The Dallas Cowboys 2nd round selection of Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith left most in complete and utter shock.
After being regarded as a potential top 5 pick in the 2016 NFL draft for most of his final collegiate season, Smith tore both the ACL and LCL in his knee during the Fiesta Bowl last New Years Day.
It was a heartbreaking scene. One that could have brought even the most sworn hater of the Fighting Irish to sadness.
But while tearing those ligaments presented Smith with a long enough recovery, it is the nerve damage in that same leg which is creating the biggest obstacle.
Most saw Smith's "drop foot" condition as possibly career ending, and while it still may be, both the Cowboys and Smith are remaining very optimistic.
The Cowboys team physician, Dr. Daniel Cooper, performed the surgery on Jaylon Smith, bringing many around the league to wonder if the Cowboys know more than most about his condition.
Whether Dallas has this increased insight or not is to be determined, but after seeing Smith begin his workouts and rehab with the team over the last month, many around the organization believe Smith is set to return as early as this season.
I think Jalen Smith may end up playing this year. See how it works out but leaning towards him playing
Most expected the Cowboys 2nd round pick to miss at least the entirely of the 2016 season, if not even more time than that. But Jaylon's work ethic and constant rehab efforts are forcing everyone to re-evaluate those projections.
Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith was doing resistance-chord work with athletic trainer Britt Brown during today's rookie minicamp
Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones had originally suggested that Smith would not be placed on the season ending injured reserve list to prepare for the possibility that he is ready to play in December, or during a playoff run.
I, along with most Cowboys fans, questioned Jerry's proclamation as first, considering the false hope he provided us during the Tony Romo collarbone saga at the end of last season.
I would much rather have the truth told to me than be strung along with lies in order to keep my optimism about the team up during a rough stretch.
But the more and more information that comes out about Jaylon Smith, the more I believe that his return in 2016 may be imminent.
Expect Smith to open training camp on the non-football injury (NFI) list, although there is a chance he is placed on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list.
If he is placed on the PUP list he will have a five week window after week six to begin practicing again. If Smith does start practicing by what will then be week 11, the team will then have a 21 day window to decide if they will activate him on the 53-man roster.
Whether they place him on the PUP or NFI list, the Cowboys will be forced to make what could be a tough decision about Smith's 2016 season.
Personally, I don't think he should be rushed back.
Rolando McClain is under contract for this season, and if he and Sean Lee can remain even relatively healthy, the Cowboys should get solid play out of their middle linebackers without Smith having to play a down.
Of course, Jaylon Smith can be a game-changing type of player and if he progresses as quickly as many around the organization believe he will, then he should be given the chance to play.
I would just hate to see the long term health of a potentially great player be jeopardized in favor of immediate impact.
Luckily, the Cowboys are smarter than that, and we should all have faith that if Jaylon Smith does see the field in 2016, it is because he is fully healthy and ready to go.
Report: Free Agent DL David Irving Not in Dallas Cowboys’ 2019 Plans
The Dallas Cowboys and troubled Defensive Lineman David Irving appear to be at an impasse. According to a report from David Moore of the Dallas Morning News, the team has "no intention" of trying to re-sign Irving and will allow him to become an unrestricted free agent.
Irving started the 2018 season with a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. He only appeared in two games after that, registering one sack and four tackles.
Source: Cowboys have no intention of keeping DT David Irving at this time https://t.co/vqMNZty6Aq via @sportsdaydfw
Despite reports of David's ongoing issues with an ankle injury, Dallas never placed him on injured reserve. Then came the reports that Irving was missing practices and team meetings while dealing with personal issues related to the custody of his daughter.
The team stayed pretty mum on the subject of Irving's status throughout the year, falling back on the ankle injury when pushed. But after months, it became clear that either David, the team, or both parties were disinterested in his return to football.
The Cowboys had high hopes after 2017, when Irving posted seven sacks in just eight games. They placed a second-round tender on him last offseason as a restricted free agent and were surely ready to give him a long-term deal if he'd built on that success.
But David's issues, physical or otherwise, have clearly done the opposite.
Dallas is known for working with troubled players, as we've recently seen with Randy Gregory. That they're closing the book on Irving suggests there's an issue with his desire towards football.
It's a sad loss for both. David's potential is enormous, as evidenced by his productivity when he actually does play. But he appears more likely to hit the Commissioner's exempt list in 2019 than the football field, given the reports of multiple failed drug tests over the last year.
Hopefully David Irving can turn things around one day and capitalize on his talent. But if it ever happens, it appears that it won't be with the Dallas Cowboys.
BREAKING: WR Terrance Williams Gets Dropped by Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys have ended their six-year relationship with Wide Receiver Terrance Williams. According to multiple sources, they have declined a team option on Williams' contract and he will now be an unrestricted free agent in 2019.
The move will reportedly save the Cowboys $2.25 million in salary space this year.
Williams was the team's third-round pick in 2013 and started 68 of the 83 games he played in. He developed into a solid number-two receiver by the end of his rookie deal in 2016 and was given a new four-year contract that offseason.
Terrance Williams career w/ the Cowboys is done. Sources say the club has declined the WR's option for 2019, making him a free agent. The move is no surprise. He caught just 2 passes for 18 yards last season. His departure frees up $2.25 million on the cap.
After another decent year in 2017, things took a bad turn for Terrance last season. It started with an offseason arrest for public intoxication that eventually led to a three-game suspension, although Williams served that while on injured reserve.
