Whelp. This it. This fourth preseason game is always intriguing to me. This is the absolute final call for guys that are on the bubble to make that last-minute push onto the active 53. While I think most coaching staffs around the league have already decided who is going to stick and who isn't - you seem to always have at least 1 player that goes out swinging in that final preseason game. So let's do this, shall we?
Defense (26 players)
Safety (4): Barry Church, J.J. Wilcox, Jeff Heath, Ahmad Dixon, Free Agent
Jakar Hamilton has been suspended for the first 4 games of the season, forcing me to make a change. When I originally typed up this week's projection I had Hamilton in and Dixon on the practice squad. I think Dixon really has put himself in a hole here, but he may be the one player who can earn himself a spot on the roster tonight. But I could easily see them trying to sneak Dixon onto the practice squad and signing a low-rent veteran safety from another team's scrap-heap, or even a free agent off the streets to fill in (someone like Eric Frampton in the past).
Cornerback (5): Orlando Scandrick, Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne, Tyler Patmon, Terrance Mitchell, Sterling Moore
I had resisted the urge up until last week against the Dolphins, but Tyler Patmon will be on the active 53. He deserves it. That pick-6 was a thing of beauty! While it was a horrible play by Matt Moore, I went back and watched the play over and over again. Patmon saw that play coming a mile away and broke on the ball long before Moore even released it. After the game he credited that to film study. So you have to like that. And color me shocked that they cut B.W. Webb today. I actually thought he was showing improvement.
Outside Linebacker (3): Bruce Carter, Cameron Lawrence, Kyle Wilber
With the unfortunate news about DeVonte Holloman coming down - it opened up a spot for Cameron Lawrence, who will make the team on his special teams ability alone.
Inside Linebacker (3): Justin Durant, Rolando McClain, Anthony Hitchens
It's been the same 3 guys all along. But what's interesting now is we have no idea who the starter is going to be. Dallas surprised us all last week by starting Hitchens at MLB, Carter at SLB, and Durant at WLB. The only thing I "think" I can say for sure is that Carter and Durant are going to be starters. We just don't know where they are going to line up. Just get the 3 best players on the field please.
Defensive Line (11): Henry Melton DT, Terrell McClain DT, Davon Coleman DT, DeMarcus Lawrence DE, George Selvie DE, Jeremy Mincey DE, Tyrone Crawford DE/DT, Dartwan Bush DE, Ken Bishop DT, Anthony Spencer DE, Nick Hayden
Need bodies. Lots and lots of bodies.
Offense (24 Players)
Quarterback (2): Tony Romo, Brandon Weeden
Dustin Vaughan is not making the 53. No way. I know some fellow writers here disagree but I'm fine with that. He has shown nothing to be deserving of a roster spot. Practice squad? Yes. Absolutely. I have no fears of another team snatching him up to add to their 53.
Running Back (5): DeMarco Murray, Joseph Randle, Lance Dunbar, Ryan Williams, Tyler Clutts
If Ryan Williams doesn't make this team then I will legitimately be pissed off. You can knock his pass protection and his lack of special teams prowess if you like, but he's just too good of a runner to cut loose. If you consider that Murray is in the last year of his contract and that he, as well as Dunbar, hasn't exactly been the most durable guy over his career, then to me it's case closed for Williams to make the team. And as much as I fought it, I went ahead and added FB Tyler Clutts. He's done nothing to really impress me but this offense will need a FB/Blocking TE at some point in the season. He may not be on the team at the end of season, but I think he makes the initial 53.
All off-season I was set on keeping 5 WRs. About halfway through camp I was forced to pay attention to guys like Jamar Newsome and LaRon Byrd. These two guys have treated the preseason like professional boxers - exchanging blow for blow. IF they keep 6 - and that's a huge if - I have to give the spot to Byrd at this point. Byrd is just in better physical condition right now to contribute on special teams. And that's what a 6th WR must do.
Tight End (3): Jason Witten, Gavin Escobar, James Hanna
These 3 are on the team. The only question is whether or not they'll decide to add a 4th guy from another roster.
Same 8 guys. I think John Wetzel has made a case for himself but not enough of a case to take a roster spot on this team or any other team. I think he safely lands on the practice squad.
