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PS Week 2 53-man Roster Projection: Erod Takes a Stab

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Cowboys Blog - PS Week 2 53-man Roster Projection: Erod Takes a Stab

Roster projections feel eerily like fantasy football rosters, and I’m no fan of fantasy football.  There’s no bigger beating than some bloke at work outwardly wrestling in self-debate over whether to start Ryan Tannehill or Carson Palmer.  If you’re said bloke, trust me on this, NOBODY CARES……EVER.

That said, I readily admit that roster projections hit closer to home when it comes to our team, especially right now, a mere 18 scorching days from Showtime.  It’s good fun to guess along with what the coaches are thinking.

Fascinating machinations are taking place across the league, as position coaches fight for their respective units and guys.  Every team is different, heavy in certain positions and dangerously thin in others.  The defensive front seven is the painfully obvious worry here, so my list carries the more obvious legal disclaimer: “Ain’t all our dudes here yet.”

And so, my would-be 53…

Quarterbacks (2): Tony Romo, Brandon Weeden

Romo looks like Romo right now. How long that will continue lies in the dastardly mood of a surgically repaired disc that we all hope takes about a six-month spasm nap.  Weeden’s tools are apparent, although it remains mysterious if a quarterback can actually be cured from Brown Syndrome.  I feel just fine if he has to manage a couple of games this year.  Dustin Vaughan would be kept on a better team, but too many holes elsewhere won’t allow such luxury, so it’s practice squad hopes for him here.

Running backs (5): DeMarco Murray, Lance Dunbar, Joseph Randle, Ryan Williams, Tyler Clutts

J.C. Copeland is this year’s Adrian Hamilton, an overhyped internet phenomenon that simply can’t play in the NFL.  Clutts is a decent lead blocker who also has some usefulness as a pass catcher, and this offense needs a fullback to go with the road-graders up front.  Dallas is going to be one of the best running and screen teams in the league, as weird as that is to write.  I simply can’t cut Ryan Williams.  I find a way to keep him and Randle, especially with the injury histories of Murray and Dunbar.  However, the needs at defensive line might make this a pipe dream.  Personally, I keep a good back over a nobody defensive lineman, but they likely won’t think that way.

Receivers (5): Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, Dwayne Harris, Devin Street

The Rubik’s Cube at defensive line will prevent it, but I think the Cowboys would like to go six receivers.  Unfortunately, there are some good receivers that have to be cut, including Jamar Newsome and LaRon Byrd (and others).  Thankfully, the top five keepers are young, versatile, dynamic, and trusted by the QB.  Even Street seems to have the sense when it comes to running routes and knowing what to do, for a young guy.  That far exceeds talent in the NFL; just ask Dez, who took time to earn Romo’s trust.

Tight ends (3): Jason Witten, Gavin Escobar, James Hanna

Much uncertainty still, but much hope, too.  Escobar shows hints that he is going to arrive soon as a big weapon in an expansive arsenal at Linehan’s disposal.  Hanna is in a crux year because he hasn’t done a thing to earn a bigger veteran check.  All flash and no sustained substance so far, and that drop Saturday was cankles ugly.

Offensive line (9): Tyron Smith, Ron Leary, Travis Frederick, Zack Martin, Doug Free, Mackenzy Bernadeau, Uche Nwaneri, Darrion Weems, John Wetzel

The days of old are returning.  Time to maul some people.  This group gives me hope that Romo, in fact, can play a good while longer because the run and screen game could be the best in the business soon.  Jermey Parnell is the odd man out, especially if Weems returns healthy soon.  Parnell isn’t worthy of the salary he now commands, and he’s not developing at all.  Same dude as before, with younger, cheaper players with more upside on hand.  Plus, Martin can play tackle, and Bernadeau can play center, so versatility accents what has become a reliable strength of this team.  In fact, if needed, this unit could open the season with only eight lineman.  Kudos to the rebuilding of this unit.

Defensive line (9): George Selvie, Anthony Spencer, Jeremy Mincey, Tyrone Crawford, Henry Melton, Terrell McClain, Nick Hayden, Ken Bishop, Davon Coleman

I'm afraid that immediate need will force Dallas to put DeMarcus Lawrence on short-term injury, so he’s out six games.  The waiver wire offers some hope to a question-laden group of almosts, coulda-beens, and never-wases.  Making the cut won’t mean much until these guys see kickoff on September 7th, because the personnel department will be working overtime scouring cuts around the league.  My hope is that they pick the right eight guys by then, and then we see a gradual IMPROVEMENT as the season wears on.  The return of Spencer and Lawrence will obviously help (and perhaps Josh Brent), but the other guys have to get better as this season wears on.  My only optimism lies in that somewhat logical improvement.  Sounds eerily like peace in the Middle East.

Linebacker (6): Justin Durant, Kyle Wilber, Rolando McClain, Bruce Carter, DeVonte Holloman, Anthony Hitchens

Dallas desperately needs Rolando McClain to continue to return to the player he was before.  It looks promising, but a lot of work and commitment still to go.  Durant is having the best camp of any linebacker, but he needs to be somewhere other than the middle in my opinion.  Bruce Carter might be headed for backup status, and ultimately off this team next year altogether.  He’d better show big soon and consistently.  Still, I do think this could be a decent group in the end, and it’s ultra critical that they are.

Cornerback (6): Brandon Carr, Orlando Scandrick, Morris Claiborne, Sterling Moore, Terrance Mitchell, B.W. Webb

Scandrick’s suspension might have saved Webb’s bacon for now, and it’ll be interesting to find out if Tyler Patmon can win Webb’s spot in the next two weeks.  Still, I think Webb holds on, especially if he can show up in special teams.  The waiver wire won’t offer much because teams simply don’t cut good corners these days.  When healthy and unsuspended, this is a more than serviceable group.

Safety (5): Barry Church, J.J. Wilcox, Jakar Hamilton, Ahmad Dixon, Jeff Heath

I like this unit when it’s healthy because I’m a believer in Church and Wilcox.  They’re going to get better and better.  Heath and Dixon will be critical special teamers, but you just don’t want them on the field in anything other than dime packages.  Most teams are thin at safety beyond their starters, too, so the same thing generally rings true around the NFL.

Specialists (3): Dan Bailey, Chris Jones, L.P. Ladouceur

Rock solid here, though I wouldn’t mind a more dynamic punter.  Bailey is a godsend to this team, and Ladouceur might be long-snapping here for the next two decades.  Why didn’t I learn how to do that?  Best gig on the planet.



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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Erod

    August 21, 2014 at 10:25 am

    DeVonte Holloman’s injury wasn’t reported at the time I wrote this. That likely opens the door for Cam Lawrence to stay, or Will Smith to take a spot. Waiver wire disclaimer, obviously.

  2. pratap veluri

    August 21, 2014 at 7:45 pm

    what happened to matt johnson? will he recover from injury or going to be cut?

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Star Blog

Could Loaded FA Safety Market Drive Down Earl Thomas’ Value?

Brian Martin

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Could Loaded FA Safety Class Drive Down Earl Thomas' Price Tag?

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.

Earl Thomas

Free Agent FS Earl Thomas (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

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.

Earl Thomas

Free Agent FS Earl Thomas (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

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?



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Star Blog

Acquiring Brown Will Give Dallas Twin Turbo Terrors

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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...



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Star Blog

2018 In Review: CB Anthony Brown Bounces Back

Kevin Brady

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Anthony Brown's Resurgence A Great Sign for Cowboys Defense
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

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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