The Cowboys already appeared to be giving Williams' spot away when they made several offseason acquisitions at WR; Allen Hurns, Michael Gallup, and Tavon Austin all were brought in even before Terrance's arrest.
While Williams did start in two of Dallas' first three games in 2018, he only had three passes his thrown his way. The team finally put him on IR due to ongoing complications with a surgically-repaired foot.
While it didn't end well, Terrance Williams' time in Dallas was ultimately a solid return for a third-round pick. He made a few big plays and was a proficient run-blocker, good enough to start in almost 75% of the team's games since he was drafted.
The Cowboys now hope that another third-round pick, Michael Gallup in 2018, will do bigger and better things.
A Lot Had to Happen for Amari Cooper to Join the Cowboys
Amari Cooper was a game changing player from the moment he showed up at The Star in Frisco, Texas. In the first game against the Tennessee Titans, you could just tell that this was a different kind of player. The Cowboys hadn't had a wide receiver with his mixture of size and skill.
But Amari Cooper's presence with the Dallas Cowboys may not have happened in 2018 if any one of a number of dominoes didn't fall during the 2018 offseason and regular season.
Shunned by Sammy
Early in the free agency period, it was reported that the Dallas Cowboys had brought in Sammy Watkins and made him a lucrative offer that would have paid him around $16 million per year, but as Patrik Walker from 247 Sports discussed, he ultimately signed with the Kansas City Chiefs for more guaranteed money.
I recall first the feeling of dread when I heard about the pursuit of Sammy Watkins, immediately followed by relief when I saw that he signed with the Chiefs. I was in the midst of a government mandated internet blackout.
Don't get me wrong, Sammy Watkins is a fine player, but he isn't a $16 million per year player. Aside from his athleticism and size he doesn't really bring much to the table. He was pretty much a younger, and similarly injury prone -- at their respective points in their careers -- as Dez Bryant.
In 2018, Watkins only played in 10 games for the Chiefs and barely passed the 500 yard mark while catching only three touchdowns. Now, he's not the top priority in the Chiefs passing game, but he's not a player that can be relied upon to lead an offense.
Had the Cowboys signed Watkins last offseason, it's highly unlikely that they would have traded a 2019 first round draft pick to add another wide receiver in Amari Cooper.
Dez Bryant Goes Bye-Bye
The next thing that happened that may not have, was the release of long-time Dallas Cowboys Wide Receiver Dez Bryant. Dez Bryant had been with the team since 2010, when the team made him their first round pick that season. After post really good numbers from 2012-2014, Dez had a drop off in production, mostly due to injuries in the 2015-2017 seasons.
Dez Bryant, a fan favorite, was a player that relied upon his superior athletic ability, physicality, toughness, and ability to get passes in the air that made him special. Injuries to his legs and feet started to rob him of his athletic ability. Combine that with the fact that he and Cowboys Quarterback Dak Prescott could never really get on the same page when it came to fade routes, traditional or of the back shoulder variety.
Had the Cowboys not made the decision to move on from Bryant, the Cowboys offense would have probably been better the first seven games of the season. They may not have necessitated allocating a first round pick to acquire Cooper and it's possible he gets traded somewhere else or stays in Oakland altogether.
Poor Starts to the Season
The Oakland Raiders went into the 2018 season having made a lot of noise by signing Jon Gruden out of the broadcast booth and trading Khalil Mack to the Chicago Bears. After a 1-5 start to their season, the fire sale continued as they put Amari Cooper on the trade block.
The Dallas Cowboys started the season 3-4, but looked much worse on offense than what we could have anticipated. We knew they would take a bit of a step back in the passing game as they were trying to work in new faces, but it was bad for the first seven, and really eight weeks of the season.
The Cowboys went into the season with a plan to use their wide receiver group as a committee to try and fill their needs with several players of varying skill sets. Sounds good in theory, but in practice it was a debacle. Receivers not named Cole Beasley, struggled to get open and the offense was listless through the first two months of the season.
Had either team been better than they were to start the season, the chance of a trade taking place would have been small. Teams like to think they can get by with what they have. Had the Cowboys been 4-3 instead of 3-4, they may have thought they could get by with Allen Hurns, Cole Beasley, and Michael Gallup as their lead receivers.
It was rumored that prior to the Dallas Cowboys sending their 2019 first round pick to the Oakland Raiders that the Philadelphia Eagles offered a second. The Raiders, who were looking to stock pile picks to rebuild, held out for the first they desired for their former 2x Pro Bowler.
Had the Raiders took the Eagles offer as the best offer on the table at the time, the Cowboys would have missed out on Cooper and likely missed out on the division and the playoffs in 2018. On the flip side, we know how much the Cowboys value their draft picks. We've seen them pass on game changing player who would have cost much less because they value their draft picks and believe in their ability to find difference makers in any round.
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The Dallas Cowboys were really fortunate to end up with Amari Cooper. If any of the above things goes differently, it's extremely unlikely that he's wearing a Cowboys uniform in 2018 at all. Now, coming off a 1,000 yard season -- in only 15 games -- and a Pro Bowl appearance, Cooper is set to get paid some big money by the Dallas Cowboys front office. As they get ready to pay Cooper upwards of $16 million a year or more, they should have only one thought on their mind for the good fortune that brought Cooper to Dallas;
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