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Moves the Dallas Cowboys Should Explore at Trade Deadline

Shane Carter

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Are the Dallas Cowboys in for Another Quiet Free Agency in 2018?
Bob Levey/Getty Images

The NFL trade deadline is tomorrow at 4:00 pm, and it’s expected to be another wild one. There have already been a number of reports of prime players who are on the trading block. So, should the Dallas Cowboys make another big move?

Teams who are expected to finish in the bottom 5-10 in the league will move on from players they think can bring them solid draft compensation.  The teams either fighting for the playoffs, or even teams with likely Super Bowl aspirations, will decide if they’d rather have the late draft picks or a player to help win now and potentially the future.

The Cowboys made the first move, trading a first-round draft pick for wide receiver Amari Cooper from the Oakland Raiders. It was a wild and polarizing movie that reminded some of the old Jerry Jones, who would ship prime picks for players and these players would end up not producing at the level expected.

Nonetheless, wide receiver was a position of need and one that the Cowboys possibly would have looked at with that 2019 pick. Jerry and company must have decided that no rookie in next year's class was better than Amari Cooper and decided he was the better option.

The team is currently at 3-4 and still in the NFC East title race. They shouldn’t stop at Cooper. The team should explore all players on the trade block who could potentially fill any of the remaining holes the team has.

I highly doubt that they go for another wide receiver. So, I apologize to anyone who was hoping DeVante Parker, Demaryius Thomas or DeSean Jackson could be a target. I also doubt they go for another running back like LeSean McCoy or Le’Veon Bell. Sorry.

There are some noteworthy players the Cowboys could and should consider. It will all come down to compensation and that both parties are willing to bite. If so, then the Cowboys have a shot at getting at least one of these players.

Trades the Dallas Cowboys Should Explore

Green Bay Packers safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

A bit of a shocking move, but reports circulated yesterday that the Packers safety was on the trade block. Clinton-Dix has had a great year so far, totaling 24 tackles, three interceptions and three pass breakups, so it seemed odd that they’d be willing to give up such a productive player.

It would seem that the Packers believe a few things here:

1) Clinton-Dix is in a contract year and they might not want to pay him. 2) The Packers have more depth in the secondary than in years past 3) They know they can get great compensation for him and still succeed this season.

The Cowboys missed out on trading for Earl Thomas but that shouldn’t stop them from sifting through the safety market. Especially when they’re ask skilled as this.

A player of his talent would fetch anywhere from a first to as low as a third round pick. The Cowboys were willing to give up a first for Cooper. I wonder what they’d be willing to give up for this man?

Charles Clay

I tweeted out a while back that the Cowboys should trade for Amari Cooper and Charles Clay.  After the Cooper trade became a reality, I immediately reiterated that they need to go after the Buffalo Bills tight end.

Again, I seriously doubt they go after another big name receiver, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t give Dak Prescott another weapon. Prescott relies on his tight ends in case he gets in trouble, and the ones Dallas currently have haven’t been as reliable as hoped.

Geoff Swaim has been the top receiving threat among that group with 19 catches, 205 yards, and a touchdown. This his best year in terms of stats, but it’s not enough.

Blake Jarwin has been disappointing and rookie fourth-round pick Dalton Shultz has been inactive most of the season. While Rico Gathers has gotten more looks in recent weeks, it hasn’t been consistent enough for the Cowboys to comfortably throw it to him.

Charles Clay in Buffalo has been outstanding. Prior to this year, he had 157 catches, 1,638 yards, and nine touchdowns. This year, with a new quarterback, he’s been massively underused; only 16 catches and 133 yards to his name. He’s much better than that and deserves much better.

Giving Dak Prescott a legitimate receiving threat at tight end would make him much more comfortable under pressure and we could see this team move the ball.

Charles Clay is still under contract through next year and doesn’t turn 30 until the end of the season. Buffalo is in rebuild mode and could use all the compensation that they can muster. Clay may only cost as much as a fifth-round pick, and if that’s the case the Cowboys should pull the trigger.

Trades the Dallas Cowboys Should Explore 1

New England Patriots WR Cordarrelle Patterson (David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports)

Cordarrelle Patterson

I said no BIG name receivers. However, this team could definitely use a return man. Cordarrelle Patterson is one of the league's best return men, playing on a team who’s not afraid to trade some of their best players.

After trading away Ryan Switzer during the draft (a move I personally hated) the Cowboys were down a return man. They started the year relying on Tavon Austin.  He’s got serious speed but can’t stay healthy.

Cole Beasley has been used lately but mostly fair catches punts, and Deonte Thompson generally takes the touchback on kick returns. This team is getting zero help in the return game.

