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Forget The Triplets: 4 Underrated Cowboys That’ll Shine In 2016

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Cowboys Headlines - Forget the Triplets: Cowboys Need The Underrated to Shine in 2016

When people think Dallas Cowboys, household names come to mind.

Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, and rookie Ezekiel Elliott are all well-known around NFL circles.

The new triplets in Big D will have a lot to say about the Cowboys' success in 2016, but what about the 50 players? A decimated defense will need lesser-known talents to step up, and role players will need to take some pressure off the offense as well.

Look for these underrated talents to help the cause in 2016, just not receive the praise.

Brice Butler

When I think of Brice Butler, I can't help remembering Laurent Robinson. Robinson stepped in as the number-three wide receiver in 2011 and broke out for 11 touchdowns in 14 games, which led the team.

Tony Romo has the ability to make everyone around him better. Butler has flashed some ability this preseason too, specifically shining with Dak Prescott. I have spoken on the menacing inconsistency of Terrance Williams, and Butler has a clear opportunity to rise up this year.

Expect Brice Butler to become a name fans will remember this year, as he breaks out as a nice deep threat for Romo.

Alfred Morris
✭✭

Ezekiel Elliott is receiving all the press since the draft, but it's been Alfred Morris thriving this offseason. To be fair, he has been the definition of underrated his entire career.

In his four years with the Washington Redskins, all he did was rush for over 1,000 yards three times. He is a model of consistency and his performance last week against Miami continued to prove his worth.

As the team approaches the third preseason game, this deep Dallas backfield hasn't really lived up to that name. Elliott will finally see time this Thursday, but the statuses of Lance Dunbar and Darren McFadden remain uncertain.

Considering the small contract Morris received this offseason, he is clearly underrated.

Expect Morris to act as the change-of-pace back for Elliott, and then some. He has proven he can at least be an effective starter if Elliott is slow out of the gate. And if the rookie fails to live up to the hype, Morris will carry the load this year.

James Hanna
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If the Dallas rushing attack skips a beat or two this year, James Hanna's injury will play a part. Jason Witten has been one of the most complete tight ends in football over the past decade, but Hanna's impact on the team can't be ignored.

He's the guy you can rely on to battle in the trenches and grind as a blocking tight end. He is capable of getting dirty and making the unseen plays that matter. When Dallas wants to run the ball 30 plus times a game, the loss of Hanna hurts. Gavin Escobar has failed to live up to the hype as a second rounder as well. If the team wants to return to 2014 form, James Hanna needs to get healthy soon.

Orlando Scandrick
✭✭✭✭

The talk of the offseason for the Dallas defense has been the suspensions. The front-seven once looking nice on paper is now one of the league's worst. But how about the secondary? I could argue a few Dallas cornerbacks are looking at breakout seasons (Byron Jones and Morris Claiborne), but went with Orlando Scandrick for a few reasons.

He's tough, and a corner who can cover well in the slot. He can tackle too, which is a plus. For the 2015 season, he ranked 14th on Bleacher Report's list of Top NFL Corners. I wonder how much better he would be if he actually had a pass rush on his side.

When the top NFL cornerbacks are mentioned, his name remains off the list, but he is a solid, underrated player. I expect big results from the Dallas secondary this year, anchored by Scandrick.

In an offseason full of bad headlines for the Cowboys, it will be refreshing to see some unsung heroes steal a few positive ones.


Die hard Dallas Cowboys fan behind enemy lines here in New Jersey. CBS Sports employee and contributor for InsideTheStar.com.

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Cowboys Will Tag DeMarcus Lawrence; What’s the Plan?

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Cowboys Planning

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?

David Moore on Twitter

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.

Jess Haynie on Twitter

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.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys Will Tag DeMarcus Lawrence; What’s the Plan?" in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!


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Dallas Cowboys OL Fails To Crack NFL.com’s Top 10

Kevin Brady

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Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, Travis Frederick, offensive line

Often considered a top unit in football, the Dallas Cowboys offensive line seemed to take a step back in 2017. Mostly due to injuries and free agent departures on the left side, the Cowboys were unable to form the same solid unit we have seen in years past.

