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Dallas Cowboys Free Agency: Who Goes & Who Stays?

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Cowboys Blog - Dallas Cowboys Free Agency: Who is gone? Who stays?

Cowboys DE Greg Hardy's Huge Sack on Tom Brady - Patriots vs. Cowboys - NFL - Streamable

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If you are reading this today then you did it. You survived the 2015 Dallas Cowboys season. Pat yourself on the back and take a deep breath because 2016 is looking a lot brighter. In order to think about next season, the coaching staff must decide who they will keep and who they will lose via free agency.

Take a look at my prediction on who will and who will not be wearing that star on their helmet next season.

Free Agents

  • Morris Claiborne (CB)
  • Greg Hardy (DE)
  • Mackenzy Bernadeau (OL)
  • Rolando McClain (LB)
  • Jeremy Mincey (DE)
  • Matt Cassel (QB)
  • Lance Dunbar (RB)
  • Kyle Wilber (LB)
  • James Hanna (TE)
  • Danny McCray (S)
  • Jack Crawford (DE)
  • Jeff Heath (S)*
  • Tyler Clutts (FB)
  • Ron Leary (OL)*
  • Charles Brown (OL)
  • Robert Turbin (RB)
  • Casey Walker (DT)
  • Josh Thomas (CB)
  • Rodney Smith (RB)*

*RFA (Restricted Free agent)


Players The Cowboys Will Keep for 2016

Morris Claiborne

Yes, I know he has nearly missed 40% of games with the Dallas Cowboys in 4 years, but he has improved. This season something about him made me go, "I like what Morris Claiborne brings to this secondary". He wants to win and I love the competitive edge he brings to the table. Plus this secondary needs help and if he stays healthy, he is a good option. (Way better than Carr) Plus he wants to come back.

Greg Hardy

Cowboys do not RELEASE The Kraken. In those terms I strictly mean keep Greg Hardy because Hardy wants to come back. He had this to say, "I would love to stay here". He can be the difference in the pass rush as you saw in the video above. Hardy had 6 sacks & 1 interception on the 2015 season. Hardy struggled in the last month of the season, but with more to prove in 2016, I expect him to be hungry.

Rolando McClain

Rolando McClain is a very good middle linebacker when he is interested. What do I mean? If you watched the games, you saw either a motivated or a lazy McClain. When next to Sean Lee he played some great football at times. Best play I saw all season was the pick six he had against the Dolphins, which happened to be Romo's return from injury. So as long as you are playing good football, so is he. Re-sign the run stopping, good in coverage linebacker to a one-year deal and reevaluate it at the end of 2016. Hopefully, he wants to return.

Lance Dunbar/Robert Turbin

Lance Dunbar was on pace for his best season yet after becoming a reliable target out of the backfield from Tony Romo. Once Lance tore his ACL, well that was it for the speedster. Dunbar has ways to change the game and really push this team. If you remember week one when Romo threw the game winning Touchdown to Jason Witten, on that final drive Dunbar was a machine in picking up yards. I believe Romo will fight for him to return if needed.

Robert Turbin didn't play much, but when he did, he played tough. Why not re-sign him to be a backup to McFadden & Dunbar or if you draft a RB, make Turbin the inactive 4th string and have him be ready to go when needed. I believe Turbin returns on a cheap one or two-year deal.

Also staying: James Hanna, Jack Crawford, Jeff Heath, Tyler Clutts, & Ron Leary.


"It's Going, Going, Gone!" 

Jeremy Mincey

Great leader, but he is 32. Does not play as much as he did last season. Went from having 6 sacks to 0. The defensive line is getting better and Mincey just continues to get worse. Pretty simple, sorry but goodbye Jeremy Mincey.

Matt Cassel

When Brandon Weeden wasn't getting the job done in the wake of Tony Romo's injury, we all thought Matt Cassel was a way better option. We (including me) were all wrong. Cassel won one game as a Dallas Cowboys starter and lost the rest. Cassel is old and didn't impress...anyone. Goodbye & thanks for trying.

Kyle Wilber

Off his rookie contract and he has yet to impress. He is a backup and I understand that, but we continue to always draft linebackers anyway so why keep him? 25 total tackles all season and plus, I like Damien Wilson. Goodbye and good luck.

