The NFL Free Agency period started yesterday and, if you didn't know any better, the Cowboys have already been eliminated from postseason contention for 2016. Well, maybe they can sneak into a wild card spot.
They have NO SHOT of winning the division though, because the New York Giants already secured that with their day one signings. They started by re-signing their own one handed pass rusher Jason Pierre-Paul to a one year extension worth $8.5 million in guaranteed money.
The JPP contract could be worth as much as $10.5 million, all to secure one more season for a defensive linemen that recorded 1 sack in 8 games last year. According to Giants' sources, the team values his ability to pressure the quarterback - although he often doesn't have the ability to actually record the sack thanks to his club-hand.
Yet, there is certainly some value to having defensive ends that can get near the quarterback. It opens things up for other guys (who preferably have two hands) to also get to the quarterback and finish off sacks.
The Giants roster before yesterday did not have a lot of these guys up front, but they went and brought in the market's top edge rusher Olivier Vernon. Surely this was a tremendous signing for the league's worst passing defense a season ago, right?!
Vernon had 9 games this year in which he failed to record a sack. He had just one game in 2015 where he had more than one sack, and it came against the woeful Ravens. While there is certainly talent there and room to grow, the Giants paid him as if he was their new Lawrence Taylor - locking him up for the next five years by giving him $85 million!
“Unfortunately, good players get paid like their great players. Average players get paid like their good players. It’s a domino effect. So, it’s not a great way to put your team together" - Stephen Jones on free agency.
The Giants clearly do not agree with Mr. Jones, as they recklessly saw their need for pass rush and grabbed the top guy at top dollar.
Vernon averages just over 7 sacks a season. Let's be generous and say he gets 8 this year with the Giants. Pierre-Paul had 1 sack in 8 games, so we'll give him 2 sacks over a full 16 games. Using this math, the Giants added 10 sacks to their 2015 total of 23.
That would bring them up to 33, which would have been good for 23rd in the league this season. Seems like a nice waste of over $100 million in free agency!
The last addition New York made to their defensive line came when they snagged Damon Harrison from the Jets on another five year deal worth up to $46.25 million. While he won't help them much in the sack department, Harrison may have been their best signing of the day, as the defensive tackle is among the league's best against the run.
However, the Giants' "upgrades" did not stop on the defensive front though, as they looked to improve a secondary that ranked last in passing yards allowed per game in 2015. One of the top corners on the market was former Ram Janoris Jenkins, who's former team easily chose to re-sign Trumaine Johnson over him.
Johnson is far more consistent, but don't tell that to Steve Spagnuolo, who now has Jenkins as a member of his defense for the next five years on a $62.5 million deal.
I shared this tweet when I wrote up the signing of Jenkins right here, but it's worth sharing once again to further hammer home the point that just because someone may be considered the best player at their position in free agency doesn't mean that player has to be any good.
Janoris Jenkins has given up 22 TDs over the past 4 seasons. Richard Sherman has given up 10 over the last five, including playoffs.
There is such a thing as a bad free agent market, and spending over $150 million in it as soon as it opens is not the right approach. So relax, Cowboys Nation, and understand that everything will get settled on the field in 2016.
The Cowboys are sticking to their plan, not overreacting to a 4 win season by putting themselves in salary cap hell for the coming years. They know they have Romo coming back along with Orlando Scandrick, a healthy Tyrone Crawford, and Dez Bryant.
They re-signed their own guys, locking up Rolando McClain for another year, and are reportedly working on Morris Claiborne next. Once this is taken care of, they can focus on guys like Cedric Thornton and other depth-acquisitions that will fill needs prior to the draft - where Will McClay can really improve this roster.
So let's all sit back, trust the Cowboys process, and get a good laugh out of the Giants' day one desperation.
Vernon owned Tyron all day long" said 213 Giants fans to me in the last 24 hours. Oh. https://t.co/invMY1f5kV
The Giants signed X-Rams Janoris Jenkins to a $62 mill deal Here's a photograph of Janoris covering Dez Bryant...
Could a Former Division Rival be Cowboys’ LG Solution?
