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Tyron Smith, DeMarco Murray, and Dez Bryant, Three Very Different Free Agent Considerations

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Yes, no, and maybe.  In order, those are the answers to Tyron Smith, DeMarco Murray, and Dez Bryant, and whether or not Dallas should sign them to long-term agreements.

These are the decisions that must be pondered at length.  Sean Lee just signed a long extension, and his oft-injured body will miss the 2014 season.  Tony Romo has yet to play a down of his new deal, and he's coming off two back surgeries.  DeMarcus Ware and Miles Austin just left with unfilled-performance expectations left amidst expensive contracts.

Dallas has long seemed the dead-money capital of the NFL.  For whatever reasons - many of them injury-related - piles of players have left here with substantial money remaining on Jerry's cap tab.  You know the names; it's too depressing to type.

Of course, for the right price, Dallas would be foolish not to sign all three of these players, but agents don't ask for the right price.  They ask for the max, and there's only one that you pay max money.

Tyron Smith.  Yes.

Elite left tackles are among the Hope Diamonds in the NFL draft.  They're rare, and they protect the rarest of rare gems, the franchise quarterback.  The Cowboys have one in Smith, who looks to be on his way to years of all-pro-level performances for Romo and quarterbacks still in high school.  Sign him, and back up the Brinks truck.  Well worth it.  Case closed.

Demarco Murray.  No.

I hate what the NFL has done to running backs.  They're relative afterthoughts, a dime-a-dozen, not worth building an offense around anymore.  The glory days when the league featured Emmitt, Barry, Thurman, Lorenzo, Hampton, Watters, Faulk, Foster, Okoye, Butts, Davis, Means, Warren, Bettis...are pretty much over, at least for now.  Yes, all those guys were playing during the same era.

Today's rules make throwing the ball virtually indefensible, and teams have resorted to high school spread offenses and read-options.  Sure, a good back is a nice luxury to have, but not at supreme dollars.  Money is better spent on the passing game, so unless Murray is willing to take a short-term, low-dollar deal for the security of a longer stay, Dallas should let him go.  Especially with his propensity for injury.  That money could be spent better in free agency at a more prominent position.

Dez Bryant.  Maybe.

This is where sleepless nights lie ahead for Jerry and the personnel department.

On talent alone, of course you extend Bryant.  His impact in undeniable, and his freakish talents don't grow on draft trees.  He's certainly won the fan base over after a bit of a rough start to his playing career.  His passion and work ethic as a player are beyond reproach, and his general attitude has been a huge breath of fresh air.  Top five receiver in the league, arguably top three.

What's scary is his back.  The past two seasons, Dez has had issues with his back tightening up on him during games and as the season wears on.  Anyone with back issues knows that this doesn't typically get better.  Already, Romo has questions about his back, and he's just a QB.  The style Dez plays may not hold up with a bad back, and he could be a salary-cap nightmare if he's rendered useless with a big price tag crippling future decisions.

The best way to handle Dez may be the franchise tag.  That'll be a hefty price next year, but worth it, without having to commit money beyond 2015.  In fact, league rules say they could turn around and do the same thing to Dez the following year.

Might that make Dez mad?  Yep, but perhaps that can provide the impetus to get him, and his agent, on board with a more incentive-laden contract with a hometown discount attached.  Make sure he's comfortable and well-paid, with clauses that allow him to make more with good health and production.  Logical, sensible numbers.

In fact, if he does sign such a contract, that same franchise tag could be eligible for Murray if they so desire.

Jason Garrett and Will McClay have done a good job cleaning up the roster of aged, pricey veterans that are too often not reliable week to week.  The signing bonuses amassed have made it hard on Jerry to cut them loose, though he is thankfully capitulating to do just that.

It's not Jerry-like to let guys like Gurode, Ware, Miles, Newman, Barber, etc, walk away with stiff cap penalties in their wake.  He's stubbornly learning - thanks to McClay and Garrett, and probably Stephen - that these players aren't his kids and friends.  You gotta learn to let them go.

Far better cap positioning is still a couple of years away.  That key free agent here and there will be attainable if they keep from doing anything dumb in the meantime.  And that will partly be determined by how they handle Smith, Murray, and Dez.



