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If the Season Started Today (Offense )…

Jess Haynie

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Cowboys Blog - Injury Report: Dallas Cowboys At Buffalo Bills

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:

QUARTERBACK

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.

Cowboys Blog - Dallas Cowboys Must Start Kellen MooreMoore 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.

RUNNING BACK

Darren McFadden, Lance Dunbar, Rod Smith, Ben Malena

lance-dunbarDallas 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.

WIDE RECEIVER

Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, Brice Butler, Lucky Whitehead

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.

TIGHT END

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.

Cowboys Blog - 2016 Contract-Year Cowboys: TE Gavin EscobarIf 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.

OFFENSIVE TACKLE

Tyron Smith, Doug Free, Charles Brown

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

Zack Martin, La'el Collins, Travis Frederick, Ronald Leary, Chaz Green

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.

 



Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

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6 Comments
  • George Johnson

    Jess Haynie: I guess I disagree with your statement that." I am not very high on Kellen Moore and hope they bring in at least a mid-round pick to work with." A mid round pick IMO is not likely to ever beat out Kellen Moore. K Moore has proven at this point he should have been drafted in 2012, at least in later rounds. The draft QB class that K Moore was in is way better than this years QB class. In this years class K Moore should be a mid-round pick. K Moore is more likely to develop into T Romo's replacement than a mid-round draft pick in the 2016 draft. I do agree that an experienced QB or a franchise type QB in the draft, if there are any, should be brought into compete with K Moore for 2nd team QB position. When you say you are not very high on K Moore, I am not sure of why you think this way. He has always played way better than he looks. He looks like the equipment manager, not an NFL QB. He is a master at pocket passing with physical limitations including not having a real strong arm. (i.e. velocity) The question is are his skills/abilities to be a pocket passer so outstanding that he can overcome or compensate for his physical limitations? I believe S Linehan thinks so and that's why he keeps supporting K Moore. Also, I put a lot of weight on his college coaches statement after his senior year, and I quote, " K Moore is the best pocket passer I have EVER SEEN". He didn't say ever coached or ever played against, but ever seen. I assume he has seen P Manning, T Brady and D Brees. Maybe not. Anyhow this is a strong statement from a respected coach who is not known to be outspoken.

  • https://insidethestar.com/ Bryson Treece

    One of these days, George, you've got to tell me what the hell your obsession is with Kellen Moore. I mean, dude… I don't think (I know, actually) I've ever seen a fan SO supportive of a single player, especially one that has only ever started because of injury and didn't win a starting job out of that. Gotta respect the support you show, but I seriously don't understand it.

    • George Johnson

      Bryson Treece: I have followed him since he was a Sophomore in high school and read everything said about him. He almost broke some national high school QB records and probably would have if he hadn't played only about three quarters a game because of big leads. I had followed college and high school football and this kid was extremely talented and mature in his playing for a high school QB. His accuracy was out of this world for a high school QB. I was extremely impressed and thought he would be a star in college. K Moore wanted to play in the Pac-10 and preferably at Washington State. The Pac-10 coaches thought he was too small and a product of his dad's system. I was shocked by these comments but figured I must not know certain things because I am no coach and never played football at the college level. The Boise State head coach, Peterson had to be talked into giving him a scholarship by the defensive coordinator who had recruited in Washington State and everyone at the high school level said K Moore was the best player in the state. This coordinator was also impressed with seeing K Moore play in person and/or on tape. I was shocked that the Pac-10 schools were passing on this kid. I had never seen a high school QB that was this talented. I had become a big fan at that time and followed K Moore over his four year career at Boise State. I was again shocked when K Moore was not drafted and the NFL experts said they questioned whether he could even play in the NFL. All he had done at the college level is turn into one of the all time best pocket passers in the history of college football. His college coach said he was the best pocket passer he had ever seen. He almost set a new four year record for fewest interceptions so his lack of a strong arm did not seem to cause interceptions at the college level. I followed K Moore at Detroit and now in Dallas. I have seen most of his games including all his preseason games and season games last year in the NFL. He has continued to play at a high level in preseason games but mostly at 3rd team. As an example he had a 108 QB rating in preseason games in Detroit in 2014. I have posted a lot about K Moore because I know a lot about him and everything that has been said about him. I see post after post that don't have any faith in K Moore and have no idea how good he really is. He tends to be judged even by coaches by his looks and he doesn't look and throw like an NFL QB. I try to be objective and point out what I know. I was the first to admit I wasn't sure he could play in the NFL because of his physical limitations but suspected that he probably could. I am more confident now than at any time that he can play in the NFL either as a top backup or possibly even a starter someday if he keeps improving. More importantly S Linehan seems to think highly of K Moore also and seems to understands that he can get the job done with his own set of skills/abilities even though he lacks the cannon arm. I think he will get a chance to prove himself because of S Linehan. He may be able to overcome or compensate for his physical weaknesses with his skills/abilities at pocket passing which are outstanding. He can't and never will be able to make the rocket throws that a QB like M Stafford can. I could see him being the first QB in the history of the NFL to play in the NFL with his set of physical limitations. I guess I am obsessed but this is because people over and over again criticize K Moore at the NFL level and have little faith in him because he wasn't drafted and doesn't look like an NFL QB. He has always played way better than what people think he can play. This happened in college and his entry into the NFL and is continuing. Just like the NFL draft experts, they don't fully understand the skills/abilities he has because they are mostly cerebral except for his accuracy and quick release. They can see his physical limitations including not having a strong arm. I try to point out in an objective manner what he can do and not do and why.

