This weekend, ESPN released there offseason grades for all 32 NFL teams. The Dallas Cowboys ranked last in the NFC East and 25th in the entire league with a "C" grade.
As I have said before, you have to take everything you see on media outlets such as ESPN and NFL Network with a grain of salt.
These people are apart of the national media, and are the same people who left the Oakland Raiders off of the "top offensive lines" list while including the Green Bay Packers.
Yeah, that was bad on NFL Network's part.
And in my opinion, this offseason grade is bad on ESPN's part.
NFL analysts Bill Polian, Louis Riddick, Field Yates, and Mark Dominik administered the grades, and centered there argument for the Cowboys having a poor offseason around one draft pick.
The Cowboys "C" grade had to do with their perceived inability to help their pass rush through the draft when, in Riddick's mind, they could have added a strong pass rusher in the second round instead of Smith.
The obvious counterargument to this point is the Cowboys did add both a top ten player in this class in terms of talent with Smith and defensive line help during the next two rounds.
There is no question that pass rush is still a question mark for the Cowboys, as they have chosen to go with upside, youth, and athleticism over having a true veteran presence of proven rusher.
But, I feel as if ESPN completely ignored the Cowboys picks of Maliek Collins and Charles Tapper in the third and fourth rounds. No, you don't necessarily expect mid-round guys to contribute a whole lot early on in their careers, but as I explored in my draft breakdowns, both of these players come in with talent and athleticism, and will see snaps from game 1.
In fact, I would go as far as to say that Tapper was a much better value pick than Emmanuel Ogbah or Kevin Dodd would have been had Dallas traded up to snag them. Because, well, they would have had to trade up to draft them.
Instead the Cowboys stayed put and added a potential monster linebacker who, if healthy, may turn out to be a top five player in this draft.
But here's the thing, offseason grades are ridiculous to begin with so we shouldn't pay too much attention to what is being said.
The teams that win most offseasons are usually sorry before that offseason, and then just as bad come the fall.
We have even see teams have good years before "winning" an offseason, only to regress the following season.
Think about who has "won" the offseason the last few years. The Eagles were 10-6 in 2014 before winning the 2015 offseason by adding Byron Maxwell and Demarco Murray. What happened? They actually got worse.
The Minnesota Vikings won 10 games in 2012 before spending over $100 million in free agency and falling off the NFL cliff the very next season.
In fact, the teams who have spent the most in free agency have a combined winning percentage of just .333 over the last three seasons.
What do the Seattle Seahawks, Green Bay Packers, New England Patriots, Carolina Panthers, and Pittsburgh Steelers all have in common? All of them made the playoffs in 2015, and all of them were towards the bottom of spending in free agency last offseason. You could argue that the Cowboys don’t have as much talent as those teams listed, and therefore would need to try to spend more than those others have, but once again I would argue you were wrong.
Imagine the Patriots without Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski, or the Steelers without Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown. What do you have? You might have more than only four wins, but you will have a similar year to what the Cowboys experienced in 2015 without Tony Romo and Dez Bryant fully healthy. This franchise believes in Tony Romo. It believes in this offensive line. And it truly believes that this team is not far off from Super Bowl contention.
So while the "experts" give the New York Giants the best grade in the NFC East and 7th best in the entire NFL mostly due to the money they spent in free agency, it is the Cowboys who played it smart and added guys who would be considered more "under the radar" who are still the favorites to win the division.
I would also expect those "experts" to praise the Patriots had they drafted a player such as Jaylon Smith in the second round, and talked about how Bill Belichick is a genius for having the guts to draft him this early.
Instead, Jerry Jones and the Cowboys are made out to seem like fools for it.
But hey, maybe I am just drinking the Cowboys Kool-Aid. Either way, I agree with Dallas' overall approach this season regardless of what any subjective grading system may say.
Below is the full article with all 32 offseason grades.
Though Promising, We Need To Relax About Safety Kavon Frazier
With the addition of former Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Kris Richard to the Cowboys' defensive coaching staff, fans are hoping that Dallas will create their own "Legion of Boom." Of course this is a lofty goal, but one worth pursuing nonetheless.
If the Cowboys are to recreate the Legion of Boom they will need their version of two vital pieces: Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor.
The Seahawks defense works, in many ways, because of these two players. Thomas' ability to play centerfield and literally defend sideline to sideline gives the Seahawks the freedom to use Chancellor where he's best, as a box safety. Chancellor is a big, physical safety who defends the run effectively in the box and can blanket tight ends in man coverage with his size and athleticism.
These safeties are arguably the most critical pieces to the Legion of Boom, though having a shutdown corner in Richard Sherman certainly doesn't hurt.
Realizing Chancellor's importance, Cowboys fans are hoping that current safety Kavon Frazier can fulfill this role in Dallas. Since being drafted by the Cowboys in 2016 Frazier has made his home on Special Teams. As an impressive tackler in both punt and kick coverage, Frazier earned himself time at safety down the stretch of the 2017 season.
