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Rushing To Greatness

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The question on everyone’s mind these days is and will continue to be, how and better still can Jason Garrett use the wealth of running backs he has at his disposal?

With the start of training camp rapidly approaching one would think that Jason Garrett is hard at work devising a plan to optimize the abundance of talent he has at the running back position??????

The Cowboys invested #1 money on Marion Barber to be the #1 guy, but we are all aware of the fact that Marion is better suited to be fresh in the fourth quarter!

The Cowboys also used a first round selection last year on Felix Jones, so there is an extremely high need to get him touches as well.

Then let’s not forget about the 2008 unsung hero from Georgia Tech, Tashard Choice! When the Cowboys were decimated by injuries Choice stepped in and performed at an extremely high level.

These are three very different running backs which will allow Jason Garrett a ton of flexibility.

Marion Barber: Marion is the head knocker of the group, while he is not a burner so the big plays you get from him are more of the “just ran over three people on his way to a 20 yard touchdown” variety. However with his hard nosed running style his body wears down much quicker than the elusive style back.

Felix Jones: Felix is the epitome of a “Home run hitter” there is not one spot on the field where he cannot score from. Possessing speed, agility, vision, and great hands. Felix Jones is in the mold of a Reggie Bush type. For all the good qualities he possesses the one concern with him is his ability to stay off the injured list.

Tashard Choice: Tashard is very much so one of the most vocal leaders on this team. He is the most complete back of the group, while he is not the fastest or strongest he can do a lot of good in many areas. He has the ability to give opposing defenses many different looks. The only question with Tashard is, was last year legit or did he catch some teams off guard and worn down?

What is considered by many (including myself) to be the biggest strength of this years team, could possibly be a nightmare for Jason Garrett? If Garrett fails to adequately use this group, the wheels of this season could come flying off!

There has been many people try this off season to predict how many touches each man should receive on a per game basis. While there is no one good way or rule to go by, many claim a sequence such as this:

Marion Barber: 15-20 Touches

Felix Jones: 10-15 Touches

Tashard Choice: 5-10 touches

This appears to be a solid marker to follow, but I am not a big fan of this way of thinking. I just feel that if you set yourself boundaries, you ultimately are setting yourself up for failure.

The amount of touches this unit gets (designed running plays) should be and I believe will be handled on a game by game, scenario by scenario basis.

Jason Garrett needs to know what he has, and to put the player and the team in good situations. Part of knowing what he has is going to be the recognition of what situations the player performs at his peak.

Many people including myself marvel at the closing ability of Marion Barber, while this is a very true statement there is something that must be taken into account. The only time his closing ability will come into affect is if this team is ahead in the fourth quarter and that they can continue to pick up first downs.

Jason Garrett cannot become predictable with his formations or his sub packages, the defenses cannot be given the luxury of simply looking in the backfield to see who is there and know what the play is.

The Cowboys should be able to line up two if not all three on the field in certain situations.

If I was a betting man I would have to say that Felix Jones will spend a lot of time this year lined up out wide and in the slot. Allowing Garrett to give teams a full dose of Marion and Tashard early and often!

The first half of games this year will be crucial to the success of the team. They need to be able to establish the ground game early on. The score at the end of the first half is not the most important thing.

The rest of the league knows what the Cowboys have at the running back position; So Garrett will be forced to make some crucial decisions very early on in games.

Teams will simply overload the line of scrimmage and try to force Garrett to give up on the run. He must be strong willed enough to fight off the urge to open up the air attack! We all saw what happened when this team became so one dimensional last year.

Those 90’s Cowboys teams were the best at simply beating a team into submission by the 3rd quarter.  This team has something that those teams did not, depth! There is no need for 35 carries a game to one man, this team can run a different guy through the holes in the line like fans through the turnstiles!

If this team and Jason Garrett use what is available to them correctly, there will be nothing that anyone can do about it! That is one big IF though.