Patterson is a player who takes risks but has the size and speed to allow it. The two-time All-Pro and Pro Bowl player has six returns for touchdowns in his career and has a career average of just over 30 yards per return.

While not really a punt returner, he would still be an improvement in that area as well. That would also allow Beasley to solely focus on his slot play. It would be the smart move.

The Cowboys need a return man and the Patriots are notorious for trading their best players (sans Tom Brady). If the Cowboys could offer a sensible pick and/or player to compensate then this move might be the most important on this list. You need to win all three facets of the game, and the Cowboys have seriously lacked in this area.

Duke Johnson

The Cowboys miss that Lance Dunbar-type. They miss having a third down/receiving back to spread the offense around, and give the team burst out of the backfield win Ezekiel Elliott is not in.

Despite a contract extension from the Browns this off-season, Duke Johnson (arguably their best offensive weapon) has barely been used. While he’s no threat to Elliott as the lead man, he is the kind of player the Cowboys were hoping Tavon Austin would be.

However, even after trading Carlos Hyde, Duke Johnson still hasn’t gotten the looks he’s being paid for. Yes, he’s gotten plenty of catches but he deserves better.

The Cowboys like those extra speed backs. They throw to them out of the backfield and in the slot, run sweeps and screens successfully, and in case Prescott is being pressured, he’s another security blanket they can rely on.

Ezekiel Elliott is an elite running back but they can’t keep forcing him to play every snap if they want him healthy for the rest of the year. Rod Smith is a reliable second option but speed kills, and this team would kill for some speed. Jerry Jones, make it happen!

What Happens if WR Allen Hurns Doesn't Pan Out? 1

Dallas Cowboys WR Allen Hurns

 Trade In-House

When you get halfway through a season, you start to figure out which players mesh and which players, who you want to keep for the long-haul, and which players you believe are expendable. The Cowboys are there right now.

The Cowboys have both types. They have players who are not only expendable, but could fetch solid compensation. At this point in the season, they’re still in it but they need to also have building blocks for the future, especially now that they no longer have a first-round pick next year.

Here are some current Cowboys that the team could consider moving:

1) Allen Hurns is probably the most popular option. He recently expressed he was displeased that he wasn’t seeing more targets and, despite coming off his best game of the season, his targets look like they’ll be even lower now.

With Cole Beasley going nowhere, Michael Gallup getting more and more snaps each game and improving each week, plus the addition of Amari Cooper, Hurns will likely be even more frustrated.

Realistically, he might not fetch more than a fifth-round pick. However, the Cowboys should do him a favor. Send him somewhere that needs him, get something back for him, and everyone can move on.

2) This may not be very popular, but I believe Randy Gregory is a possible trade chip. Despite his off the field concerns, when he has played he's produced for this team.

Taco Charlton has taken a serious step forward this season and DeMarcus Lawrence is going nowhere. David Irving looks like he’ll also get an extension and Dorance Armstrong has shown promise. Randy Gregory could be the odd man out.

Every team needs a pass rusher and, while Gregory has had his moments this season, I wonder how much longer Dallas will want to hold on to him. He may be worth a draft pick or the right player to move on from.

3) Finally, Sean Lee is a name that might pop up. Personally, I’d like to keep him for the rest of the season but his time here is numbered.

As great a player as Shawn Lee is, he has always had a history of injuries and he is heading towards the wrong side of 30.  There is a reason that Dallas drafted Leighton Vander Esch in the first round this year. Not only has he progressed well alongside Jaylon Smith, he’s made Lee expendable.

Sean Lee is  a perfect fit for a team making a playoff or even a Super Bowl run this year; a veteran with experience and plenty of talent left in his tank. I’m not sure he will be on the Cowboys' roster next year, so they might make the move now and get something out of him while they can.



Lifelong Cowboys fan, who doesn’t mind telling the harsh truth. I’ve got a Bachelors Degree in Electronic Media and Communications from Texas Tech University. I welcome all opinions but I will shut down any troll.

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Dallas Cowboys

Top 5 Offseason Priorities for the Dallas Cowboys

John Williams

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Sean's Scout: Cowboys Blitzes Keep Giants Play Makers in Check

The 2018 NFL Season has come to an end for the Dallas Cowboys and now the team looks to the offseason to gear up for what should be another run toward the playoffs in 2019. As with every team heading into every offseason, they'll have some difficult decisions to make with some of their own players as well as deciding how they want to attack free agency and the draft.

