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Next Man Up is Finally an Option for the Cowboys



Cowboys Blog - Next Man Up is Finally an Option for the Cowboys

Next man up has been a hot topic for the Cowboys the last few years, due to the injury issues. Whether it's been Sean Lee, DeMarco Murray or the entire d-line last year, Jason Garrett and his staff have always talked about the next man in line stepping up.

That's been an issue for teams of the past. While the top of the Cowboys roster was loaded with talent, the rest was a bit lacking. The stars would get injured and the next man up was usually someone who wouldn't even be considered for a roster spot by a lot of other teams.

There have been a couple of reasons for the lack of depth on the Cowboys roster, but the main reason was the inability to draft decent players after the first couple of rounds.

Most teams can draft good players in the first two rounds; it's the later rounds that separate good teams from the rest.

Let's look at the 2009 draft, the year before Jason Garrett took over this team.

I'm sure a lot of you cringe when you hear the words “2009 draft.” There isn't a single member of that draft class still around this organization. The first rounder was traded for Roy Williams, who turned out to be a bust. The second rounder was traded to the Bills for a third and fourth rounder. The Cowboys had 12 draft picks between rounds three and seven and got essentially nothing from it.

Sure they got a little use from David Buehler and Victor Butler, but when those are the two most successful members of a 12 man draft class, that's a problem.

In 2010 and 2011, the Cowboys did a little better drafting DeMarco Murray in the third round of the 2011 draft, Dwayne Harris in the sixth, and Sean Lissemore in the seventh round of the 2010 draft. On top of that, they were able to sign Dan Bailey and Chris Jones as undrafted free agents in 2011. The team still wasn't very deep, but they were moving in the right direction.

Will McClay and the scouting department also brought in Laurent Robinson that year. Robinson was one of McClay's early diamonds in the rough.

The 2012 draft really helped the depth of this team.

The Cowboys grabbed Tyrone Crawford in the third, Kyle Wilber in the fourth, James Hanna in the sixth, and signed Ronald Leary, Cole Beasley, and Lance Dunbar as undrafted free agents. This was the best they'd drafted in the later rounds in a long time. They also added Ernie Sims to the roster through free agency, which helped with depth. The roster was getting deeper but it wasn't there yet.

The 2013 draft brought in Terrance Williams and J.J. Wilcox in the third, Joseph Randle in the fifth, and DeVonte Holloman in the sixth. Williams and Wilcox made an immediate impact and Holloman showed flashes before injuries unfortunately ended his career. The Cowboys also brought in Jakar Hamilton and Jeff Heath as undrafted free agents. Heath started several games in his first year and has been a core special teamer.

The 2013 season proved to be riddled with more injuries than usual as the d-line could not stay healthy. McClay and the scouting department brought in Justin Durant at linebacker and just about every defensive lineman available including Nick Hayden and George Selvie. Those two were able to carve out a role on this team and add to the depth today.

Finally there are the moves the Cowboys made this season.

They drafted Hitchens in the fourth round, Street in the fifth, and Gardner and Bishop in the seventh. They also brought in Tyler Patmon and Davon Coleman as undrafted free agents.

However the biggest move may have come by trade.

Among the veterans brought in this offseason were Henry Melton, Terrell McClain, Jeremy Mincey, and Rolando McClain.

This season is the first where I've seen the next man up philosophy work for the Cowboys. Whether it's been Rolando McClain and Anthony Hitchens stepping up at linebacker or Tyrone Crawford sliding over to defensive tackle, the no-name defense of the Cowboys has been playing much better than expected. Tyler Patmon also stepped in with a pick six against the Cardinals.

This Cowboys team has shown that even when they're banged up - as they have been all year - they're dangerous. I wouldn't want to face this team when they're fully healthy.

Player News

Report: Raiders Sign Former Cowboys LB Kyle Wilber

Kevin Brady



Cowboys Headlines - Dallas Cowboys Re-Sign Linebacker Kyle Wilber

A Free Agency period filled with departures continued for the Dallas Cowboys today, as the Oakland Raiders have reportedly signed the now-former Cowboys LB Kyle Wilber.


