The Dallas Cowboys will have quite a bit of roster turnover from the end of the 2017 season to the start of 2018. We are seeing some of their best players moving on, which is why I thought it would be fun to identify the top 10 on both offense and defense who are remaining on the roster. Today, I want to start on the offensive side of the ball.
I understand not everybody will agree with my rankings, but that's what makes it an interesting topic to debate. As such, feel free to provide your top 10 offensive rankings in the comment section.
#10 - LG, Connor Williams
Even though Connor Williams has yet to play a single down in the NFL, I believe he is already one of best offensive players the Dallas Cowboys have on the roster. He has the versatility to play any position along the offensive line, but is expected to make an immediate impact as the new starting left guard. He is going to make the Cowboys already talented offensive line even better.
#9 - WR, Cole Beasley
Cole Beasley isn't the biggest or fastest wide receiver the Dallas Cowboys have on the roster, but he is the best route-runner and most dependable in the passing game. The argument could be made that Beasley is the best slot WR in the entire NFL. He will once again be expected to be Dak Prescott's security blanket, but he really needs other WRs around him to step up their game so defenses can't bracket him in coverage like they did last season.
#8 - RT, La'el Collins
Many of us had concerns about La'el Collins making the move to right tackle last season, but he proved to be up to the task. He held his own against some of the best pass rushers in the NFL last year and managed to play all 16 games for the first time in his career despite a back injury that caused him problems towards the end of the season. With a year of experience at RT, he has a chance to be even better in 2018.
#7 - WR, Allen Hurns
The Dallas Cowboys decision to sign Allen Hurns earlier in the offseason eventually made Dez Bryant expendable. Hurns is expected to be the top wideout this year and the season could depend on his playmaking ability. He may not be as physically gifted as Bryant, but he can play all three WR positions and create separation on his own due to his route-running.
#6 - QB, Dak Prescott
Year 3 will be an important season for Dak Prescott. He was simply exceptional his rookie season, but had his ups and downs last year in 2017. His ability to be a dual threat quarterback puts opposing defenses at a disadvantage, but in order to take the next step in his development he needs to improve as a passer. If he does that, he could climb a little higher on this list.
#5 - K, Dan Bailey
Dan Bailey is technically a specialist, but anyone that's able to put points on the board and be as much of a difference maker as he has in his career for the Cowboys deserves to be in the top 10. 2017 wasn't his best season in the NFL due to a groin injury, but there's no denying how important he is to the teams success. He is after all one of the best/most accurate kickers to ever play the game.
#4 - RB, Ezekiel Elliott
Ezekiel Elliott is not only one of the best Dallas Cowboys players, but is arguably one of the best running backs in the entire NFL. He is a true three-down back and is dangerous anytime he has the ball in his hands. He consistently has to run against 8 or 9 man fronts and is still able to pick up chunk yards due to his vision and hard-nosed running. The offense simply isn't the same without him on the field.
#3 - C, Travis Frederick
Travis Frederick may be one of the most underappreciated players on the entire Cowboys roster. But, that doesn't negate just how important he is to the offense. He makes all of the pre-snap calls to identify blocking assignments, and helps keep the pocket clean for Prescott in the passing game. With Jason Witten gone, Frederick is the Cowboys new "Ironman" due to his ability to stay healthy and compete at a high level.
#2 - LT, Tyron Smith
Tyron Smith narrowly missed out at claiming the top spot on this list. He is without a doubt one of the best left tackles in the NFL, but his inability to stay healthy these last few years is concerning for not only the Cowboys, but his future as well. His importance to the offense can't be stated enough though. The team just isn't the same without him in the lineup, which we all witnessed last year. Hopefully, he can find a way to remain healthy for an entire season.
#1 - RG, Zack Martin
Believe it or not, but I believe Zack Martin is the best offensive player the Dallas Cowboys have on their roster and has all of the accolades to prove it. He has made the Pro Bowl every year since entering the NFL and has become the best offensive guard in the league. The Cowboys are still trying to lock him up long-term, but it will happen eventually. When it does, we can expect him to be the top paid guard in the league and deservingly so.
How would you rank the Dallas Cowboys top 10 offensive players?
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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