In his Thursday press conference, Jason Garret confirmed that Damien Wilson was now starting as the strong-side outside linebacker, or "Sam," in the Cowboys base defense.
Wilson, a fourth-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, was active in all 16 games last season but played a minimal role. His second season started with some difficulty due to an eye injury suffered from playing paintball.
Before that injury occurred, though, Wilson was already winning his head coach over.
"[Wilson] had a really good spring. He came back and did some really good things right at the outset of our offseason program."
Wilson's eye injury occurred between those practices and the start of the Cowboys training camp. Garrett said that the eye injury did cause Wilson to fall behind other linebackers in Oxnard, but then explained how he's been able to move back up the depth chart.
He's made a lot of strides from Year One to Year Two... He's got a lot of physical ability. He plays with the right kind of demeanor, the right kind of physicalness. You see him minimizing his mistakes more the more he plays. You see him making more plays.
With how much the Cowboys utilize their nickel package, which doesn't utilize the Sam linebacker, you can barely call Wilson a "starter." He will play far fewer snaps than Sean Lee and Anthony Hitchens. However, the youngster's ascension over veterans Kyle Wilber, Andrew Gachkar, and Justin Durant is noteworthy.
The last memory of Damien Wilson from 2015 was a bad one. He blew a coverage assignment against the New Orleans Saints that allowed C.J. Spiller to score a game-winning touchdown in overtime. Wilson can be seen trailing Spiller all the way up the field.
New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees hits RB C.J. Spiller for a game-winning TD pass in OT, which happens to be Brees' 400th scoring pass of his career. Week 4 of the 2015 NFL season. Follow the Dallas Cowboys vs.
We barely saw Wilson again after that Week 4 loss. The rookie returned to a minimal bench role and remained there all season. He clearly has made some great improvement to be earning so much praise, and a starting role, in 2016.
If Damien Wilson can hold down that Sam spot and continue to develop it will be a major benefit to the Cowboys in years to come. Dallas will have stability at both outside linebackers positions, needing only find an answer in the middle. Anthony Hitchens is solid but not the kind of play-maker they want. We are still waiting to see if rookie Jaylon Smith will ever been healthy enough to play.
The Cowboys' 2015 draft class was defense focused; Wilson was one of five defenders taken in the first six picks. Byron Jones has delivered but injuries and other issues have held back Randy Gregory and Mark Nzeocha. Ryan Russell is no longer with the team.
Damien Wilson emerging a multi-year starter would be a fine outcome for a fourth-round pick. It would also helped improve the final grade on a draft class that is struggling overall.
Hopefully, Wilson will be hearing his head coach say many more nice things about him.
Dallas Cowboys Restructure Travis Frederick’s Contract, Clear Cap Space
Patience is a virtue for football fans everywhere this time of the year, especially those of the Dallas Cowboys. A team known for using free agency to deal with their own expiring contracts and players, Cowboys Nation has been anxiously awaiting an addition to improve this roster before the draft. While the wait will continue for outside help in Dallas, the Cowboys have created $7.5 million in cap space by restructuring the contract of Center Travis Frederick.
C Travis Frederick will restructure his deal to help clear up roughly 7.5M in cap space for the #Cowboys per source informed
Restructuring the contracts of their cornerstone players is nothing new for the Cowboys. Rarely doing so with a clear "next move" in sight, the market for top FA talent at WR and OL may have already passed the Cowboys.
Having the space to negotiate with available players now opens the door just slightly further for Earl Thomas or Tyrann Mathieu acquisitions to become realistic. Reportedly, the Cowboys have inquired about both safeties (Thomas via popular trade talks and Mathieu as a free agent, released by the Cardinals) and have been met with price tags the Jones' were forced to turn away.
Giving up assets for players that will warrant large future contracts is not currently the Dallas Cowboys' way, but being able to sign somebody in free agency has been. To avoid a repeat of 2017, a season arguably derailed as soon as the team's free agent class failed entirely, the Cowboys will need to find proven players that can contribute on the market in the coming weeks.
With the help of the anchor to their star-studded offensive line, the Cowboys can come to this market with slightly thicker wallets now. Keep the optimistic tweets alive, and tip Travis Frederick accordingly.
Cowboys Place 2nd Round RFA Tender on DL David Irving
One of the more anticipated Cowboys free agency moves has finally happened. Defensive lineman David Irving has been given the 2nd-round Restricted Free Agent tender, which would result in a $2.91 million contract for 2018.
Source: the Cowboys have used a 2nd round tender on DT David Irving. The cost is $2.91 million.
If another team offers Irving a contract, that would have to send their 2018 second-round draft pick to the Cowboys.
There was no doubt that Dallas would extend an RFA tender to Irving, one of the bright young stars on their defense. The question was at what amount; they could have gone with the $4.1 million tender which raises the compensation to a first-round draft pick.
With a difference of only about $1 million, some might argue that the Cowboys went lower to entice other teams to try to sign Irving. Perhaps they don't foresee giving him a big long-term deal next year, so want to get something for him now.
It's a logical argument, and one that means there may be more to this story before the offseason ends. For now, though, David Irving's closer to remaining a Cowboy than he was yesterday.
REPORT: Cowboys CB Orlando Scandrick Has Requested Release
Cornerback Orlando Scandrick has requested to be released by the Dallas Cowboys, according to a report from ESPN's Todd Archer. The veteran has been with the team since 2008, when he was drafted in the fifth round.
Archer's report can be found here:
Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick has requested his release from the team, according to a source. Scandrick hopes to get into the free-agent market when it opens Wednesday. Cowboys seem to have moved on at corner with Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis,... https://t.co/oBgAn2Riqt
The end of Scandrick's run in Dallas comes as no surprise. He had fallen behind the youth movement at cornerback with Jourdan Lewis, Chidobe Awuzie, and Anthony Brown all arriving in the last two seasons. Now with talk that Byron Jones may move back to CB, there's just not place for Orlando.
Unfortunately for the Cowboys, releasing Scandrick doesn't provide any great salary cap relief.
If Dallas cuts Scandrick outright, they will get back about $1.4 million from his $5.3-million cap hit in 2018. If they make him a June-1st cut, the cap relief increases to $3 million and pushes $1.6 million of dead money into 2019.
If not for all their younger options, the Cowboys might have elected to stick with Orlando for one more season. But given what they already have at corner, Dallas was likely planning to release him even before this request.
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