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Draft Day Anxiety for Cowboys Roster

Jess Haynie

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Tony Romo

During the 2012 draft, then-Cowboys cornerback Mike Jenkins was participating in a local draft party. When Dallas’ selection of Morris Claiborne was announced, Jenkins was reportedly upset and left sullen for the rest of the night. Entering the last year of his rookie deal, Jenkins saw the writing on the wall.

Though it usually goes unseen, we can be sure that other NFL players have had pretty bad reactions to what their teams do in the draft. Jenkins knew he’d at least get one more year in Dallas. But what if you’re the guy who may not even get past final cuts?

Here’s a look at some current Cowboys who may not be happy based on how the upcoming 2016 draft unfolds:

TWill1. Terrance Williams, WR

Williams should already be feeling the heat from fellow veteran Brice Butler, whose strong play at the end of last year has many thinking he could challenge Williams for the starting job. If Dallas also drafts a wide receiver with an early pick it could put Williams in a similar mood as Jenkins last year.

Like Jenkins, Williams is entering the final year of his rookie deal. He has started most of his games in three years in Dallas and has solid production. Williams has an impressive highlight reel of circus catches but an equally frustrating collection of dropped passes, many of which have come on third-down.

With Dez Bryant and Cole Beasley already locked up in long-term deals, a decision by Dallas to draft a receiver high would be a pretty clear indication that they don’t plan on committing to Williams after this year. I don’t expect them to use their fourth-overall pick on a receiver but the 34th pick (second round) is very possible.

Nov 27, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys linebacker Rolando McClain (55) on the sidelines during the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

2. Rolando McClain, LB

In my most recent mock draft I have the Cowboys selecting UCLA’s Myles Jack with their first pick. While there are technically three starting linebacker positions in the defense, the reality is that adding Jack would be bad news for McClain’s long-term prospects.

Dallas employs a nickel scheme with just two linebackers on the field on a large number of their plays. McClain and Sean Lee have those spots now but Jack’s coverage ability is one of his strongest traits and where his elite potential really shines. He could supplant McClain in that role, or at least carve out a chunk of McClain’s snaps.

The Cowboys have yet to trust McClain enough to give him more than one-year deals, given his history of motivation issues and personal problems. If they take Jack then it’s likely they will not seek to re-sign McClain next offseason. If that has a negative impact on McClain’s motivation now, it could even accelerate the process of Jack taking over his jobs.

Cowboys Headlines - 83. Darren McFadden

Most guys wouldn’t have to worry after having over 1,400 total yards but McFadden’s track record for injury and performance drop-offs after big years is a major red flag. If Dallas takes a running back with an early pick then it could mean trouble for McFadden, perhaps in the very near future.

Dallas signed veteran Alfred Morris to a two-year deal in March. This was probably a good thing for McFadden; someone they could trust to take some of the workload and keep McFadden running at high efficiency. Even if it turned out to be a 50/50 split of touches, both players stood to be highly productive behind the Cowboys’ elite offensive line.

If Dallas ends up with Ezekiel Elliott in the first round, or even if they take a runner with their second pick, it creates a crowded backfield and perhaps squeezes McFadden out. They’ve also re-signed Lance Dunbar and his niche role in the offense won’t be challenged by another player.

Unlike other positions where a rookie can use some grooming, running back is one where you’re compelled to get the young guy going as soon as possible. McFadden would not only be losing touches but could be released for an almost penalty-free $2 million in savings. That money may be needed if Dallas ends up keeping Brandon Carr next year.

Morris_Claiborne_Cowboys4. Brandon Carr & Morris Claiborne

Speaking of Carr, let’s address him and Claiborne together. If Jalen Ramsey falls to Dallas then most expect them to jump at it. But even if they were to trade down and get Vernon Hargreaves or some other top corner, or perhaps even if they get one in the second round, then it could spell trouble for one of the veterans.

You’ve heard these figures before but they bear repeating. If Carr is released outright then Dallas gets about $6 million in cap relief now. If they make him a June 1st cut then it goes up to $9 million and pushes the difference to next year. If Dallas adds a cornerback in the draft then it’s likely Carr will be released to help fund rookie deals and give the rookie a clear top-three role.

Claiborne’s fear will be more about losing playing time than losing a job. He is on a one-year deal for just $2.6 million, a relative bargain for even a solid reserve cornerback. Claiborne is no doubt hoping he can earn a nice extension with his play this year, but a highly-drafted rookie could take him off the field at times and limit his opportunities to earn it.

Dallas Cowboys tight end Gavin Escobar returns to the locker room during afternoon break during Cowboys training camp, Tuesday, July 23, 2013, in Oxnard, Calif. (AP Photo/Gus Ruelas)

AP Photo/Gus Ruelas

5. Gavin Escobar

After Dallas signed backup James Hanna to a three-year, $8 million deal many assumed that they aren’t planning to extend Escobar after this year. If they were to draft a player on top of that then it would almost assure Escobar will be gone next season.

