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Dallas Cowboys’ Stars ‘Not Concerned’ with Contract Extensions

John Williams

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Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott

All offseason, the focus for much of the Dallas Cowboys front office has been put at the negotiation table. With notable players like DeMarcus Lawrence, Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper, and Byron Jones all eligible to discuss long-term contracts this offseason, Jerry Jones, Stephen Jones and the rest of the front office have been working to figure out extensions for their core players.

With DeMarcus Lawrence locked up a few weeks prior to the draft, the Cowboys then set their sites on the rest of that distinguished group.

Over the last couple of days, those players have echoed similar responses to questions about their contract extensions.

Dak Prescott

None of the players set to receive long-term contracts has been as hotly debated as Dak Prescott has this offseason. Everyone has an opinion of the quarterback. Whether fans and analysts think he deserves a contract worth an average of $30 million a year, it's very likely going to happen. The only thing keeping Dak Prescott from making that money will be Dak Prescott.

Despite the conversation that's happening pretty much everywhere, Dak Prescott's not worried about the details of the numbers, he's just trying to get better as a player and a leader.

Jon Machota on Twitter

Dak Prescott: "It's a blessing just to be in this position. But as far as the (contract) numbers are concerned, my focus is on the locker room. I know it will get taken care of, so it is what it is. ...I want to be a Cowboy.

Ezekiel Elliott

The NFL is trending toward a devaluation of the running back position. Teams are employing more two-back systems in an effort to keep their running backs fresh while not having to spend premium capital at the position.

Like the Los Angeles Rams, the Dallas Cowboys are flying in the face of that trend with talks that they are looking to extend Running Back Ezekiel Elliott.

The All-Pro running back has led the NFL in rushing two of his three seasons in the league and likely would have in 2017 as well.

Though the Cowboys have Elliott under contractual control for 2019 and 2020, they could get Elliott extended this offseason, buying up his prime years.

Jon Machota on Twitter

Ezekiel Elliott when asked if he's concerned about getting a new contract done this year: "I'm not concerned." Zeke on dealing with the outside noise about him getting a contract extension: "Just go out there and play football. Do what I've been doing.

Elliott's been a very durable player during his career, never missing a game due to injury. He's sat out the season finales of the 2016 and 2018 season when the Cowboys had the NFC East locked up. In 2017 he sat out those six games during a suspension handed down by commissioner Roger Goodell.

As he's been since setting foot at The Star in Frisco in 2016, Elliott's all about football and will allow the other stuff to take care of itself. Despite all of the drama surrounding the fourth overall pick, he's shown he won't be distracted by the drama; contract or otherwise.

Amari Cooper

Reports of Amari Cooper's contract demands being shockingly high are un-shockingly overstated. Though Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that the Cowboys were "surprised" by his contract demands, they also realize that his contract that the minimum they can pay him is around $16 million.

mike fisher ✭ on Twitter

Per 2 sources close to the Amari Cooper contract talks w #Cowboys - Dallas is NOT 'shocked' by his 'high' contract proposal, as reported, because Cooper's side has NOT yet made a contract proposal of any kind to Dallas.

With players like Brandin Cooks and Sammy Watkins sitting at that number, there's zero chance Cooper's deal comes in less than $16.5 million per year.

Cooper's being coy about any contract questions as Kate Hairopoulos of the Dallas Morning News found out last night.

Kate Hairopoulos on Twitter

Tried to get in a question to Amari Cooper about the contract negotiations but PR had just jumped in to end interview. Cooper smiled and took the out. "They said last question.

Amari Cooper is in the Dallas Cowboys future. He was probably their most valuable player in 2018 as the offense took on a new life when he arrived in week nine. After a 3-4 start prior to the trade, the Dallas Cowboys went 7-2 with Cooper and advanced to the divisional round of the NFC Playoffs.

Cooper was excellent, showing elite speed and adding another home run threat that became too reliant on long, drawn-out touchdown drives. Cooper is a threat to score from anywhere on the field with his ability to create separation and rack up yards after the catch.

More Important Names

Back on May 8th, Dallas Cowboys VP Stephen Jones mentioned Byron Jones, La'el Collins, and Jaylon Smith as players that they're going to have to consider contracts on in the coming years.

 

Jon Machota on Twitter

Cowboys VP Stephen Jones said they're "off and running" on contract talks w/ Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper. But he was quick to mention the importance of also keeping Ezekiel Elliott long term. "He's every bit as important." Also mentioned Byron Jones, La'el Collins, Jaylon Smith

Of the three, Byron Jones seems the most likely to get a deal done this offseason as he will be a free agent in the 2020 offseason. Jaylon Smith essentially got a red-shirt year in 2016, so his contract isn't technically up until after the 2020 season.

The big decision will be on La'el Collins. It's a very high probability that he's going to be with another team in 2020 as his price would likely exceed what the Dallas Cowboys are willing or able to pay. An offensive lineman with Collins' talent and experience are hard to come by and a team with cap room would be happy to hand over a big chunk of it to Collins next offseason. The Dallas Cowboys will be content to let him walk and get a compensatory pick from his departure.



