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.
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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.
Travis Frederick Regains Strength in Hands, Influence in Cowboys OL Room
The Dallas Cowboys are coming off their most impressive win of the season, keeping playoff hopes alive on the road with a 27-20 victory at the Philadelphia Eagles. Entering the hostile home of the defending Super Bowl champions with three previous road losses already on their record, the Cowboys performance on Sunday night was truly about getting back to their roots. In their second week with Marc Colombo as the Offensive Line Coach, the Cowboys rushed for 171 yards and protected Dak Prescott very well. It was revealed after the game that Frederick was on a coaches headset with Colombo and his new assistant Hudson Houck.
Travis Frederick just told @BenRogers on @1053thefan that Marc Columbo has him on a coaches headset now helping him and Hudson Houck. That's a smart move from Columbo. Smartest guy on the line
The anchor of the Cowboys offensive line since being drafted in 2013, Frederick is regarded as the smartest linemen on the team. It's his mental edge that's made up for a slight lack of size at the position, regarded as one of the worst first round picks in his draft because of this oversight.
Not only is Frederick a welcome addition to the Cowboys brain trust at offensive line, but he did receive some great news on his battle with Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) that's kept him out this season. Frederick was placed on injured reserve on October 6th, announcing publicly his GBS diagnosis on August 22nd.
Frederick has a long way to go before he's playing football again, not eligible to do so until week 14 at home against the Eagles. Regaining feeling in his hands is about the 2017 Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee getting as healthy as possible away from football. If a return to the Cowboys is possible through his recovery, the team would of course welcome Frederick.
Travis Frederick regains sensation in his hands: "There is some light at the end of the tunnel" https://t.co/wvQhB6KUQp
What Frederick has gained in upper body strength, he must remain patient for in the lower body. While pointing out that over 95% of patients make a full recovery from GBS, Frederick is still waiting to feel sensations in his feet.
The Cowboys have been optimistic that Frederick's condition was caught early enough for a full recovery to be probable.
Dallas' schedule doesn't get any easier following their uplifting win. Returning to the site of last year's demoralizing loss at the Falcons, Frederick likely wishes he could make a miraculous return just a bit more this week.
To make matters worse, Left Tackle Tyron Smith did not practice on Wednesday due to back spasms. It's unknown if rookie Connor Williams will reclaim his starting left guard spot on Sunday, or if Xavier Su'a-Filo has earned another opportunity.
Despite the patchwork nature of a Cowboys offensive line once regarded as the best in the league, and still vital to the entire team's success, Dallas has an abundance of hope that Sunday in Atlanta can be much better than 2017. This starts with Frederick's strength to fight GBS and attempt to rejoin his teammates, wisely given some added game day influence on them by Colombo.
If elevating their level of play up front was all it took for the Cowboys to play up to their potential and pull off an upset on prime time last week, the NFC East is certainly still within reach for a team that must now sustain the level of play on offense to match what this defense has given all season.
Cowboys LB Named NFC Defensive Player of the Week Against Eagles
You already knew that Leighton Vander Esch, the Dallas Cowboys rookie linebacker, had a great night last Sunday in Philadelphia. Apparently the rest of the football world agreed, and now he's been named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week.
The award is the first of what could be many for Leighton, who has emerged as a defensive leader for the Cowboys. He's been playing more in the absence of veteran Sean Lee, who has been battling hamstring issues all season.
THE. WOLF. HUNTER. Congratulations to #DallasCowboys rookie LB @VanderEsch38 on being named NFC Defensive Player of the Week! → https://t.co/XeSTt2tIpX
This is the second Player of the Week award for a Dallas Cowboys this season. Kicker Brett Maher won the Special Teams version in Week 4 after going 4-for-4 and hitting a game winner over the Detroit Lions.
The Defensive Player award hasn't gone to a Cowboys since Week of 2017, when DeMarcus Lawrence put up three sacks against the Arizona Cardinals.
Leighton's recognition is also well-earned. He led Dallas with 13 tackles and an interception in a pivotal road victory against a division rival. In what was arguably a "must-win" game for the Cowboys, their first-round pick stepped up and stood out.
A few more games like this, and Vander Esch could be in the running for the Defensive Rookie of the Year. But even above personal accolades, Leighton's play could help the Cowboys make a push in the NFC East.
If nothing else, he's making that first-round pick look smarter every week.
Legendary Cowboys Quarterback Backs Dak Prescott
Things have not gone well for Dak Prescott this season. His play has been up and down and he hasn't given the team or Cowboys Nation much reason to believe that he's the future at the quarterback position for the Dallas Cowboys. Speaking to 105.3 FM The Fan in Dallas today, Legendary Dallas Cowboys Quarterback, Ring of Honor and Pro Football Hall of Fame member Roger Staubach offered support for the Cowboys current quarterback, Dak Prescott.
Staubach had this to say when asked about Dak Prescott.
Roger Staubach on @1053thefan said #Dak is a part of the problem with the #Cowboys offense, but he is not the problem.
Roger Staubach didn't start in the NFL until the third year of his career and thinks that's a good time for the quarterback to make the jump. At this point, we are 40 games into Dak Prescott's NFL career and we can see some of the things that he's good at as well as some of the things that he struggles with.
As Staubach points out, Dak Prescott has the intangibles that you look for in a quarterback, even if his play hasn't been what you'd want at the position. Roger admits that Dak shoulders some of the blame for the offensive woes of the last 16 games, but realizes that there are many reasons for the Cowboys offensive failures this season.
Roger Staubach believes that the Dallas Cowboys can win with Dak Prescott as their starting quarterback despite some of the flaws that have crept up over the last 16 games. He's not wrong.
Staubach's pretty accurate in his assessment that there's been more good than bad. If you look at the first 24 games of Dak Prescott's career, he was really good. Through the last 16 games, he's struggled at times. So technically there's been more good than bad. The problem is that over the last 16 games, there's been more bad than good. The NFL is a "what have you done for me lately" league and lately Dak hasn't done much. We can debate all day on how much of the struggles Prescott's faced are on him, but everyone should be willing to admit that some of the struggles are on him.
It's plausible that the confidence in Prescott that Jerry Jones has comes from Roger's belief that the Cowboys can win games with Dak Prescott at quarterback; and they have. In Prescott's career, the Dallas Cowboys are 25-15. Though wins are a team stat and not a quarterback stat, it just goes as evidence that Dak Prescott can be a winning quarterback in the National Football League.
Dak has some flaws, but the offense and its play caller haven't helped Prescott much this season. We should be critical of Prescott because he has a big pay day coming, if you believe Jerry Jones. While Dak has some flaws, he also has some traits that can make him a good quarterback in the NFL with the right coaching situation behind him. 2018 may be running out of time for the Dallas Cowboys and their playoff prospects, but the Cowboys have time before they have to make a decision on Prescott.
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