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11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. Doran Palmer

    June 23, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    It certainly is a big if, but as stated many times before, this is a great problem to have. The key will be injuries. Jones flashed enough of his speed that teams knew he was coming and going in a hurry, and they still couldn’t stop him. To start the season there won’t be any more film to watch than last year on him, and knowing that this is now a three back team, two of which most people don’t really know very well, teams will be getting burned early and often.

    It will be key to stay injury free and see how long this team can sustain that production during the year as more and more teams study the running backs.

  2. Jonathan

    June 23, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    I couldn’t agree with you more in regards to the failings of following set numbers to distribute the ball to each RB. The situation should dictate what player is ideal. Jason Garrett should tailor his running game for each opposing team, dependent on what type of defense they are facing, what their weaknesses and strengths are, and what has worked against them in the past when playing other teams.

  3. eric

    June 24, 2009 at 11:55 am

    I agree with most of what you are saying. MB3 and Felix should get the bulk of the carries, but all should be utilized and they should be unpredictable with the order. Go with whoever has the hot hand and play on the opposition’s expectations.

    The only thing I disagree with is your statement “we are all aware of the fact that Marion is better suited to be fresh in the fourth quarter!”. I don’t agree. I think he can be solid when ever he plays. I wouldn’t be opposed to starting MB3, and using Tashard Choice in the cleanup roll. (I wouldn’t be opposed to TC starting and MB3 finishing either.)

    His numbers are comparable in both roles..
    In the “finisher role”
    16 games played.. 204 attempts for 975 yards and 10 TDs

    Last year as a starter
    15 games played (several which he played injured)… 238 attempts for 885 and 7 TDs

    My point is that MB3 is a solid back who runs hard and tough and can be used anytime. He may or may not be a “full time back”, but I don’t think he HAS to be with the 3 guys the Cowboys have. And I don’t buy that he is best used only in the configuration from 2007 (Julius Jones starting and MB3 finishing).

    Also Felix Jones doesn’t really have an injury history so I wouldn’t be a worry wart or be overly concerned about his “ability to stay off the injured list”.

    • bags030404

      June 24, 2009 at 12:09 pm

      Essentially you proved my point! you used some very good information to prove it too!

      “In the “finisher role”
      16 games played.. 204 attempts for 975 yards and 10 TDs

      Last year as a starter
      15 games played (several which he played injured)… 238 attempts for 885 and 7 TDs

      If you will look at that in one less game in which he averaged 3 more carries per game he scored 3 less TD’s and 90 less yards and his YPG went from 4.78 p/g down to 3.7 p/g!
      I am not saying he cannot be a starter, what I am saying is that about 15 carries a game is where he needs to be. I would rather have him fresh and ready to deliver 8-10 of those carries when it counts most!

  4. Luis

    June 25, 2009 at 3:57 pm

    Unfortunately, the 90’s teams had way more power on the unit that counts more in a run oriented offense: O-Line. Emmit was able to touch the ball 20+ times because he was barely untouched until 2.45 yards after the line of scrimmage. And consistently. This trio don’t have that. That is what worries me. Forget T.O., Roy Williams bust or not, Romo and Jessica. The O-Line Needs to be a powerhouse.

    • bags030404

      June 26, 2009 at 9:16 am

      Luis, while I would love to completely agree with your assessment I cannot fully agree. The O-Line was better as a whole, but what made them better in my humble opinion is that the offense as whole was dedicated to the run! They did not run just because the situation called for it! They ran because they wanted to! This line has taken a good bit of criticism and while some of it is warranted a lot of it is not. This line is HUGE one of if not the biggest in football, and big o -linemen are built for the running game, not to hold a block for what seems like 10 minutes so a receiver can run a triple move 40 yards down field!