  • zeakins

    what happened to Devin Street? I mean after watching him play last year I guess it is pretty easy to forget he exists but alas he is still on the roster.

  • https://insidethestar.com/ Bryson Treece
    InsideTheStar.com User

    what happened to Devin Street? I mean after watching him play last year I guess it is pretty easy to forget he exists but alas he is still on the roster.

    True, he is still on the roster. An oversight that I am really hoping gets fixed by training camp. The dude is a less talented version of Mr. Body Catch (Terrance Williams)… not impressed or enthused to have him on the field in 2016.

  • http://www.pigskinhub.com/forum/index.php?forums/dallas-cowboys/ Jess Haynie

    Street is a goner barring injury or a miraculous improvement in this year's camp. He would be #6 guy now given Whithead's special teams role. At this point, Dallas would probably use that roster spot elsewhere.

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Cowboys DE Randy Gregory Reinstated, Will Join Team for Training Camp

Sean Martin

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Will the Dallas Cowboys "Get Lucky" at Defensive End?

The Dallas Cowboys patience with Defensive End Randy Gregory has paid off. Suspended for the better part of 2016 and all of 2017, Gregory has officially been reinstated to join the team for their 2018 training camp. The projected starter at RDE, Gregory will report to Oxnard with the rest of the team on July 25th.

From here, it will be all hard work for Gregory to reconnect with Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli and get his promising career back on track. The last time Gregory suited up for the Cowboys, he managed to sack Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback Carson Wentz in a week 17 win. The Cowboys will be expecting much more of this from a player they've supported through multiple violations of the league's heavily criticized substance abuse policy.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

Cowboys pass-rusher Randy Gregory's petition for reinstatement was not opposed, according to lawyer Daniel Moskowitz. He's back. "I've never been more proud of any individual in my life. I'm very excited for Randy and his daughter and the rest of the his family.

Among this support staff for Gregory were a number of teammates that wrote formal letters to the NFL as part of his bid for reinstatement. These last few days of preparation before the Cowboys are together again as a team will surely be uplifted by Gregory's presence.

They say no news is typically good news at this point in the offseason, something the Cowboys have come to realize far too often. Today's news shouldn't be confused with a pleasant surprise however, rather something the Cowboys were committed to in getting another premier pass rusher on the field.

Here is the NFL's official press release on their reinstatement of Randy Gregory:

Sean Martin ✭ on Twitter

Sean Martin ✭ on Twitter

https://t.co/za0u3lWgaY

Tell us what you think about "Cowboys DE Randy Gregory Reinstated, Will Join Team for Training Camp" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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Cowboys & DeMarcus Lawrence Fail to Reach New Contract

Jess Haynie

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Which 2018 Free Agents Will The Cowboys Retain? 1
Andrew Dieb/Icon Sportwire

DeMarcus Lawrence will definitely be a Cowboy in 2018, but now the future  beyond that remains in question. The Dallas Cowboys and their star defensive end did not agree to a long-term contract by today's deadline for franchise-tagged players.

According to NFL rules, teams had until 4:00 pm EST today to reach contract extensions with free agents who'd been assigned the franchise tag earlier this offseason. Players who did not get new deals will have to play the 2018 season on their one-year franchise tenders.