If Escobar were to have a breakout season then Dallas still has flexibility to re-sign him. Jason Witten’s deal expires in 2017 and they could work out a transitional plan for next year. However, if they’ve added another significant talent at the position then it could create a logjam that forces Escobar to the open market.

Cowboys Headlines - 116. Barry Church & J.J. Wilcox

Much like Carr and Claiborne, last year’s starting safeties have plenty to worry about during the draft. One of them could end up released, if not right after the draft then perhaps during the August cut downs.

Wilcox may have already lost his starting job. The talk out of Dallas is that they want second-year stud Byron Jones playing safety next year. It is assumed that Wilcox would be the one getting benched, being more inconsistent than Church. If Dallas drafts a cornerback then it means Jones’ move to safety is fairly decided.

Money could make Church the fall guy, though. Dallas can save a little over $4 million cutting Church and just around $1.7 million if they released Wilcox. If they were to add a rookie defensive back and then also elect to keep Brandon Carr around, Church’s cap savings are a big chunk that could be needed to pay rookie salaries.

There is always entanglement between the corners and safeties when figuring out your roster, and that’s especially true when plays have position flexibility. Byron Jones already has that and adding Ramsey would only further muddy the waters. The only certainty is that someone, for finances alone, would have to be released. Only the Cowboys know who they value most.

Romo7. Tony Romo

Given the relationship between Romo and Jason Garrett I doubt anything happens at the QB position that Romo isn’t on board with. However, since I can’t be entirely positive about that, we have to mention the possibility.

If Dallas selects Jared Goff or Carson Wentz in the first round then you have to wonder how much time Romo has left. If he’s released next year there would still be over $19 million in dead money, albeit with about $5 million in savings from his actual cap hit.

Dallas may conclude that they’ve got about $24 million tied up in the QB position one way or another next year. That could all be with Romo’s contract, or it could be with Romo’s dead money about about $5 million that they’d be paying Wentz or Goff on a rookie deal. Then Romo’s deal would come off the books cleanly and open up tons of cap space for 2018.

It’s hard to imagine them keeping the rookie on the bench for more than two seasons. You want to give the kid time to prove himself before his rookie deal expires. Plus, if the apprenticeship lasts through 2017 and then Romo’s released, the dead money drops to just about $8 million with $14 million in savings.

Again, Romo may be fully on board with these plans. However, he could also be like many competitors who don’t believe in their own mortality. Romo likely wants to be a career Cowboy but watching his team draft a quarterback in the top five could threaten that goal.

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Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

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WR Brice Butler Makes Waves With Controversial Comments

Kevin Brady

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Los Angeles Rams @ Dallas Cowboys: By the Numbers

Heading into this 2018 offseason, the Dallas Cowboys have to answer some critical questions about their wide receiver corps.

  • Is Dez Bryant still worthy of being labeled/targeted as a number one receiver?
  • Is Ryan Switzer ready to dethrone Cole Beasley as the team’s starting slot receiver?
  • What in the world do you do with Terrance Williams?
  • And, lastly, do you bring back last year’s WR4 Brice Butler?

Well, it appears that final question answered itself earlier this week.

Free agent wide out Brice Butler took to Fox Sports to voice his opinions on his future with the Cowboys, stating that if he isn’t going to be a starter, he isn’t going to come back at all.

“I think in this league, when you think about the business aspect, you’ve got to follow the money trail… Both of our starters made money. Terrance [Williams] just got paid last year. So there were times where I was like, ‘I’m making plays, aren’t we trying to win games? Why am I not on the field?’ But that’s the only thing that I can really think of.” -Brice Butler

Butler also made waves with a comment on Fox’s Undisputed, claiming that if given the same chances as Dez Bryant, he would have been more productive than Bryant was this season.

I am totally for a player getting the money he feels he deserves, and I wasn’t really “for” the Cowboys bringing back Butler anyway, but he probably sealed his fate In Dallas with his comments. This is the same team that cut Lucky Whitehead last offseason to send a message, and has tried to “clean up” their locker room with the “right kind of guys” lately, so it’d be hard to imagine them re-signing Butler now.

Even though I don’t think it’s that outlandish of a comment for him to make. I mean, why shouldn’t he want an opportunity to start somewhere? Unfortunately for Butler, I doubt that opportunity is in Dallas.

Plus, we all thought Butler should’ve gotten more chances during his time here, dating back to the disastrous season in 2015. And when he did get chances, Butler showed flashes of how valuable he can be.

Still, I think the Cowboys should draft a wide out to be their much-needed Z receiver, and signing Butler would just add to the log jam of pretty mediocre players at the position already.

Could Brice Butler have been more productive than Bryant? I guess we’ll never know. But it’s astounding how this rather average football team cannot help but make the news each and every day.

