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NFC East Position Outlook: The Safeties

The NFC East position group outlook is coming to a close. Each and every position group in the NFC East has been discussed so far, besides one, the safeties. Sure, safeties and cornerbacks are normally combined into one “grouping” called the secondary, but I decided to split them up and discuss them separately. Without any more delay, let’s take a look at the free and strong safeties this division has to offer. Dallas Cowboys Cowboys safety play over the past few seasons has been inconsistent, to say the least.

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Blog - 2016 Contract-Year Cowboys: S Barry Church 1

The NFC East position group outlook is coming to a close. Each and every position group in the NFC East has been discussed so far, besides one, the safeties. Sure, safeties and cornerbacks are normally combined into one "grouping" called the secondary, but I decided to split them up and discuss them separately.

Without any more delay, let's take a look at the free and strong safeties this division has to offer.

Dallas Cowboys - Byron Jones, #31

Cowboys safety play over the past few seasons has been inconsistent, to say the least.

Barry Church and JJ Wilcox have become notorious for their poor tackling angles and coverage breakdowns, even though I would argue that it hasn't been all bad.

I still think Church has a lot to offer this defense, even if it is from more of a leadership role than anything else. No, he isn't an elite NFL safety, but he has been the stronger of the starting duo since 2014.

Cowboys faithful are excited about this group due to the emergence of now second year player Byron Jones.

Jones spent most of his rookie year at safety, but was forced to bounce around to cornerback at times as well. He will finally have some stability in his week-to-week life and will be the Cowboys' starting free safety week one.

And he is going to be great, make no mistake about it.

Fan-favorite Jeff Heath also returns after signing a four year deal this offseason, and will provide solid special teams play, as he did a year ago. When called on to play safety last year, he actually led the Cowboys in interceptions with two.

Yeah, that's all it took to lead the team, two.

The Cowboys added another safety during the draft when they selected Central Michigan Chippewas' Kavon Frazier in the sixth round.

Philadelphia EaglesCowboys Headlines - NFC East Position Outlook: The Safeties

The Eagles certainly made the biggest splash at the safety position this offseason by signing safety Rodney McLeod to a five year deal worth $37 million.

The former Rams safety finished the 2015 season with 81 tackles, 5 pass deflections, and one interception. At only 26 years old, he is a solid addition and a clear upgrade for the Eagles.

Adding McLeod allows the Eagles to give Malcolm Jenkins some help. Jenkins was the best safety in the division last season, finishing with 2 interceptions and 104 tackles.

Together, this could be a dangerous combination for opposing offenses to try to test.

New York Giants

Cowboys Headlines - NFC East Position Outlook: The Safeties 1

Joseph E. Amaturo

The Giants traded up in the 2015 NFL draft in hopes of securing a long-term answer at safety in Alabama's Landon Collins.

Collins' rookie year can best be described as a roller coaster, with ups and downs and twists and turns, leaving most evaluators to just chalk up the inconsistencies to it being just his first professional season.

His final numbers did look solid, with over 100 tackles and an interception, but the Giants have to be hoping for more consistency out of Collins in 2016.

Playing alongside Collins will most likely be Cooper Taylor, who tallied just 11 tackles in very limited time last season. That is, of course, if rookie Darian Thompson is unable to grab the reigns and earn himself a starting position. My money is on Thompson to start alongside Collins for much of 2016.

Washington RedskinsCowboys Headlines - NFC East Position Outlook: The Safeties 2

Similar to the New York Giants, Washington goes into training camp with a ton of questions surrounding their safety positions. Veteran DeAngelo Hall will likely be one of the starters, as he has transitioned from cornerback to safety nicely with age.

The question then becomes, who's next?

Will Blackmon and Duke Ihenacho are the other veterans who could possibly start at safety in 2016. Blackmon won't be needed as a cornerback, and if he can transition smoothly to the starting spot, he may very well be the week one answer.

USC rookie Su'a Cravens may also get a shot to prove himself as a safety this summer.

Who's the best?

In my mind, this group was clearly a two-team race.

The Redskins and the Giants have way too many question marks and inconsistencies at safety for me to even consider them here. That leaves the Eagles and the Cowboys.

Malcolm Jenkins was the best safety in the NFC East in 2015, so he would clearly give the Eagles some type of advantage over the Cowboys' group.

Dallas, however, has my favorite new full-time starter in the division in Byron Jones. And, to be honest, I wouldn't be surprised at all if we consider Jones the best safety in the NFC East going into 2017.

