It's the year 2010, and in just a few weeks we'll cross the official starting point of the NFL's 2010 League Year. The Cowboys lost another lopsided one to end their season but unlike the '08 season, 2009 saw a Wild Card round victory before they bowed out to the Vikings in the NFC Divisional Round.
Seems like old news by now, doesn't it?
That's because in the NFL even the off season is full of transactions. It's business as usual. Who cares that it's an uncapped year, there still hasn't been any movement toward a new Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NFL and the NFLPA, or that some proposed rule changes might permanently hobble this game we all love so much?
For those just too curious to stand it, I'm referring to the possibility of eliminating the 3-point stance. Not getting into it here, but I will say that as ridiculous as it sounds now, the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell have done equally surprising things to the rules before.
So we've got a bit of a drought of football action right now. I must say that I'm surprised by that. I figured since the Saints—America's New Team—won the Super Bowl that the world would have partied itself into a giant collapse the likes of which only the Movie 2012 has depicted cheering the very chant of retardation—Who Dat. Seriously? Former Cowboys and Never Cowboys alike can say all they want that Dallas isn't America's Team but the fact remains, The Dallas Cowboys are the most popular franchise in this or any other sport. Deal with it Fujita.
The draft is the next big step toward getting the 2010 season kicked off technically, but in my mind there are much more pressing matters to attend to. First and foremost being how do we deal with the not-short-enough list of free agents in Dallas?
Thankfully all but one are restricted and can't just up and leave for any deal that gets thrown their way, though I'd like to see Montrae Holland stick around too; he's been a good lineman for us when we've needed him. A far cry better than that pudgy waste of a roster spot Cory Proctor. He's one restricted free agent I think we should be happy to get rid of, finally, finally. F - I - N -A - L - L - Y.
But the biggest questions in free agency for us this year aren't exactly like the biggest questions from years past.
There is no Terrell Owens or similarly harmful locker room cancer to cut, there aren't any thugs playing football star to 86, and there aren't any glaring holes we need to fill with some overpaid big-shot on the open market. No, it's much simpler than that.
Our biggest free agency transaction will start and end right here in Dallas, or technically in Carrollton, Texas at Valley Ranch, but you get the jist.
We've got to get a pile of cash to throw at Miles Austin. You know, the NFC's leading receiver with 1,320 yards and 11 touchdowns. I've maintained all along this as-of-yet short off season that we cannot just give him the giant contract he would be happy to have at this point. We have to be smarter about it.
The truth is that he's going to get a truck load of cash no matter what team gives it to him, but Dallas has his loyalty. It's kind of a tit for tat arrangement in that we stuck with him through his first few unspectacular and injury prone years and gave him a chance to shine, which he did. I think that warrants him obliging any cautious side Jerry Jones might have.
Then again, it is an uncapped year and that does mean the money isn't as tight as we're all so painfully used to. Not at Jerry World.
Speaking of which, is anyone else as angry as I am to continually hear the NBA All-Star game is being played in Dallas? Last I checked, and I did grow up there once upon a time, Arlington isn't even in Dallas county, let alone the city of Dallas. Hell, the old Texas Stadium isn't even in Dallas, it's in Irving, Texas. To finish my rant I'll just say that I, for one, did not vote to have the new stadium built in Arlington just to see the city name completely stonewalled in advertisements. Kind of defeats the purpose of the city agreeing to the whole deal.
So where was I? Oh, so we need to move forward in a way that exudes some kind of sense. I realize that this is entirely dependent upon the long shot that good ole Jerrah, former oil man, has a cautious side, but I like to think of myself as an optimist, sue me.
We shouldn't be committing to a huge contract that spans more than a year or two. It's just not the right time for that.
I've been reading online of specific references made to how New Orleans handled Marques Colston after his breakout season, the season in which I found myself extremely pleased over my mid-year waiver wire pickup and the cache of points he netted me. So let's use that same reference here.
The biggest difference of all between Colston and Austin is one that I've yet to hear any credible media members mention—I'm using the word credible loosely—Colston's breakout season was his rookie year, was Austin's?