  5. eric

    June 26, 2009 at 8:04 am

    “In the “finisher role”
    16 games played.. 204 attempts for 975 yards and 10 TDs

    Last year as a starter
    15 games played (several which he played injured)… 238 attempts for 885 and 7 TDs

    Do not believe this info prooves your point that “we are all aware of the fact that Marion is better suited to be fresh in the fourth quarter!”. It’s no where as simple as that.

    You forget that:
    They played 3 games with Brad Johnson as QB. Defenses were playing the run for these game. Looking at the first 5 games of the season, before Romo’s injury, he was averaging 4.12 yards a carry, and had 5 TDs. The next game Romo got injured. And the next few games (TB, Giants, and Skins) he did have a decline while defenses keyed on the run. Shortly after he got injured. He tried to play injured against some very tough defenses late in the season and it really dragged down his “yards per carry” stat. Still he had 7 TDs and only 90 less yards than the year before.
    I’ll add too that I believe that the OL under-performed in middle part of the season. Just my opinion.. but just didn’t seem like they were doing very well in creating holes for the run in OctNov (because Kosier was out?)

    So, my point is that you can’t really say that the stats above clearly show that “15 carries a game” is where he “NEEDS to be”, and that “better suited to be fresh in the fourth quarter!”.

    I defintely agree with you that I’d rather them split the carries up and use all 3 backs (in any order that works). My reasoning though is that they have 3 good RBs, so they might as well use them all to keep them all fresh and the defenses off balance. My reasoning ISN’T that MB3 cannot handle the load and can only be most successful as a “finisher”.

    • bags030404

      June 26, 2009 at 8:58 am

      I never said anywhere in this article that “Marion can only play the finisher role!” I simply said that he is better suited for being in there and fresh in the 4th Q! It is not a knock against him! In fact it is a compliment! Do you not want your most punishing and polished RB in there to close out a game? I hate to bust your bubble again but the numbers you are using to prove your statement are the exact reason why he needs to be fresh for the 4th Q! Do you remember Julius Jones? Yes that guy played here and he started and MBIII made a name for himself and received a huge contract for closing out games! Do you remember the playoff loss to the Giants, when he rushed for over a hundred in the first half of his first start, only to be visibly worn down in the second half and the dominant rush attack from the first half was non existent? I am not saying that it is a “theory” that MBIII would be better suited for the closer role, it is fact and has been proven time and time again! Just in case you missed those games last year against the really tough defenses, there was a little guy named TC and he had zero problems finding the holes that the OL opened! We will save the OLine discussion for another day though, maybe my next post will be about that! Good idea Eric thanks.

  6. Doran Palmer

    June 26, 2009 at 10:53 am

    Eric, there’s one fact about MBIII that proves that he is better suited as a closer in most capacities – his first year as a starter and he suffered two injuries that hampered for the final quarter of the season. Injuries being what they are, you can’t say for sure that 5they were caused by the extra carries and his bruising style, but it’s a good bet and one the Cowboys likely won’t flirt with again.

    Another fact – he made the Pro Bowl as the closer but not as the starter. It’s not a definite ideal since Pro Bowl voting can be fickle at times.

    The numbers you posted seem to indicate that he was more successful in the closer role because his yards per carry were higher, his total yards were higher, and he had more TDs. Factors such as injuries and the passing game/quarterback play do factor into it, of course, but you have to take everything as a package. 2008 showed that Barber is more effective as a closer.

    As for the O-Line, you are close to being right about Kosier. Kosier missed most of the season. The running game got better when Holland was in there, but when Proctor was in there, Adams and Gurode were both helping him keep his blocks which diminished their own production and in turn hurt the running lanes.

    Barber is a good back, he gets the job done. He isn’t a home run hitter by any means, though. To me, MBIII is better suited as a fullback because he is tough, has a strong running style, and he can block very well. An NFL team can still utilize a fullback in today’s league and if we did so as the early 90’s Cowboys, then we could see similar success with Jones and Choice to what Emmett saw back then with Moose blocking for him.

