The Dallas Cowboys begin voluntary, aka show up dude come on, Organized Team Activities (OTAs) today. It is the first chance for the coaching staff to get their hands on veterans AND the new rookie sacrifices, I mean draft picks. This is cause for a parade because it means that we’re yet another step closer to the 2015 NFL season! There will be a lot going on and a lot to see. Here are five things that I think are on all of our minds:
1. What’s happening at running back?
If you hadn’t heard DeMarco Murray has no interest in winning a Super Bowl and therefore took his talents to the home of the Italian Stallion, the City of Brotherly Love. While DeMarco Murray is busy watching reruns of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air the Cowboys will be seeing who wants to tote the rock this season. 2013 5th round pick Joseph Randle, 2015 free agent signee Darren McFadden, 2014 free agent signee Ryan Williams, and this year’s undrafted Synjyn Days are the names to watch.
2. Where will La’el Collins line up?
The La’el Collins situation has been very well documented over the last few weeks. An unfortunate set of circumstances let to the, arguably, best offensive tackle in this year’s NFL draft going completely undrafted and landing right in the lap of the Great Wall of Dallas, Part Deux. Deux is French for two and La’el is a son of the French Quarter having donned the LSU purple and gold in his collegiate days. He lined up at left tackle under Les Miles and he’s got some heavy talent…and permeability. La’el is slated to play either left guard or right tackle. The current offensive line of the Cowboys is (from left to right):
Mickey Spagnola of DallasCowboys.com always instructs his listeners to follow the money. Seeing as this past offseason saw some hefty amount of it invested in our current right tackle, Doug Free, it would appear that La’el could win the starting left guard job.
3. What will the linebacking corps look like?
Today (technically May 27th, but who’s counting?) is not only the first day of OTAs. It is the one-year anniversary of Sean Lee tearing his ACL. That was a dark day for Cowboys fans, but it led to the dawn of Rolando McClain. Rolando was a savior for the 2014 Cowboys’ defense and proved to be a prominent force at Middle Linebacker. Thankfully, Jerry and Co. were able to re-sign McClain for the 2015 season so the MLB presence is filled. Sean Lee, fully healthy and hungry (reminds me an awful lot of Bill Bates, don’t you think?), will most likely slide over to the Weakside Linebacker spot…a position that he can play more naturally. That begs the question…who will be this season’s Strongside Linebacker? 2014’s 4th round selection Anthony Hitchens proved during the late stages of last season that he’s capable of holding his own. The Cowboys have already signed Andrew Gachkar and Jasper Brinkley this offseason, and further bolstered the corps by drafting Anthony Hitchens 2.0, Damien Wilson out of Minnesota in this year’s 4th round.
4. How will Byron Jones look?
With the 27th overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft the Dallas Cowboys selected the University of Connecticut’s Byron Jones, a cornerback/safety. Byron has a lot of incredible physical gifts, he set a world record at the broad jump during the 2015 NFL Combine, but where can we best utilize him? Brandon Carr and Orlando Scandrick, fresh off of his brand new contract extension, will line up at the starting corner spots. The Cowboys still have Corey White (who they signed this offseason from New Orleans), Tyler Patmon (a 2014 undrafted rookie), and 2012 first round draft pick Morris Claiborne (still coming off of surgery mind you) who are all expected to contribute this season. The safety spot has been in question ever since Darren Woodson left, but Barry Church and JJ Wilcox held their own last season. Byron will be put where he can make the biggest impact, it’ll be exciting to see exactly where that is.
5. How good is this defensive line going to be?
Darren Woodson’s presence at safety will obviously be attempted to be emulated, but Woody himself took to the stage at the 2015 NFL Draft to announce a different renovation happening on the Cowboys defense. Darren announced the Cowboys’ 2nd round draft pick, 60th overall, Randy Gregory from Nebraska. Gregory partners up with this year’s marquee free agent signee, Greg Hardy, as the new regime on Dallas’ defensive line. They’ll join the likes of Tyrone Crawford, DeMarcus Lawrence (2014 2nd round draft pick), Jeremy Mincey, Davon Coleman, Jack Crawford, and Ryan Russell (2015 5th round selection from Purdue) as Rod Marinelli’s favorite toys.
There is a lot of hype going into the 2015 NFL season. And you know what? There should be. This is a very talented team and today they’ll join together to start a journey that will hopefully culminate in a trip to San Francisco and Super Bowl 50.
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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