Star Blog

Cowboys en Español: Evaluando la Administración

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Can we Believe General Manager Jerry Jones?

Entre los aficionados de los Dallas Cowboys, pocas cosas son criticadas tan frecuentemente como la administración de la franquicia que no ha ganado ningún Super Bowl en más de dos décadas. Se ha convertido en un equipo que, a pesar de ser el más valioso en el mundo deportivo, no ha sido nada relevante en el emparrillado. Lo que alguna vez fue una dinastía se ha convertido en una unidad que rompe frecuentemente los corazones de los fans.

Jerry Jones y Stephen Jones, siendo los operadores del ámbito deportivo del negocio familiar, son criticados semana tras semana y en gran parte por justa razón. Pero en gran parte, por cosas no muy válidas.

Cambios de Coach

A mi parecer, lo más criticable para la administración de este equipo viene cuando hablamos de los coaches. Muchos se burlan de los Cincinnati Bengals y de la manera en la que están atascados con el Head Coach Marvin Lewis. Con Jason Garrett al volante, la situación para los Cowboys no es nada diferente.

A mediados de la temporada 2018, no parece que esta narrativa vaya a cambiar. Una vez más, los Cowboys arrancaron de una manera muy inconsistente y ya no sabemos que esperar de ellos. Gran parte de las derrotas, la mayor parte, es el coacheo.

Sin duda el equipo no será exactamente el mismo en 2019, pero ¿serán suficientes los cambios como para decidir quedarse con el mismo capitán que no ha podido mantener el barco navegando por años?

El Draft

A diferencia de como se manejan muchos equipos en la liga, los Jones fungen como general managers de su propio equipo. Con la ayuda de Will McClay han logrado superar varios de los fracasos de los Jones de antaño, pero actualmente, siendo sinceros no han hecho un mal trabajo.

A pesar de las critícas de Abril, Leighton Vander Esch está probando haber valido más que la pena. Siendo objetivos, aparte de Taco Charlton en el 2017, todas las selecciones de primera ronda de los Cowboys han sido valiosas. La línea ofensiva, el corredor, un cornerback que por fin se está perfilando como uno de los mejores en la liga.

En cuanto a la segunda ronda, ha habido varias críticas, muchas con razón. Pero el mejor caza cabezas del equipo, DeMarcus Lawrence, el linebacker Jaylon Smith, Randy Gregory y más están teniendo un impacto muy fuerte en el equipo.

Decisiones difíciles

La administración se ha visto en la necesidad de tomar decisiones bastante difíciles después de una temporada de nueve victorias en 2017. El LB Anthony Hitchens fue liberado, Dan Bailey se fue inesperadamente, se confió en Byron Jones para tomar su opción de quinto año.

Hasta ahora, pura decisión digna de aplaudirse. Pero ninguna como la más reciente de todas: Amari Cooper.

Por más caro que haya salido, los Cowboys merecen bastante crédito por haber mejorado muchísimo su posición de WR. Si el equipo llega a tener una oportunidad esta temporada, será en gran parte por él.

No cabe ninguna duda en mi cabeza de que los Jones han cometido errores a lo largo de los años, el más evidente siendo la resistencia de dejar ir a Jason Garrett. Pero a pesar de esto, la administración ha tomado excelentes decisiones y ha realizado el draft muy bien. En ese aspecto en específico, les aplaudo.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: Evaluando la Administración" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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Star Blog

Sack Numbers Don’t Tell DeMarcus Lawrence’s 2018 Story

Kevin Brady

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Breaking Down DeMarcus Lawrence's League High 5.5 Sacks Through Week 4

Coming off of a career year in 2017, many fans expected DeMarcus Lawrence to continue his ridiculous sack production this season. After all, he is once again in a "contract year" due to the franchise tag, and fans are hoping the Cowboys can secure him longterm this offseason.

Through the first four games of 2018, Lawrence looked as ridiculous and unstoppable as ever. He had 5.5 sacks, tied for the league lead, and was dictating the pass protection schemes of every offense the Cowboys were facing.

Since that hot start, though, DeMarcus Lawrence has recorded just 1 sack, falling behind some of the league leaders he was once ahead of. This has some people scratching their heads and wondering if Lawrence's career year in 2017 was just that, a career year. One which he will never replicate again, and one which the Cowboys should factor out when talking contract extensions.