When it comes to prioritizing the Dallas Cowboys offseason needs, offensive guard is definitely near the top of the list. Opinions will certainly vary, but for me, solidifying the offensive line with a new starting left guard is the top priority for the Cowboys.
I know many of you will disagree and believe the Dallas Cowboys need to continue to upgrade their defense. But, this teams success or failure will be determined by how their offensive line performs. That's just the way the Cowboys are built, which is why they have invested so heavily putting this unit together.
Four out of five of the Dallas Cowboys starting offensive line is set in stone, but there is currently no one on the roster to step into the vacant left guard position unless you want to see the coaching staff give Chaz Green another try.
No, I didn't think so.
With the start of the 2018 free agency just a few weeks away, the Dallas Cowboys have certainly narrowed down some of the potential free agents they would be interested in bringing aboard if the price is right. Remember, they have turned into "bargain shoppers".
There are a few intriguing free agent options who I believe could step in to upgrade the LG position for the Cowboys next season, and not break the bank. One such option is a former division rival of the New York Giants, Justin Pugh.
The former 19th overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft has spent five years in New York while playing out his rookie contract, but that time has come to an end. The Giants aren't likely to re-sign him, which means he will get his first taste of free agency.
Justin Pugh could step in and be an immediate upgrade over what the Dallas Cowboys employed at the left guard position in 2017. He has exceptional mobility. He reaches the second level with ease and plays with good body control and footwork. He is a perfect fit in a zone blocking scheme like the Cowboys employ.
Pugh is also versatile. He has played both right tackle and offensive guard for the Giants. He of course would be asked to play between Travis Frederick and Tyron Smith at LG with the Cowboys, but versatility to play another position is never a bad thing.
Unfortunately, Pugh doesn't come without baggage. He has missed a total of 13 games over the last two seasons with the Giants, including eight last season due to a back injury. This is definitely a huge red flag, especially for the Cowboys after dealing with the same issue with Tyron Smith.
But, this is why Justin Pugh will likely be in the Cowboys price range. Sportrac currently estimates his contract at 4 years at $23,983,847, which equates to $5,995,968 annually. I personally think that's a little low for someone of Pugh's caliber and versatility, but it certainly understandable when you take into account his recent injury history.
I personally think this is a longshot to happen because the Cowboys would prefer to go younger and cheaper, but it wouldn't surprise me.
Do you think Justin Pugh makes sense for the Cowboys?
Dallas Cowboys Wishlist: 2018 Free Agency Edition
Sadly, we can't wake up on Sundays to NFL football. The Dallas Cowboys are not on TV every week for us to watch them play. To make matters worse, we'll have to wait until September to get real football from our favorite team.
But that doesn't mean there's nothing to talk about until then! For the die-hard Cowboys fan, the offseason should be quite entertaining. Free agency will begin in March, and it should be an intense one for Dallas.
They need to handle a tight salary cap while trying to add a bit of help for this football team. Recently, Inside The Star Contributor John Williams wrote an in-depth piece about the Cowboys' cap situation and how they can manage to get things done, despite having little cap space right now.
Last season, I wrote a weekly Cowboys Wishlist about things I wanted to see for each game. Now there are no games, but I decided to write a special edition for this upcoming free agency.
Wish #1: Keep The Rushmen
The front office will have one hell of a challenge trying to retain all of its free agents. The two most important ones may be their two defensive linemen. If they can keep them, DL won't be a top need heading to the Draft.
Lawrence is one of the biggest names in free agency this 2018, but the Cowboys should find a way to keep him from ever being available.
If they're able to franchise tag him, that'd be the way to go since he's only had one elite season in his four-year career and they may not want to sign him to a huge long-term deal and risk not seeing the same guy next season.
David Irving is a more polarizing player, with off-the-field issues. However, he's been a very disruptive guy and he has the chance to be a unique player. His talent is really out of this world. Keeping him and Irving would give this franchise a top defensive line for the first time in many years.
Wish #2: Pay Anthony Hitchens
When healthy, Sean Lee is one of the NFL's top linebackers. He is simply an outstanding player who's always around the ball and seems to know where the ball is going before the opposing coach even calls the play.
