By tomorrow at the latest, Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott will file his official appeal of the six game suspension handed down to him on Friday for a violation of the league's "personal conduct policy".
This appeal is only a very preliminary first step in Elliott's fight for justice, as this incredibly public battle between the Zeke camp and the NFL became even more heated last night. Before Ezekiel Elliott can take his case to the courts though, he will meet with either Commissioner Roger Goodell or another league official for his appeal hearing.
All signs point to this meeting being the last chance for both sides to settle on any resolution that does not lead to an all-out war over the coming months into the 2017 season.
Roger Goodell himself made even more negative headlines in this saga yesterday, as reports surfaced that he was never in attendance for Elliott's hearings leading up to the suspension that he handed down per Article 46 of the CBA.
Elliott instead met with former NJ Attorney General Peter Harvey, Pro Football Hall of Fame member Ken Houston, Chief Executive Officer of The Women of Color Network Tonya Lovelace, and former United States attorney/Chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission Mary Jo White. The credibility all four of these officials publicly hold in a case like this - which surely demanded a meeting with Tiffany Thompson that also never happened with Goodell - is microscopic compared to the factually based case Ezekiel Elliott and his team of lawyers are building.
Remember the NFL Investigator who is a "Rabid Giants Fan," Lisa Friel? Even SHE took Zeke's side. She found the "victim" to not be credible.
Zeke's case here has long been about invalidating any and all erroneous claims from Tiffany Thompson, a summary of which are outlined nicely here by the Star Telegram. Making the most waves yesterday was an alleged message from Thompson to Elliott that, on July 22nd, Elliott was told he was, "a black male athlete," and that Thompson was "a white girl":
"They are not going to believe you," Thompson concluded in a damning statement that will get plenty of air time from Ezekiel Elliott and his representatives over the coming weeks.
My son's legal team is ready to fight! Let's deal!!! You will know the set up and PLOT!
A combination of all of this, including the above public statement from Elliott's father, begs the fair question - is anybody actually supporting the NFL in this case??
Even a Cowboys fan peering through the most silver and blue tinted glasses can admit that the NFL would deserve strong support in dealing with a player legitimately found guilty of domestic violence. Perhaps even this support went by the wayside when the league suspended former Giants kicker Josh Brown just one game back in 2015 though.
Not only is Ezekiel Elliott's case far from that clear-cut, but it points the NFL down a dangerous trail of potentially enabling corrupt victims like Tiffany Thompson down the line. There are few players that work under the spotlight that Zeke does as the star running back for the Dallas Cowboys - likely following this spotlight to a fault at times - but it is not a stretch to say that even the least-known of NFL players can all have a former acquaintance or "Tiffany Thompson" waiting for the NFL to discipline them, not far from being able to use Ezekiel Elliott's suspension dangerously in their favor.
Roger Goodell, with a limited involvement in this high-profile case against one of his game's brightest stars, chose a blatantly incorrect time to stick his foot in the ground and enforce a full six game suspension against Elliott for "personal conduct" - not even hammering home the details of a flawed domestic violence policy.
It truly almost feels as if, depending on who you ask in Cowboys Nation, Elliott stepping onto the field against the Giants to open the season at AT&T Stadium feels like a foregone conclusion to put this story behind everyone for good. Realistically though, Elliott could still be forced to fall on this sword and become the face of some real, needed change in the NFL's enforcement of punishment. It is important to remember that his six game suspension stands until announced otherwise - not until denounced otherwise.
Many of the media members that have been reporting on this Ezekiel Elliott story from the very beginning have warned in the recent days that the official suspension notice was just the start of a story that very well could have a tragic ending for Elliott, Thompson, or Roger Goodell.
It is hard to quantify when "round one" of this fight truly took place, but I believe after yesterday that both sides were sent back to their corners - where Elliott and his team have the NFL right where they want them ahead of an upcoming appeal hearing.
2018 In Review: Byron Jones Emerges As CB1
Heading into the 2018 season Byron Jones was being asked to prove himself. The former first round pick had fallen out of the coaches' good graces during his third season, though many of his struggles could be attributed to those very coaches which were then questioning his ability.