  7. eric

    July 2, 2009 at 7:33 am

    I really don’t understand what you are reading, bags.

    bags030404: I never said anywhere in this article that “Marion can only play the finisher role!”
    I never said that you said that. You did say though that ““We are all aware of the fact that Marion is better suited to be fresh in the fourth quarter!”.”
    That’s your opinion (and a theory) but hardly a fact. Those particular statistics by themselves only show a small percentage of the picture and do not make your opinion a fact, that’s all I’m saying. It’s a bit pompous of you to post your opinion as fact, though I admit it is your right. Blogs are well sutied for personal opinions and observations. I’m glad you have some passion about it and will continue to read more of your opinions in the future cause I love talking Cowboys.

    bags030404: there was a little guy named TC and he had zero problems finding the holes that the OL opened!
    Yes he did very well, but notice these were in later games. It was my contention that the OL under performed in the MIDDLE OF THE SEASON (OctoberNovember as stated). Choice had all of 20ish attempts in those months so your statement has nothing to do with my point. We just don’t know what MB3 would’ve done in December if he was healthy so it’s moot.
    On the subject of Choice though, since you brought it up, my opinion is that the verdict is still out. He had a great December, but I seem to remember Julius Jones having a decent season in there before slipping into mediocrity.

  8. bags030404

    July 2, 2009 at 8:38 am

    “That’s your opinion (and a theory) but hardly a fact. Those particular statistics by themselves only show a small percentage of the picture and do not make your opinion a fact, that’s all I’m saying. It’s a bit pompous of you to post your opinion as fact, though I admit it is your right.”
    Forgive me if I came across as pompous, but I am a numbers kind of a guy! Numbers do not lie! and in the case of MBIII and when he is better suited to be used is no different! It is a proven fact that when he carries the ball less than 15 times per game his yards per carry increase by almost a full yard per carry! This is not a “Theory” this is “Fact”! I love having these types of discussions so keep them coming! By all means if you have some information that can prove me wrong bring it!

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Dallas Cowboys

Terrance Williams Was OK, But Cowboys Need More From Michael Gallup

Jess Haynie

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Can WR Michael Gallup Eclipse 1,000 Receiving Yards as a Rookie?

Just yesterday, the Dallas Cowboys declined an option on Wide Receiver Terrance Williams' contract and ended his six-year tenure with the team. One reason the veteran was no longer in their plans was the presence of Michael Gallup, who the team has high hopes for entering just his second NFL season.

It's interesting to compare Gallup and Williams on several levels. Just as Terrance's time ends, having only made a few appearance last year in just three games, Michael was a fast learner as a rookie and emerged as the team's number-two receiver by the playoffs.

Both were third-round picks, with Williams (74th) being selected just seven spots higher overall in 2013 than Gallup (81st) was in 2018.

Terrance came to Dallas when Dez Bryant was firmly entrenched as the team's primary receiver. Michael was drafted less than a month after Dez was released, but Amari Cooper soon established himself as the number-one WR midway through the year.

In both cases, the Cowboys hoped that their third-round selection would yield a player who could at least play a complimentary role as a solid roleplayer, if not regular starter.

For all his warts Terrance Williams was ultimately a solid draft pick. He started in about 75% of the games he played in and was a proficient run blocker, helping both DeMarco Murray and Ezekiel Elliott have big years. He also made some highlight reel catches in his time.

Did Terrance Williams' Big Game Quiet His Doubters?

Dallas Cowboys WR Terrance Williams

But with those big plays came some big blunders. Terrance often had a bad drop for every good catch he made. A huge mental error may have cost Dallas the 2016 season opener against the Giants. And if the team wasn't already starting to turn on him, his 2018 arrest for public intoxication seemed to push them over the edge.

That said, the biggest issue with Williams was his inability to produce without other plays drawing attention. He didn't rise to the occasion when Dez Bryant was injured. He rarely even made defenses pay for giving Dez too much attention.

