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Terrance Williams: Roster Spot is Safe, for Now

John Williams

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Terrance Williams

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

4 Comments

  1. Ethan Chazin

    July 27, 2018 at 11:59 am

    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

      John Williams

      August 2, 2018 at 1:13 am

      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.

  2. Chuck Wright

    July 27, 2018 at 12:25 pm

    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

      John Williams

      August 2, 2018 at 1:14 am

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

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Dallas Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys 2019 Offseason Preview: Defensive End

Jess Haynie

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DeMarcus Lawrence

If quarterback is the most important position in football, then the guys who hunt them down might be second. As such, the Dallas Cowboys face a major offseason decision in 2019 when it comes to the free agency of Defensive End DeMarcus Lawrence.

This will be Lawrence's second year as an unrestricted free agent, with Dallas retaining him last season using the franchise tag. Even though he accepted it in 2018, DeMarcus swore all the way back in that summer that he wouldn't play for the Cowboys in 2019 if franchised again.

Despite his sack numbers dropping a bit last season, "Tank" remains one of the top defensive ends in the NFL. He is a total package of pass-rushing and run stopping, and he's now given Dallas two-straight Pro Bowl seasons.

If the Cowboys have any plans to contend for a championship next season then they can't risk losing a player like Lawrence. We've seen what this defense looks like without a premiere pass rusher and it isn't pretty.

Of course, Dallas could try to replace DeMarcus with a different free agent signing. If Jadeveon Clowney or Frank Clark avoid being tagged by their own teams, perhaps the Cowboys can lure one of them over. But don't expect any big difference in compensation between these three players.

Whether it's Lawrence or one of the other premiere pass rushers in free agency, you can expect the Cowboys to make one of them their top offseason priority. The greater mystery is if Dallas will make any other moves to upgrade the DE position, or stick with what they've got.

Randy Gregory

Dallas Cowboys DE Randy Gregory

Dallas finally enjoyed some real production out of Randy Gregory in 2018, whose personal issues nearly derailed the talented pass rusher's career. Gregory posted six sacks last season and was starting to look like the Robin to Lawrence's Batman.

Also in the mix is 2017 first-round pick Taco Charlton, who took a backwards step last year and seemed to be in the coaches' doghouse by season's end. Motivation and attitude seem to be an issue for him, and he'll need to step it up this summer if he doesn't want to wind up at the back of the depth chart again.

One of last year's fourth-round picks Dorance Armstrong also returns. He will hopefully be ready to take on a larger role in his second season and provide another pass rushing threat, plus insurance in case Gregory suffers any return of past problems.

If Dallas doesn't make Tyrone Crawford a salary cap casualty, or chooses to re-sign David Irving, those are two other guys who can play some defensive end for you.

Despite these options, the Cowboys could still look at adding another mid-grade free agent for depth and insurance. They could hope for a bargain on veterans like Ezekiel Ansah, Vinny Curry, or Chris Long. They might hope that Rod Marinelli could work his magic on first-round flop Dante Fowler.

Another guy that Dallas might look at is Benson Mayowa, who was with them from 2016-2017 and is a solid player. He spent the last season in Arizona on a one-year deal and is still just 27 years old.

Don't expect much from the draft, barring a major steal presenting itself. The Cowboys have bigger needs with their limited number of 2019 picks, and they also still need to see how recent selections like Charlton and Armstrong play out.

This offseason is all about DeMarcus Lawrence, or at least one of the other marquee free agents at defensive end. Some supplemental moves are possible, but arguably the biggest move Dallas makes the next few months is either retaining or replacing their top pass rusher.



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Dallas Cowboys

Offense or Defense, Which Should be the Cowboys Main Offseason Focus?

Brian Martin

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Cowboys Need to Upgrade the Offense or Defense More?

The Dallas Cowboys offseason should be approached like a puzzle. You have to know what the picture looks like beforehand before you start grabbing random pieces to try to fit them together. Keeping that in mind, I thought it be a good idea if we take a look at the Cowboys offense and defense to try to determine which one needs the most attention.

It may be somewhat surprising, but the Dallas Cowboys pretty much have the entire puzzle almost put together. There is just a few missing pieces they need to add, but for the most part the team that will take the field when the 2019 season kicks off is already in place.

There isn't going to be much roster turnover this offseason. Nearly all of the starters will return for the upcoming season on both sides of the ball, meaning the Cowboys are in good shape as far as having the teams nucleolus in place. In fact, there might be just one or two starting positions up for grabs on offense and defense.