The Cowboys have drafted really well over the last three seasons in particular, but have had a long track record of success in the Jason Garrett era. How we judge the draft this season should take into account what Amari Cooper has been to this team. He's been everything the Dallas Cowboys hoped for when they sent their 2019 first round draft pick to the Oakland Raiders for Cooper. The Cowboys, without a first round pick, will have less room for maneuvering around the draft, but as we've seen in the past, they are just as effective in the second round and beyond as they are in the first round.

As we get going in the offseason, let's look at the Dallas Cowboys 5 Most Pressing Priorities.

1. Dealing with DeMarcus Lawrence

The NFL is a passing league. You need players who can throw the ball and catch the ball. On the defensive side of the ball, you must have guys that can get after the passer and cover the receiver.

After moving to the 4-3 defense and the departure of DeMarcus Ware, the Cowboys struggled to find any pass rushing consistency at the defensive end position. They were led at the position by players like Jeremy Mincey, George Selvie, and Benson Mayowa. Finally, the Cowboys selection of DeMarcus Lawrence is paying off has he's had double-digit sacks each of the last two seasons and has been equally effective against the run.

The Cowboys have the option of using the franchise tag on Lawrence again this offseason, which is a possibility as it would prevent other teams from negotiating with the Cowboys best defensive player. While the Cowboys need to continue to build the team through the draft and extend a few players, there isn't a bigger offseason priority than getting DeMarcus Lawrence's deal done.

RJ Ochoa on Twitter

Jason Garrett on soon-to-be free agent DeMarcus Lawrence: He's certainly as big a priority as there is

 

2. Making Big Adjustments to the Offense

There was a lot of consternation yesterday at the comments Jason Garrett made to 105.3 The Fan in Dallas-Fort Worth about Scott Linehan's future with the team. It's obviously a possibility that he returns in 2019, but as Stephen Jones mentioned later in the day, it's too early to begin discussing those things as they haven't really began to review the season.

Scott Linehan has been good as an offensive coordinator and he's been a part of Dak Prescott's progression, but there are certain areas of this offense that need to be reworked or shaken up. Whether the Cowboys decide to move on from Linehan or they decide to make adjustments to the scheme, something needs to change. In particular, the team's insistence on using jumbo packages on every short yardage situation has made them predictable.

On 4th and 1 on Saturday, the team went to the Ezekiel Elliott in jumbo formations one too many times. In an era when most of the NFL is attempting to spread things out with 11 and 10 personnel, the Cowboys continue to force two and three tight end formations.

This offseason is just getting started and the Cowboys have a lot of decisions to make about their offense, but none is bigger than figuring out who the play caller is going to be. While the team may be publicly supporting Scott Linehan at the moment, it would be highly unlikely for the team to bring him back for another year.

#DALvsWAS: Michael Gallup Will Play, Value Extends Beyond Passing Game

Dallas Cowboys WR Michael Gallup

3. Continue Building the Wide Receiver Corp

The Dallas Cowboys began the process of overhauling the wide receiver corp last offseason when they released Dez Bryant, signed Allen Hurns and Deonte Thompson, drafted Michael Gallup and Cedric Wilson, and traded for Tavon Austin and most importantly Amari Cooper.

Generally, when the Dallas Cowboys have attempted to rebuild a position, they've done it over a few seasons, like they did with the offensive line, the defensive line, and the linebackers.

This offseason, the Cowboys will have a few decisions to make at the wide receiver position. Do they bring back Cole Beasley? What about Tavon Austin? Allen Hurns would have likely been a player the Cowboys could have used in the slot to replace Cole Beasley, but he's hurt and possibly won't be ready for training camp.

On offense, the passing game began to take shape in the second half of the season as Dak Prescott began to get more comfortable with Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup. They'll make a nice 1-2 punch heading into 2019, but there is still room for adding a player or two. Depending on the type of contract he'd want, it would be great to bring back Cole Beasley. It's become clear that he's not as big of a focal point in the offense since Amari Cooper has emerged, but he's still a good player that can make some big catches for you.

If the team looked to the draft, one player that is high on my list is Oklahoma Wide Receiver Marquise Brown. He's a home run hitter in every stretch of the imagination. With speed for days, he could be the field stretcher that the team has struggled to find. Not only does he have speed, he's an excellent route runner and has excellent hands and spends the offseason training with Steelers Wide Receiver and cousin Antonio Brown.

If the Cowboys wanted to go the free agency route to add a wide receiver, they should look at Jamison Crowder of the Washington Redskins or Adam Humphries of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to fill their slot wide receiver role. If you remember back to the Bucs game, Humphries was giving the Cowboys fits totaling 10 catches on 12 targets for 79 yards. Crowder struggled with injuries this season and had a down year, but that could mean he'd be cheap to sign, which is the way the Dallas Cowboys do free agency.

