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...
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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