At his best, Terrance was a solid number-two receiver. Plenty of teams who've spent first-round picks on receivers wish they could they'd gotten as much in return. Nobody should be disappointed with how that 2013 third-round pick turned out.

But when it comes to Michael Gallup, Dallas should hope that Williams' career is the floor for Gallup's potential. As teams key on Amari Cooper going forward, can Gallup do damage in ways that Terrance rarely could?

Even more importantly, if Cooper were to ever get injured, could Michael step up and take on a larger role? Can Dallas finally have a number-two receiver with the capacity for occasionally taking the lead?

#DALvsWAS: Michael Gallup Will Play, Value Extends Beyond Passing Game 1

Dallas Cowboys WR Michael Gallup

That may be putting too much pressure on young Mr. Gallup but it's really not an unfair expectation. Recent drafts have produced highly productive third-round receivers such as Keenan Allen, Cooper Kupp, Kenny Golladay, and Tyler Lockett.

Even more pressure comes if Cole Beasley leaves the team in free agency. While his role lessened toward the end of 2018, Cole remained one of Dak Prescott's favorite options in clutch situations. He was almost impossible to stop with just one man covering him, and that gave defenses a real dilemma once Amari Cooper arrived.

Can Gallup fill those shoes? Can he become a reliable target when the game is on the line?

In the end, all Michael has to do is be a solid starter to provide a great value for his draft selection. The Williams standard isn't a bad measure.

But if the Cowboys ever want to win more than just the occasional playoff game then they need another receiving threat who truly punishes opposing defenses. They need the next Alvin Harper, not the next Terrance Williams.

We can only hope, as the team does, that Michael Gallup is up to the task.



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Dallas Cowboys

Deep Dive into the Dallas Cowboys 2019 Salary Cap

John Williams

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Sean's Scout: Cowboys Blitzes Keep Giants Play Makers in Check

The Dallas Cowboys are heading into free agency, which opens March 13th, in really good shape. The Cowboys will be able to be aggressive in the free agent market if they want to. They have the 10th most cap space in the NFL. It could make for a fun free agency period for the front office and Cowboys Nation, however, we know how this team has felt about spending on outside free agents since being burned by the Brandon Carr signing.

In years past, they’ve opted to bargain shop. Last year was a departure from the norm though, as they chased the mythical unicorn that is Sammy Watkins last offseason.

Sometimes the best deals are the ones you don’t make. 

They haven’t generally been a team that chased big-time free agents, though this could be the season that all changes with several free agent safeties that could be immediate upgrades.

We know they’re going to spend a lot of money on their own with Demarcus Lawrence coming free and Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott, and Dak Prescott looking for contract extensions, but they’re could Ben opportunities to bring in a star from another player to come where The Star.

I hope Jerry Jones has his signing hand ready, it’s going to be putting in a lot of work over the next couple of months.

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve had people on Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, Google+, MySpace, AOL Chatrooms, and via USPS correspondence express concern about whether the Dallas Cowboys will be able to afford all their guys and chase free agents.

Not to worry Cowboys fan, with a little salary cap and contract gymnastics, the sky’s the limit.

Let’s take a look.

Current Cap Space

According to OverTheCap.com, the 2019 Salary Cap is estimated to be around $190 million. After the release of Terrance Williams, the Dallas Cowboys are expected to have nearly $48 million in cap space available to them when free agency opens on March 13th.

When you look at that number by itself, it doesn’t look like a lot with big money contracts coming to DeMarcus Lawrence, Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott, and Byron Jones. Remember, though, the salary cap may be a fixed number, but contracts are pliable, meaning the team can do several things to create cap space through releases, how they structure new contracts, and restructures.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, the Dallas Cowboys will have the money they need to sign the players they want to sign.

Are Dallas Cowboys Building A Championship Defense? 2

Dallas Cowboys LB Sean Lee

Likely Releases

Sean Lee, Linebacker

Age and injury catch up to everyone and this is where we are with All-Pro Linebacker Sean Lee who will be turning 33 in July. Lee’s career has just been unlucky from the time he set foot in Dallas.