Special Teams (3 Players)
Dan MFN Baily K
LP French Canadian Daddy LS
Chris Jones P
Practice Squad (10 Players)
Zach Minter DT
Will Smith LB
Jamar Newsome WR
Jemea Thomas DB
Caesar Rayford DE/DT
Kenneth Boatright DE
Dustin Vaughan QB
Darrion Weems OT
Ronald Patrick C/G
John Wetzel G/T
I love the fact that they expanded the practice squad to 10 players. Every one of these guys deserves it.
Could Loaded FA Safety Market Drive Down Earl Thomas’ Value?
It's no secret the Dallas Cowboys and Earl Thomas share a mutual interest in one another. Thomas has publicly stated his desire to join America's Team and the Cowboys did their darndest to make that happen last offseason. Nothing ever materialized a year ago, but it's looking as if the stars have finally aligned and a union between the two could merely be just weeks away.
Surprisingly enough, the Dallas Cowboys may have dodged a bullet last year when the Seattle Seahawks refused to part ways with their All-Pro safety. Not only would they have had to surrender a high draft pick, but they would've also had to extend Thomas' contract. Fortunately, timing is everything and now the Cowboys might just have to do the latter.
A potential contract between the Cowboys and Thomas is of course what I want to dive in today. I'm not going to get into numbers right now, because it's nearly impossible to project any kind of contract for any safety this offseason, especially for the former Seahawk, Earl Thomas.
Right now, it's a little difficult to know who might have the advantage in contract negotiations, Earl Thomas or the Dallas Cowboys. A lot of times the one that has the leverage, however slight, is the one that gets the better of the deal. As surprising as it may be, the Cowboys might just have the advantage here and I'll tell you why.
First off, this year's market for free agent safeties is pretty stacked with starting caliber players. See below:
- Earl Thomas
- Landon Collins
- Lamarcus Joyner
- Tyrann Mathieu
- Adrian Amos
- Clayton Geathers
- Ha-Ha Clinton Dix
- Glover Quinn
- Tre Boston
- Kenny Vaccaro
- George Iloka
- Jimmie Ward
- Adrian Phillips
Earl Thomas is obviously the headliner here amongst the free agent safeties, but having so many starting caliber players available could drive down Thomas' market value just a bit. This is especially true when you take into consideration the market for FA safeties just a year ago. It was almost a complete standstill last year, with only Kurt Coleman signing a three-year $16.5 million deal with the New Orleans Saints. Not even the "Honey Badger" Tyrann Mathieu could get more than a one-year deal.
With all of these safeties available in free agency, we could be looking at another stingy market. This of course could be good or bad news for the Dallas Cowboys, especially as it pertains to Earl Thomas. Since he is the top FA safety available, everything could once again be at a standstill until he is signed.
Of course, we all know this will ultimately come down to determining Earl Thomas' market value. There is no denying he is still arguably the best free safety in the game today, but there are concerns about his age (30) and the two lower leg injuries he's sustained in the past three years.
Even with the loaded free agent market of starting caliber safeties and Thomas' age and recent injury history, he's still likely to receive a contract that earns him $10 million annually, give or take. It wouldn't surprise me at all if he gets another four-year deal worth $40 million, $25.7 million guaranteed, with a $9.5 million signing bonus like he signed with the Seahawks back in 2014.
The Cowboys of course would probably find a four-year $40 million deal for Earl Thomas acceptable. They would more than likely frontload the contract with a lot of protection in the details. They have the cap space to make this happen and still be able to sign their own, so money shouldn't be a problem.
Now, whether or not Thomas' market value may dip a little due to all of the above mentioned reasons will be something we will have to wait and find out. Regardless, I'd be a little shocked if Earl Thomas doesn't finish his career with the Dallas Cowboys.
Do you think Earl Thomas' market value will take a little hit this offseason?
Acquiring Brown Will Give Dallas Twin Turbo Terrors
What a difference a receiver makes, right? As Dallas fans, we know the impact of a player who can shake coverage, get open, and catch the ball. How was the season going before the Cowboys pulled the trigger for Amari Cooper in the deal with the Raiders? Cooper proved to be the lightning rod and a turning point in a season that was growing increasingly dismal. Dak Prescott and Cooper went together like peanut butter and jelly, while the Cowboys stormed to a division title and a postseason berth.
