Going into 2016, wide receiver Terrance Williams had plenty to be concerned about. It's the final year of his rookie contract. Brice Butler is getting a lot of attention and there's talk of a battle for Williams' starting job. With unrestricted free agency looming, Williams's market value was in question and in danger of dropping.
Williams has responded with one of his best seasons. He has shown better hands and more polished route running than any time yet in his career. Balls thrown to Williams are being completed 71% of the time compared to just 57% in his first three seasons.
Plus, his toe-tap touchdown this past Thanksgiving was one of the nicest catches you will ever see!
Williams has proven that he can be an efficient and productive player; a quality number-two receiver when playing across from a star. Depending on the price, the Cowboys could feel good about re-signing Williams this offseason based on his 2016 performance.
The problem for Terrance Williams is that these decisions aren't just about one player. You have to look at your receiving corps as a whole, your offensive system, and your team-wide salary cap to know if a move makes sense. It's this broader view that works against Williams' returning to the Cowboys next year.
Perhaps the biggest factor working against Williams is Dez Bryant. After two-straight years of injury problems that have caused Dez to miss either games or have his play occasionally hampered, Dallas has to consider the future. Bryant will turn 29 next year, meaning these health concerns likely aren't going anywhere.
Bryant can still be an elite WR any given week. But on the weeks that his health or opposing defenses are able to take him out of the games, Terrance Williams hasn't shown that he can step into that number-one role. It's been Cole Beasley, not Williams, who has usually picked up the production slack on Bryant's off days.
What's more, Dez's long-term future in Dallas isn't a guarantee. If his play was to really drop off in the next few years, Dallas could reasonably get out from his contract as early as 2018. At that point, having resources tied up in Williams might become a problem. They would need a new top guy at receiver, and Terrance hasn't ever shown that he can be that.
The Witten Factor
For years, being the "number-two receiver" in Dallas has been a flawed label. Jason Witten has occupied that role in terms of productivity and offensive importance for over a decade. It has allowed guys like Terrance Williams or Patrick Crayton to not face nearly as much expectation or responsibility.
Hard as it is to admit, Witten isn't the same receiving threat he used to be. He can still make a big play here and there, but at age 34 and after 13 seasons he can't create separation like he used to.
This is another major consideration in how Dallas proceeds with the number-two receiver spot. Not only is Witten becoming less of a threat but there's no guarantee that his eventual replacement will be the same level of player. If Dallas is facing decreasing production from the tight end position, the importance of that second WR spot is obviously increasing.
The $$$ Factor
As a third-round pick, Williams has made just about $2.9 million in his first four seasons. He has started nearly every game for Dallas in the last three years. You know he's hoping to finally make some real NFL money.
Last year, Marvin Jones got $40 million on a five-year deal with Detroit. His numbers from Cincinnati were similar to what Terrance Williams has done in Dallas. If that's the kind of money that Williams' is targeting in free agency, it's more than Dallas should be willing to pay.
Last year, Jones benefited from a shallow free agent crop at receiver. Williams won't be as fortunate as this year's group will likely feature Alshon Jefferey, Terrelle Pryor, DeSean Jackson, Kenny Britt, and other far flashier names than his.
This could help drive Williams' price down, which in turn could drive him closer to returning the Cowboys. But if Dallas is committed to finding a new number-two who can better help Dez Bryant now and perhaps replace him in a few years, they may not be in the mix.
~ ~ ~
Terrance Williams has done his best this year. After a rough start with the wrong-way run in Week One and a bad fumble in Week 3, Williams has put in arguably his most efficient and consistent season. He's earned consideration for a new contract and a starting job in the NFL.
However, given the current and projected state of their offense, Dallas has to be thinking bigger. They need a number-two who help supplement the sporadic potency of Dez Bryant and the declining effectiveness of Jason Witten. They need a guy who could step into the lead role if called upon.
Williams doesn't appear to that guy. I wish him well, but I hope Dallas looks at the big picture.