There are some nice players in the draft and free agency that the Cowboys could look to add to their wide receiver group, but they'll also be getting back Cedric Wilson, their sixth round pick from last season. The team really liked the production that Wilson had at Boise St. and Wilson was playing well in training camp and was pushing for a roster spot before his season ending injury.

Noah Brown is also a player in line to see more snaps moving forward. He's played well when called upon, using his superior blocking to make an impact in the running game while displaying nice route running and hands in the passing game. If Cole Beasley didn't return to the Cowboys this offseason, I could see the Cowboys giving Brown an expanded role on the outside or using him as a big slot receiver, similar to how the Arizona Cardinals use Larry Fitzgerald or how the New Orleans Saints use Michael Thomas. He has the size to be a mismatch for slot corners and the route running to be a mismatch for linebackers. They could also use Brown on the outside, put Cooper in the slot and then when they want to use Brown as a blocker, could motion him in-line.

Wide receiver will be a big question this offseason as teams must have three or four solid receivers to run their offense. The Cowboys have some players that could be given expanded roles, but should continue to add to the position through the draft.

4. Safety

Most of 2018 was spent discussing the possibility of trading for Seattle Seahawks Safety Earl Thomas, and I imagine that much of this offseason will be spent discussing him again. If you got tired of Earl Thomas talk last year, get ready, it's about to pick up.

Earl Thomas will be a free agent this offseason, so he'll be free to sign with any team he chooses and he's made it known that he'd like to play for the Dallas Cowboys. There are several question marks when it comes to Earl Thomas that the Cowboys will have to consider.

When will he be ready to go? What kind of money will he demand? Has health become a concern?

All legitimate questions for a player that will be coming off a broken leg suffered this season. He should be ready for offseason training as there have been videos posted to his Instagram showing him running stadiums. If he's ready to roll by free agency and is able to pass his physical, I bet they take another long look at adding him to the roster.

They have another free agent option that they can look into though in New York Giants Safety Landon Collins. He's a different type of safety than Earl Thomas, but Collins is a player. He's more of a "box" or strong safety that you could use to play the Jeff Heath role, which would leave Xavier Woods playing the free safety spot.

5. Defensive Tackle

Antwaun Woods, Maliek Collins, Tyrone Crawford, Caraun Reid, and Daniel Ross played well for the Dallas Cowboys defense, but as we saw on Saturday night against the Los Angeles Rams, they were lacking as a group. In Woods, Collins, and Crawford, you feel good with what you have as you approach free agency and the draft, but they need to add a player that can help them with their interior pass rush.

Much of the pass rush that the Cowboys received this season came from their defensive ends and linebackers. The tackles were good, but inconsistent in their ability to collapse the pocket and not allow any room for opposing quarterbacks to step into.

This is a draft that is deep on defense and the Cowboys will have a chance to add to their defensive tackle spot with their second round pick. With Rod Marinelli likely returning to the Dallas Cowboys next offseason, we know his ability to find diamonds in the rough. I wouldn't be surprised if they go practice squad diving again this offseason and find a player that can have a significant impact like David Irving did in 2017 and Antwaun Woods did in 2018.

It's unlikely that David Irving will be back and Tyrone Crawford could be a cap casualty if the Cowboys no longer want to carry his $10 million cap number.

The Cowboys are likely to bring back DeMarcus Lawrence, Randy Gregory is still under contract, as well as Taco Charlton and Dorance Armstrong. They are pretty solid at defensive end, but could still add a player to compete with Taco and Armstrong. Defensive tackle though, is a place where they need to make a move to upgrade the position. The defense was really good last season, but needs to look for ways to improve heading into 2019.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

The Dallas Cowboys will do as they always do this offseason as they approach the roster; sign inexpensive veterans with the hope that they outperform their contracts and attempt to draft well yet again. It's a formula that has worked for them and there's no reason to think it won't continue moving forward.



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Dallas Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys Re-Sign OL Coach Marc Colombo Through 2019

Sean Martin

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Dallas Cowboys Re-Sign OL Coach Marc Colombo Through 2019

Hiring six new positional coaches and a special teams coordinator prior to the 2018-19 season, the Dallas Cowboys saw plenty of success with this turnover - rebounding from a 3-5 start to reach the Divisional Round before having their season end at the LA Rams. At arguably their most important position, the Cowboys admitted to hiring the wrong fit when Paul Alexander was fired mid-season. Very fortunately, Alexander's assistant was ready to step up and become one of the most respected coaches on the staff, with former Cowboys Tackle Marc Colombo receiving a new contract as OL Coach through next season.

