I thought it would be an interesting exercise to see what kind of team the Cowboys would be fielding if the season started today. They have 62 players under contract right now, which is nine more than they'll have in Week One. How set are they at some positions, and how much more work is needed at others?
We're going to divide this up into separate articles for the offense and defense. Here's a projection of what the Cowboys offense would look like using the currently signed players:
Tony Romo, Kellen Moore, Jameil Showers
If Dallas decides to wait one more year before drafting a quarterback than this could easily be the QB depth chart in 2016. They may just go with two quarterbacks if Showers or some other prospect isn't worth holding with a roster spot.
Moore isn't the Messiah that some claim him to be but at least he's been around a while and will now have a full offseason with the Cowboys. It is important to remember that Moore was signed in September last year so missed out on training camp and preseason with Dallas. There is the possibility for him to be much improved in our system in 2016.
Personally, I'm not very high on Moore and would like to see the Cowboys spend at least a mid-round pick on a QB to work with. I wish they could have landed Matt Moore as a backup option and hope they will pursue one more veteran, also. They could run with what they have, but I sure hope they look to improve.
Darren McFadden, Lance Dunbar, Rod Smith, Ben Malena
Dallas just re-signed Dunbar yesterday and will hope he can return to the role he was serving last year. That alone would take some touches way from McFadden, who needs to be handled carefully after such a heavy workload last year.
Given injury concerns for McFadden and Dunbar you'd assume that they will keep four runners this year. Smith is a bruiser and Malena is a speed back, but neither is at all proven. Dallas also has to think about the future with both McFadden and Dunbar on expiring deals. I imagine they will draft someone of consequence in April.
I don't expect the Cowboys to add anyone of note here. Williams and Butler will likely compete for a starting job and they will be happy with the loser of that battle as a backup. Whitehead should be locked in to his roster spot for return duties alone and was starting to find an offensive niche late last year.
Jason Witten, James Hanna, Gavin Escobar, Geoff Swaim
Hanna's new contract pays him an average of $2.75 million a year, which is pretty rich for a backup. That deal tells me Hanna is now ahead of Escobar on the depth chart. What's more, Dallas may utilize Hanna as a backfield blocker rather than add a more traditional fullback.
If he has been passed by Hanna, will Escobar even be on next year's roster? It's the last year of his rookie deal and he's owed $1.3 million. He could be released for about $1 million is cap savings. Escobar will certainly be in camp and preseason, but could Dallas cut him for cheaper depth options? He will need to start making some plays again, like the one pictured here, to save himself.
The Cowboys have the bare minimum right now for next year; two starters and a veteran swing tackle. They will certainly have some younger prospects in camp and may even draft one in the middle rounds as an eventual replacement for Free. However, this was their trio last year and they could stick with it if need be.
GUARD & CENTER
Green was drafted as a tackle but was taking practice snaps at guard last year, and at least one Cowboys insider says that's where he will be going forward. Leary is back for at least one more year an overqualified backup.
Backup center is the glaring issue here. Mackenzy Bernadeau is gone and neither of these backups has shown the ability to play that role. The emergency plan seems to be having Martin slide over and play it, but I imagine they will bring in some prospects before we get to Oxnard.
~ ~ ~
As you can see, there is at least a workable team among these players but still opportunities for better depth and long-term prospects. One more quality running back is the most glaring need, though personally I want to see them with more behind Tony Romo as well.
The good news is that, unlike with the defense, Dallas can go into April's draft without feeling forced to fill any holes. They can stick to their board and go with the best talents.
Speaking of the defense, look for that breakdown tomorrow.
BREAKING: Cowboys Sign Ex-Packers WR Randall Cobb
According to multiple sources, the Dallas Cowboys have signed former Green Bay Packers Wide Receiver Randall Cobb to a one-year deal to help bolster their depth at the WR position and potentially become Cole Beasley's replacement.
Cowboys are giving former Packers' WR Randall Cobb a one-year, $5 million deal, per source. https://t.co/8KWFPjSP8T
The Dallas Cowboys met with Randall Cobb earlier this week, but he eventually left Dallas without a contract. He must've had a change of heart or just needed time to ponder the Cowboys offer, but regardless of what transpired in that short time he is now part of America's Team.
During his time with the Packers, Cobb accumulated 470 receptions for 5,524 receiving yards and 41 touchdowns. The eight-year veteran will now be expected to replace some of Cole Beasley's production out of the slot for the Dallas Cowboys.
After years of watching Beasley as the Cowboys slot WR, it will be really interesting to see Randall Cobb in that role. He's not as quick twitched as No. 11, but can be just as dangerous due to his ability to be more of a down the field receiver. He also brings added value in the return game and could compete with Tavon Austin to become the return specialist.
This could mean the Cowboys forgo drafting a wide receiver early in the 2019 NFL Draft, but I wouldn't put it past them. Regardless of what happens, this is an excellent addition.
Welcome to Cowboys Nation Randall Cobb!
REPORT: Dallas Cowboys Re-sign Long Snapper L.P. Ladouceur
L.P. Ladouceur is returning for his 15th season as the Cowboys' long snapper. The veteran free agent was re-signed by Dalals today to a one-year deal.
Thanks to Jason Witten's one-year sabbatical with Monday Night Football, Ladouceur has now been with the Cowboys for more consecutive seasons than any current player. He just turned 38 last week, but Louis-Philippe remains one of the top long snappers in football.
The Cowboys have signed long-snapper L.P. Ladouceur to a one-year deal worth $1.03 million and $90,000 in bonus money, but he will count $735,000 against the cap. This will be Ladouceur's 15th season with the Cowboys, tying Ed "Too Tall" Jones, Mark... https://t.co/2iDsi6RX7e
Retaining Ladouceur is an underrated move for the Cowboys given their situation at kicker.
Brett Maher was only 80% accurate overall on field goals last year. The team could be considering an upgrade in free agency.
Whether they bring Maher back or try someone new, having a long snapper with Ladouceur's performance perfection will make things much easier for them.
REPORT: Police Detain Cowboys DL Tyrone Crawford After Bar Fight
According to TMZ, Tyrone Crawford was involved in a brawl at a bar in Panama City, FL last Friday night. The Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman and team captain was detained by police but apparently was not arrested.
The level of Crawford's involvement has not been substantiated, but TMZ's report does have him shoving police officers at some point in the action. The incident was reportedly captured by surveillance equipment at the bar.
Given that he was not arrested, one could assume that Tyrone was not one of the primary players in the melee. But that doesn't mean the NFL won't still review this matter as it relates to the personal conduct policy, and Cowboys fans know too well how "fair" that process can be.
This is certainly not a story you'd expect to see attached to Tyrone Crawford, who has been a model citizen and leader since entering the league in 2012.
Dallas elected to keep Crawford this season despite solid potential savings. He will count $10.1 million against their 2019 salary cap, which is high for his average production. However, he can play multiple positions and is one of their most experienced players.
Even if Tyrone were to get suspended by the league, it likely wouldn't be more than a one or two-game ban given his record and reputation. It shouldn't change anything about his status with the team.
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