The Dallas Cowboys have entered their third week of organized team activities (OTA's) and minicamp practices are just around the corner.
If you believe the talk by those people who have been fortunate enough to watch some of these OTA's, then you probably already know that it looks as if the Cowboys players are practicing with a greater sense of urgency and a renewed energy.
Former Vice President of player personnel for the Dallas Cowboys, Gil Brandt, was on hand to watch two different OTA practices last week and shared a lot of interesting observations based on what he saw from the team as a whole and from individual players.
Brandt was a key part of the Cowboys organization from 1960 up until 1989 when the Jerry Jones era began. At age 83, Brandt is still a well-recognized voice of opinion around the NFL and currently contributes as a senior analyst for NFL.com.
Now, I understand that these practices shouldn't really be taken too seriously because players aren't in full pads yet, which makes it really difficult to judge how well individuals are performing when they're not really in a game like situation.
So, just about anything you hear about the Cowboys OTA practices can be taken with a grain of salt, but at this time of year any positive news is encouraging, especially after what they team went through in 2015.
Taking all of this into consideration though, Brandt still made several observations that should have Cowboys fans excited for the 2016 season.
Brandt observed that Tony Romo looks like a spry 27-year-old and that tight end Jason Witten looks more like a player entering the second year in the league than a seasoned vet. He said Witten looks like he is in the best shape of his career.
That alone should create some sort of optimism among fans. Both Romo and Witten are now the two oldest members on the offensive side of the ball and we all know that these two players are key to the success for the entire offense.
There was one observation that Brandt made that I disagreed with somewhat, but at the same time found encouraging.
"Cole Beasley's improvement. If Beasley were 6-2 and not 5-8, I think he'd be a star in the NFL. The fact he's not, but there's still a lot to like about his game. I thought he looked much improved catching the ball and running routes. He showed last year when Dez Bryant went down that he wasn't ready. I think he learned something from that and went into the off-season to improve his overall game as a slot receiver. It showed."
First off, I agree that if Cole Beasley were 6-2 instead of 5-8 that he would probably be a star in the NFL, but unfortunately he's not. Beasley is a mismatch for anybody who is lining up opposite him on defense and should probably be featured more on the offense.
With Bryant in the lineup Beasley is probably the number four option behind Terrance Williams, Jason Witten, and Dez Bryant, but without Bryant he is still nothing more than the third option.
I don't know what kind of expectations Brandt had for Beasley, but he still managed to have a pretty good 2015 season. In fact, Beasley ended up having the best season of his career.
Beasley was able to accomplish this even with the carousel of quarterbacks that played for the Cowboys last year. So to say that he wasn't ready when Dez Bryant went down is a bit of a misinterpretation on Brandt's part about Beasley's role on offense.
Overall, it is still encouraging to see that Beasley is still improving his route running and is catching the ball with more ease. There is no place for complacency in the NFL. That is how players end up losing their jobs.
We should get a much better feel for how players are actually performing once the pads come on during minicamp practices and fortunately for us we don't have too much longer to wait.
Hopefully Gil Brandt is right and the Cowboys are primed for a bounce back year in 2016.
What do you think?
Please feel free to use the comment section below to share your thoughts and opinions.
Cowboys en Español: El Futuro Incierto de David Irving
En una agencia libre muy callada de parte de los Dallas Cowboys, como es costumbre, lo más interesante hasta ahora se revuelve alrededor de un talento increíble en la línea defensiva: David Irving. El joven de la línea defensiva de Dallas recibió un tender de segunda ronda (con un costo de casi tres millones de dólares) de parte de los Cowboys, lo cual significa que vestirá la Estrella Solitaria un año más... ¿o no?
No, no es tan sencillo.
A diferencia de la etiqueta franquicia que recibió DeMarcus Lawrence hace unas semanas, un tender permite a un jugador recibir ofertas de otros equipos. Si Irving llega a recibir una oferta externa, sin embargo, los Cowboys tienen la oportunidad de igualarla.
Pero no sólo eso, sino que si no quieren igualar la oferta, pueden dejar ir al jugador y en cambio, el otro equipo tiene que compensar a los Cowboys con una selección de segunda ronda. Así como el tender de segunda ronda que se le otorgó a David Irving, hay tender de primera ronda o tender de "selección original."
Sin embargo, Irving no fue seleccionado en el NFL Draft, así que esta última opción hubiera tenido poco sentido.
Ahora, pensando en el 2018 y una temporada ya incierta, nos sentamos preguntando: ¿No valía la pena cubrir a Irving con un tender de primera ronda? Al final de cuentas, sólo hay aproximadamente un millón de diferencia entre ambos. Irving es un jugador lleno de talento, y podría llegar a estar entre los mejores en su posición próximamente.