Jon Machota on Twitter

DeMarcus Lawrence and the Cowboys were unable to work out a long-term contract by today's deadline. Lawrence will play the 2018 season under a one-year franchise tag that will pay him $17.1 million

This does not mean Lawrence will be a free agent in 2019. The two parties can still discuss the contract in the months to come, but the deal cannot be made until after the end of the regular season.

Dallas also has the option of giving DeMarcus a second franchise tag next year. However, that would come at a considerably higher price for a second-straight season.

This year, Lawrence will still make plenty with one of the highest cap hits of any DE in the league. He earned the franchise tag last with 14.5 sacks in a breakout season.

Today's news may not really be a big deal in the long run. As long as Tank wants to stay in Dallas after this, the two sides now have over five months to keep talking and will hopefully agree on a new deal for 2019 and beyond.

There is risk on both sides, of course.

Lawrence's leverage could be less if his productions drops or he gets injured. On the other hand, his position could be even stronger with a second-straight year of strong play.

Now everyone, from the team to player to fans, is in wait-and-see mode until the end of the season.



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Will Cowboys WR Noah Brown Do Enough to Make the Roster?

Sean Martin

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Will Cowboys WR Noah Brown Do Enough to Make Cowboys Roster? 2
(Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News)

The Dallas Cowboys aren't short on numbers at wide receiver on their current 90-man roster. Looking to replace Dez Bryant and reshape their offense, the Cowboys will have to find the right group of pass catchers for Dak Prescott at their upcoming training camp.

This group includes Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, Allen Hurns, Lance Lenoir, Deonte Thompson, Cedrick Wilson, Michael Gallup, KD Cannon, Mekale McCay, and Marchie Murdock.

The odd men out from this group will likely be the ones that can't sustain a consistent level of play, doing so across multiple units if needed. All ten receivers will have their flashes, but with only four being true locks to make the team, new Cowboys Wide Receivers Coach Sanjay Lal will be in on some tough decisions right away.

One such decision may be moving on from last year's seventh round pick Noah Brown out of Ohio State. Vouched for by former Buckeyes teammate Ezekiel Elliott thanks to his blocking ability on the outside, it may now be this strength in the run game and deficiency as a pass catcher that spells the end of Brown's run in Dallas.

Normally, a seventh round pick being on the roster bubble wouldn't be this noteworthy, but Brown clearly showed the potential to outplay this draft status as a rookie. Appearing in 13 games, Brown is a true X receiver, although not the dominant one the Cowboys are searching for.

What Happens if WR Allen Hurns Doesn't Pan Out?

Dallas Cowboys WR Deonte Thompson, Cedrick Wilson, Allen Hurns (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

Moving away from fielding a true number one receiver, the Cowboys did sign Allen Hurns to play this spot while prepared to spread the ball around to Williams, Beasley, and Gallup after that.

This leaves Thompson, Wilson, Cannon, Lenoir, McCay, Murdock, and Brown to prove their worth in other ways to make the roster. I've written plenty about the potential rookie Cedrick Wilson has, so I'll be expecting a strong showing from him to earn a role in the Cowboys offense.

Wilson's skill set could push a depth signing like Deonte Thompson off the team, although his ability to back up Cole Beasley/Tavon Austin on special teams is important. The same can be said about Lance Lenoir, who like Brown has the advantage over first year players given his trials through training camp and the preseason a year ago.

Long shots to make the team, Cannon, McCay, and Murdock fall just below this group -- and somewhere in the middle is Noah Brown.

Increasing his role on special teams as the season went on last year, Brown had fans throughout a coaching staff that is now drastically changed for 2018. From their shift to more speed on offense, to drafting of both Gallup and Wilson, calling Brown a fringe player on the Cowboys roster really sets up the fiery competition to come at wide receiver.

Will Cowboys WR Noah Brown Do Enough to Make Cowboys Roster?

Dallas Cowboys WR Noah Brown (Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)

Should the Cowboys find a spot for Brown, one can only hope it means this new coaching staff has a clear plan for him to contribute on both offense and special teams outside of being a run blocker. A potential niche for Brown is his red zone ability, not afraid to put his body on the line for jump balls and fight through contact in his routes.

It won't be long until we sort out if this is enough to make the Cowboys as a wide receiver ahead of Quarterback Dak Prescott's third season.

Tell us what you think about "Will Cowboys WR Noah Brown Do Enough to Make the Roster?" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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