Danny McCray

Danny McCray was brought back to Dallas in hopes of helping the play on special teams. The problem was he didn't help at all, Danny McCray had only 3 combined tackles this season and he was outplayed by Jeff Heath, who seemed to always make special teams plays and be a valuable player on defense. With that being said, Heath will be signed back over McCray because you can honestly find a rookie to play special teams and for a cheaper cost.

Also leaving: Mackenzy Bernadeau, Charles Brown, Casey Walker, Josh Thomas, & Rodney Smith.


Dallas Cowboy fan just like you, only difference is I get to write about them. I am an award winning radio broadcaster, who finished 3rd in my state. That gave me chances like: PxP Broadcaster for ESPN 3. PxP Broadcaster for ESPN Radio. I attend Indiana State University. #CowboysNation Follow me on Twitter @WZIS_CoreyClark

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8 Comments
  • FRESH GULF SHRIMP

    I have to believe Morris Claiborne and please for goodness sake, rid of us the slowest thing moving on defense BRANDON CAR. OMG, Car gets burned every 2 out of 3 plays. This guy is slower than slow. If you keep Car and Claiborne then the secondary coach needs to go.

    • Corey Clark

      I appreciate your feedback FGS. I really have the thought process that Mo needs and wants to come back. He can really be a difference maker for this team, when healthy. & I think you saw that this year, he was confident all the time. With that being said, I am sick and tired of watching Brandon Carr fail us and look like a sad number one CB. I do not like Carr as a player, as a person he is great. You don't win championships or force turnovers being a nice guy off the field though. Time for a change there.

  • #WEDEMBOYZ

    Show Carr the door, im sure there are people running his foundation. Mo is coming around. Hardy staying is a no brainer. Rolondo anchors the LB and he's a disrupter. We should look free agent style to shore up the secondary, Scandrick returns, our D will be ok. Draft should go offensive and we can find defensive gems in later rounds (La'el). We've all felt that twinge when Sproles or Djax gets loose. We need fire power. Score points. It'll boost the team to score points at will. Dez needs an Alvin Harper. DMC needs a healthy Dunbar. We need a formidable backup cause lets face it, Romo has more behind than in front. Groom a young top prospect, one hit can change a season. WR,HB,QB,CB,S IN THAT ORDER!

  • http://www.pigskinhub.com/forum/index.php?forums/dallas-cowboys/ Jess Haynie

    Here's a rough outline for my current gut feelings:

    DEF STAYING: Claiborne, R. McClain, J. Crawford, Heath
    DEF GONE: Bernadeau, Mincey, Cassel, Dunbar, Hanna, McCray, Clutts, Brown
    MAYBES: Hardy, Wilber, Leary, Turbin, Walker, Thomas, R. Smith

    • Corey Clark

      Only problem is Dallas will never get away from Clutts, our running game is ran through a fullback & why get rid of the one who helped two backs have back to back 1,000 yard seasons. Hanna too, he's the best run blocking TE we have. Dunbar has a giant role in this offense now and the way he talked in his interview, he isn't going anywhere.

  • http://PigskinHub.com Zac Fields

    I think it's important to keep in mind when talking about Carr and Claiborne that it would be a surprise if they BOTH were let go this off-season.

    Other than the fact that the secondary did a pretty good job this season now that they finally had a pass rush, if you let both Carr and Claiborne go then you're going into free agency and the draft with a gaping hole at the position because you're basically down to Orlando Scandrick and a bunch of unproven late-round and undrafted cornerbacks behind him (assuming Byron Jones truly will be a safety).

    Personally I think Brandon Carr is the right guy to keep if you're keeping one and not the other. Claiborne probably outperformed him this season, but Claiborne also kept with his tradition of missing several games and being banged-up in others. Brandon Carr has still never missed a game in his entire 8-year career, and I'd argue Carr was (at the very least) a serviceable starting cornerback.

    You've gotta figure, folks, that the Cowboys were ranked 6th in the league on pass yardage allowed this season. I'm not sure you really WANT to make wholesale changes with your d-backs unless you have a clear upgrade in mind. I wouldn't be totally shocked if they found a way to keep both Claiborne and Carr (at lower compensation) even if they still drafted somebody to ultimately replace one or both of them.