Since coming to the Cowboys in the 2010 draft, Lee has only played in 64% of the possible 149 games that the Dallas Cowboys have played in that time frame. Contrast that with a player like Zack Martin who has played in all but two games in his five-year career. That’s a 92% availability rate for his career.

The Dallas Cowboys don’t typically pay age. The difficult choice with Lee is that he’s long been a leader for the Dallas Cowboys. However, with the emergence of Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch, it’s extremely difficult to justify a $7 million cap hit to a part-time player.

Allen Hurns, Wide Receiver

Allen Hurns was a roller coaster ride in 2018.

First, it appeared he was brought in to be an upgrade at the number two spot. Then when the Cowboys shocked the world and released Dez Bryant, he immediately moved up the wide receiver pecking order, but was generally ineffective. After the Cowboys acquired Amari Cooper, Hurns became somewhat of an afterthought in the wide receiver snap distribution. Then he was lost in the win over the Seattle Seahawks with a gruesome ankle injury.

Allen Hurns is a fine player, but the Cowboys could get $5 million in cap relief by parting ways with the former 1,000 yard receiver.

A couple weeks ago, I outlined why I think Hurns could be a solution to the problem facing the Cowboys if Cole Beasley walked away. Hurns best attributes shine when deployed in the slot and asked to run over the middle of the field.

Coming off of the ankle injury, the Cowboys could easily move on and use that $5 million to extend one of their own or go after a big name in free agency.

Unlikely, but not Impossible Releases

The next few players are players that will most likely be on the squad in 2019. But as we saw with Dez Bryant, there can always be surprises.

Joe Looney, Center

The 2018 season seemed almost sunk when news came down that Center Travis Frederick was diagnosed with Guillen-Barre Syndrome during training camp. One of the stories of the 2018 season, was the play of Frederick’s backup Joe Looney. Looney may not have been the most valuable player, but you can’t understate how important he wasn’t to the success the Dallas Cowboys had in 2018.

We’ve seen what happens when backups who are incredibly inferior to the starter they play behind see action. Think back to Atlanta in 2017. If the Cowboys get better play from Chaz Green and Byron Bell, that game and perhaps the season turns out differently. Kind of like when Cameron Fleming filled in for Tyron Smith this season. It was a completely different result. Was Fleming perfect? No, but he wasn’t a disaster and the Cowboys were able to win games without their All-Pro left tackle.

Joe Looney is going to be with this team unless someone loses their center and wants to trade for him. In the event the Cowboys wanted to get some cap relief, they could save $1.5 million in 2019, with only $125 thousand in dead money on the cap.

I don’t see them making this move, but for those of you curious, there are the numbers.

Joe Thomas, Linebacker

Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch got all the glory at the linebacker position in 2018, and for good reason, but Joe Thomas was an important piece to the puzzle as well. He provided excellent depth and a lot of good snaps for the Cowboys in 2018, which is why I think he’s back next year.

He only saves you about $2 million on the cap, but if you didn’t want to pay a  backup linebacker $2 million, then you could part ways with him.

Jeff Heath, Safety

Jeff Heath is a solid player, but gets relied upon for a little more than he should. He’d probably be best served with being a rotational safety in the NFL. He has a penchant for making plays, but also has some maddening snaps as well, like the final play against the Rams where Jared Goff was able to scramble for a first down. Heath never saw the bootleg and was late getting to Goff to keep him from picking up the first down.

The Dallas Cowboys like him as a player and he’s likely to stay with the team. He helps on special teams and provides valuable depth.

If they were to move on, they could save $2.5 million.

La’el Collins, Tackle

It’s not often you hear people talk about releasing a starting tackle, and I’m certainly not here to advocate for that.