Free Agent WR Allen Hurns Plans to Sign With Cowboys
It looks as if the Dallas Cowboys will be adding yet another wide receiver through free agency. According to sources, Allen Hurns plans on signing with the Cowboys.
WR Allen Hurns just told me, "I'm going to sign with Dallas." #Cowboys
This is a move that seemed unlikely after the Cowboys signed Deonte Thompson a few days ago, but I know a lot of Cowboys Nation will be excited about this transaction.
While this move is exciting, it does create more confusion for the Cowboys and their wide receivers. It's difficult to imagine all of these WRs sticking to the roster, which means there will be some tough decisions that need to be made.
What will the Cowboys do with Dez Bryant?
Will Cole Beasley be cut or traded?
Are the Cowboys comfortable absorbing Terrance Williams' cap hit if traded or released?
Will this keep the Cowboys from drafting a WR early?
All of these questions and more will have to be answered eventually. But, one thing is for sure, things are definitely about to get interesting.
Of course, there is a bonus here for the Dallas Cowboys. Since Allen Hurns was released by the Jacksonville Jaguars, he doesn't count against the Cowboys compensatory picks next season.
Please stay tuned and we will continue to keep you updated on contract details and any other news involving Allen Hurns as it becomes available.
What do you think about the Allen Hurns signing?
Cowboys Sign Free Agent WR Deonte Thompson
The Dallas Cowboys added some speed to their receiver corps today by signing free agent Deonte Thompson. He played for both the Chicago Bears and Buffalo Bills last season.
Thompson, who turned 29 last month, went undrafted in 2012. He had a quiet to start to his career as a reserve and practice squad guy in Baltimore and Chicago, but finally got a chance to shine with seven starts last year for the Bills. He 27 catches for 430 yards and one touchdown in just 11 games.
The #Cowboys signed WR Deonte Thompson, per agent @davidcanter. He gets 1-year, $2.5M with a $1M signing bonus.
Deonte brings some much-needed speed to the Cowboys offense. He ran a 4.31 40-yard dash as a rookie, and while he's 29 now he still poses more of a vertical threat than the current Dallas receivers.
Given the low salary in this deal, Thompson may not be seen as much than a replacement for Brice Butler near the bottom of Dallas' depth chart. We also have to wait and see what happens with the draft and other moves this offseason to know where he fits into the bigger picture.
For now, though, Cowboys fans can take a little comfort in knowing the front office hasn't completely fallen asleep at the wheel.
Dallas Cowboys Sign LB Joe Thomas to 2 Year Deal
At long last, the Dallas Cowboys have their first free agent addition of this offseason. Having lost starters Jonathan Cooper and Anthony Hitchens at left guard and linebacker respectively, the team has added depth at LB with Joe Thomas signing a two-year deal.
The 2018 season will actually mark Joe Thomas' second stint with the Dallas Cowboys, as he was signed to their practice squad in 2015. The team that signed Thomas out of South Carolina State following the 2014 draft, the Green Bay Packers, added Thomas back to their active roster for the 2015 season.
Source: Cowboys have agreed to a 2-year deal with free agent LB Joe Thomas. He visited the Cowboys today. Thomas has played in 42 games over the last three seasons with the Packers. He had a career-high 70 tackles in 2016.
Thomas has spent the last three seasons starting eight games for the Packers, recording 70 tackles and an interception in 2016.
A contingency plan of Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith carrying the Cowboys for 16 games at LB requires adequate depth, which is exactly what the Cowboys are typically in the market for come free agency. Waiting longer than usual to make their first splash, the Cowboys absolutely need an addition like Thomas to perform better than last year's FA class.
Used in sub packages by the Packers while also playing special teams - where the Cowboys have lost core players in Keith Smith and Kyle Wilber - Thomas will have a great chance to impress two new Dallas coaches in Ben Bloom and Keith O'Quinn.
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