The team announced that Colombo would return on Tuesday. The day prior, Head Coach Jason Garrett said he expects Center Travis Frederick to be ready for the entirety of the offseason program. The two-time 1st Team All-Pro missed the entire season dealing with Gillian-Barre Syndrome.

Jon Machota on Twitter

Source: Cowboys have signed offensive line coach Marc Colombo to a new contract

There's still work to be done this offseason for the Cowboys to maintain their usual standard on the offensive line. Just days removed from the end of the season, in which the Cowboys became the first playoff squad since 1988 to start all players under the age of 30, the Dallas OL is in great position and should remain an overwhelming strength under Colombo.

With Joe Looney set to return to a backup role and Xavier Su'a-Filo under contract, even the Cowboys depth up front is built up nicely well before free agency or the Draft. Cam Fleming and Marcus Martin are the Cowboys offensive linemen with expiring contracts.

The Cowboys averaged 136.9 rush yards per game under Alexander, who introduced an unfamiliar scheme to established veterans like Tyron Smith and Zack Martin. Alexander's time as the Cowboys OL Coach also stunted the growth of rookie Left Guard Connor Williams, who finished the season strong once returning to the starting lineup.

The Cowboys allowed 56 sacks this season, 23 of which (41%) came in the six games under Alexander. Colombo had served as Alexander's assistant, believed to be a candidate to run his own OL room at some point.

When that opportunity came sooner than expected, the Cowboys brought back former offensive line coach Hudson Houck to assist Colombo.

A projected starting lineup of Smith, Williams, Frederick, Martin, and La'el Collins is what Colombo and Houck will have to look forward to when the Cowboys offense takes the field in 2019 - along with rushing champion Ezekiel Elliott and fourth-year Quarterback Dak Prescott.

Colombo described himself as the "luckiest guy on the planet," when asked about his opportunity to continue coaching with his former team.

Tell us what you think about "Dallas Cowboys Re-Sign OL Coach Marc Colombo Through 2019" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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Player News

Leighton Vander Esch To Top Rookie Season With Pro Bowl Trip

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Next Day Rant: Cowboys Drafting LB Vander Esch Looks Pretty Smart Now

Dallas Cowboys' rookie Leighton Vander Esch has done enough to prove every single doubter wrong. When Roger Goodell called his name during the 2018 NFL Draft in Arlington, Texas, many in Cowboys Nation rejoiced at the thought of having a young linebacker for a defense surrounded with uncertainty. However, many analysts doubted the draft pick. For a lot of people (sadly, I include myself in this category), the pick should've been used on another player. For most, despite acknowledging his raw talent, Vander Esch wouldn't be able to provide the Cowboys with an instant impact player. Ah, well.

After a remarkable season, Vander Esch (a.k.a. Wolf Hunter) has earned a spot on this season's second-team All-Pro. When the Pro Bowl voting began, Vander Esch was snubbed from the ballot itself. It didn't took the NFL long to realize their mistake and add the Cowboys' linebacker to the list. Despite missing the cut at first, Vander Esch will be heading to Orlando to play in this year's Pro Bowl on January 27th.

Dallas Cowboys on Twitter

DallasCowboys linebacker @VanderEsch38 has been added to the 2019 Pro Bowl Roster. 🐺 Congratulations, rookie! → https://t.co/AYqEUy2tZx

The former Boise State Bronco will be replacing Carolina Panthers' LB Luke Kuechly, who won't be participating because of an injury.

Vander Esch racked up 140 tackles (per Pro Football Reference), ranking third in the league in this category. He finished the season as the fifth best linebacker in Pro Football Focus' rankings.

But numbers aren't really enough to fully appreciate what Vander Esch did for the Dallas Cowboys. A team that was used to seeing its defense break when veteran Sean Lee went down injured, did not only get someone to fill in for Lee. Vander Esch actually upgraded the Cowboys' defense. It didn't matter where the ball went, he was always around when opponents were tackled. His speed and chance of direction allowed him to run sideline to sideline, covering a huge portion of the field.

Along Jaylon Smith, Dallas managed to have one of the best linebacker duos in the NFL.

The last time a defensive rookie from the Cowboys went to the Pro Bowl was in 1981, when Everson Walls made the team. Vander Esch is the 11th rookie in team history to be selected to the Pro Bowl. This year, the rookie will be accompanied by DeMarcus Lawrence, Byron Jones, Tyron Smith, Zack Martin and Ezekiel Elliott.

Tell me what you think about "Leighton Vander Esch To Top Rookie Season With Pro Bowl Trip" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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