The problem is, he has a lot of trouble remaining available. Anthony Hitchens is a guy who's found the way to step up every time the General is out, and he's shown a great progression as a player year after year.
Lee will be 32 by the time the season starts, giving Dallas something to think about. Hitchens is a guy capable of starting and competing in the NFL. If the front office finds a way to keep him, they'll be getting closer to being less "Sean Lee-dependent."
Wish #3: Get Seattle Seahawks' Earl Thomas
When we talk about a potential big name addition to the Dallas Cowboys, we're usually a bit pessimistic. This team isn't one that makes splashes like this, but Earl Thomas to Dallas makes a ton of sense. Former Seahawks' defensive coordinator is now the Cowboys' defensive backs' coach.
With Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis (and maybe Byron Jones moving to CB), this team will have a promising secondary. Add Earl Thomas, and it will go from "promising" to "great" in a heartbeat.
The Cowboys could not only have a top DL, but a top secondary if they're able to get this veteran.
Let's hope the Cowboys listen to Thomas and they go get him.
Wish #4: Get Dez Bryant to Take a Pay Cut
When I started writing this, I wanted to add a "get this wide receiver in FA"... but I won't. A few weeks ago, I wrote a case in favor and one against Dez Bryant remaining a Cowboy in 2018. Personally, I would be fine with him parting ways with the team.
However, I'm aware of how hard it can be finding a replacement for a guy like #88. The biggest issue with Dez is definitely his cap hit. He hasn't justified the money he's being paid on the field as he should be.
If they can get him to take a pay cut, it may end up being the ideal scenario for the Dallas Cowboys.
It'll be a very interesting offseason, and here at Inside The Star we'll continue to provide you with content about it all.
Switzer and Beasley: A Dilemma for Cowboys’ 2018 Offseason
When the Dallas Cowboys drafted Ryan Switzer in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft, Cowboys Nation rejoiced. By some, including myself, the product out of North Carolina was considered a steal by America's Team. Taking a guy who could contribute from day one for special teams and for the offense was something to be happy about.
At the time, WR didn't look like much of a need. Dez Bryant and Cole Beasley were staying in Dallas and Terrance Williams had just been re-signed (little did we know he'd fail to score a single touchdown in 2017) pushing the receiver position down the team needs list.
But the front office had landed a very productive slot receiver from North Carolina. On top of that, they found a guy to replace Lucky Whitehead as a return specialist. However, offseason hype took over a large amount of Cowboys' fans, writers and analysts and the expectations for Switzer were very big.
Naturally, he was compared to Cole Beasley since people started talking about him as an NFL prospect. His height, skills and playing style were similar and with the Cowboy veteran coming off from a big year in 2016, people were excited for what Switzer could do as a professional football player.
But it wasn't just about the rookie returning punts and kickoffs, it was about him contributing to an offense that already had a great slot receiver. Cowboys Nation was excited to see Switzer and Beasley on the field at the same time.
That never happened.
Switzer barely saw playing time in 2017 and when he was on the field as a WR, he was limited to running or faking jet sweeps. The coaching staff misused him and we didn't get to see him get a lot of snaps until the final week of the season, when #11 was injured.
And it was that same week when we saw what he was capable of. Switz showed how talented he is and how he can beat NFL defensive backs when he was asked to do so.
With a busy offseason and a tight salary cap, the Dallas Cowboys' front office will be considering a lot of possibilities. One of them will be the future of Cole Beasley. Releasing him would free up more than $3M in cap space.
I know a large amount of Cowboys' fans prefer to see Dez Bryant gone over him, but we can't deny that there's already a clear replacement for Beasley in Switzer.
The Cowboys wanted Switzer to be a returner and a receiver for them, but if they're going to use him just as a gadget player on offense... was the fourth-round pick worth it? If you're not going to use one of them, why have two players who are very similar on your roster?
Cowboys Nation loves Cole Beasley, as they should. I for one wouldn't want to see #11 on another team. Even still, it's only fair to admit that it would make sense for Dallas if they were to say goodbye to one of their most beloved players.
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