Sin embargo, si somos honestos, es una buena decisión de la administración. Irving ha tenido sus cuantos problemas y quizá este tender ayude a definir su valor en el mercado. Si ningún equipo alrededor de la liga se atreve a ofrecerle un contrato, los Cowboys mejoran su posición en las negociaciones y quien sabe, quizá consigan un acuerdo más amigable para el equipo.
Además, si un equipo decide llevárselo... ¿qué tan malo sería?
Con el pick #19 en la primera ronda del Draft de la NFL, no están en una posición muy cómoda. Como bien algún jugador talentoso como el DT Vita Vea o el WR Calvin Ridley pueden caer a las manos de Stephen Jones, Will McClay y compañía, bien puede estar vacía la tabla.
Con jugadores como el S de Florida State Derwin James o el LB de Georgia Roquan Smith, deberían considerar realizar un trade para subir algunas selecciones y llevarse a uno de estos talentos que no estarán disponibles en el #19.
Con las selecciones globales 19, 50 y una segunda ronda extra que conseguirían por Irving, es fácil visualizar a este equipo dispuesto a hacer un movimiento así el día del Draft.
A pesar de una mala temporada en el 2017, los Dallas Cowboys son un equipo que están cerca de ser contendientes.
Cowboys Free Agency: FB Keith Smith Signing with Raiders
The Cowboys have lost an important role player from the offense as fullback Keith Smith is reportedly signing with the Oakland Raiders.
The #Raiders and FB Keith Smith have agreed to terms on a 2-year worth $4.2million, source said.
Smith, who has been with Dallas for four seasons, was the team's fullback the last two seasons. He started as a linebacker after going undrafted in 2014.
Whether on offense or defense, Keith has been a regular part of the special teams units. The Cowboys' previous special teams coach, Rich Bisaccia, just left this offseason to join the coaching staff in Oakland. That is a likely cause for Smith heading to the Raiders.
Dallas elected not to give Smith a restricted free agent tender, which made sense given his position. Even the lowest tender of $1.9 million would have been too rich for a part-time player.
Even with Keith gone, Dallas may not need to sign a new fullback. Backup RB Rod Smith has experience in that role. They could also use tight ends James Hanna or Geoff Swaim.
Fullback is obviously not the position it used to be in the days of Daryl Johnston, but there are still times you need that lead blocker out of the backfield. Given their reliance on the run game and the success that Ezekiel Elliott had with Keith Smith, Dallas will have to find a solid replacement plan.
Will Another Team Snag David Irving Away From Cowboys?
It was somewhat surprising to learn that the Dallas Cowboys only placed a second-round tender on David Irving. A first-round tender would have likely dissuaded any other team from signing him to a contract and giving up a first-round draft pick, but signing Irving to a contract and giving up a second-draft pick is much more plausible.
I can almost guarantee there are teams around the league right now who are discussing the pros and cons of trying to acquire David Irving. The Dallas Cowboys likely know this which means one of two things:
- The Cowboys are hoping someone sets David Irving's market value with the hopes of matching.
- The Cowboys are willing to part ways with Irving for a second-round draft pick.
There are teams out there who have more salary-cap space than the Dallas Cowboys who could easily sign him to a contract the Cowboys can't match. And, giving up a second-round draft pick for a dominating, yet inconsistent, defensive tackle is probably better than anyone they can draft.
It's not completely out of the realm of possibility Cowboys fans have seen the last of David Irving with a star on his helmet. But, it seems like a risk Dallas is willing to take, whether fans agree or not.
In 2017, David Irving recorded 22 tackles, seven quarterback sacks, six passes defensed, and one forced fumble. He did this after missing the first four games of the season due to a suspension and the last four due to a concussion. That's pretty impressive!
There is no denying Irving's impact when he's on the field, but it's all the other stuff that makes Dallas hesitant to commit fully to the 24-year-old DT.
I'm not going to sit here and pretend that I know what kind of person David Irving is in the locker room or off the field, but his past behavior and inconsistencies are concerning. Yes, he has immense upside, but that doesn't look as if it's enough for the Dallas Cowboys, at least not yet.
I think this ultimately comes down to the Cowboys not fully trusting David Irving just yet. Placing the second-round tender on him is more of a "prove it" kind of deal, if another team doesn't sign him away. The Cowboys probably want to see he has his head on straight and more consistency before fully committing. It's completely understandable.
It just doesn't seem as if David Irving is in the long-term plans for the Dallas Cowboys right now. I think they would be perfectly content receiving a second-round draft pick, but that decision might not sit well with a lot of Cowboys fans.
There is really no way of knowing if another NFL team will snag David Irving away, but I think the possibility of that happening is pretty high.
Will David Irving remain in Dallas in 2018?
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