All in all, Frazier played rather well. Against the Washington Redskins he stepped in and made a few splash plays at the line of scrimmage, causing Cowboys Nation to lose their minds. After that impressive Thursday night game, however, Kavon Frazier didn't really reach that same level of performance.
Frazier is still a liability when asked to cover, especially when asked to play as a two deep safety. He also struggles when taking angles at times, though playing downhill as a tackler is his best attribute. Frazier actually reminds me a bit of Barry Church, though over time Church became more refined in coverage than Frazier currently is.
Some have argued that Kavon Frazier's presence should stop the Cowboys from considering a first round safety. I would disagree, and actually believe that if Florida State's Derwin James is available, the Cowboys should consider making that pick.
If you could combine the athleticism and coverage abilities of Byron Jones with the physicality and "box safety" qualities of Kavon Frazier, you'd have a fantastic safety. Unfortunately, this isn't the Marvel Universe and we are left without any super heroes in the back-end.
Hopefully Kris Richard will figure out how to correctly place all of these pieces in the Dallas Cowboys secondary going forward.
Maverick Carter: LeBron James Considered Cowboys During NBA Lockout
Maverick Carter is a pretty important man in the world of sports. As a business man, entrepreneur, and manager of one of the best basketball players of all time in LeBron James, Maverick Carter is certainly used to making headlines.
This week, while on former NFL running back Arian Foster's podcast "Now What? with Arian Foster," Carter claimed that Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones once attempted to negotiate a contract with LeBron James.
During the 2011 NBA lockout, Carter claims that Jones contacted LeBron James and discussed bringing him in as a Cowboy while the NBA was without games.
"Jerry Jones, being the smart marketer he is...one day out of the clear blue sky LeBron got a contract I think it was for like one year, a couple million bucks to play for the Dallas Cowboys." - Maverick Carter.
Carter then states that LeBron may have the paperwork framed in his house to remember these discussions with Jerry Jones. LeBron's fandom for the Cowboys has been well documented, as has been his high school football prowess.
We may never know how "real" these discussions were, and of course it is long over now, but just imagining LeBron James getting a chance to play for the Dallas Cowboys would break the internet.
You can check out the full episode of the podcast here, and I highly suggest listening to the other episodes Arian Foster has to offer.
Cowboys Will Tag DeMarcus Lawrence; What’s the Plan?
February 20 is an important day for NFL clubs this year. Why? It's the first day in which teams can franchise tag any player. Since 2015, when the Dallas Cowboys tagged Dez Bryant before they were able to work out a long-term deal, Jerry Jones & Co. haven't used the franchise tag. In 2018, though, that will change.
DeMarcus Lawrence just played his best season yet in 2017, and he's looking to get paid big time. Through three years, he had been able to rack up nine sacks, 52 tackles and three forced fumbles. In just 2017, he sacked opposing quarterbacks 14.5 times, had 35 tackles and managed to force four fumbles.
Not only did Lawrence look like an elite pass rusher, but he also improved as a run defender a lot. The Cowboys have been looking for a "War Daddy" for a long, long time and Lawrence seems to be the answer for this football team.
After such a big year, one would expect the Cowboys to sign him to a multi-year enormous contract. But there's a catch. Lawrence failed to remain healthy early in his career and really didn't make as much of an impact until last season.
There's no question that D-Law will be wearing a star come the 2018 NFL season, but will he be doing it under a long-term deal or under a franchise tag?
Cowboys will not place franchise tag on DeMarcus Lawrence tomorrow as that window opens but will do so by March 6 w/ understanding the goal is to reach a long-term deal. Both sides have until July 16 to make that happen.
For now, according to David Moore from Dallas Morning News, the Cowboys will franchise tag Lawrence with the objective of getting a deal done in July. The tag however, is not expected to be placed as soon as possible.
In 2015, the Cowboys didn't place the franchise tag on Dez Bryant until the final deadline day. This year's deadline is March 6th, so it may be two weeks before they make it official with DeMarcus Lawrence. #CowboysNation #DallasCowboys
What would franchise tagging DeMarcus Lawrence mean for this team?
First of all, they'd make sure he doesn't hit free agency in March. This gives the front office time to get to work and restructure players' contracts if they have to in order to open up as much cap space as they can before giving him a deal.
It's worth mentioning as well, cap savings from players who are designated as post-June 1 cuts will already be available. If you want to be more familiarized with the Cowboys' cap situation, I highly recommend you read John Williams' deep dive on the matter.
It'll continue to be a very interesting story for this offseason, as handing a franchise tag to a player tends to become a non-friendly situation for both parties. Let's hope that's not the case for the Cowboys and Lawrence this year and that everything works out fine.
Here at Inside The Star, we'll continue updating you and the rest of Cowboys Nation throughout the offseason.
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