Yesterday we learned the fates of the Dallas Cowboys free agent cornerbacks Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne. Carr will be suiting up for the Baltimore Ravens next season and Claiborne will be playing for the New York Jets. With their departure, they join Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox as secondary players the Cowboys have lost via free agency. Suddenly things are starting to look a little sparse on the back end of the Cowboys defense, which has become a concern for a lot of fans.
There were many of us fans that believed the Dallas Cowboys would try to retain either Brandon Carr or Morris Claiborne, but it looks as if they were willing to move on and try to rebuild the secondary without them. So, if you're counting that is a total of four secondary players that started on defense at some point in 2016, without a lot of additions to take over. It's no wonder Cowboys fans feel a little left in the dark.
I for one am not panicking, because I think I see the bigger picture of what the Cowboys are trying to accomplish this off-season. I mean, how many of you have been wanting the organization to upgrade from Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne, Barry Church, and J.J. Wilcox these past few seasons? Now that it they are all moving on, everyone starts to freak out.
Trust me on this and take a deep breath. The Cowboys know what they're doing, so we are just going to have to trust the process and let everything play out. Let me try to break this down a little bit better for you, so that I can hopefully ease your mind.
Cowboys Secondary: Cornerbacks
If you are keeping track, and I'm sure you are, then you have come to the realization that the Dallas Cowboys have only added Nolan Carroll, but lost both Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne in free agency. Things don't quite add up do they?
Carroll was brought in to more than likely take over for Carr. They are both basically the same size, but I think Carroll is probably better of the two players, although it may be a slight margin of victory. No doubt he will start at one of the outside cornerback spots, the other probably to be played by the second year CB Anthony Brown.
Brown had a fantastic rookie season and his addition to the Cowboys roster last year couldn't have come at a better time. He ended up starting nine games as a rookie and is now the future for the organization.
That leaves Orlando Scandrick and he will probably move back into the nickel, where he is at his best. Scandrick took some time to get healthy last year, but was playing really well towards the end of the season.
With Carroll, Brown, and Scandrick the Cowboys already have a solid group of starting CBs. But, you can bet they aren't done addressing the position just yet. I will guarantee you that they will add another talented cornerback in the upcoming draft with one of their first few draft picks. That will solidify the CB position and build the foundation for years to come.
Cowboys Secondary: Safeties
Like the cornerback position, the Dallas Cowboys have lost two of their safeties, Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox. Unfortunately, they haven't made any new additions, which either means they think they have their starter currently on the roster or they're still mulling over the free agent options. Of course, they could draft another safety, which isn't entirely out of the question.
In all honesty, I wouldn't mind seeing Jeff Heath receive more playing time starting next to Byron Jones on the back end of the Cowboys defense. He seems to always be around the ball making plays and creating turnovers, which is something the defense can certainly use.
There are several free agent options still available that can step in and be a day one starter. Of course, that would involve spending money and I'm not quite sure if anybody they signed would be better than what they currently have or what they could possibly add through the draft.
The 2017 safety draft class is deep and there are quite a few players in the first few rounds that could come in and not only solidify the back end the defense, but be an upgrade over what the Cowboys let walk this off-season. Honestly, I think this is the route that they prefer to go.
As you can see, things aren't quite as bad as they seem right now. The Dallas Cowboys have a plan in place, we as fans just have to trust the process because unfortunately we really don't have any other choice.
Personally, I don't know if they will make any more moves to address the secondary before the 2017 NFL Draft. I think they will probably draft both a cornerback and safety in the first two rounds and move on from there. Fortunately, both the cornerback and safety positions are pretty deep this year, so they should be able to come away with a starter at both positions.
Does any of this help ease your concerns about the Dallas Cowboys secondary?
Will DeMarcus Lawrence Be Franchise Tagged Again in 2019?
The deadline for extending players under the franchise tag has come and gone last Monday, in a day in which none of the remaining tagged players reached an agreement with their respective teams. That includes Dallas Cowboy Defensive End DeMarcus Lawrence, who's set to earn $17M in 2018.
The front office and the 26-year old defensive end failed to agree to a new contract before the season's start, but we saw that coming. After all, there was never a point in which we had the classic "X player and his team are close to a new deal" headline.
All of this makes the future of the Cowboys' promising "War Daddy" very uncertain. What lies a head of the player that put on an impressive show in 2018?
Since 2017 was Lawrence's breakout year, racking up 14.5 sacks trough the season, we have leaned towards the narrative of last season being his only good one. His performance last season was impressive and clearly his best one yet, but we tend to overlook 2015.
In his sophomore season, the only other year in which he has played 16 games, he finished the campaign with eight sacks and 35 tackles (55 combined). Really, the idea of 2017 being his only good year is not as accurate as we might think.
That being said, I think it's more likely that we see another great year from him this upcoming season than seeing a disappointing one. This, of course, will end up being the main thing that determines his future in Dallas.
The Dallas Cowboys front office really took a risk by tagging Lawrence this offseason. #90 was reportedly asking for an average of $17M per year in his long-term contract, which is Olivier Vernon kind of money.
So what if he puts a similar season or an even better one? Lawrence and his agent could end up asking for even more money. Perhaps in the 18 or 20 million dollars per year range. If that ends up being the case, the team will find itself in a tough position when trying to reach an agreement with its promising pass rusher.
Which leads us to the possibility of seeing the Cowboys franchise tagging Lawrence for the second consecutive season. Dallas will already be negotiating a contract extension with QB Dak Prescott, and things will get complicated. Even more if they decide to pursue a big-time free agent in March, such as Earl Thomas.
It would make sense, from a financial perspective, to hand the tag twice in consecutive years to D-Law. However, it shouldn't be the priority. If he plays like he did in 2017, the front office will be more than wise to extend him for good.