Collins has had some up and down games, but in his short two-year stint at right tackle he’s been pretty good. He’s stood tall against some of the best pass rushers in the NFL.

His contract will carry him through the 2019 season, but if the Dallas Cowboys wanted to part ways, again, not saying they should, they could save a whopping $8.5 million in the salary cap.

$8.5 million could be the cost of Earl a Thomas or a Tre Boston. That’s  pretty big chunk of change.

Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, Travis Frederick, offensive line

Dallas Cowboys offensive linemen Tyron Smith, Zack Martin and Travis Frederick

Potential Restructures

When it comes to restructures, the Dallas Cowboys have been selective over recent years with who they choose to flip the switch on.

A restructure doesn’t change the money owed to the player, just changes when the pay out happens. When a team and a player agree to a restructure, the cap hit or base salary is lowered to a more manageable amount and the difference is paid out as a bonus. The bonus is then spread out evenly over the remaining years of the contract.

For example.

Player A has four years remaining on their deal with a cap hit of $16 million per year for the rest of the contract. The team and player A agree to restructure the contract to decrease this season’s base salary to $1 million dollars. The $15 million difference is then paid out as a bonus and then the cap hit is added to the final three years. So instead of the cap hit being $16 million per year for the remainder of the contract, it is now $21 million per year.

The problem with restructuring contracts is that you better hope that the players you restructure make it to the end of their contract otherwise you could end up with big dead money holds on your cap.

The Dallas Cowboys could restructure the following players:

Tyron Smith, Tackle

The Dallas Cowboys All-Pro Left Tackle may be the best draft pick they’ve made in the last 10 years. He’s been one of the best in the game at his position for nearly his entire NFL career and until recent seasons, had been incredibly reliable.

According to Over The Cap, if the Cowboys decided to restructure Smith’s contract, they could get $7.26 million added to the salary cap this season.

That’s a big number, which would help you get your hands on a top safety or defensive lineman in free agency. The reasons why you wouldn’t do it surround Tyron’s health.

He’s missed games each of the last three seasons because of back issues. He’s signed through the 2023 season, which is his age 33 season. It’s entirely possible that he continues to play at a high level through the end of the contract, but you’ll always be a bit concerned about his back.

Zack Martin, Guard

If Tyron was the best draft pick, Zack Martin is a close second. He’s been the definition of reliability as he’s provided elite guard play through the first five years of his career making the All-Pro team each of his first five seasons.

If I were managing the cap for the Dallas Cowboys, it would be a no brainer to restructure Martin who is signed through the 2024 season; his age 34 season. Offensive lineman can play at a high level well into their 30’s barring injury and Zack has the ability to be one of those guys. At his current pace, he could one day end up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

By restructuring Martin, the Dallas Cowboys could save $7.36 million on the 2019 salary cap.

Travis Frederick, Center

Last summer was a scary situation for Travis Frederick and by all accounts his recovery is going well. It sounds like he should be ready to go by training camp, and if that’s the case, there’s no reason to believe that Frederick won’t be the player we’ve all come to expect and missed during the 2018 season.

He’s a leader on the offensive line. He’s an excellent communicator and really good at blocking other big humans.

Getting Frederick back for the 2019 season is as big of an upgrade as you could have on an offense. He changes everything. He helps set protections and call out stunts. He will make Conor Williams a better guard just by being present. The offense as a whole will be better by having Frederick available.

Like Smith and Martin, there’s no reason to believe that he won’t play out his current contract at a high level. Even if he’s only 75% of his previous self because of the illness, that’s still a really good football player who is worth every bit of the $10 million a year he’s getting paid.

Travis Frederick has five more years left on his contract. If the Cowboys were to restructure his deal, they could gain another $4.1 million in cap relief this offseason.

Tyrone Crawford, Defensive Line

If ever there was a player that was a victim of his contract it’s Tyrone Crawford. The Dallas Cowboys signed him to an extension thinking he would be the answer at the 3-technique defensive tackle spot. He was good on his rookie deal but his contract was more of a projection than a deal based on prior production.

