Hello Cowboys Nation, today we dig into the signing of Greg Hardy and what it means to the team's 2015 season to sign the man widely considered the best defensive player left in free agency.
Dallas was 19th in total yards allowed on defense, which was actually best in the NFC East last year. But with some additions like Kiko Alonso to Philadelphia, Terrance Knighton to Washington, and the Giants getting lots of good players back from injury and likely to go defense in the first or second round of this year's draft, we also had to be placed in a position to improve our defense - especially being in the NFC, we can't get past Aaron Rodgers with just our offense.
Many know we've got a huge void on defense, particularly in the passing game. Our pass defense ranked 26th in 2014 and actually was worse than Washington and New York.
More than 4,000 passing yards is unacceptable though. We were the only team that gave up that many yards, yet made it as far as we did (Divisional Round, and the Steelers/Cardinals were two other playoff teams who gave up 4K in the passing game). Why is it unacceptable? Well, we could have been just as unlucky and been like Tampa Bay, who gave up just 53 more passing yards than we did.
I'm not saying that we can't do anything without a pass defense - like make it into the playoffs - but our eyes need to be set on something much more, like a Super Bowl.
We should all know that the secondary is helped with pressure up front. How do we know this? Tony Romo tore up defenses when he was given 7-8 seconds in the pocket. That offensive line was able to hold some of the premier defensive fronts in the NFL in check for that to happen, and the only team we really had problems with were the Redskins. Keep in mind, that line played against Houston, Seattle, Arizona (L), Detroit, and St. Louis.
The defensive line, however, is where the issue is. I've always said that games are won or lost in the trenches. We've addressed the offensive line, but the defensive line is far from perfect. The Cowboys recorded 28 sacks last season. Ten sacks are by players who have bolted, including Henry Melton's five. That number doesn't even include players whose futures in Dallas are in doubt, like Rolando McClain and Anthony Spencer, even if they only contributed 1.5 sacks between them.
Dallas has been really smart with money this offseason. That's the only reason they didn't re-sign DeMarco Murray and guys like Melton. Bruce Carter and Justin Durant also signed elsewhere. We always look to the draft for guys who can make a significant impact at a position of need. However, we aren't high enough to draft a player of DeMarcus Ware's caliber, so we can't expect our next #94 to come now.
We'll likely draft at least one defensive linemen in the first couple of rounds but can we count on them to help Romo grab his championship this year and make the difference that Watt, Suh and Miller have? No, we can not. Doesn't mean we won't draft one, but we STILL need someone to do some damage THIS YEAR.
Meet Greg Hardy.
The player out of Ole Miss selected by the Panthers in the 6th round of the 2010 draft. He didn't start his rookie year but managed three sacks in his various appearances. Over the next three years he compiled 30 sacks, including a second team All-Pro campaign back in 2013.
In the one game he played in 2014 before being put out due to scandalous allegations, he had 4 tackles, a sack, and stripped the ball once. After that game, you'd swear he was poised for a big, big year.
I mean, if you multiply his tackles and sacks in that one game by 16, that's career highs, not to mention if he ever performed better than that one game. He might even have gotten a career high in forced fumbles too, since he would just need 2 more during those 15 games to do so.
I bring this up because Hardy's 15 sacks in 2013 are more than half of what the entire Dallas Cowboys defense compiled last season. The team's 28 sacks were also nine short of the NFC Champs Seattle Seahawks and twelve short of the Super Bowl champions, the New England Patriots. Both of those teams had elite corners in Richard Sherman and Darrelle Revis, along with a safety tandem many teams would die for.
If Greg Hardy is suspended let's say four games, and he compiles a sack per game on average, that's 12 sacks. Those dozen sacks help close the gap, and there's no telling what he can do for the team if he wants to avenge his lost season.
I'm a moral kind of guy. I was disappointed in Josh Brent driving drunk and killing teammate Jerry Brown Jr. I was disappointed in Jay Ratliff, shortly after I might add, for driving drunk, too. I was disappointed in Joseph Randle last year when the guy making hundreds of thousands a year stole underwear and cologne. But what has Greg Hardy done that makes everyone say "No thanks"? The guy's charges were dismissed after the ex received money for compensation, and then didn't show for court that day, which makes anyone think she was all in it for the money. For a league of second chances who has accepted the likes of Ray Lewis, Michael Vick, and countless others back into the NFL (AND EVEN ADRIAN PETERSON), why not then give Greg Hardy a second chance?
Nobody can explain that to me. The guy was never convicted in the court of law. But that's what the 21st Century is now, "guilty until proven innocent."