That would be a no.
Even though they had a guy who never showed them he was anything but a player, they still went the safe route with a meager contract to see if he would continue his production after the first year. Austin is now facing his second Dallas contract to expire, so why not take it safe with him as well?
Give him the franchise tag, hell give him a one year deal worth the franchise tag. I hear it's going to be somewhere in the neighborhood of $9 mil. I'm not arguing that he doesn't deserve it.
I'm just trying to say that we've already got one truckload of cash tied up in Roy Williams, and that move hasn't really worked out so well for us. I'm just worried that with Toyota halting manufacturing that there won't be any good trucks left to haul the cash, leaving only the ones with no brakes remaining—again, see Roy E. Williams.
Is 2019 Wide Receiver Group Best Dak Prescott Has Worked With?
Dak Prescott will be leading the Dallas Cowboys offense for the fourth consecutive year in what has been a very unlikely career. In three seasons, he's led the Cowboys to two NFC East titles and one playoff win. He's done so with quality offenses, starting by a strong offensive line and an elite running back in Ezekiel Elliott. During his career in Dallas he's had some solid receivers, but he hasn't played with a group as strong as the one he'll have in the upcoming 2019 season.
This year's starters will be headlined by Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and Randall Cobb. Although there's many other intriguing players to watch at the position, those three are the presumed starting three.
Despite the big debate among fans and analysts, Prescott has been able to win games for this football team. Perhaps his worst came at the beginning of last season, when the team's plan of not having a WR1 backfired terribly.
In the first seven weeks of the 2018 season, Dak averaged only 202 yards per game. In that span he threw for less than 200 yards in four games. Once the team traded for Cooper, that average rose all the way up to 274 yards per game. He threw for less than 200 yards in only one occasion since then.
Michael Gallup is poised for a breakout season after a rookie season in which he improved every week. The Cowboys' 2018 third-round pick didn't get as much playing time at the beginning of the season as he fought for snaps with Allen Hurns, Tavon Austin among others. In the postseason, Gallup caught six passes for 119 yards. He still has a long way to go, but the talent is clearly there.
As for Randall Cobb, many fans have doubts. He's coming in to replace Cole Beasley, who was such an effective slot wide receiver. Cobb's style will likely be different, and although he might not be as good at shaking defenders off as ol' #11, he'll be more of a downfield threat than Beasley.
Comparing this starting group to the ones from prior years, it really seems like the best Dak Prescott has worked with. During his first couple of years in the league, Dak played with a Dez Bryant that (like it or not) wasn't anywhere close to his peak. 2016-2017 Dez wasn't on last year's Amari Cooper's level. Williams had his moments, but wasn't consistent and was well-known as a body-catcher.
This year's group has its question marks, that's for sure. Randall Cobb hasn't played a full season since 2015 due to injuries and Michael Gallup doesn't have a ton of experience and is yet to breakout. Even still, it seems like Prescott will have a great group of pass-catchers to help him lead the Cowboys to another NFC East title. It'll be an interesting fourth year for the young Cowboys quarterback. It's definitely good to see he'll have help.
Dallas Cowboys 2019 Training Camp Preview: Offensive Tackle
The Dallas Cowboys appear to be bringing back the same key trip of players at offensive tackle from last year. But with talk that 2019 could be La'el Collins' last season in Dallas, will we see signs that the Cowboys are preparing for future changes in how they handle the position in this year's training camp?
With Tyron Smith as an All-Pro fixture at left tackle, and Cameron Fleming re-signed this offseason to be the swing tackle, the intrigue swirls around Collins and his impending free agency in 2020. If the Cowboys have no intention of paying La'el what he can command on the open market, what might they do now to lay the groundwork for Collins' exit?
Here's a quick look at the projected OT depth chart for 2019 camp:
- Tyron Smith, La'el Collins
- Cam Fleming, Jake Campos
- Mitch Hyatt, Derrick Puni, Brandon Knight
As was just said, the returning top three are locked in to those spots. Campos is a carryover from last year's practice squad, so that experience gives him a potential edge over the three undrafted rookies.