The Raiders have signed LB Kyle Wilber:

Wilber has been with the Cowboys since 2012, and has played in all 16 games four of the past five seasons. Most of his time has come on special teams, but he did provide solid linebacker depth for the Cowboys since joining the team.

Dallas has now lost both Wilber and Anthony Hitchens, depleting their linebacker depth even further over the last couple weeks.

The Raiders have now signed two key special teams contributors for the Cowboys in Keith Smith and Kyle Wilber this offseason. Hopefully Dallas can replace these types of "replacement level" players throughout the rest of the offseason, especially during the NFL Draft.

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Player News

Report: Cowboys Officially Release CB Orlando Scandrick

Kevin Brady



Orlando Scandrick

After requesting his release from the team just a few days ago, Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick has gotten his wish. According to ESPN's Josina Anderson, Scandrick has officially been cut by the Dallas Cowboys.

Josina Anderson on Twitter

I'm told the #Cowboys have informed CB Orlando Scandrick he will be released, per source.

This move will reportedly save the Cowboys roughly $1.4M against the salary cap, as we hope they finally look to make some moves during the Free Agency period.

Scandrick's release comes after an offseason in which the Cowboys totally overhauled the back end of their defense, specifically their cornerbacks. With the emergence of young, promising players such as Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis, and the health issues of the aging Scandrick, the move makes a lot of sense.

In fact, after the Cowboys drafted Awuzie in the second round of last year's draft it was rumored the Cowboys were looking to move Scandrick for extra draft picks. Instead, one year later, they have cut him to save some cap room.

Orlando Scandrick should have a market to find a new team elsewhere, but his time in Dallas has now come to a close.

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Dallas Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys Have Missing Piece at Offensive Line

Jess Haynie



Dallas Cowboys Have Big Hole on Offensive Line
Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News

There are a lot of positions being talked about right now for the Dallas Cowboys. Upgrades are needed at several spots, but one critical position needs even more than that. Left guard is completely unmanned, and that could be a big problem for the 2018 offensive line if it's not addressed soon.

Last year's starter, Jonathan Cooper, is currently an unrestricted free agent. So are backups Joe Looney and Byron Bell.

Right now, Chaz Green is the only other non-starter under contract who has any NFL experience at left guard. Nobody wants to see him on the field next year.

Dez Bryant may be a big topic but at least he's under contract. The same goes for safety, where we at least have options to turn to if free agency or the draft don't yield anything.

Left guard, though? The cupboard is bare.

La'el Collins' Position Flex Could Come in Handy for Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys OT La'el Collins

One option could be to move La'el Collins back to guard, where many feel he has the most upside, and then find a new right tackle. But that would be changing two positions to fill one hole, and Collins was playing well at tackle by the end of the year.

And obviously, we don't want to see Chaz Green playing that spot either. Or any spot. Ever.

No, at this point it makes sense for Dallas to leave Collins where he is and either sign or draft a starting LG. The question is how much do they want to invest?

The Cowboys are already shelling out big bucks to Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, and Zack Martin. Even Collins counts about $7 million against the cap. They have three first-round picks already tied up in the offensive line.

Some thought veteran free agent Josh Sitton would be a nice option, but he got picked up by the Dolphins today for about $8-9 million per year. That's more than Dallas can afford given their limited cap space and other needs.

No, the LG in 2018 is going to need to be a salary cap bargain. That means either re-signing Jonathan Cooper or Joe Looney on the cheap, or perhaps paying a rookie salary to a high draft pick.

Last year's 19th overall pick, O.J. Howard, counted just $2 million against the Bucs' salary cap in 2017.

There are some older veterans who could be cheap band-aid options, such as Matt Slauson or Evan Smith. But you don't get very far down some lists of available guards before you see Jonathan Cooper's name, and continuity is always a plus.

The point here is don't expect any big move, even with the enormity of the need. Dallas will likely reach an agreement with Cooper after he's tested the free agent waters a bit, assuming nobody else scoops him up.

If not, the need at left guard will become increasingly dire the further we get into the offseason.

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