Being asked to play out of position, or at least in a spot which did not maximize his natural ability, Jones struggled in 2017. Too often he was playing in the box as a safety where his lack of physicality was exposed by the opponent's run game. This was mostly due to the coaching staff falling in love with his tight-end-erasing ability in man coverage, but backfired when overused as a safety.
Once hired the following offseason, Kris Richard and company decided to move Byron Jones to cornerback full time, allowing him to utilize his excellent coverage skills and athletic ability to the fullest, rather than putting him at a disadvantage in the box.
The results? Well, Jones had one of the best seasons of any cornerback in football, earning All Pro and Pro Bowl honors for the first time in his young career.
Byron Jones had a dominant season for Dallas
Pro Football Focus graded Jones as the sixth best cornerback in all of football last season, allowing just 0.79 yards per coverage snap. Despite not having an interception on the season, Jones still earned national recognition as one of the best cornerbacks in the entire league.
Down the stretch of the season, Chidobe Awuzie started to play up to the level which fans had hoped for during the preseason. He had been sticky in coverage most of the year, but now he was making plays on the ball at a much better rate, forcing incompletions. This led to an increase in targets to Jones' side, and though the increase resulted in more catches given up by the number one cornerback, I don't think Jones' play faltered as much as some will have you believe.
The fact is, when you get targeted more you are bound to give up more catches and yards. The key is to force them into contested catches, and make things as difficult for the receiver as possible when targeted.
Byron Jones continued to do this all season long, and fans should be excited for the next step of his growth in 2019.
Cowboys en Español: Comentando el Tope Salarial
Por muchos años, el tema del tope salarial ha sido un tema sensible para los Dallas Cowboys. Entre dinero muerto y otros problemas, el equipo ha tenido una situación delicada en este aspecto. Sin embargo, para la temporada del 2019 tienen más espacio de lo que estamos acostumbrados.
Según Over The Cap, los Cowboys tendrán aproximadamente 48 millones de dólares disponibles en 2019. Es importante recalcar que este número no es definitivo y puede cambiar. Año tras año, esta administración ha sido aficionada de reestructurar los contratos de ciertos veteranos para liberar espacio salarial constantemente. Además de esto, hay varios jugadores bajo contrato que el equipo podría decidir cortar para liberar aún más dinero.
Al ver sólo 48 millones disponibles, es complicado imaginar un escenario en que el equipo logre satisfacer todos sus objetivos. Hay bastantes candidatos a grandes extensiones en el equipo, principalmente dos jugadores. En una liga en la que quarterback es la posición más importante, la segunda más importante podría ser la del caza cabezas, cuyo objetivo es ir tras el quarterback contrario.
Pues en Dallas, hoy dos jugadores en estas posiciones que hay que extender. El más urgente sin duda es el defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence. Lawrence se puso el jersey del equipo cuando este lo designó a jugar bajo la etiqueta franquicia. Afortunadamente, el atleta de 26 años la hizo de soldado y jugó sin amenazar con faltar a entrenamientos ni pretemporada.
Lo que sí comentó es que no pasaría por lo mismo en 2019. Ahora, el momento está aquí y es tiempo de que los Cowboys lo extiendan. El valor de Lawrence es difícil de predecir, pero es bastante seguro que se acercará a los números de Khalil Mack. Mack hizo historia ganando un contrato que en promedio gana 23.5 millones al año. Si bien no anticiparía que lo supere, la cifra estará cerca al contrato del defensivo de los Chicago Bears.
Además está Dak Prescott, cuyo contrato probablemente estará por encima de los 25 millones anuales. Son contratos caros, pero son piezas fundamentales para el equipo. Definitivamente se les tiene que pagar a ambos. Son pilares que año tras año buscan equipos en toda la NFL.
Además de esto, Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott, Cole Beasley y más podrían tener un impacto en el tope salarial. Algunos buscan un contrato nuevo, otros una extensión. Pero honestamente, me parece que habrá más espacio en el tope salarial de lo que pensamos. Sólo es cuestión de tiempo para que los Cowboys comiencen a reestructurar a sus veteranos para ahorrarse unos cuantos millones para utilizar en agencia libre.