I'm just saying, fans, you should be ecstatic about this signing. Especially since Stephen Jones constructed a risk-free deal, forcing Greg Hardy to actually play the games to receive the money.
If he gets hurt two games in, we only play him like $2 million. If he's suspended, we don't have to pay him. It's low-risk, and very high reward. You should be proud of the Dallas Cowboys for making a push for another playoff run - or Super Bowl - while managing their money so well that we don't get into a situation like we're in now with Brandon Carr, and ones we've seen in the past.
Report: Raiders Sign Former Cowboys LB Kyle Wilber
A Free Agency period filled with departures continued for the Dallas Cowboys today, as the Oakland Raiders have reportedly signed the now-former Cowboys LB Kyle Wilber.
The Raiders have signed LB Kyle Wilber: https://t.co/TaC6cqjval
Wilber has been with the Cowboys since 2012, and has played in all 16 games four of the past five seasons. Most of his time has come on special teams, but he did provide solid linebacker depth for the Cowboys since joining the team.
Dallas has now lost both Wilber and Anthony Hitchens, depleting their linebacker depth even further over the last couple weeks.
The Raiders have now signed two key special teams contributors for the Cowboys in Keith Smith and Kyle Wilber this offseason. Hopefully Dallas can replace these types of "replacement level" players throughout the rest of the offseason, especially during the NFL Draft.
Report: Cowboys Officially Release CB Orlando Scandrick
After requesting his release from the team just a few days ago, Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick has gotten his wish. According to ESPN's Josina Anderson, Scandrick has officially been cut by the Dallas Cowboys.
I'm told the #Cowboys have informed CB Orlando Scandrick he will be released, per source.
This move will reportedly save the Cowboys roughly $1.4M against the salary cap, as we hope they finally look to make some moves during the Free Agency period.
Scandrick's release comes after an offseason in which the Cowboys totally overhauled the back end of their defense, specifically their cornerbacks. With the emergence of young, promising players such as Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis, and the health issues of the aging Scandrick, the move makes a lot of sense.
In fact, after the Cowboys drafted Awuzie in the second round of last year's draft it was rumored the Cowboys were looking to move Scandrick for extra draft picks. Instead, one year later, they have cut him to save some cap room.
Orlando Scandrick should have a market to find a new team elsewhere, but his time in Dallas has now come to a close.
Dallas Cowboys Have Missing Piece at Offensive Line
There are a lot of positions being talked about right now for the Dallas Cowboys. Upgrades are needed at several spots, but one critical position needs even more than that. Left guard is completely unmanned, and that could be a big problem for the 2018 offensive line if it's not addressed soon.
Last year's starter, Jonathan Cooper, is currently an unrestricted free agent. So are backups Joe Looney and Byron Bell.
Right now, Chaz Green is the only other non-starter under contract who has any NFL experience at left guard. Nobody wants to see him on the field next year.
Dez Bryant may be a big topic but at least he's under contract. The same goes for safety, where we at least have options to turn to if free agency or the draft don't yield anything.
Left guard, though? The cupboard is bare.
One option could be to move La'el Collins back to guard, where many feel he has the most upside, and then find a new right tackle. But that would be changing two positions to fill one hole, and Collins was playing well at tackle by the end of the year.
And obviously, we don't want to see Chaz Green playing that spot either. Or any spot. Ever.
No, at this point it makes sense for Dallas to leave Collins where he is and either sign or draft a starting LG. The question is how much do they want to invest?
The Cowboys are already shelling out big bucks to Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, and Zack Martin. Even Collins counts about $7 million against the cap. They have three first-round picks already tied up in the offensive line.
Some thought veteran free agent Josh Sitton would be a nice option, but he got picked up by the Dolphins today for about $8-9 million per year. That's more than Dallas can afford given their limited cap space and other needs.
No, the LG in 2018 is going to need to be a salary cap bargain. That means either re-signing Jonathan Cooper or Joe Looney on the cheap, or perhaps paying a rookie salary to a high draft pick.
Last year's 19th overall pick, O.J. Howard, counted just $2 million against the Bucs' salary cap in 2017.
There are some older veterans who could be cheap band-aid options, such as Matt Slauson or Evan Smith. But you don't get very far down some lists of available guards before you see Jonathan Cooper's name, and continuity is always a plus.
The point here is don't expect any big move, even with the enormity of the need. Dallas will likely reach an agreement with Cooper after he's tested the free agent waters a bit, assuming nobody else scoops him up.
If not, the need at left guard will become increasingly dire the further we get into the offseason.
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