better he plays the more defenses will have to focus on stopping himself, Cooper, and Gallup. What does that do? The Cowboys won't face as many eight or nine-man fronts which will give All-Pro Ezekiel Elliott the opportunity to wear down opposing defenses by playing ball control, which is the Cowboys bread and butter.
Hopefully, this is a sign of things to come from Cobb as the playoff push heats up. If he can continue to build chemistry with Prescott it will only improve one of the NFL's best passing offenses while simultaneously increasing Elliott's ability to be effective by taking extra defenders away from the box. Will Cobb make this a regular occurrence for the rest of the season? Only time will tell.
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