Tyron Smith, Tyrone Crawford entre otros pueden ser buenas opciones para comenzar este proceso. Antes era Jason Witten uno de los candidatos favoritos para este proceso, pero él ya se encuentra comentando partidos para ESPN. En Inside The Star, continuaremos actualizándote con contenido al día de los Dallas Cowboys.
Can the Cowboys Become Legitimate NFC Conference Contenders this Offseason?
Super Bowl LIII is in the books, and the Dallas Cowboys can look back on a better-than-expected 2018 campaign. Having won the NFC East with a 10-6 record and bowing out to eventual finalists Los Angeles Rams, the Cowboys' young team can look ahead to 2019 as a chance to take another step forward.
The offseason is now upon us, with the NFL free agency period opening in the middle of March and the NFL Draft coming around at the end of April. Until those times, experts, pundits, and fans are left to assess their teams and predict their activities in the running to the start of next season.
The Dallas Cowboys are in a precarious position, with the team exceeding expectations, still being very young and having plenty of cap space, but also having many top-end players set to become free agents and being without a first-round pick in this year’s draft. There does, however, appear to be a way for the team to make improvements and solidify their place atop the NFC East and potentially go on to win in the Conference Finals.
Lock Down the Big Guns
Many see DeMarcus Lawrence as the top potential free agent this spring, so the Dallas Cowboys need to do everything in their power to lock down the 26-year-old defensive end.
Vice President Stephen Jones has emphasized the team’s target of retaining their own stars, per Star-Telegram, with Lawrence, Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott, and perhaps Byron Jones being in the discussion for long-term deals.
As it stands, the team will have roughly $48.5 million in cap space for next season, which leaves plenty of space to re-sign their top players. They look set to let go of Tavon Austin, David Irving, and quite possibly Cole Beasley, among others, leaving a need to add reinforcements.
Adding New Talent
One of the most heavily rumored moves for Dallas in this free agency is picking up native Texan and former Legion of Boom linchpin Earl Thomas, per Forbes.
Against the Rams in the playoffs and throughout the season, the Cowboys lacked a defenseman who could make plays on the pass. Thomas is one of the notorious ball hawks in the league, boasting 28 career interceptions, three of which came in just four games of last season.
If the Cowboys can re-sign their stars while keeping some space for an Earl Thomas-sized contract, which clocked in at $10.4 million in 2018 for the Seattle Seahawks, their odds of going all the way next season will significantly increase.
Right now, the expected names of the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs lead the odds to win the next Super Bowl at +750. Behind them, the Rams sit at +900 having suffered a suffocating defeat in this year’s Super Bowl. Much further down are the Cowboys at +2500 right now with redbet. If they re-sign Lawrence, pay their young stars, and bring in Thomas, they’ll shoot up the table of favorites.
Then, there’s also the additions in the draft to consider.
The Cowboys may be without a first-round selection, but that may end up working in their favor. Round one of the 2019 NFL Draft is set to be laden with defensive selections according to most mock drafts, with a few quarterbacks sprinkled around and a minimal selection of offensive weapons. If the Cowboys re-sign Lawrence, they’ll be looking good at defensive end, so should then turn to giving Prescott another weapon in the passing game, which will also help to keep defenses honest and give Elliott more room to operate.
As stated, the NFL is a passing league, and Prescott exploded once he was given a viable option in Amari Cooper. Michael Gallup is expected to take another step forward next season, but just in case, the Cowboys can add another strong receiving option in the draft thanks to the strength of the defensive class. A.J. Brown of Ole Miss will almost certainly go in the first round, but exciting talents in D.K. Metcalf, Parris Campbell, Marquise Brown, and Deebo Samuel could all still be available when Dallas rings in during the second round.
Improving Dallas' pass options and pass defense will go a long way toward improving the team and allowing them to push on to a bigger and better campaign in 2019.
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