After sitting through the roller coaster ride that was the Dallas Cowboys 2018 season, we could surprisingly be looking at more of the same now that the 2019 Cowboys offseason is underway. With decisions to make about the futures of DeMarcus Lawrence and Cole Beasley, and the possibility of acquiring Earl Thomas or some other big-name free agent, this offseason is shaping up to be an interesting one.
With all of that in mind, I thought it would be a good idea to put together a list of all of the important dates to take place throughout the offseason, especially as it pertains to the Dallas Cowboys. I don't know about you, but I can't wait for things to start ramping up.
As promised, here's what's on the docket for the Dallas Cowboys for the next few months…
* First day to designate Franchise or Transition players
This date will likely be unimportant for the 2019 Cowboys offseason since there really isn't a good candidate worthy of being franchise tagged. They did use the franchise tag last year on Defensive End DeMarcus Lawrence, but are unlikely to do so once again. The only way this happens is if the two sides can't work out a long-term extension, or if they need more time to finalize the deal.
February 26 - March 4
* NFL Scouting Combine
The NFL Scouting Combine is arguably one of the most important events to take place in the offseason, especially for the Dallas Cowboys. Without a first-round draft pick, they will have to pay particularly close attention to this years draft class. The Combine is the first chance they will have to see some of these players perform firsthand. This could help solidify where some of these players fall on their draft board.
* Deadline to assign franchise tag destination
Like I mentioned earlier, it's highly unlikely the Dallas Cowboys use the franchise tag this year, but if they do decide to use it they have until 4 PM EST on March 5 to do so. Again, the most likely candidate to be franchise tagged by the Cowboys is DeMarcus Lawrence. He would become a free agent after the deadline passes at 4 PM, making him free to negotiate with any team.
* Teams are permitted to contact and enter into contract negotiations with certified agents of players who will become Unrestricted Free Agents
On this date the Dallas Cowboys can start negotiating contracts with DeMarcus Lawrence, Cole Beasley, and any other Unrestricted Free Agents around the league. This would be the first opportunity for them to talk to representatives of someone like Earl Thomas for instance without having to worry about being accused of tampering.
* The 2019 NFL league year officially begins
This is when the offseason "officially" begins for the NFL. Not only is this the date for the first wave of free agency, but teams also have to get under the mandated salary cap by 4 PM EST. This also happens to be the day previously agreed-upon contracts for current players and Unrestricted Free Agents can be inked.
March 24 - 27
* Annual League Meetings take place in Phoenix, Arizona
The Annual League Meetings will surely be more interesting this year than in years past. This is when possible changes will be discussed, such as the missed pass interference no-call that propelled the Los Angeles Rams to the Super Bowl instead of the New Orleans Saints. That's just one example of potential role changes/altercations that could be discussed though.
* Offseason workout programs may begin for teams with returning head coaches
Since Jason Garrett isn't a new NFL head coach, this is the date the Dallas Cowboys can officially start their workout programs. If the Cowboys would have hired a new head coach they could've started their offseason programs two weeks earlier, which could be a good thing to remember for next year. With Garrett in the final year of his contract, this could possibly be his last offseason program in Dallas.
April 25 - 27
* 2019 NFL Draft to take place in Nashville, Tennessee
After giving up their first-round draft pick to acquire Amari Cooper from the Oakland Raiders, the Dallas Cowboys draft night won't officially start until Day 2 on April 26 with the 58th overall selection. It may be difficult to sit through the first-round without seeing the Cowboys make a selection, but don't discount the talent that should be available for them in the second-round. They've hit some home runs here recently with their first pick on Day 2 after all.
May 3 - 6, May 10 - 13
* Teams can hold one three-day post-draft rookie minicamp
The Cowboys have two choices of when they want to hold their three-day post-draft rookie minicamp, but they have to choose one. This is the first chance the rookies really have to get acclimated to things in Dallas without the veterans. Tryout players, undrafted free agents, and select first-year players can also participate.
* Post-June 1 release destinations take effect
This is an important day for the Dallas Cowboys, especially as it pertains to Terrance Williams. The financial ramifications of designating him a pre- or post June 1 release is a substantial one. The Cowboys will have to decide if they want to take less savings and a higher dead money hit upfront (pre-June 1) or lower savings with less dead money later (post-June 1).
