The Dallas Cowboys will have a lot of position battles that will be interesting to keep track of throughout the remainder of the off-season. One position battle that I know I will be keeping a close eye on will be at wide receiver.
There is a lot of speculation that Terrance Williams might get demoted if Brice Butler steps up his game the way a lot of people are expecting.
Butler showed quite a few flashes in 2015 that he can be a valued member on offense, but he also struggled with reoccurring injuries throughout the season.
I'm actually looking forward to see what Butler can do with a full off-season with the Cowboys organization and hopefully a better chance to develop a bond with quarterback Tony Romo.
There's something about Butler's game that is intriguing and I think that's one of the main reasons why a lot of people believe he could push Williams for that #2 wide receiver spot opposite Dez Bryant.
I don't expect Terrance Williams to go down without a fight and I'm not even sure if it will be that close of a battle.
Williams has a lot of things going for him that Butler doesn't. He has already established a good working bond with his quarterback and he has the experience and knowledge in offensive coordinator Scott Linehan's scheme.
Those things alone give him a huge advantage over Butler, especially since he already has that strong working bond with Romo and the trust between the two players can't be discounted either.
Here is a look at his statistics over his first three years in the NFL.
A lot of teams around the NFL would love to have a #2 wide receiver with those kind of numbers. There's something to be said about consistency and you can't deny that Williams has been a consistent WR for the Cowboys.
I personally think that a lot of this talk about Terrance Williams is based on the unfair expectations that were placed on him when Dez Bryant went down with an injury in 2015.
Nearly everybody wanted Williams to be able to step up and fill the shoes left by Bryant, but that's simply not his game.
Terrance Williams isn't a #1 WR in the NFL, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. He has proven that he can be a dangerous enough threat so that Bryant isn't double covered the majority of the game and that is one of the underrated jobs of a #2 WR.
Another thing that I really like about Williams is that he is willing to do the dirty work in the running game and block down the field. That is something that could come in handy in 2016 with Ezekiel Elliott toting the rock.
In fact, the 2014 season was perhaps Williams best year and that's when the Cowboys were relying heavily on DeMarco Murray and the running game. I expect that they will get back to that blueprint in 2016 with Elliott.
If I'm being completely honest though, the only thing that really frustrates me about Williams' game is that he is a body catcher.
I can't tell you how much it irritates me to see wide receivers catch with their body instead of using their hands. Body catchers usually have to slow down and stop the routes to catch the ball, but hand catchers are able to continue running through their routes without having to slow down the majority of the time.
All in all, I don't expect Terrance Williams to relinquish the #2 wide receiver job without putting up a fight and if I know one thing about Williams it is that he's a fighter.
He comes to work every day with an attitude to improve and it's that attitude that has made the former third-round draft pick out of Baylor a valued member in the Cowboys passing game.
While Brice Butler tries to convince the coaching staff for the Cowboys that he is ready for a large role on offense, Williams will continue to go about his business and do what he has done since entering the league.
This would definitely be a position battle to keep track of, but don't expect Williams go down without a fight.
You can credit head coach Jason Garrett for creating competition throughout the roster and the Williams and Butler battle is just getting underway.
How do you see this position battle shaking out?
Please feel free to use the comment section below to share your thoughts and comments. I look forward to discussing this topic further.
Cowboys DE Randy Gregory Reinstated, Will Join Team for Training Camp
The Dallas Cowboys patience with Defensive End Randy Gregory has paid off. Suspended for the better part of 2016 and all of 2017, Gregory has officially been reinstated to join the team for their 2018 training camp. The projected starter at RDE, Gregory will report to Oxnard with the rest of the team on July 25th.
From here, it will be all hard work for Gregory to reconnect with Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli and get his promising career back on track. The last time Gregory suited up for the Cowboys, he managed to sack Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback Carson Wentz in a week 17 win. The Cowboys will be expecting much more of this from a player they've supported through multiple violations of the league's heavily criticized substance abuse policy.
Cowboys pass-rusher Randy Gregory's petition for reinstatement was not opposed, according to lawyer Daniel Moskowitz. He's back. "I've never been more proud of any individual in my life. I'm very excited for Randy and his daughter and the rest of the his family.
Among this support staff for Gregory were a number of teammates that wrote formal letters to the NFL as part of his bid for reinstatement. These last few days of preparation before the Cowboys are together again as a team will surely be uplifted by Gregory's presence.
