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Terrance Williams: Roster Spot is Safe, for Now

John Williams

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3 Current Starters Cowboys' Fans Hate, But Shouldn't 1

Terrance Williams has been a popular whipping boy for Cowboys Nation over the last several years. Because of drops or mental lapses on and off the field -- like not getting out of bounds in week one of 2016 -- many feel that Terrance Williams' days with the Dallas Cowboys are numbered.

I've seen a lot of people around social media talking about moving on from Terrance Williams. Though that may seem like a simple thing to do, he still has value for this team.

If it wasn't for his contract situation, however, we'd view him differently. Much like Tyrone Crawford on the defensive side of the ball, they give you valuable snaps even if they aren't worth their contracts.

Before you go releasing Terrance Williams, let's talk about the type of player you'd be releasing.

Terrance Williams - The Player

Terrance Williams isn't and shouldn't be the second receiving option on your football team. His best seasons with the team were when he was the third or fourth option in the passing game.

In the first three seasons of his career, Williams averaged over 16 yards per reception. Even in 2015 when he had Matt Cassel, Kellen Moore, and Brandon Weeden throwing the football to him for 12 games. I know we look at 2015 and wonder how he didn't have a better season with Dez Bryant out for most of the year, but when you look at the roster of quarterbacks Dallas trotted out that year, it's understandable.

How he could come up with 800-yards receiving from those QBs is beyond me.

Over the last two seasons, he's caught 70% of his targets, which are his two best catch-percentage seasons.

For his career, he averages 14.6 yards per reception. That number dropped off in 2017 to 10.7, but also what they asked him to do changed as well. He was catching more passes underneath than he had in years past. 2017 was also the first season that he didn't have a touchdown reception. Prior to 2017, he'd averaged five touchdown receptions per season, topping out at eight in 2016.

For the fifth straight season, however, he was available for all 16 games.

He's available to you when you need him and that is a valuable asset. He's not the best wide receiver on your team, and you shouldn't view him as such, but he's a good player who can help you win. The downside is that Terrance Williams' contract doesn't leave you with many options as a team.

His blocking is a huge factor in the running game. Without getting too hyperbolic, he's one of the better run-blocking wide receivers in the NFL. He's relentless in his effort and is able to get great position on defenders to help create space for Cowboys runners. On an offense that runs the ball 47.9% of the time, that is just as valuable as what lands on the stat sheet. That is how the Dallas Cowboys win games.

Terrance Williams can help you win games.

Terrance Williams - The Contract

Inside The Star Staff Writer Jess Haynie did a nice job outlining Terrance Williams' contract back in May, after Williams was arrested for public intoxication.

During the 2017 offseason, Terrance Williams signed a new four year, $17-million dollar deal with $9.5-million guaranteed, a $5-million dollar signing bonus, and the first two years of his salary fully guaranteed. When it was signed last offseason, many who follow and write about the team thought it was a good deal for the team to get Williams at that number. And if we're just looking at the raw numbers compared to what wide receivers are signing for around the league, it is a good deal.

The fact that they are locked into his deal with little outs as they attempt to overhaul the wide receiver group puts that in a different light.

If they decided to move on from Williams at the end of training camp, they would eat all of that money as dead money on this year's salary cap, plus $1.25 million in dead money on the 2019 and 2020 caps.

Now, to defend the Dallas Cowboys' front office a bit, they didn't know that they'd have to go into 2018 beginning the overhaul of their wide receiver group.

Training Camp Decision

The Dallas Cowboys get zero benefit from releasing Terrance Williams this summer unless they feel like he isn't one of their best five or six wide receivers on the roster. There is a lot of competition for snaps in training camp this summer. The Dallas Cowboys have to figure out a way to get eight guys into five or six slots.

If we figure Allen Hurns, Michael Gallup, Cole Beasley, and Tavon Austin are locks to make the roster, and Noah Brown is a valued piece for the team, then Terrance Williams could be facing a bit of a numbers game if Dallas decides to only keep five wide receivers.