Unfortunately, Crawford hasn’t lived up to his deal, but he’s been a reliable and versatile player for the Dallas Cowboys. His ability to play both at defensive end and defensive tackle has been huge over the years and he’s come up with some timely defensive plays.

Crawford has two years remaining on his contract that runs through the 2020 season and it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Cowboys keep him around. He’s a leader on the defense and he gives you good quality snaps. As they continue to wait for Randy Gregory and/or Taco Charlton to take steps forward, Crawford is a guy that they like and will continue to find snaps for.

If the Cowboys restructured Crawford’s contract, they could get a little over $3 million in cap savings this year. $3 million may not sound like a lot, but in combination with the other moves they could make with the cap, it can help. Every bit helps when constructing a roster. That money could go to paying for the 2019 draft class.

Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott

ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 18: Dak Prescott #4 and Ezekiel Elliott of the Dallas Cowboys celebrate after scoring a touchdown during the second quarter against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at AT&T Stadium on December 18, 2016 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Grand Total

The Dallas Cowboys front office has a lot of decisions to make this offseason and several of them will be in the form of extensions for their own players. They’ll have to figure out a way to use the contracts to their advantage.

If they did everything that could be an option to them, they could create another $48.22 million in space in the salary cap. If they didn’t release any of the “unlikely releases,” they could still free up another $33.72 million by releasing Lee and Hurns and restructuring Smith, Martin, Frederick, and Crawford.

So, they’ll be going into the offseason with at least $48 million in cap space, but through a few moves could have as much as $81-$96.22 million in cap space when it’s all said and done.

None of this even accounts for the way the Cowboys could structure the contracts of Elliott, Dak, Cooper, Lawrence, and Byron Jones. With some smart salary structuring, they won’t necessarily have to eat much of their cap hits in year one of their new contracts.

Don’t worry Cowboys fans. The Cowboys will be able to create enough money to get the things done that they want to get done. If they don’t sign anyone of note in free agency or extend your favorite player, it won’t be because they couldn’t afford to.

It’ll be because they didn’t want to.



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Player News

Report: Free Agent DL David Irving Not in Dallas Cowboys’ 2019 Plans

Jess Haynie

Published

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David Irving

The Dallas Cowboys and troubled Defensive Lineman David Irving appear to be at an impasse. According to a report from David Moore of the Dallas Morning News, the team has "no intention" of trying to re-sign Irving and will allow him to become an unrestricted free agent.

Irving started the 2018 season with a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. He only appeared in two games after that, registering one sack and four tackles.

David Moore on Twitter

Source: Cowboys have no intention of keeping DT David Irving at this time https://t.co/vqMNZty6Aq via @sportsdaydfw

Despite reports of David's ongoing issues with an ankle injury, Dallas never placed him on injured reserve. Then came the reports that Irving was missing practices and team meetings while dealing with personal issues related to the custody of his daughter.

The team stayed pretty mum on the subject of Irving's status throughout the year, falling back on the ankle injury when pushed. But after months, it became clear that either David, the team, or both parties were disinterested in his return to football.

The Cowboys had high hopes after 2017, when Irving posted seven sacks in just eight games. They placed a second-round tender on him last offseason as a restricted free agent and were surely ready to give him a long-term deal if he'd built on that success.

But David's issues, physical or otherwise, have clearly done the opposite.

Dallas is known for working with troubled players, as we've recently seen with Randy Gregory. That they're closing the book on Irving suggests there's an issue with his desire towards football.

It's a sad loss for both. David's potential is enormous, as evidenced by his productivity when he actually does play. But he appears more likely to hit the Commissioner's exempt list in 2019 than the football field, given the reports of multiple failed drug tests over the last year.

Hopefully David Irving can turn things around one day and capitalize on his talent. But if it ever happens, it appears that it won't be with the Dallas Cowboys.



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