They say no news is typically good news at this point in the offseason, something the Cowboys have come to realize far too often. Today's news shouldn't be confused with a pleasant surprise however, rather something the Cowboys were committed to in getting another premier pass rusher on the field.
Here is the NFL's official press release on their reinstatement of Randy Gregory:
Cowboys & DeMarcus Lawrence Fail to Reach New Contract
DeMarcus Lawrence will definitely be a Cowboy in 2018, but now the future beyond that remains in question. The Dallas Cowboys and their star defensive end did not agree to a long-term contract by today's deadline for franchise-tagged players.
According to NFL rules, teams had until 4:00 pm EST today to reach contract extensions with free agents who'd been assigned the franchise tag earlier this offseason. Players who did not get new deals will have to play the 2018 season on their one-year franchise tenders.
DeMarcus Lawrence and the Cowboys were unable to work out a long-term contract by today's deadline. Lawrence will play the 2018 season under a one-year franchise tag that will pay him $17.1 million
This does not mean Lawrence will be a free agent in 2019. The two parties can still discuss the contract in the months to come, but the deal cannot be made until after the end of the regular season.
Dallas also has the option of giving DeMarcus a second franchise tag next year. However, that would come at a considerably higher price for a second-straight season.
This year, Lawrence will still make plenty with one of the highest cap hits of any DE in the league. He earned the franchise tag last with 14.5 sacks in a breakout season.
Today's news may not really be a big deal in the long run. As long as Tank wants to stay in Dallas after this, the two sides now have over five months to keep talking and will hopefully agree on a new deal for 2019 and beyond.
There is risk on both sides, of course.
Lawrence's leverage could be less if his productions drops or he gets injured. On the other hand, his position could be even stronger with a second-straight year of strong play.
Now everyone, from the team to player to fans, is in wait-and-see mode until the end of the season.
Will Cowboys WR Noah Brown Do Enough to Make the Roster?
The Dallas Cowboys aren't short on numbers at wide receiver on their current 90-man roster. Looking to replace Dez Bryant and reshape their offense, the Cowboys will have to find the right group of pass catchers for Dak Prescott at their upcoming training camp.
The odd men out from this group will likely be the ones that can't sustain a consistent level of play, doing so across multiple units if needed. All ten receivers will have their flashes, but with only four being true locks to make the team, new Cowboys Wide Receivers Coach Sanjay Lal will be in on some tough decisions right away.
One such decision may be moving on from last year's seventh round pick Noah Brown out of Ohio State. Vouched for by former Buckeyes teammate Ezekiel Elliott thanks to his blocking ability on the outside, it may now be this strength in the run game and deficiency as a pass catcher that spells the end of Brown's run in Dallas.
Normally, a seventh round pick being on the roster bubble wouldn't be this noteworthy, but Brown clearly showed the potential to outplay this draft status as a rookie. Appearing in 13 games, Brown is a true X receiver, although not the dominant one the Cowboys are searching for.
Moving away from fielding a true number one receiver, the Cowboys did sign Allen Hurns to play this spot while prepared to spread the ball around to Williams, Beasley, and Gallup after that.
This leaves Thompson, Wilson, Cannon, Lenoir, McCay, Murdock, and Brown to prove their worth in other ways to make the roster. I've written plenty about the potential rookie Cedrick Wilson has, so I'll be expecting a strong showing from him to earn a role in the Cowboys offense.
Wilson's skill set could push a depth signing like Deonte Thompson off the team, although his ability to back up Cole Beasley/Tavon Austin on special teams is important. The same can be said about Lance Lenoir, who like Brown has the advantage over first year players given his trials through training camp and the preseason a year ago.
Long shots to make the team, Cannon, McCay, and Murdock fall just below this group -- and somewhere in the middle is Noah Brown.
Increasing his role on special teams as the season went on last year, Brown had fans throughout a coaching staff that is now drastically changed for 2018. From their shift to more speed on offense, to drafting of both Gallup and Wilson, calling Brown a fringe player on the Cowboys roster really sets up the fiery competition to come at wide receiver.
Should the Cowboys find a spot for Brown, one can only hope it means this new coaching staff has a clear plan for him to contribute on both offense and special teams outside of being a run blocker. A potential niche for Brown is his red zone ability, not afraid to put his body on the line for jump balls and fight through contact in his routes.
It won't be long until we sort out if this is enough to make the Cowboys as a wide receiver ahead of Quarterback Dak Prescott's third season.
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