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Straight Outta Dallas: Cole Beasley Releases His First Rap Single

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Straight Outta Dallas: Cole Beasley Releases His First Rap Single
Getty Images / Ronald Martinez

During an offseason filled with concerns for Cowboys Nation, Cole Beasley sure helped fans take their minds off coaching changes, free agency and draft prospects for a moment. Bease took Twitter by storm when he tweeted a link to his first single as a rapper… yes, you read that right.

Cole Beasley: an NFL Wide Receiver by Day, Rapper by Night

Cole Beasley on Twitter

80 Stings – Single by Cole Beasley on Apple Music

Listen to songs from the album 80 Stings – Single, including “80 Stings”. Buy the album for $0.99. Songs start at $0.99. Free with Apple Music subscription.

“ColdNation Records” is the name of the company Beasley created alongside music producer Victor Clark, to release his first single. You can listen to “80 Stings” on iTunes, Spotify and just about every digital store, as the tweet above mentions.

I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t know what to expect. But when I turned the volume up and played the song for the first time, I was surprised. It’s awesome.

When Beasley caught that football behind his helmet versus the Giants back in week 1, I thought “man, that’s it. Beasley can’t surprise me anymore.” Well, he proved me wrong.

“80 Stings” isn’t only performed by him, but also written by him.

It turns out Cole Beasley has been writing since he was in college. And if you already listened to the single, you know he’s awesome at composing, and his flow is actually very quick.

The whole song is pretty entertaining, but it does have some verses that stick out more than others. We all know Beasley has been an underdog his entire football career, so it comes as no surprise that he introduces himself as “Mr. Slept On”, for instance.

Throughout the song, the 28-year-old receiver shouts out his wife and his children (and the fact he’s saving money for when they go to college, something we had already seen him proudly mentioning on Twitter.)

Jerry Jones and Dak Prescott both got their own name-drops on Beasley’s “80 Stings”, too.

“But Sunday, Jerry’s boss now,

I’m a dog when Dak get the ball out,

Pull the sauce out…”

– Cole Beasley on his first single, “80 Stings”

The rest of the album, according to “Killa Beasley”, will be released this Spring.

Cole Beasley insisted this is just a passion and that in no way will it affect his football career. So, really… don’t worry about it. Just enjoy this awesome thing he decided to share with his fans.

This time of the season can be sort of stressing for Cowboys Nation. A lot of changes in the coaching staff that may not be the desired ones, a lot of players Dallas needs to bring back, and just the aftermath of a disappointing 9-7 season.

It’s nice to have something like this to talk about, for a few days at least.

From all of Cowboys Nation, congratulations on this achievement, Mr. Slept On!

Tell me what you think about “Straight Outta Dallas: Cole Beasley Releases His First Rap Single” 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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RG Zack Martin, DT Maliek Collins Undergo Successful Surgeries

Sean Martin

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Zack Martin

With the NFL Draft, free agency, and of course the ongoing playoffs, providing so much for fans everywhere to focus on, it can be easy to forget that recovery is one of the most critical aspects of every team’s offseason. After the grind of a 17-week season, the Cowboys are recovering — both physically and mentally — as they slowly turn their attention towards building their 2018 roster.

Starting RG Zack Martin and DT Maliek Collins are both expected starters at their respective positions next year, and both players are now coming off of offseason surgery.

Zack Martin, whose name will remain in headlines through the spring as the Cowboys look to sign their franchise RG to a long-term deal, underwent successful elbow surgery. This will cause Martin to miss this month’s Pro Bowl, which he was named to for the fourth time in four years.

LT Tyron Smith is also not expected to play in the Pro Bowl.

https://twitter.com/dallascowboys/status/950846277071396864

In what was an inconsistent season for the Cowboys’ offensive line in performance, health, and cohesiveness, Zack Martin and this minor procedure should be the least of Dallas’ worries. The expectation is, of course, that #70 will be just fine to lead the way for Ezekiel Elliott moving forward, and likely paid considerably more by the time he takes the field again.

For DT Maliek Collins, it was surgery on his left foot that was minor enough to wait until the offseason — although the injury did appear for Collins on the team’s weekly injury reports throughout the season.

With David Irving effectively losing his 2017 season — a four-game suspension followed by a lingering concussion — Collins was asked to play more of the 1T position in his second season with the Cowboys.

Overcoming a broken foot from his rookie training camp to flash real potential as a 3T in 2016, expectations for Maliek Collins had to be tempered once he transitioned to the less “glamorous” 1T spot.

Defensive tackle is not a position the Cowboys have invested in heavily during recent years, so monitoring the health of Collins, while deciding where he best fits Rod Marinelli’s scheme, will be important as we approach the draft.

Like Martin, Collins should also be available for April’s return to work for the Dallas Cowboys.

Tell us what you think about “RG Zack Martin, DT Maliek Collins Undergo Successful Surgeries” in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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