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Terrance Williams Has Earned New Deal, But Cowboys Need More

Jess Haynie

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Terrance Williams

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.

Terrance Williams, RedskinsWilliams 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.

The X-Factor

Dez Bryant, Terrance WilliamsPerhaps 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

Terrance Williams, Jason WittenFor 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 WilliamsTerrance 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.



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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  1. Russ_Te

    December 16, 2016 at 8:53 pm

    Lots of moving parts affecting Williams, agreed. Even with more WR’s in free agency I think he will get good offers.

    I don’t think Butler is getting enough reps but that could be changing with the Dez back injury. Some big strikes to him would go a long way in the WR equation. They should view his speed as a needed boost right now. If you can turn him into Dak’s Alvin Harper, then that would be more pressure on defenses that get Dez contained in a given game.

    And you don’t want to go backwards at TE regardless. They took a shot with Gathers, maybe it can still pay off, but along with OL that should be a position of need this offseason. You’d like to see Escobar fix his problems as a blocker, but that probably is what it is.

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Cowboys Sign WR Devin Smith, Former 2nd-Round Pick

Jess Haynie

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Devin Smith

The Dallas Cowboys have reportedly signed Receiver Devin Smith, previously with the New York Jets, to a futures contract. Smith was a 2nd-round pick, 37th overall, in the 2015 NFL Draft.

Before going pro, Devin was a college teammate of current Cowboys Ezekiel Elliott, Rod Smith, and Noah Brown. They were all members of the 2014 Ohio State Buckeyes team that won the National Championship.

Smith's agent, Jason Bernstein, tweeting the following earlier today:

Jason Bernstein on Twitter

Congrats to WR Devin Smith @dsmithosu for signing with the #DallasCowboys! Welcome back. https://t.co/hCMYoE8fEh

Thus far, Smith's NFL career has been marred by injuries. He has suffered two ACL tears in the same knee and only been able to appear in 14 games. He was waived by the Jets last summer and was not with any team last season.

Overall, the 2015 class of receivers has been disappointing. Amari Cooper has been a star and other later-round picks like Tyler Lockett, Stefon Diggs, and Jamison Crowder have been good. But the other big names of the class, such as Kevin White, Breshad Perriman, and DeVante Parker, have not lived up to the hype.

The Cowboys are known for trying to reclaim players who once had high draft status and bad starts to their careers. They are clearly hoping to cash in on Smith's previously perceived potential, which had him projected as a possible first-round talent at one time.

For both Devin and Dallas' sake, we hope it's a success!



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DeMarcus Lawrence Named Top Free Agent Of The 2019 Class

Kevin Brady

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

Much has been made about the Dallas Cowboys 2019 free agent class. Dallas has a ton of cap space moving forward, but they are going to "have" to pay many of the key players on their roster over the next two offseasons in order to keep their young core together.

Of course, when you're drafting, that's the goal. To draft so well that when your own players become free agents, you go ahead and pay them to keep them around, rather than overpay on the free agent market for external players.

One of the major pieces the Cowboys will have to retain this offseason is defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence. And while Cowboys Nation often thinks of Lawrence as underrated around the league, the NFL has caught onto his importance as he enters free agency this Spring.

ESPN.com ranked their top 10 free agents for 2019, with DeMarcus Lawrence clocking in at number one, over elite players like Jadeveon Clowney and Le'Veon Bell.

ig: josinaanderson on Twitter

ESPN's top 10 free agents for 2019 and what Le'Veon Bell should be looking to command based on previous measures. https://t.co/aJ7H1n001t

DeMarcus Lawrence is going to command big time money, likely even Khalil Mack-type money. But the fact of the matter is that he has earned it. Lawrence has been the heart and soul of the Cowboys defensive line the last two seasons, and the most consistent edge player on the team as well.

Not only has he been an effective pass rusher, but DeMarcus Lawrence also plays with a relentless motor against the run that can sometimes be rare to find in those premier pass rushers. He really is a jack of all trades at defensive end, and should be priority number one for the Cowboys this offseason.

Thankfully, I can't imagine the Cowboys not retaining DeMarcus Lawrence and extending him in the coming months.



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When it Mattered Most, Cowboys Offensive Line Protected Dak Prescott

John Williams

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All-22 Notes: Connor Williams Stands Out in Wild Card Win

Throughout the 2018 NFL season, one of the major story lines surrounding the Dallas Cowboys was how frequently Dak Prescott was taking sacks. It's an area that the Cowboys will have to look at in the offseason to better protect their franchise quarterback moving forward. In the playoffs, however, Dak Prescott and the offensive line were much better at keeping their prized possession upright than they were in the regular season.

In the regular season, Dak Prescott was sacked 56 times for an average of 3.5 times a game. There was only one game where he wasn't sacked at all, way back in week two against the New York Giants. Four times this season, the Cowboys' quarterback was sacked five or more times. The New Orleans Saints got him for a season high seven times.

According to Pro Football Focus, Dak was "kept clean" -- not pressured -- on 63% of his drop backs during the regular season, which ranked 25th in the NFL. When kept clean, Prescott completed 74.1% of his passes, which was good for 5th in the NFL during the regular season. He was under pressure 37% of the time, which was the sixth highest rate in the NFL and his completion percentage dropped to 52.6%, still good for 10th in the NFL. It was better than Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, Patrick Mahomes, Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, and Baker Mayfield.

During the playoffs, Prescott's "kept clean" percentage rose from 63% to 68% and he was only sacked once in each game. The one sack against the Los Angeles Rams probably shouldn't have been called a sack as the referee blew the whistle because Prescott was "in the grasp"...

...of his offensive lineman.

During the playoffs, the Cowboys offensive line kept the pressure off of Prescott at a better rate, allowing him to be pressured on only 31.9% of his drop backs. Meaning he was kept clean at an improved rate from the regular season at 68.1% of his drop backs. This while playing against two teams that are really good at rushing the passer. The Los Angeles Rams and the Seattle Seahawks both finished in the top half of the league in sacks this season and feature players like Aaron Donald, Jarran Reed, and Frank Clark who all had double-digit sacks.

As we know, pressure rates and sacks aren't all completely on the offensive line. The quarterback, wide receivers, and the play calling all factor in, but the Cowboys are trending in the right direction with their pass protection. A full offseason for Connor Williams in the Dallas Cowboys strength and conditioning program, better health for Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, and -- fingers crossed -- Travis Frederick, should all help the offensive line play at a higher level heading into the 2019 season.

It can't be overstated how important it will be to get Travis Frederick back into the fold this season. Joe Looney was good, and that might be overstating it a bit. He was not noticeable on most plays during the season, but getting your All-Pro center back will tremendously help the offense in every facet of the game. Frederick's one of the smarter players in the NFL, who helps everyone on the offense to see the blitzes and calls out the protections. Both his mental and physical ability will be a welcomed site when the Cowboys begin practicing in the offseason.

With another year of growth for the quarterback and for the young pieces along the offensive line, and with a full offseason for Dak Prescott to grow with Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and Blake Jarwin, the Cowboys should be better next season at keeping the quarterback clean.



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