Back to the top, though, and this situation with La'el Collins. If Dallas had Collins locked up for years to come, they would likely only keep the two starters and Fleming as a backup. A fourth OT is unlikely to be active on game days, and they have Guard Connor Williams' college experience as a tackle in case of an emergency.
If the Cowboys are truly thinking that La'el won't be back in 2020, perhaps they use a roster spot now to hang on to a player who they value for depth next year.
This is where undrafted rookie Mitch Hyatt becomes an intriguing figure in this 2019 camp. He comes from a championship college program at Clemson and was projected as a late-round pick this year. Dallas made him a priority free agent signing after the draft.
Of course, Campos, Knight, or Puni have the potential to make some noise as well. But Hyatt would seem to have the most upside of the group, and Dallas might be willing to consider him as a 2020 swing tackle option if he can hit the ground running in camp this year.
Cam Fleming is also going to need to have a strong camp to help the Cowboys' in their strategy. Letting Collins go would be predicated on their comfort level with Fleming as the right tackle next year. If he struggles now, then doesn't get much playing time in the regular season, that would likely shake their confidence.
The final result of all this talk could be that La'el Collins and Dallas actually do figure out a way to continue their relationship. But when the Cowboys drafted Connor McGovern in the third round of this last draft it felt like a future-pointed move, with Collins' projected departure the likely impetus for the investment.
What we may wind up seeing is McGovern taking over at left guard and allowing Connor Williams to replace Collins at tackle. But that's a discussion better saved for next offseason.
You can read more about La'el Collins impending free agency in this recent article by our own Kevin Brady. A few weeks back, I also discussed the idea that Dallas should trade Collins now rather than lose him as a free agent next year.
For now, the offensive tackles in 2019 should have continuity and stability. But if we really pay attention in this training camp and preseason, we may see signs of what the Cowboys are planning to do at the position in the coming years.
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OTHER 2019 CAMP PREVIEWS
Randall Cobb Will Be a Different Slot WR for Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys signing Randall Cobb might just be the most underrated move of their offseason. For less than five million dollars, they got an experienced wide receiver who is only 28 years old. The former Green Bay Packer has had a solid career wearing green and yellow and now gets the chance to play with the Cowboys' colors. But what can we expect from the veteran wideout?
There are some players who are absolute locks to make the 53-man roster and Cobb is one of them. That much is clear. On the depth chart, he probably sits behind Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup, who will likely be the number one and number two receivers, respectively.
With Cole Beasley departing to the Buffalo Bills in free agency, Cobb is expected to take his place as the offense's starting slot receiver. Cowboys Nation knows very well just how good Beasley was at playing in the slot. His ability to shake defenders off was really impressive and his hands were reliable. However, we might see something different from Cobb.
Yes, it all points toward him playing the same position, but don't expect him to be a Beasley 2.0. This is of course, not a bad thing. Something fans consistently complained about Scott Linehan's offense were the short routes receivers had to run. In Cobb's short time with the Cowboys, we're seeing deeper routes even out of the slot position.
Bryan Broaddus from DallasCowboys.com wrote: "the ball to Cobb even playing out of the slot is further down the field. We hadn’t seen that from Cole Beasley and visually it looks different."
This should be exciting for Cowboys fans, specially considering all the positive reviews on new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore. What we see from Randall Cobb in 2019 could be very different from what we had seen from Beasley in prior years.
It's also worth mentioning that word is Cobb has quickly developed an important chemistry with his new quarterback, Dak Prescott. Beasley was very important in Prescott's rookie season, when he averaged 52.1 yards per game and accounted for five touchdowns.
While Beasley was an important receiver for Cowboys, he wasn't really known as a team leader. Cowboys reporter Lindsay Cash Draper wrote about Cobb's leadership skills will carry on to the team whether he's doing it intentionally or not. It's always good to have such presences out there on the training field to spark the team.
Randall Cobb won't be this team's #1 guy or anything like that, but he will surely contribute every week. When we look back to this offseason, I believe this signing will look like a great move by the Cowboys' front office.
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