Now, imagine all of that times two… maybe even two and a half if Antonio Brown could be had from the Steelers. Scary right? We understand there’s only one ball to go around but that didn’t stop Kevin Durant from joining the Warriors, did it?
As of this writing, the best online sportsbooks like Intertops, are dealing Dallas as the seventh of 16 choices to win the NFC championship at odds of 12-1. Imagine how those odds would shrink if Brown wore a Cowboys uniform next season, giving Prescott the luxury of not one upper echelon wideout but that plus an elite receiver. Hut, hut, hut and a few clouds of smoke later the Cowboys would be moving the chains or celebrating in the endzone.
Brown and Cooper would be a devastating combination with Ezekiel Elliott coming out of the backfield. Brown was made for Dallas, it gives him an even grander stage than the one he shared with Ben Roethlisberger and Le’Veon Bell in Pittsburgh.
Despite the fact that the 'Boys haven’t won a Super Bowl since Barry Switzer was roaming the sidelines in the mid-90s, America’s Team still resides in Dallas. But we need a game-changer and Brown is just such an athlete. But what do we give in return and will that cost be worth whatever productive years Brown has left after this one? Let’s not forget that the mercurial Miami native will be 31 when the season begins and men who make a living with their legs don’t get better at that age. But Brown is so good and so unique that, even if he drops half a click, he's still amongst the best in the game.
That level of talent is hard to replicate and it could be the missing piece which allows Dallas to be a legitimate Super Bowl contender next season and the year after.
However, up to this point, we’ve been very good at dreaming of a Brown to Dallas trade but haven’t quite worked out the details. It takes two to tango and if we expect to get the Steelers’ attention we need to give them something valuable in return. Dallas surrendered their first-round pick (27th) this season when they traded for Cooper so that’s no longer an asset.
Pittsburgh would be vying for a first-round pick (and likely more) for Brown's services but some have speculated Dallas would consider dealing rookie-standout Leighton Vander Esch.
Wait... what? We know, you’re clutching your pearls, and the words are stuck in your gasp. We get it. The kid was a home run this past season, leading the Dallas defense in tackles and earning a Pro Bowl invitation in his inaugural NFL season. But this would be a Faustian deal.
The Cowboys give up a player who is poised to be a stud for years to come for a playmaker in Brown that could render a Super Bowl in the immediate future. Brown's expiration date will surely turn his milk sour sooner rather than later, but in the here and now, Antonio Brown could be the bell cow who leads the Cowboys to the promised land before he’s put out to pasture.
Just something to think about...
2018 In Review: CB Anthony Brown Bounces Back
To say it's been an up-and-down start to the career of young cornerback Anthony Brown would be an understatement.
As a sixth round pick in 2016, everything Brown contributed during his rookie season was a plus. Due to injury he was asked to step into a greater role as the season went on, and he performed well enough to make the front office comfortable allowing multiple veterans to walk for nothing in free agency the following Spring. Brown looked like a legitimate starting cornerback in the league, and when Dallas brought in Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis during the next draft, the young secondary seemed set.
Then 2017 happened. And Anthony Brown struggled. Really struggled.
These struggles, coupled with the emergence of both Lewis and Awuzie during their own rookie seasons, made Brown's status heading into 2018 rather uncertain. Some wondered if they would trade him for a day three pick, others thought Brown could even end up being cut. Jourdan Lewis and Anthony Brown were slated to compete for the nickel cornerback job in training camp, and as it turned out, all Brown needed was that one extra chance to compete.
Brown won the job outright during the preseason, and began 2018 as the starting nickel. A fan favorite, most thought Lewis would reclaim his rightful spot on the depth chart sooner or later, but Anthony Brown's play (and Kris Richard's preferences) kept Lewis on the bench for much of the season.
Simply put, Anthony Brown balled in 2018, and was the Cowboys' second best corner for most of the year. By the end of the season Chidobe Awuzie had regained form, but Brown and Byron Jones were the most consistently reliable corners on the roster all of 2018.
Brown tallied 44 tackles, 2 sacks, and an interception in 2018, and finished third on the team in pass breakups with 8. As the slot corner Brown had an excellent season, especially for a former sixth round pick.
Now he enters a contract year, and with the Cowboys having so many guys to pay over the next two offseasons, he could find himself as an unrestricted free agent in 2020. And if he can keep up his play from last year moving forward, he could be in for a nice payday that Spring.
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