    • Corey Clark

      Which I think is very reasonable. Read my article that's coming out soon and I'll explain a little bit better why Carr will be cut. Then where the answers to the pieces around him come into play

  • http://www.pigskinhub.com/forum/index.php?forums/dallas-cowboys/ Jess Haynie
    cclark

    Only problem is Dallas will never get away from Clutts, our running game is ran through a fullback & why get rid of the one who helped two backs have back to back 1,000 yard seasons. Hanna too, he's the best run blocking TE we have. Dunbar has a giant role in this offense now and the way he talked in his interview, he isn't going anywhere.

    CLUTTS… they tried hard to get away from Clutts last offseason, signing two other guys before they ultimately brought him back. They're going to look for an upgrade again.

    HANNA… he's a UFA and they already have Witten, Escobar, and Swaim under contract. Have to wonder if he'll want to come back here knowing he can't get higher than #3 on the depth chart.

    DUNBAR… what he said in his interview is nice, but it comes down to if the team wants him back. He's too unreliable with the injuries and, turning 26 in January, is getting too old for a speed back. Their interest level will be low.

Player News

Cowboys Will Tag DeMarcus Lawrence; What’s the Plan?

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Cowboys Planning

February 20 is an important day for NFL clubs this year. Why? It's the first day in which teams can franchise tag any player. Since 2015, when the Dallas Cowboys tagged Dez Bryant before they were able to work out a long-term deal, Jerry Jones & Co. haven't used the franchise tag. In 2018, though, that will change.

DeMarcus Lawrence just played his best season yet in 2017, and he's looking to get paid big time. Through three years, he had been able to rack up nine sacks, 52 tackles and three forced fumbles. In just 2017, he sacked opposing quarterbacks 14.5 times, had 35 tackles and managed to force four fumbles.

Not only did Lawrence look like an elite pass rusher, but he also improved as a run defender a lot. The Cowboys have been looking for a "War Daddy" for a long, long time and Lawrence seems to be the answer for this football team.

After such a big year, one would expect the Cowboys to sign him to a multi-year enormous contract. But there's a catch. Lawrence failed to remain healthy early in his career and really didn't make as much of an impact until last season.

There's no question that D-Law will be wearing a star come the 2018 NFL season, but will he be doing it under a long-term deal or under a franchise tag?

David Moore on Twitter

Cowboys will not place franchise tag on DeMarcus Lawrence tomorrow as that window opens but will do so by March 6 w/ understanding the goal is to reach a long-term deal. Both sides have until July 16 to make that happen.

For now, according to David Moore from Dallas Morning News, the Cowboys will franchise tag Lawrence with the objective of getting a deal done in July. The tag however, is not expected to be placed as soon as possible.

Jess Haynie on Twitter

In 2015, the Cowboys didn't place the franchise tag on Dez Bryant until the final deadline day. This year's deadline is March 6th, so it may be two weeks before they make it official with DeMarcus Lawrence. #CowboysNation #DallasCowboys

What would franchise tagging DeMarcus Lawrence mean for this team?

First of all, they'd make sure he doesn't hit free agency in March. This gives the front office time to get to work and restructure players' contracts if they have to in order to open up as much cap space as they can before giving him a deal.

It's worth mentioning as well, cap savings from players who are designated as post-June 1 cuts will already be available. If you want to be more familiarized with the Cowboys' cap situation, I highly recommend you read John Williams' deep dive on the matter.

It'll continue to be a very interesting story for this offseason, as handing a franchise tag to a player tends to become a non-friendly situation for both parties. Let's hope that's not the case for the Cowboys and Lawrence this year and that everything works out fine.

Here at Inside The Star, we'll continue updating you and the rest of Cowboys Nation throughout the offseason.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys Will Tag DeMarcus Lawrence; What’s the Plan?" in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 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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Dallas Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys OL Fails To Crack NFL.com’s Top 10

Kevin Brady

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Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, Travis Frederick, offensive line

Often considered a top unit in football, the Dallas Cowboys offensive line seemed to take a step back in 2017. Mostly due to injuries and free agent departures on the left side, the Cowboys were unable to form the same solid unit we have seen in years past.