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Dallas Cowboys

What Could June 1st Mean for 2019 Dallas Cowboys?

Jess Haynie

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Tyrone Crawford

Some consider June 1st to be a critical date on every year's NFL calendar; it's own new wave of free agency. But will the 2019 Dallas Cowboys add any talent to the pool, and could they be interested in any players who get released by their current teams?

As you likely know already, teams may choose to cut players after June 1st so that they can defer some of the dead money from their contracts to the following season. It allows them to maximize salary cap savings in the current year.

For over a decade now, the NFL has also allowed teams to release up to two players prior to June 1st but still give them that designation. The team doesn't get the cap relief until June, but the player gets a chance to find a new home during the primary free agency period.

There have been almost no early June-1st cuts so far this year by any NFL team. That may lead you to believe that there will be similar inactivity when we actually hit that date on the calendar. But that may not be a very good tell.

Because teams don't enjoy any benefit from the early June-1st designation, except whatever good feeling comes from doing right by a former player, we hardly see it in action. Teams would much rather carry a player until after the draft and see what their need levels truly is before releasing them. It's rendered the early provision almost meaningless.

For the 2019 Dallas Cowboys, the one player whose situation and contract speak to a possible June-1st move is Defensive Lineman Tyrone Crawford.

Tyrone Crawford

Dallas Cowboys DL Tyrone Crawford

Crawford's deal runs thru 2020, which is key since you need at least two year's left on the contract to utilize the June-1st deferment. A player with only one year left, like WR Allen Hurns, has the same cap relief regardless of when you cut him.

Releasing Tyrone Crawford either after June 1st or with the early designation would push $1.1 million of his total $4.2 million in dead money to 2020. It would increase the total cap savings from $5.9 million to $7 million for the Cowboys' 2019 salary cap.

Now Crawford is one of those guys, a valued veteran and team captain, who you'd think a team would've cut earlier if that was their intention. But Tyrone's value to the Cowboys has been fluid throughout the offseason.

The value went up when we found out Randy Gregory was suspended again. It remained high while contract negotiations with DeMarcus Lawrence dragged until early April. Crawford's ability to play multiple spots on the line meant he could be back in a starting role at DE in 2019.

But then Dallas re-signed Lawrence, traded for veteran Robert Quinn, signed Kerry Hyder, and drafted Joe Jackson and Jalen Jelks. Throw in Taco Charlton and Dorance Armstrong coming back and there are already plenty of players at DE, especially if Gregory manages to get reinstated.

But even if Crawford isn't needed at end, what about defensive tackle?

Trysten Hill

Dallas Cowboys DT Trysten Hill

The Cowboys spent their earliest 2019 draft pick, 58th overall, on DT Trysten Hill. He projects to play the same "3-technique" position that Crawford normally would.

On top of Hill, Dallas is bringing back Maliek Collins, Antwaun Woods, and Daniel Ross form last season. They also signed Christian Covington, a fifth-year veteran from the Texans.

Again, the numbers are pretty tight and the positions are full of younger talent. The Cowboys could easily conclude that they have plenty of DL options at this point and would benefit more from salary cap relief than from Tyrone Crawford's continued services.

Plus, we haven't even gotten into the legal issues that could cause Crawford to get suspended for a few game in 2019.

As far as current talent goes, the June-1st conversation really begins and ends with Tyrone Crawford. Other veterans who may not make it to the final roster, such as Hurns, Jeff Heath, or Tavon Austin, only have one year left on their contracts. June 1st changes nothing for them.

There could be a few interesting names that come available when other teams make cuts. Again, they could have made these moves well before now. But NFL franchises are generally going to do what's best for them, and waiting for the dust to settle from the draft allows for more informed decision-making.

One name we've seen tossed around a lot is DT Gerald McCoy from Tampa Bay, who would be an immediate upgrade over any of Dallas' current tackles. But would losing Crawford to add McCoy really be that cost-effective?

The market to really keep an eye on is at running back. The current free agency pool had dwindled down to Jay Ajayi, who is unlikely to accept a minor role behind Ezekiel Elliott, and a bunch of retreads. Perhaps other teams' cuts could yield a few more desirable prospects to help our RB depth.

For 2019 at least, June 1st may not mean very much. And it may mean even less for the Dallas Cowboys, who already could field a competitive team this year without any additional moves. They may be focusing their cap dollars solely on new contracts for Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, Zeke, and others the rest of this offseason.

Outside of potentially releasing or trading Tyrone Crawford, we may not see any major moves in Dallas until final cuts.



