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Dallas Cowboys Free Agency: Who Goes & Who Stays?



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




    January 4, 2016 at 2:47 pm

    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

      January 4, 2016 at 2:59 pm

      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.


    January 4, 2016 at 5:38 pm

    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!

  3. Jess Haynie

    Jess Haynie

    January 5, 2016 at 7:21 am

    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

      January 5, 2016 at 9:45 am

      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.

  4. Zac Fields

    January 5, 2016 at 9:04 am

    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

      January 5, 2016 at 9:46 am

      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

  5. Jess Haynie

    Jess Haynie

    January 5, 2016 at 10:05 am


    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.

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Player News

Cowboys Sign WR Devin Smith, Former 2nd-Round Pick

Jess Haynie



Devin Smith

The Dallas Cowboys have reportedly signed Receiver Devin Smith, previously with the New York Jets, to a futures contract. Smith was a 2nd-round pick, 37th overall, in the 2015 NFL Draft.

Before going pro, Devin was a college teammate of current Cowboys Ezekiel Elliott, Rod Smith, and Noah Brown. They were all members of the 2014 Ohio State Buckeyes team that won the National Championship.

Smith's agent, Jason Bernstein, tweeting the following earlier today:

Jason Bernstein on Twitter

Congrats to WR Devin Smith @dsmithosu for signing with the #DallasCowboys! Welcome back.

Thus far, Smith's NFL career has been marred by injuries. He has suffered two ACL tears in the same knee and only been able to appear in 14 games. He was waived by the Jets last summer and was not with any team last season.

Overall, the 2015 class of receivers has been disappointing. Amari Cooper has been a star and other later-round picks like Tyler Lockett, Stefon Diggs, and Jamison Crowder have been good. But the other big names of the class, such as Kevin White, Breshad Perriman, and DeVante Parker, have not lived up to the hype.

The Cowboys are known for trying to reclaim players who once had high draft status and bad starts to their careers. They are clearly hoping to cash in on Smith's previously perceived potential, which had him projected as a possible first-round talent at one time.

For both Devin and Dallas' sake, we hope it's a success!

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Dallas Cowboys

Breaking: Scott Linehan and Dallas Cowboys Part Ways

John Williams



Scott Linehan Acknowledges Need for New "Wrinkles" in Cowboys Offense

Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network is reporting that the Dallas Cowboys and Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan have mutually agreed to part ways following a tumultuous season that saw the Dallas Cowboys offense finish outside the top 12 three out of his four seasons in Dallas.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

Sources: The #Cowboys are firing OC Scott Linehan. Taking their offense in a new direction. An announcement is coming.

Scott Linehan was brought in prior to the 2015 season and saw his offenses finish 31st, fifth, 14th, and 22nd in his four years as the Cowboys play caller. The 2015 season can be excused as the Cowboys rolled out Kellen Moore, Matt Cassell, and Brandon Weeden for 13 starts after Tony Romo was injured twice during the season, but the team 2-11 in those 13 starts and the Cowboys failed to make the playoffs despite a strong performance on the defensive side of the football.

The Cowboys saw an offense that finished fifth in the NFL in points in 2016 decline each of the last two offseasons and Linehan has been continually criticized by analysts, fans, and players as well.

Many believe that the reason that Dez Bryant and Brice Butler weren't brought back in the offseason was because of the public criticism of the offense and the play caller instilling the offense and that criticism has carried over to this season when Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper acknowledged that the Philadelphia Eagles were sitting on the slant routes that they had run all game. Dak mentioned that he changed Amari's route to a go route, which led to a 75 yard touchdown that helped open up the offense.

Cole Beasley has been frustrated with his role for much of the season and deservedly so. He was often non-existent in the offensive game plan until the final five minutes of football games.

In the running game, the offense had become too predictable and reliant upon jumbo formations that led to Ezekiel Elliott having to run against eight in the box anywhere from 25-30% of the time. For perspective, Todd Gurley only ran against eight-man fronts around eight percent of the time. Scott Linehan never looked to attempt to take players out of the box, instead insisting on motioning more players into the box for the offensive line and Ezekiel Elliott to run against. It's amazing when you think about it, that Ezekiel Elliott was able to win the rushing title when facing loaded fronts as often as he did.

This was a move that needed to happen and the Dallas Cowboys didn't need to waste anymore time to make it happen. The offense had become stale and frustrating for the players as well as the fans. While Jason Garrett started the offseason saying he "didn't expect any changes," this was a move that absolutely had to happen for the offense to take a step forward. Below, you can read Jason Garrett's announcement on the move.

Mike Garafolo on Twitter

Cowboys have fired Scott Linehan

Even after the move for Amari Cooper, the offense looked better, but it still struggled at times to move the football.

The Cowboys have a young team with especially young players on the offensive side of the football. They have a quarterback who can throw from the pocket, but has excellent movement skills and capabilities of throwing the ball on the run. He's an excellent runner on designed runs. Despite us knowing all that, Scott Linehan looked reluctant to use him on designed quarterback runs that weren't read options or speed options. What you saw on designed runs in the Seattle game is what this team should be doing five times a game.

Now the question becomes, who should the Cowboys next offensive coordinator be? Our own, Staff Writer Brian Martin, laid out 5 Options to be the Next Offensive Coordinator earlier this week. I suggest you give it a read.

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DeMarcus Lawrence Named Top Free Agent Of The 2019 Class

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Breaking Down DeMarcus Lawrence's League High 5.5 Sacks Through Week 4

Much has been made about the Dallas Cowboys 2019 free agent class. Dallas has a ton of cap space moving forward, but they are going to "have" to pay many of the key players on their roster over the next two offseasons in order to keep their young core together.

Of course, when you're drafting, that's the goal. To draft so well that when your own players become free agents, you go ahead and pay them to keep them around, rather than overpay on the free agent market for external players.

One of the major pieces the Cowboys will have to retain this offseason is defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence. And while Cowboys Nation often thinks of Lawrence as underrated around the league, the NFL has caught onto his importance as he enters free agency this Spring. ranked their top 10 free agents for 2019, with DeMarcus Lawrence clocking in at number one, over elite players like Jadeveon Clowney and Le'Veon Bell.

ig: josinaanderson on Twitter

ESPN's top 10 free agents for 2019 and what Le'Veon Bell should be looking to command based on previous measures.

DeMarcus Lawrence is going to command big time money, likely even Khalil Mack-type money. But the fact of the matter is that he has earned it. Lawrence has been the heart and soul of the Cowboys defensive line the last two seasons, and the most consistent edge player on the team as well.

Not only has he been an effective pass rusher, but DeMarcus Lawrence also plays with a relentless motor against the run that can sometimes be rare to find in those premier pass rushers. He really is a jack of all trades at defensive end, and should be priority number one for the Cowboys this offseason.

Thankfully, I can't imagine the Cowboys not retaining DeMarcus Lawrence and extending him in the coming months.

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