There's a certain fallacy to saying that NFL free agency begins today, given how much news has already come out in the last 48 hours. However, none of it is official until 4:00 pm EST and even the handshake agreements we've already seen reported could suddenly evaporate.
Outside of giving restricted free agent tenders to Jeff Heath and Ron Leary the Cowboys have made little news so far. Will that change today? As we all await the action, here are some final thoughts on how I think Dallas should approach free agency.
It's been apparent that Dallas intends to let Greg Hardy leave. However, given recent developments in the defensive end market, could they be having second thoughts?
Defensive ends Mario Williams, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Charles Johnson have all already agreed to deals. That leaves Olivier Vernon, Robert Ayers, and Adrian Clayborn as the top names with some other decent options behind them.
Take all personal issues aside and Hardy is probably the best talent on the market. He turns 28 this year and has proven himself on the field more than any remaining options. You could chalk up his lack of performance last season to all of the stress and distraction that came from his personal life, hoping that another year removed would allow him to fully recapture his former level of play.
I think Jason Garrett's cold, detached statement that "Greg Hardy is a free agent" a few weeks ago said everything about where he stands on Hardy's return. However, the same owner/general manager that added Hardy last year is still here. If Jerry Jones feel Hardy is their best option then Garrett may have to deal with it.
If Dallas is truly done with Hardy then I expect they'll add one of Ayers or Clayborn when the market opens. I also expect one of their own free agents, either Jack Crawford or Jeremy Mincey, to be re-signed.
Carr & Claiborne
Stephen Jones has said that the Cowboys want to bring back cornerback Morris Claiborne. Dallas will need answers from soon or else they could miss out on other options to replace him. With news breaking this morning Rolando McClain's return then perhaos a Claiborne announcement is also coming soon.
There's also the lingering question of what's going to happen with Brandon Carr. The assumption that he will be released becomes less solid every day that passes. Perhaps the Cowboys are still wanting to find a way to keep him and lower his cap figure, either through a negotiated pay cut or by extending the deal and spreading money out over more years.
I've always felt like keeping Carr and re-signing Claiborne were mutually exclusive. Not only did they seem financially incompatible but it would mean, essentially bringing back the same cast who has struggled greatly the last two years.
However, sometimes free agency turns into a classic case of "the Devil you know." If Dallas is unwilling to pay what guys like Janoris Jenkins or Casey Hayward are asking for then how much better are the remaining options from what you already have?
Here are some final quick-hit considerations for today:
- Colt McCoy was my favorite backup QB option and he's just re-signed with Washington. I can't say there's anyone else in play who stands clearly above Kellen Moore as an option. Last year I would've sworn Matt Cassel was a superior backup QB and we saw how that ended.
- Lance Dunbar is a forgotten man these days but maybe we should be paying him a little more attention. There's no free agent who matches his skill set and Dallas may be looking to bring him back. That said, Dunbar's return shouldn't change much about how they approach the position.
- If Nick Hayden was coming back I think he'd already be signed. He's the kind of player who I think would jump at a contract from Dallas if one was actually on the table. This may be a sign that the Cowboys look be looking to find an upgrade.
I'm sure the unofficial news will continue rolling in as the day progresses and things will get really fun tonight and tomorrow. Be sure to follow me on Twitter @CowboysAddicts for my ongoing commentary and reaction to free agency developments as they come.
Report: Amari Cooper Likely out for the Rest of the Preseason
Dallas Cowboys Wide Receiver Amari Cooper is likely out for the remainder of the preseason according to ESPN's Todd Archer. He is currently dealing with a form of plantar fasciitis that has kept him out of practice since August 6th.
The three-time pro bowler changed life in Dallas last season as the team went 7-2 in it's final nine games after he was acquired to win the NFC East. Cooper isn't worried about any long term effects, though, as this is something he's familiar with.
"I'm not worried about it at all, because I know if it does linger, it doesn't matter," Cooper said. "I had 1,000 yards when I played on plantar fasciitis before."