Despite their struggles, most would still consider them a top 5-10 offensive line in the NFL. At least, that's what I'd expect considering they still feature three All-Pro caliber players upfront.

Matt Harmon of NFL.com put together a list of the top 10 offensive lines in football based on performance in the 2017 season. The list was strictly developed through the use of next gen stats, which defined pressure as "pass-rushing play in which a defender gets within 2 yards of the opposing quarterback at the time of the throw or sack." In addition, "yards gained before close" was taken into account. This metric is meant to measure "the amount of rushing yards a running back gains before opposing defenders come within 1 yard of the player."

After compiling all of these stats, the Cowboys offensive line was left off of the list completely. Maybe even more surprising, however, was that the Philadelphia Eagles' line failed to crack the top ten as well. That's two lines with 3-4 Pro Bowl caliber players each missing the cut.

According to Matt Harmon the Cowboys allowed a pressure on 28.6% of Dak Prescott's dropbacks, 12th highest in the league. Dallas also ranked 20th in the league in YGBC in 2017.

While I do have some issues with the methodology of these statistics, the final result is actually hard to argue with. Down the stretch the Cowboys offense was downright pathetic at times. Regardless of how highly we thought of them prior to the year, the offense didn't perform to their standards, or the standards of a top ten unit.

Heading into 2018, however, I do expect this offensive line to begin to regain form. La'el Collins should continue to improve on the right side, and he is already an adequate starting right tackle regardless. I also expect Dallas to address their left guard spot, potentially within the first two rounds of the 2018 NFL Draft.

In the end the success of this line may hinge on the health of Tyron Smith, though. When healthy, Smith is the best left tackle in all of football. But that "when healthy" caveat has certainly hurt the Cowboys offense.

The way the front office handles their offensive line this offseason will play a huge role in the success, or lack thereof, of the Cowboys in 2018.


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Cowboys 2018 Free Agents: CB Bene Benwikere

Jess Haynie

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Cowboys 2018 Free Agents: CB Bene Benwikere

After playing sparsely for the Dallas Cowboys in 2017, veteran cornerback Bene Benwikere is set to be an unrestricted free agent. Could he stay in Dallas, or will he have to find work elsewhere?

Dallas was concerned about its CB depth with heavy reliance on young players and Jourdan Lewis barely participating in the offseason. Therefore, the Cowboys traded a sixth-round pick to the Cincinnati Bengals for Benwikere just before Week One.

After a stellar rookie season with the Carolina Panthers in 2014, Bene had suffered a steep fall before landing in Cincy. Injuries and poor play got him cut midway through 2016 by the Panthers, and then Benwikere bounced from Miami to Green Bay before finally signing with the Bengals in the 2017 offseason.

Though a few years removed from being an All-Rookie Team standout, Bene Benwikere is still just 26 and may still draw interest from scouts who remember his better days. He is likely counting on that, because the Cowboys' secondary is starting to fill up.

Cowboys 2018 Free Agents: CB Bene Benwikere 1

Dallas Cowboys CB Bene Benwikere (#23)

The Cowboys currently have exciting sophomores Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis expected to start in 2018. Anthony Brown is back for his third season and will be active on game days.

Orlando Scandrick's future is cloudy, but Dallas won't get much cap relief from releasing him this season. They may elect to keep the veteran for one more year, which would all but fill out the CB depth chart.

Even if Scandrick leaves, talk that Dallas may move Byron Jones back to corner from safety would only leave Benwikere in the same disadvantaged position for finding work.

The best chance that Bene Benwikere has to stay with the Cowboys is if new Defensive Backs Coach Kris Richard remembers him from 2014. Coaches often feel that can get more out of a player than the last guy, and Richard may see potential in Benwikere that his last few teams couldn't unlock.

Four years ago may be too long, though, and especially with a fresh new crop of young players coming into the league. Especially if they keep Scandrick, Dallas may want to use the rest of their roster spots on younger prospects.

As it stands, Bene Benwikere is unlikely to return to the Cowboys. However, given the flashes of potential he once showed in the NFL, you can't be certain that Dallas won't want to give him one more chance.


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