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Dallas Cowboys

Kicker Matt Bryant Should Be the Final Piece of Cowboys 2019 Offseason

Jess Haynie

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Kicker Matt Bryant Should Be the Final Piece of Cowboys 2019 Offseason

The draft is done, DeMarcus Lawrence is re-signed, and the bulk of free agency activity has passed. The 2019 Dallas Cowboys have more than enough talent to compete this season, but there is still one last move I'd wish they'd make. Veteran kicker Matt Bryant, still one of the NFL's best even at almost 44 years old, could be the final piece to this offseason puzzle.

The Atlanta Falcons' longtime kicker, and franchise scoring leader, was not retained this year despite another standout season. He made 20-of-21 field goals, with a long of 57, in 2018.

Why Atlanta didn't keep Bryant hasn't been confirmed, but perhaps the team was just looking to avoid hanging on one year to late. But Matt, who ranks eight all-time in FG accuracy (86.2%), doesn't think he's done. He tweeted the following from his personal account in February:

"Over this past year I’ve been asked numerous times about retirement and how I feel. Well, I’m not retiring and I feel fine and plan on feeling even better with some changes to my offseason program!

As of now Matt Bryant remains a free agent, and I think the Dallas Cowboys should be very interested.

If you go up and down this Dallas roster, kicker is arguably its biggest liability. Brett Maher had some highlight moments in 2018, and won two Player of the Week awards, but he also was one of the league's worst kickers in overall FG accuracy.

Brett Maher

Dallas Cowboys K Brett Maher

The problem with Maher is that you can't teach his best skill; the accuracy from the high 50s and even low 60s is incredible. It's a true weapon that you have a hard time letting go of, which was evident last year when Dallas dumped Dan Bailey for Maher at final cuts.

But Matt Bryant might be the best of both worlds. He's been a 91% FG kicker overall this last three years and has made 18-of-22 attempts from 50 yards out or more.

Maher only made 80.6% of his kicks in 2018. He went from 6/7 from long range, but that tells you how shaky he was from closer in.

Those closer kicks are worth the same three points that the longer ones are, and how'd you like it if Dallas lost a critical game because their kicker couldn't make a 35-yarder?

I get the fear factor with an older guy like Matt Bryant. Heck, the Cowboys let Dan Bailey go when he was still just 30. But Bryant hasn't shown the red flags that Bailey did; he's still kicking as well as he ever has.

If nothing else, Dallas has the cap space and circumstances to bring in Bryant for a true competition with Maher. If Brett has improved his game and keeps his job, then that's awesome. But why not add some pressure now, though a position battle with one of the all-time greats, and see what Maher's really made of?

Seasons have been made, and shattered, by one kick. Unless the Cowboys have good reason for confidence in Brett Maher's development from last year, they could be carrying a significant liability into a year where they're trying to push for a Super Bowl.

If Matt Bryant could provide even a small amount of additional security, isn't he worth it?



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Cowboys RB Mike Weber’s Injury Scare Continues Concerning Trend

Jess Haynie

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Mike Weber

Rookie RB Mike Weber had a brief scare earlier this week with a knee injury in practice, but thankfully the MRI came back with a good report. However, as he fights to have a future with the Dallas Cowboys, this health incident is a concerning reminder of Weber's recent history.

One reason that Weber fell to the seventh round of the 2019 NFL Draft was due to battling injuries during his last two years at Ohio State. He lost his starting job in 2017 due to ongoing hamstring issues and also had to miss time last year because of a foot strain.

Carrying the load for the Buckeyes is a far different workload than being second or third on the Cowboys' RB depth chart. But this latest scare happened in early May, just two weeks after Mike joined the team and well before the more strenuous activities of an NFL offseason.

A practice injury can cost you just as badly as one that happens in a game. And with Dallas already thin at RB, it could leave them severely shorthanded if it occurs during the regular season.

Many have projected that the Cowboys' RB group in 2019 would have Ezekiel Elliott as the obvious starter and then rookies Weber and Tony Pollard behind him. While Pollard was drafted three rounds ahead of Weber, he's not built to take a large number of carries if Zeke were to go out.

If Mike Weber does make the team, he would be expected to take a sizable role if something bad happen with Elliott.

Mike Weber

Dallas Cowboys RB Mike Weber

The "injury prone" label is disastrous for any athlete, but especially a guy with no real claim to a roster spot. If Weber causes concern in the front office about his durability, they may go a different way at final cuts.

Remember, Mike's not just up against Pollard and Darius Jackson for a roster spot. There are still plenty of veteran free agent running backs out there that Dallas could turn to if they're not confident about their young prospects.

This isn't too say that one scary moment in May, which ultimately didn't amount to much, is reason to cut bait with Mike Weber. But when you stack it up with his injury history in college, it does make you wonder how he'll do over the course of an entire NFL season.

Hopefully, Weber bounces back from this and has a great summer. Former Buckeye RBs have treated Dallas well the last few years, and it'd be fantastic if Mike can provide the same solid solid depth that Rod Smith did.

But this latest news is just a reminder of why Dallas can't rest easy at running back just yet, and why they may still have another move to make to prepare for 2019.



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