* Deadline to sign franchise tagged players to a long-term deal
If the Dallas Cowboys somehow do decide to use the franchise tag on DeMarcus Lawrence, this is the last day they have to sign him to a long-term contract. Neither side would be able to negotiate a contract again until March 2020 if things get to this point. It's highly unlikely D-Law is still unsigned this late in the offseason though.
* Teams can start training camp for 2019
The Dallas Cowboys will once again return to Oxnard, California for training camp, but they have yet to release the dates in which they will do so. Rookies and first-year players can report seven days before veterans have to show up, but this is the first chance for the entire team to get together and practice. This will also be the first time for many of us to see what the 2019 Cowboys team will look like for the season.
Other than roster cut downs, the start to preseason, and the kickoff to the 2019 NFL Season that's about all the important dates there are for the Dallas Cowboys. Hopefully this will give you a better understanding of what's going to take place the remainder of the offseason and what we all have to look forward to. Let's just all hope that this offseason results in the Cowboys hoisting the Lombardi trophy when all is said and done.
Report: Cowboys’ Travis Frederick Ready for Start of Training Camp
With the Dallas Cowboys opening training camp with their first practice on Saturday, July 27th in Oxnard, California, a lot of information is coming out regarding who will be available when they report.
It was already reported that Defensive End DeMarcus Lawrence and Cornerback Byron Jones will be placed on the physically unable to practice (P.U.P.) list to start training camp. Now, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network is reporting that Travis Frederick will avoid the Non-Football Injury list (NFI) and be ready to report for the starting of training camp.
Very good news for the #Cowboys: All-Pro C Travis Frederick, who dealt with Guillain-Barré syndrome last year, is expected to be active for the start of training camp. He avoids NFI and is ready to go.
Frederick has been out of action for a year after being diagnosed with Guillen-Barre Syndrome during last year's training camp. Guillen-Barre is a disorder that can affect the peripheral neurological system. Basically, the neurological system that doesn't consist of the brain and the spinal cord, which is the central nervous system.
There was talk that Frederick might have been ready to go for the playoffs at the end of last season, but the team continued to hold him out in order to get him back 100% for 2019. It looks like the time has come for Frederick to regain his spot as the leader and lynch-pin of the offensive line.
While Joe Looney was effective in 2018, there's no doubt the team suffered a drop off from All-Pro Travis Frederick to career backup Looney. Getting Frederick back in the middle of the offensive line is the most significant upgrade the Dallas Cowboys could have made this offseason on either side of the football.
Frederick is one of the smartest players on the team and does a lot for Dak Prescott and the offensive line in terms of setting protections. For Dak Prescott, he'll be able to have a little more faith that the front of his pocket will hold up if he needs to step up to make a throw. Frederick will also help Connor Williams as the two work combo blocks against opposing interior defenders. Frederick will immediately improve the Dallas Cowboys red zone offense as they'll be able to get more of a push on the interior.
It was almost expected that this would be the case, but hearing it for certain should give the Dallas Cowboys and their fans a lot of optimism for what's to come in 2019. Travis Frederick returning to the starting lineup is a huge addition for a Dallas Cowboys offense that looks ready to roll in 2019.
Dallas Cowboys 2019 Training Camp Preview: Cornerback
The Dallas Cowboys have spent a lot of draft picks the last few years to build up their cornerbacks group. There is a lot of potential heading into 2019, but Dallas needs these young players to take the next step if they want to compete for a championship. This weekend's start to training camp will be an important part of the process.
Dallas' best move to help the cornerback position was switching Byron Jones back there in 2018 after a few seasons at safety. Jones went to his first Pro Bowl and has positioned himself for a big contract extension.
Byron is currently set to play 2019 on his fifth-year option of $6.27 million, which is a steal for a CB of his caliber. Whether or not the Cowboys allow him to enter unrestricted free agency next year, or get a new deal signed, will be something to watch for throughout the upcoming season.
Jones' future may be in question, but we at least know he'll be the team's top corner this season. None of the other Dallas CBs can enjoy that same certainty in 2019, as depth chart positioning and job security are all in flux right now.
Here is the current CB depth chart headed into training camp:
- Byron Jones, Chidobe Awuzie
- Anthony Brown, Jourdan Lewis
- Michael Jackson, Donovan Olumba
- C.J. Goodwin, Chris Westry
- Treston Decoud
Will this list hold as is, or will we some shifting over the five weeks of training camp and preseason?