The Cowboys host the Houston Texans this Saturday in what is known as the "dress rehearsal" game before the regular season. Starters normally play about a half of football to get the juices flowing for when games really count in September. Ideally, the plan would be for Cooper and Dak Prescott to get a rhythm of sorts before the season starts but that will have to wait until the team prepares to take on the New York Giants on September 8th.
However, the good thing here is this issue doesn't seem to be serious and Cooper will be ready for the start of the 2019 season.
Report: Cowboys Agree To Contract Extension With LB Jaylon Smith
The Cowboys are neck-deep in contract negotiations with some of their team's most important players, but it appears they have gotten one key guy signed this afternoon.
ESPN's Todd Archer is reporting that the Cowboys have agreed to a contract extension with middle linebacker Jaylon Smith, though the exact terms of the contract have yet to be announced.
The Cowboys have agreed to a contract extension with linebacker Jaylon Smith, according to sources. Smith was set to be a restricted free agent after this season but the Cowboys and his representatives started talks in the spring and they ramped up once camp began. Smith, a...
Of course, the Cowboys drafted Jaylon Smith early in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft despite the horrific leg injury he suffered in Notre Dame's college bowl game. Some didn't think Smith would ever recover to be the same player he once was, but in 2018 Smith emerged as an excellent middle linebacker once again. Smith finished the 2018 season with 121 combined tackles and 4 sacks, and has looked just as imposing thus far in the preseason.
Smith regained his athleticism and sideline to sideline speed, while retaining his impressive hit power and sound tackling to become one of the league's best. Combining Smith with Leighton Vander Esch, the Cowboys have put together arguably the best linebacker group in the NFL.
And now, there's no end in sight for the dynamic duo.
Report: 2 Dallas Cowboys to be Activated off of P.U.P. List
Per a report from ESPN's Todd Archer, the Dallas Cowboys will soon activate Tyrone Crawford and DeMarcus Lawrence off of the Physically Unable to Perform (P.U.P.) List.
"The Cowboys are planning to activate defensive linemen DeMarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford from the physically unable to perform list on Tuesday, according to a source. They will work through individual drills in their first steps on the field before going through full practices. Lawrence had shoulder surgery not long after signing a five-year, $101 million contract in April. Crawford has been working his way through a hip issue that kept him out of the offseason program. Safety Byron Jones (hip) and receiver Noah Brown (knee) remain on PUP."
Todd Archer - ESPN.com
This report comes after DeMarcus Lawrence had offseason shoulder surgery in April and signed his five-year deal making him the highest-paid player in the history of the Dallas Cowboys, at least for now. It looks as if Lawrence will be ready for a week one return.
It's long been believed that Lawrence would be available for week one of the regular season and hasn't suffered any setbacks to this point that should lead you to believe otherwise. With Robert Quinn suspended for the first two games of the regular season and Randy Gregory's status still up in the air (he still hasn't applied for reinstatement), getting Lawrence and Crawford back for the first two weeks of the season becomes instrumental.
The Dallas Cowboys defensive line has looked really good through the first two games of the preseason, but as good as they've been, they'll need Lawrence and Crawford once the regular season starts. Lawrence will slot back in as the left defensive end and Tyrone Crawford will split snaps at right defensive end with Dorance Armstrong and 3-technique defensive tackle with Maliek Collins, Trysten Hill, and Kerry Hyder.
While the additions of DeMarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford will help the defense tremendously, there still isn't a timeline on the return of Pro Bowl Cornerback Byron Jones. Jones has been out since having hip surgery this offseason.
With as good as the Dallas Cowboys defense has looked this offseason, there's reason to believe that they can be even better once each of these guys are back in the lineup full-time. For a defense that was one of the 10 best defenses in the NFL in 2019, they'll need Lawrence, Crawford, and Jones to make the jump into the elite stratosphere of NFL defenses.
With the Dallas Cowboys' eyes set on capturing that sixth Lombardi Trophy, getting Lawrence and Crawford back in time to be ready for the regular season is vital to starting the 2019 season off right.
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