We all know someone.
A person in our lives who, due to our Cowboy fandom, has hit us with the absurdly stupid question that Cowboys haters love to ask.
"Are the Dallas Cowboys still America's Team?"
The answer is yes. It's been yes. It's still yes. And it will always be yes. Stop asking.
How can I be so confident? I give you Exhibit A-Z, courtesy of one of the architects that helped forge the teams leading to the "America's Team" moniker - Gil Brandt:
@DezBryant merchandise sales was tops among all NFL players in 2016 Q1 (via @NFLPA)
I don't have words for how ridiculously absurd this is. I don't. (But there are words below this so really I do. Just go with me.).
You might be wondering why I'm so flabbergasted by this. Consider the following:
- Dez Bryant, 1st on this list, missed 7 Games in 2015.
- Tony Romo, 2nd on this list, missed 12 Games in 2015.
- Ezekiel Elliott, 3rd on this list, has never played an NFL Game.
Think about that! These are players who were, somewhat understandably, lost and forgotten (or not present at all in Zeke's case) during the 2015 season. In spite of that, people want the goods. People can't get enough Dez Bryant or Tony Romo, and people are enormously excited for Ezekiel Elliott. That's impossible to refute.
Are you not entertained?! No? Venture further down the rabbit hole then:
- Dez Bryant is entering his 7th NFL season.
- Tony Romo is entering his 14th NFL season.
- Jason Witten is entering his 14th NFL season.
What does this have to do with anything, RJ? I mean I'm with you and this is all cool, but so what?
You're a Cowboys fan, right? Tell me that you don't own ANYTHING related to Dez Bryant, Tony Romo, or Jason Witten. Do it. I dare you. You can't. They've been around for long enough that you're decorated in gear relevant to your favorite players.
It's AMAZING that these guys, with significant time already in the NFL, are still selling merchandise at a high enough rate to be 60% (not counting Zeke here specifically) of the Top 5 players. The only non-Cowboy in the Top 5 is Aaron Rodgers, only a two-time MVP and Super Bowl Champion. No big deal.
Ezekiel Elliott: A Marketing Machine
Look we all know that Zeke is in a prime position to have some serious success between the endzones (and hopefully inside them) on Sundays this fall. That's a given.
Consider when the timeframe for this data collectoin began - March 1st.
EZEKIEL ELLIOTT WAS DRAFTED ON APRIL 28TH!
That means that there are 92 days in this specific sample size, and NFL veterans were given a 58 day head start over the 2016 NFL Draft Class.
So in 34 days Ezekiel Elliott was able to bring in more sales than every NFL veteran on this list not named Dez Bryant or Tony Romo. Let's put some dollar signs on that for proper perspective.
Say that Aaron Rodgers sold a total of $50,000 in merchandise. That seems like a fair number (really it's just easy for my math so go with it please and thanks).
That would mean that over 92 days Aaron Rodgers averaged $543.48 in sales. Obviously Ezekiel Elliott beat him out, and did so in only 34 days, so even if he beat Aaron by one dollar that would mean Zeke averaged $1,470.62 per day!
Obviously this is just a random example, but the point of it is to illustrate exactly how absurd Ezekiel Elliott's marketing prowess has extended across the NFL in such a short period. It's unfathomable.
Show Me The Money
80% of the Top 5 player merchandise sales are Dallas Cowboys. That is incredible.
What's even more astounding is that Jerry Jones has a very unique detail about his team concerning merchandise sales. Jerry Jones, unlike any other owner in the NFL, pockets 100% of merchandise sales.
The Cowboys have Dallas Cowboys Pro Shops scattered all across the state of Texas (and one in New Mexico). There is a warehouse that stores purely Dallas Cowboys product and the Cowboys even have a "home brand" of retail products called "Dallas Cowboys Merchandising."
Sure, that certainly inflates how much money they pull in... because they have more options to do so. Don't let folks use that as an argument against you though. It's an insane business advantage that is indicative of a lifestyle of prestige and success that is only synonymous with one team, the most valuable sports team in the world, the Dallas Cowboys.
Cowboys Sign Free Agent WR Deonte Thompson
The Dallas Cowboys added some speed to their receiver corps today by signing free agent Deonte Thompson. He played for both the Chicago Bears and Buffalo Bills last season.
Thompson, who turned 29 last month, went undrafted in 2012. He had a quiet to start to his career as a reserve and practice squad guy in Baltimore and Chicago, but finally got a chance to shine with seven starts last year for the Bills. He 27 catches for 430 yards and one touchdown in just 11 games.
The #Cowboys signed WR Deonte Thompson, per agent @davidcanter. He gets 1-year, $2.5M with a $1M signing bonus.
Deonte brings some much-needed speed to the Cowboys offense. He ran a 4.31 40-yard dash as a rookie, and while he's 29 now he still poses more of a vertical threat than the current Dallas receivers.