According to OverTheCap.com, the Cowboys will have approximately $50.6M. Seemingly, the team's cap woes will be over soon.
Fortunately, Lawrence didn't become a headache by threatening to holdout for offseason programs and even training camp. However, don't expect that to happen if he finds himself under the tag next year.
Careers in the NFL are short, so DeMarcus will surely want to get paid. If he keeps it up, he'll deserve it. As much as he deserves it, though, football is a cold business. If the Jones need to tag him, they will.
Do you think the Cowboys will franchise tag Lawrence in 2019?
Without Looming Suspension, RB Ezekiel Elliott Should Shine In 2018
NFL Films typically does a good job of exposing some truths around NFL teams. Whether through "Hard Knocks" or Amazon's new "All or Nothing" series, these documentaries do an excellent job of giving fans an inside look of their favorite teams.
If anything was revealed through the Cowboys' All or Nothing series on their 2017 season, it's that Ezekiel Elliott's suspension weighed heavy on his mind all year.
The Pro Bowl running back did not look, act, or play like himself while awaiting decision on his incoming suspension. And, once it was finally announced he would serve the six games, the entire team collapsed in Atlanta.
Despite the clear and detrimental effects Elliott's suspension had on the Cowboys' season, Zeke still put up more-than-respectable numbers; rushing for almost 1,000 yards and averaging a league leading 98.3 yards per game.
Now, Ezekiel Elliott enters a season with no doubts about his own availability. Scott Linehan gets to coach an offense that knows they will have their best player for the entire season barring major injury. And, Jason Garrett can lead his team without addressing questions about Elliott's future day in and day out.
Of course, these effects aren't quantifiable. We can't sit here and say that without the pressure of court appearances and suspensions that Elliott will be worth "X" amount of more yards and "Y" more touchdowns.
But I do believe we can say, without question, that playing with a clear mind and without a looming suspension will breed the type of production we saw from Zeke his rookie year.
We can say that Elliott has had a weight lifted off his shoulders, and could be looking for revenge on a league he feels did him wrong.
And, for the Cowboys sake, I hope this is true. Because they are going to need Ezekiel Elliott to be even better than he ever has been if they hope to make a run at the Super Bowl in 2018.
Cowboys en Español: El Regreso de Randy Gregory
A sólo días de que los Dallas Cowboys aterricen en Oxnard, California para dar inicio a su training camp como todos los años, el equipo recibió excelentes noticias respecto a la selección de segunda ronda del 2015: Randy Gregory. Después de pasar todo el 2017 suspendido, el ala defensiva ha sido oficialmente reintegrado por la NFL.
Gregory, quien tuvo muchos problemas debido al uso de marihuana, ha pasado los últimos meses rehabilitándose para poder volver a vestir la estrella y volver al emparrillado. Los Cowboys, quienes siempre apoyaron a su joven jugador, sin duda estarán felices de verlo de vuelta en el equipo por motivos más allá que el football americano.
Sin duda alguna, antes de estar emocionados y felices por verlo en el campo intimidando a quarterbacks rivales, deberíamos estar alegres por el logro personal de Randy como un ser humano. Realmente hizo un esfuerzo consciente en un lugar en el que muchos se hubieran rendido y dejado sus sueños de ser parte de la NFL. Pero no lo hizo, y ahora, todos sus esfuerzos han valido la pena.
El siguiente paso en su lista por-hacer, es volver al campo y poco a poco, ganarse su puesto en el equipo y después, la titularidad. La última vez que vimos a Gregory en el campo, fue contra Philadelphia, en el final de temporada del 2016.
En este juego, Gregory mostró muchos destellos de lo que sería capaz de hacer semana tras semana en la liga y porque valió la pena nunca dejarlo ir, lo cual no hubiera tenido sentido hacer, dado que los Cowboys no les costaba nada (literalmente) mantenerlo en el equipo.
Sean Martin escribió un artículo recientemente en el que analiza este partido a fondo.
El potencial de Gregory es inmenso, suficiente incluso, para aventurarse a decir que se convertirá en el defensive end (ala defensiva) derecho antes de lo esperado. El reto más grande para el jugador de 25 años será regresar a una condición física óptima para la NFL.
Afortunadamente, a diferencia del 2016, Gregory no estará regresando a media temporada. Su llegada toma lugar justo a tiempo para el training camp, dándole tiempo para regresar a la forma en la que tiene que estar.
Una vez ahí, ¿qué tanto le tomará ganarse un rol más importante que el de Tyrone Crawford y Taco Charlton? A pesar de que prácticamente no lo hemos visto jugar en Dallas, sabemos el potencial que tiene para convertirse en un defensivo de suma importancia para los Cowboys.
Un año después de ver la mejor temporada en la carrera de DeMarcus Lawrence, los Cowboys tendrán el potencial de una estrella similar en el lado derecho de su línea defensiva. Gregory tiene una montaña que escalar para cumplir las expectativas de los aficionados, pero no será una sorpresa si lo logra.
Vaya, no olvidemos que si no fuera por sus problemas fuera del campo, hubiera sido seleccionado en el Top 10 del Draft del 2015. Tiene el potencial de conseguir diez sacks por temporada.
Con un poco de suerte, no nos equivocaremos en tenerle fe al jugador que ha tenido un gran viaje para llegar a este punto. El punto de ponerse el casco e ir a trabajar con su equipo.
Incluso si sólo llega a ser un jugador de rotación, sin duda será importante para el éxito del equipo. Entre DeMarcus Lawrence, David Irving, Randy Gregory y el resto del talento que los Cowboys tienen en la línea defensiva, el equipo podría tener un frente de muy buena calidad.
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