Despite their struggles, most would still consider them a top 5-10 offensive line in the NFL. At least, that's what I'd expect considering they still feature three All-Pro caliber players upfront.

Matt Harmon of NFL.com put together a list of the top 10 offensive lines in football based on performance in the 2017 season. The list was strictly developed through the use of next gen stats, which defined pressure as "pass-rushing play in which a defender gets within 2 yards of the opposing quarterback at the time of the throw or sack." In addition, "yards gained before close" was taken into account. This metric is meant to measure "the amount of rushing yards a running back gains before opposing defenders come within 1 yard of the player."

After compiling all of these stats, the Cowboys offensive line was left off of the list completely. Maybe even more surprising, however, was that the Philadelphia Eagles' line failed to crack the top ten as well. That's two lines with 3-4 Pro Bowl caliber players each missing the cut.

According to Matt Harmon the Cowboys allowed a pressure on 28.6% of Dak Prescott's dropbacks, 12th highest in the league. Dallas also ranked 20th in the league in YGBC in 2017.

While I do have some issues with the methodology of these statistics, the final result is actually hard to argue with. Down the stretch the Cowboys offense was downright pathetic at times. Regardless of how highly we thought of them prior to the year, the offense didn't perform to their standards, or the standards of a top ten unit.

Heading into 2018, however, I do expect this offensive line to begin to regain form. La'el Collins should continue to improve on the right side, and he is already an adequate starting right tackle regardless. I also expect Dallas to address their left guard spot, potentially within the first two rounds of the 2018 NFL Draft.

In the end the success of this line may hinge on the health of Tyron Smith, though. When healthy, Smith is the best left tackle in all of football. But that "when healthy" caveat has certainly hurt the Cowboys offense.

The way the front office handles their offensive line this offseason will play a huge role in the success, or lack thereof, of the Cowboys in 2018.


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Cowboys 2018 Free Agents: CB Bene Benwikere

Jess Haynie

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Cowboys 2018 Free Agents: CB Bene Benwikere

After playing sparsely for the Dallas Cowboys in 2017, veteran cornerback Bene Benwikere is set to be an unrestricted free agent. Could he stay in Dallas, or will he have to find work elsewhere?

Dallas was concerned about its CB depth with heavy reliance on young players and Jourdan Lewis barely participating in the offseason. Therefore, the Cowboys traded a sixth-round pick to the Cincinnati Bengals for Benwikere just before Week One.

After a stellar rookie season with the Carolina Panthers in 2014, Bene had suffered a steep fall before landing in Cincy. Injuries and poor play got him cut midway through 2016 by the Panthers, and then Benwikere bounced from Miami to Green Bay before finally signing with the Bengals in the 2017 offseason.

Though a few years removed from being an All-Rookie Team standout, Bene Benwikere is still just 26 and may still draw interest from scouts who remember his better days. He is likely counting on that, because the Cowboys' secondary is starting to fill up.

Cowboys 2018 Free Agents: CB Bene Benwikere 1

Dallas Cowboys CB Bene Benwikere (#23)

The Cowboys currently have exciting sophomores Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis expected to start in 2018. Anthony Brown is back for his third season and will be active on game days.

Orlando Scandrick's future is cloudy, but Dallas won't get much cap relief from releasing him this season. They may elect to keep the veteran for one more year, which would all but fill out the CB depth chart.

Even if Scandrick leaves, talk that Dallas may move Byron Jones back to corner from safety would only leave Benwikere in the same disadvantaged position for finding work.

The best chance that Bene Benwikere has to stay with the Cowboys is if new Defensive Backs Coach Kris Richard remembers him from 2014. Coaches often feel that can get more out of a player than the last guy, and Richard may see potential in Benwikere that his last few teams couldn't unlock.

Four years ago may be too long, though, and especially with a fresh new crop of young players coming into the league. Especially if they keep Scandrick, Dallas may want to use the rest of their roster spots on younger prospects.

As it stands, Bene Benwikere is unlikely to return to the Cowboys. However, given the flashes of potential he once showed in the NFL, you can't be certain that Dallas won't want to give him one more chance.


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