Given the low salary in this deal, Thompson may not be seen as much than a replacement for Brice Butler near the bottom of Dallas' depth chart. We also have to wait and see what happens with the draft and other moves this offseason to know where he fits into the bigger picture.
For now, though, Cowboys fans can take a little comfort in knowing the front office hasn't completely fallen asleep at the wheel.
Dallas Cowboys: How “Position-Flex” Has Handcuffed The 2015 Draft Class
Over the last few years the Dallas Cowboys have placed a high level of importance on "position flex." They've drafted Swiss-Army knife players which could be moved around to different positions on the field.
By drafting players like Chidobe Awuzie and Xavier Woods last year, as well as Byron Jones in 2015, the Cowboys have tried to find these versatile players who can be used in multiple ways.
While this seems great on paper, this strategy has handcuffed the majority of their 2015 Draft Class, and is a key reason why the Cowboys seem to be in such a tough spot.
The Cowboys' first round pick in 2015, Byron Jones, quickly became a favorite of mine during his rookie season. Incredibly athletic, long, and skilled in coverage, Jones was able to be both a fantastic cover cornerback and a solid middle-of-the-field safety due to his range.
Due to both injuries to his teammates, and Jones' own versatility, the Cowboys coaching staff couldn't keep Jones in just one spot. Once they discovered how great he was in man coverage against tight ends, they became enamored with trying to play him in the box.
Once in the box, Jones' struggles as a run defender were highlighted, and both the organization and the fans soured on him quickly.
Now it is rumored that Byron Jones will be moving back to cornerback full time. And while I do hope this is the case, the fact that he is in year four, and the Cowboys haven't been able to find their first round pick a permanent home is a huge indictment on their ability to evaluate and develop talent.
Okay, hear me out.
The former third round pick of the 2015 Draft was brought in to be the swing tackle for the Cowboys his rookie year. Mainly due to injuries, Green did not see the field for much of his first two seasons. When he did fill in for Tyron Smith at left tackle in 2016, however, Green was very effective.
Of course, Chaz Green's last appearance with the Cowboys was ugly, giving up a plethora of sacks against the Atlanta Falcons. But Dallas might've made their own bed with Green during the beginning of the 2017 season, when they attempted to move him to left guard full time.
Instead of getting the increased work at tackle, and continuing to work as the swing tackle for the team in case of injury, Dallas started Green at left guard early on in the year. He struggled trying to move positions, and looked even worse when trying to move back to tackle.
Once again, the position flex bit the Cowboys right in the backside.
It's 2018 and we are still talking about what position to play La'el Collins on the offensive line. And that is solely on the coaching staff and front office, not Collins.
Collins was brought in as an undrafted free agent in 2015, but was widely regarded as a first round pick heading into that draft. Though he started at left tackle at LSU, Dallas shifted Collins inside to left guard in 2015. After taking over for Ronald Leary as the starter, Collins produced highlight blocks week after week.
Injuries shortened his 2016 campaign, but heading into 2017 the Cowboys decided to shift him back out to right tackle. Despite some early struggles, Collins progressed nicely throughout the year and became a solid starting right tackle. Plus, he has the upside to become one of the top right tackles in the league.
Instead, it is now being rumored the Cowboys might move him back to guard for 2018. And with that news, I continue to pull my hair out over the position-flex decisions this coaching staff and front office like to make.
If the Cowboys want to get the most out of each draft class, and effectively develop their talent, they need to let those players actually develop, rather than move them around each season. Hopefully they now understand this, and allow both Byron Jones and La'el Collins to reach their full potential.
Dallas Cowboys Sign LB Joe Thomas to 2 Year Deal
At long last, the Dallas Cowboys have their first free agent addition of this offseason. Having lost starters Jonathan Cooper and Anthony Hitchens at left guard and linebacker respectively, the team has added depth at LB with Joe Thomas signing a two-year deal.
The 2018 season will actually mark Joe Thomas' second stint with the Dallas Cowboys, as he was signed to their practice squad in 2015. The team that signed Thomas out of South Carolina State following the 2014 draft, the Green Bay Packers, added Thomas back to their active roster for the 2015 season.
Source: Cowboys have agreed to a 2-year deal with free agent LB Joe Thomas. He visited the Cowboys today. Thomas has played in 42 games over the last three seasons with the Packers. He had a career-high 70 tackles in 2016.
Thomas has spent the last three seasons starting eight games for the Packers, recording 70 tackles and an interception in 2016.
A contingency plan of Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith carrying the Cowboys for 16 games at LB requires adequate depth, which is exactly what the Cowboys are typically in the market for come free agency. Waiting longer than usual to make their first splash, the Cowboys absolutely need an addition like Thomas to perform better than last year's FA class.
Used in sub packages by the Packers while also playing special teams - where the Cowboys have lost core players in Keith Smith and Kyle Wilber - Thomas will have a great chance to impress two new Dallas coaches in Ben Bloom and Keith O'Quinn.
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