The battle for snaps between Chidobe Awuzie, Anthony Brown, and Jourdan Lewis will be an intriguing ongoing storyline. Awuzie was the starter last year, and will hopefully make a big developmental leap in his third year.
But Anthony Brown has proven himself a capable player despite being just a 6th-round pick in 2016. Entering the final year of his rookie deal, Brown will certainly be pushing for a significant role this season to hopefully help his free agent marketability in 2020.
If things go like they did last year, both Awuzie and Brown will get plenty of playing time. The true enigma of this bunch is Jourdan Lewis, who is hoping to be more than just the number-four CB in 2019.
Though he was drafted a round later than Awuzie in 2017, Lewis was generally considered the superior talent by most draft analysts. He fell due to a domestic violence accusation a month before the draft for which he was eventually found not guilty.
Jourdan was looking good at the end of his rookie season, but the arrival of Kris Richard as Defensive Backs Coach last year seemed to cause a regression. Lewis only got in on a little over 18% of the total defensive snaps in 2018, while the top three all had 67% or higher.
Despite his few opportunities, Lewis still had one of the biggest plays of the year with his interception that sealed Dallas' stunning upset over the New Orleans Saints. His potential has been noted, with Coach Richard even calling him an "exception" to his general preference for bigger, stronger cornerbacks.
But even if the team likes Jourdan, can he beat Awuzie or Brown? Could he perhaps have more value in a trade, with two years left on that rookie deal, to a team in greater need at CB?
The idea of moving Lewis, which existed prior to the draft, gained steam when Dallas used a 5th-round pick this year acquire CB Michael Jackson out of Miami. He fits that prototypical build at corner, and perhaps the Cowboys are hoping he can show enough early to provide an adequate replacement if they want to trade Jourdan.
If not Jackson, prospect Donovan Olumba is another option. He nearly made the 53 last year but got squeezed out when Dallas only kept four cornerbacks. After a year on the practice squad, Olumba is back and could be ready for a roster spot.
Veteran C.J. Goodwin has bounced around the NFL since 2014 but has some real-game experience. If the young guys aren't in a position to be game-day active, perhaps he would be the best option. Dallas added him in the middle of the 2018 season and he was helping on special teams and as a reserve corner at the end of the year.
Undrafted rookie Chris Westry, listed at 6'4", is another intriguing player to watch in camp. That rare size is something you can't teach, and hopefully Richard can develop Westry enough to get something out of the physical gifts.
This should be a fun 2019 training camp at cornerback, with competition potentially at every spot on the depth chart except the very top. And while secure at number-one, even Byron Jones has his own question marks around his long-term future in Dallas.
We'll start getting some answers in just four more days!
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OTHER 2019 CAMP PREVIEWS
Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence and CB Byron Jones to Start 2019 Camp on PUP
The Dallas Cowboys will be missing two of their defensive leaders when they open 2019 training camp this Saturday. Defensive End DeMarcus Lawrence and Cornerback Byron Jones will both start camp on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) List as they recover from offseason surgeries.
Lawrence, who got a new five-year contract in April, immediately underwent shoulder surgery once his deal was finalized. DeMarcus reportedly was waiting for contract negotiations to be completed before he had the procedure.
Jones had hip surgery in late May. He is playing 2019 on the fifth-year option from his original contract, and is no doubt hoping for his own long-term extension sometime in the near future.
Sources: DeMarcus Lawrence and Byron Jones will open Cowboys camp on PUP and won't practice in California https://t.co/jzWV5FjBO6 via @sportsdaydfw
Neither Lawrence or Jones, who are both coming of Pro Bowl seasons in 2018, are expected to be absent once the regular season starts in September. But either participating in this year's training camp is doubtful, and even preseason appearances are in question right now.
With DeMarcus out at DE, newcomers like Robert Quinn and Kerry Hyder will get plenty of chances to show their stuff. It's also a nice opportunity for Taco Charlton, assuming he's recovered from his own offseason surgery, to get some work against the first-team offensive line.
No Byron at CB will give Jourdan Lewis a nice opportunity to work with the starters as well. He was likely stuck at the 4th spot behind Jones, Chidobe Awuzie, and Anthony Brown but should now get more time on the field and against the best competition.
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