Rodney McLeod is good, not great. Barry Church is good, not great.

Cowboys Headlines - NFC East Position Outlook: The Safeties 3

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The Cowboys didn't force enough turnovers in 2015, but that doesn't mean Jones and company won't improve in this department come 2016.

It is a really close call, but I have to give the edge to the Eagles.

I hate that I have to do it, but I think McLeod and Jenkins form the best starting tandem on paper at this time. Things certainly can and will change as we move further along this season.



Die-hard Cowboys fan from the Northeast, so you know I am here to defend the 'boys whenever necessary. Began writing for a WordPress Cowboys Blog, and am currently a college student. Lets get going.

Dallas Cowboys

Noah Brown Takes to Twitter to Call Out ESPN

John Williams

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A Fully Focused Ezekiel Elliott can Carry the Cowboys into 2018 Playoffs 2
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN has long been considered "The Worldwide Leader in Sports," and for a long time that title was justified. If you wanted your national sports news, where did you turn to but the cable sports channel to watch that day's episode of SportsCenter. But over the last few years, it's become more and more clear that it's "The Worldwide Leader" in name only.

The ratings are dropping and the network has had to make a lot of business decisions as it relates to much of their on-air talent over the last several years. With their latest under 25 starting 22 -- ahem, troll job -- they seem to have finally come to terms that they are basically First Take. 

Noah Brown put it best in his reaction to the ESPN "Insider" voting that led to Saquon Barkley being named to the starting 22 ahead of Ezekiel Elliott. Brown, Elliott's teammate when both were at Ohio State University, came to his defense upon seeing the list.

https://twitter.com/Nb_Eight5/status/1018940752787894277

And here is the ESPN list:

SportsCenter on Twitter

43 of our NFL Insiders voted. Here's their best starting roster under the age of 25.

I'm sure there could be debates about different positions on the squad. Personally, quarterback is one where an argument could be made for Carson Wentz or Dak Prescott over DeShaun Watson, but that's for another time.

But to have a rookie, who has never played a down in the NFL ahead of the NFL's league leader in rushing for 2016, Ezekiel Elliott, is laughable.

Ridiculous.

Shameful even.

The fact that they had 43, again I use the quotations, "Insiders" vote on this and Ezekiel Elliott wasn't listed as one of the two running backs just shows you how far they've come as a network.

Let's remember that Ezekiel Elliott has averaged a touchdown a game -- receiving and rushing -- in his 25-game career. No running back has more rushing yards than Elliott does over the last two years, including 2017 league rushing leader, Todd Gurley. No running back has more rushing touchdowns than Elliott's 22 rushing TDs.

Ezekiel Elliott's yards per carry is a healthy 4.63. Todd Gurley sits at 3.93. No player with more than 1,800 rushing yards over the last two years has a better yards per attempt than Ezekiel Elliott.

I get that you'd vote Todd Gurley in there, but to not have Ezekiel Elliott, arguably the game's best running back on your Under 25 starting 22 just makes you look like Skip Bayless or Stephen A. Smith. Not a sports journalism entity worthy of people throwing money at for "Insider" access.

I won't say that I never or will never watch ESPN, because where else am I gonna go for Monday Night Football, Todd Archer, or the NCAA Men's Lacrosse Championships? When I'm at my father-in-law's, I'll watch SportsCenter first thing in the morning, because it will be on and you don't change another man's television.

"The Worldwide Leader," however, loses credibility when they promote a list like this that has such a glaring omission.

Perhaps, maybe the goal wasn't to put out an accurate list. Maybe the goal was to get us talking about their list, just like when NFL Network releases their Top 100 players list. Like they say, there's no such thing as bad publicity.

This troll job from ESPN has certainly gotten them some publicity, or should I say, notoriety.



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Cowboys DE Randy Gregory Reinstated, Will Join Team for Training Camp

Sean Martin

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Will the Dallas Cowboys "Get Lucky" at Defensive End?

The Dallas Cowboys patience with Defensive End Randy Gregory has paid off. Suspended for the better part of 2016 and all of 2017, Gregory has officially been reinstated to join the team for their 2018 training camp. The projected starter at RDE, Gregory will report to Oxnard with the rest of the team on July 25th.

From here, it will be all hard work for Gregory to reconnect with Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli and get his promising career back on track. The last time Gregory suited up for the Cowboys, he managed to sack Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback Carson Wentz in a week 17 win. The Cowboys will be expecting much more of this from a player they've supported through multiple violations of the league's heavily criticized substance abuse policy.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

Cowboys pass-rusher Randy Gregory's petition for reinstatement was not opposed, according to lawyer Daniel Moskowitz. He's back. "I've never been more proud of any individual in my life. I'm very excited for Randy and his daughter and the rest of the his family.