It would take big training camps from Noah Brown, Deonte Thompson, Cedric Wilson, or Lance Lenoir for the Dallas Cowboys to feel like they could walk away from Williams.

The Decision

Before you cut Terrance Williams, remember the value he gives you as a blocking wide receiver.

As one of the more run-heavy teams in the NFL, having a wide out that can block as good as Williams is a valuable resource. With Dez Bryant gone, Williams is the outside receiver with the most experience on the team.

While we may look at the Terrance Williams situation and quality of play from the box score, and think he's expendable, the Dallas Cowboys don't think so and he'll be on the team in 2018.



Dallas Cowboys optimist bringing factual reasonable takes to Cowboys Nation and the NFL Community. I wasn't always a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quick as I could.

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4 Comments
  • Ethan Chazin

    good article, balanced, fair, objective and provides ammo for a possible release NEXT season. For now, add him to a unit with multiple options, maximize his productivity. Just don’t rely on TWill to be THE guy.

    • John Williams

      Thanks Ethan. Williams is a really difficult case study. Were this 2019, I think he would have been a cap casualty because aside from his blocking he doesn’t do anything that someone else on the roster can do. It’s absolutely plausible that they just bite the bullet and let him walk this year, but I’d say thats a 1% chance. I have him on the roster. Now that his legal thing has is resolving, he probably won’t get suspended, which means his contract will be difficult to void.

  • Chuck Wright

    As you pointed out, Cowboys stuck with him this season unless they trade him. Every snap he takes is a snap denied a player who can be part of the future.

    • John Williams

      Yeah, It would be really hard for me to see someone trading for TWill, but I got to imagine they’ve explored league interest.

Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys NFC East Title Put on Hold with Redskins Win, Shutout Loss at Colts

Sean Martin

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Cowboys NFC East Title Put on Hold with Redskins Win, Shutout Loss at Colts

For the first time since 2003, the Dallas Cowboys were shutout on Sunday at the Indianapolis Colts. Their five game winning streak snapped, the Cowboys also saw their chances at clinching the NFC East dashed before the late kickoffs. Needing both a Redskins and Eagles loss to win the division without the benefit of a win themselves, the Redskins kept their playoff hopes alive with a walk off field goal at the Jaguars.

Washington Quarterback Josh Johnson won his second start since 2013 with 151 yards and one touchdown. The Redskins aren't the only NFC East team playing with a backup QB, as the Eagles must once again rally around Nick Foles against the Rams to extend their shot at the playoffs on Sunday Night Football. 

The Cowboys certainly didn't deserve a celebration of any kind after their performance at the Colts. An emotional letdown after a win streak that featured triumphs over the Eagles twice, Redskins, and Saints, the Cowboys were slowed to a complete stop on offense while struggling fundamentally on defense.

Uncharacteristic missed tackles and lack of pressure on Colts Quarterback Andrew Luck allowed Indianapolis to turn a 10-0 halftime lead into an easy 23-0 win. Defending their home field, the Colts came out like a team still fighting for their playoff lives, while Dallas played like a team knowing two more chances at winning the division are still to come.

Instead of being able to watch and root against the Eagles tonight, the Cowboys can focus on not letting an embarrassing loss define a season that'll still end on a high note should they defeat the Buccaneers or Giants. A week 16 or 17 win automatically seals the division for the Cowboys, even with the Redskins improving to 7-7 moments before the Colts secured their shutout.

It was a masterful performance from Colts Defensive Coordinator Matt Eberflus, preparing his team against Scott Linehan's offense to disrupt the momentum of one of the league's hottest teams.

Praising the Redskins for defeating a Jaguars team the Cowboys handled 40-7 much earlier in the season is hardly the situation Cowboys Nation wants to be in right now, but the team still has everything in front of them once Sunday's sixth loss is put behind them.