Here's why those people are wrong.

Let's first talk about what makes DeMarcus Lawrence so good, and then we'll get into the full context of the Cowboys defense and how that explains some of the drop in sacks.

Lawrence, unlike some of the league's other top pass rushers, is a complete 4-3 defensive end. He is one of, if not the best run defending defensive ends in football, as shown by his 12 tackles for loss on the season (only Aaron Donald and Danielle Hunter have more).

Much of the year, the Cowboys run defense has boiled down to Lawrence making splash plays, as we saw against the Washington Redskins. Adrian Peterson was gashing the Cowboys during that game, and the only one who did anything to stop him was DeMarcus Lawrence, as indicated by his 3 tackles for loss that Sunday.

There's also the point that 6.5 sacks through half the season is, well, good. It's really good! And when you couple his sack numbers with his solid pressure and QB hit stats, you can see that Lawrence is having a very good season.

Then there is the context of this entire Cowboys defense, specifically their defensive line and pass rush. To put it bluntly, DeMarcus Lawrence has been their only consistent rusher this season. Though we came into the year with high hopes for Randy Gregory, and cautious optimism about first round pick Taco Charlton, neither have been all that impressive this season.

Somebody, anybody, has to step up and become a threat opposite of Lawrence. David Irving could help matters with his interior pass rush ability, but he has been unavailable for basically the entire season.

Without another pass rusher for offense's to even think twice about, Lawrence is getting double teamed and/or chipped by a tight end or running back on just about every rush. It's becoming rare that Lawrence is in a true one-on-one pass rush situation.

Of course, if you are elite, offenses are going to shift protections to you in this way and you still have to find ways to be productive.

And thus far in 2018, DeMarcus Lawrence is doing just that.



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Star Blog

Can QB Dak Prescott Steal Back His Mojo From Atlanta?

Brian Martin

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Can Dak Prescott Regain His Mojo Against Atlanta?
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

When the Dallas Cowboys last traveled to Mercedes-Benz Stadium they were completely throttled by the Atlanta Falcons. It's a game a lot of Cowboys Nation would like to forget, but no one more so than Quarterback Dak Prescott. That game could very well be where his struggles really began.

It's almost exactly a year later and the Dallas Cowboys still find themselves haunted by that brutal beating the Atlanta Falcons handed them in Week 10 of the 2017 season. The Cowboys seemed to lose all confidence in themselves after that game, but it was almost as if it was the exact point in time where Dak Prescott lost all of his mojo as well.

Before that match up against the Falcons, Prescott was still playing at a pretty high level. But since then, he has been in a slump and there have been very few signs of recapturing any of that magic he once had. Heading back to Atlanta maybe the key for him finding and stealing back his mojo.

Things could definitely go a little differently this time around. The Cowboys will have Ezekiel Elliott and Tyron Smith in the lineup this week. Zeke missed the game last year due to the league mandated six-game suspension, and Tyron missed due to an injury. Having those two back in the lineup could pay huge dividends, especially for Prescott.

Without his starting left tackle and running back, Dak was pretty much beaten to a pulp by the Falcons defense a year ago. They applied relentless pressure, hitting and sacking him on a number of occasions. Unfortunately, I think that's where he started seeing ghost in the pocket and its haunted him ever since.

Dak Prescott

Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)

The beating he took at the hands of the Falcons has really thrown off his entire game. His mechanics, accuracy, and effectiveness as a scrambler can all be traced back to that one matchup. He just hasn't been the same QB he was prior to that game.

Prescott's stats prior to the Falcons game:

24 starts
66.7 completion percentage
102.4 passer rating

Prescott's stats since the Falcons game:

17 starts
63.3 completion percentage
83.1 passer rating

As you can see, that's a notable difference. His passer rating has shockingly dropped nearly 20 points since last playing the Falcons and it's really hurt the entire offensive production. It's time for that to change.

Prescott has no choice this week. He has to get back up on the horse that bucked him off and hopefully regain that mojo he left in Atlanta a year ago. Fortunately for him, his confidence might be is as high as it's been since that last meeting after pulling off the upset against the Philadelphia Eagles last week.

Now, he just has to go out and prove it!

Do you think Dak Prescott can regain his mojo against the Atlanta Falcons?



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