Among this support staff for Gregory were a number of teammates that wrote formal letters to the NFL as part of his bid for reinstatement. These last few days of preparation before the Cowboys are together again as a team will surely be uplifted by Gregory's presence.

They say no news is typically good news at this point in the offseason, something the Cowboys have come to realize far too often. Today's news shouldn't be confused with a pleasant surprise however, rather something the Cowboys were committed to in getting another premier pass rusher on the field.

Here is the NFL's official press release on their reinstatement of Randy Gregory:

Sean Martin ✭ on Twitter

Sean Martin ✭ on Twitter

https://t.co/za0u3lWgaY

Tell us what you think about "Cowboys DE Randy Gregory Reinstated, Will Join Team for Training Camp" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys, Elliott Should Keep Close Tabs on Le’Veon Bell’s Situation

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Cowboys, Elliott Should Be Keeping Close Tabs on Le'Veon's Situation
AP Photo / Don Wright

The deadline for reaching an agreement with franchise tagged players came to an end last Monday, in what turned out to be a pretty uneventful day all around the league. No agreement was reached by any of the teams with their respective players, including the Dallas Cowboys and their promising "War Daddy," DeMarcus Lawrence.

But the Cowboys' front office have something to learn in this process that doesn't involve a player of their own. Something that both the front office and Ezekiel Elliott should be keeping a close eye on.

The Pittsburgh Steelers also failed to secure their franchise tagged player: Running Back Le'Veon Bell. Really, no one expected a deal to be reached among the two parties. The 26-year old football super star is asking for too much money, which has led to the Steelers tagging him twice in consecutive years.

Bell, conscious of his abilities on the field, is asking for a lot of money from his football team. In 2018, he's set to earn over $14.5M under the tag. That's more than twice the money that Devonta Freeman averages per year - 8.25 million - who's next on the list of highest paid running backs in the league and the highest paid on a long-term contract.

Adam Schefter on Twitter

Just to clarify: Steelers' offer to Le'Veon Bell last year averaged $13.3 million per year. Steelers' offer to him this year averaged $15 million per year. But Bell does not believe he should be paid as a RB; he believes he should be paid as an elite offensive weapon.

Le'Veon, whose agent has said 2018 will likely be his last season playing as a Steeler, was reportedly offered $15M per year but that wasn't enough for him. Bell wants to get paid as an elite offensive weapon, which he is. But it turns out he's also... a running back.

It's a complicated situation and one that, if it turns out well for him in free agency next year, could revolutionize the entire running back market in the NFL. If it doesn't, he might end up regretting passing on the Steelers' offer for he won't easily find that kind of money with a team that seems to be a Super Bowl contender on a yearly basis.

The Dallas Cowboys' priorities will rely on other players during the next couple of years, but that shouldn't keep them from keeping close tabs on these events since they could be dealing with a similar scenario when Ezekiel Elliott's turn for a new deal comes around.

Jerry Jones, Ezekiel Elliott

Dallas Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones, RB Ezekiel Elliott (Joe Robbins / Getty Images)

Fairly assuming that the fifth year option on Zeke's contract will be picked up after the 2018 season, locking him up through 2020, it's a problem that will be down the road for the Cowboys. But it will have to be dealt with at some point.

When his time is up, Elliott should undoubtedly be looking to become the highest-paid in the game, but the amount of money he gets will depend on the outcome of this whole Le'Veon-Steelers thing. David Johnson and Todd Gurley will also play an important role in determining the future of the running back market.

While Elliott hasn't been used as a receiving threat during his first two seasons in the league, he's still an elite offensive weapon for the Cowboys. The team's offense is based around Zeke and the running game, so it will make sense if his demands are somewhat similar from those by Bell.

Elliott might even be franchise tagged once or twice by the Cowboys if things get complicated in the future. Unlike DeMarco Murray in 2014, surely they won't be willing to let him walk in free agency once his contract comes to an end.

For now, it won't be just the Cowboys who will be keeping close tabs on this situation, but also Ezekiel Elliott and his agent. Hopefully, both parties will manage to handle things better than what we're seeing right now in Pittsburgh.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys, Elliott Should Keep Close Tabs on Le’Veon Bell’s Situation" in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 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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