Tell us what you think about "Cowboys NFC East Title Put on Hold with Redskins Win, Shutout Loss at Colts" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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Game Notes

IND 23, DAL 0: Cowboys Get Shut Out, Embarrassed by Colts

Jess Haynie

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Is Dak Prescott's Relationship with Scott Linehan Broken?

The Dallas Cowboys must think they've already won the NFC East, because they looked like a team with nothing to play for today. The result was an embarrassing 23-0 loss to the Indianapolis Colts.

The Cowboys were shut out for the first time since the 2003 season, which was Jason Witten's rookie year.

Dallas squandered a major time-of-possession advantage in the first half, finishing three drives with a blocked field goal, punt, and a failed 4th-and-1 play near the Colts' goal line. Indianapolis capitalized on their own drives and took a 10-0 lead into halftime.

The Colts got the ball back to start the third quarter and drove down for another touchdown. Down 17-0, Dallas responded with a weak drive and a punt. The game felt out of reach even then, with the Cowboys just looking flat from that point forward.

Ezekiel Elliott had 87 rushing yards 41 receiving for some empty production. Amari Cooper won't be winning any awards this week, held to just four catches for 32 yards.

Dak Prescott completed 62% of his passes for 206 yards. He was sacked three times and threw a late interception; an overthrown ball got tipped by the receiver and picked off on the team's final offensive series.

While the offense was especially bad today, the defense wasn't much better. Dallas surrendered 139 yards rushing yards and two touchdown to Colts RB Marlon Mack, who hadn't had a 100-yard game since October. Andrew Luck wasn't sacked and went virtually untouched the entire day.

The Cowboys could have taken the NFC East with a win, but they didn't come close. Hopefully this serves as a wake-up call with the postseason only a few weeks away.

Other Notes

  • With the Redskins defeating the Jaguars today, Dallas will have to wait until next week to try to clinch the NFC East. The Cowboys needed losses by both Washington and Philadelphia if they didn't win themselves. The Eagles are visiting the Rams tonight.
  • The Cowboys will get some softer competition to finish the year, hosting the Buccaneers next week and then going to play the Giants in Week 17.
  • With the Bears defeating the Packers today and moving to 10-4, they will likely stay the #3 seed in the playoffs. That means Dallas, assuming they do win the NFC East, will almost certainly be hosting the 5th-seeded Seahawks in the first round.
  • Jaylon Smith led the Cowboys with 11 tackles, but neither he or Leighton Vander Esch were making the big plays that we've grown accustomed to.
  • Xavier Woods had the highlight play on defense, delivering a perfect hit to dislodge the ball from Colts TE Eric Ebron and stop a potential big gain.
  • Blake Jarin and Dalton Schultz combined for seven catches for 68 yards; another week of increased TE production from what we've seen must of the year.
  • Fullback Jamize Olawale doesn't get many opportunities on offense, and he may not get more after dropping an open touchdown on the team's second drive of the day.



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Game Notes

Cowboys Can’t Finish Drives, Trailing Colts 10-0 at Halftime

Jess Haynie

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Dak Prescott

The Cowboys have had no trouble moving the ball today, but they've failed to finish drives with points. Dallas is thus trailing the Indianapolis Colts 10-0 at halftime.

Dallas has had possession for over 19 minutes compared to just 10 for the Colts. But their three drives have ended with a blocked field goal, a failed 4th-and-1 play near the endzone, and a punt.

Ezekiel Elliott has 64 rushing yards and 23 receiving so far today. Dak Prescott has completed 12-of-19 for 106 yards, but has been sacked twice.

The offensive line continues to suffer from health issues. With Zack Martin already out and Connor Williams starting at right guard, Xavier Su'a-Filo left the game with an eye injury during the second quarter and will not return. Backup Adam Redmond is now playing.

The Cowboys can clinch the NFC East with a win in any of their final three games. They could also clinch today if the Redskins and Eagles lose. Washington is trailing 10-3 in Jacksonville at halftime, and the Eagles are visiting the Rams tonight.

Hopefully, Dallas will start showing up on the scoreboard in the second half.



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