Let's take a look…

Dallas Cowboys Offense

Kellen Moore, Jason Garrett, Dak Prescott

Dallas Cowboys OC Kellen Moore

As things stand right now before any moves are made in free agency or through the draft, the Dallas Cowboys offense may have just two starting spots up for grabs. But, even that's just a guesstimate because we still don't really know what the future holds for Center Travis Frederick, even though all signs point to him making a triumphant return to the starting lineup.

The way I see it though, the Cowboys will need to find someone to replace Cole Beasley in the passing game and also add a starting caliber tight end. That's it really as far as the starters are concerned. There is however need for more depth at several positions such as backup running back and offensive tackle, but those aren't necessarily "needs". I'd say they're in pretty good shape offensively compared to years past.

Dallas Cowboys Defense

Kris Richard

Dallas Cowboys Assistant Coach Kris Richard

Surprisingly enough, the Dallas Cowboys really don't have any glaring needs on the defensive side of the ball either. After finishing as one of the top defensive units in 2018, they will have nearly all of their starters returning for the 2019 season. But much like on the offensive side of the ball, there could be two starting spots up for grabs.

The Cowboys will have to find someone to replace Damien Wilson as the starting strong side linebacker and potentially a new starting strong safety. That's really the only starting positions I believe are up for grabs on defense. But like the offense, they could stand to add more depth and competition throughout the defense, especially along the defensive line. But again, there really isn't a glaring "need" they absolutely have to address.

Verdict: Cowboys Offense

Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott

Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Even though the Dallas Cowboys offense and defense seems to be pretty evenly matched as to how many starting positions are up for grabs, the offense looks to be the one that needs just a little bit more help. The defense proved in 2018 they are someone to be reckoned with and with the loss of just Damien Wilson, that shouldn't change. The same can't be said about the offense though.

If Cole Beasley does indeed leave via free agency, that's a big blow to the passing game. But, it's not just him. Other than their rushing attack, the Cowboys offense was ranked in the bottom half of the league in nearly every other category. With Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan now gone we can hope that improves, but that doesn't mean improving the offense shouldn't be the Cowboys main offseason focus though.

Of course, this is just my opinion and you are more than welcome to agree or disagree with it. But, when the free agency and NFL draft ball finally starts rolling, I expect most of the Cowboys offseason moves to be on the offensive side of the ball. Improving things around Quarterback Dak Prescott would seem like the wise thing to do after all, especially since he's about to be paid quite handsomely.

Which side of the ball do you think needs more help this offseason?



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Dallas Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys 2019 Offseason Preview: Quarterback

Jess Haynie

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Dak Prescott
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys have plenty of work to do to restock and refine their roster in the hope of improving of last year's playoff run. We'll be looking at all of the 2019 needs for this offseason in the coming days, and we're going to start with paramount position of quarterback.

Unlike most spots on the team, the quarterbacks don't have anyone with an expiring contract this year. Both Dak Prescott and Cooper Rush will be in the final year of their deals, while Mike White still has three years left on his rookie contract.

Despite this, Prescott's contract is still one the hottest issues the Cowboys face this offseason. They must decide if they want to go ahead and lock him up now to a long-term extension, or wait and see how Dak performs in his fourth season.

It's a real dilemma for Dallas. One the one hand, Prescott already has two Pro Bowls, two division titles, and all winning seasons on his three-year resume. However, he's also had ongoing accuracy issues and problems with consistent productivity in an increasingly pass-focused league.

Given what he's already accomplished, Dak can command a pretty sizable contract in current negotiations. Just within the week he's already commented on not planning to give the Cowboys a discount in his next deal.

If Dallas waits another year then they risk that price tag going up. They could be competing with the open market, or what if Prescott leads the team to the NFC Championship or beyond in 2019?

If Dak's camp is already going to be aggressive in contract negotiations this year, then there's a case to be made for just waiting. Let him play on his bargain $2.14 million cap hit and use the savings to load up on talent for a championship run. The team will still have resources to re-sign Prescott in 2020, or even franchise tag him, if that's their choice.

Mike White

Dallas Cowboys QB Mike White

However that situation goes, we know that Dak is the starter in 2019. But even though Cooper Rush and Mike White are both due to return next season, should the Cowboys be satisfied with that QB depth chart?

As I wrote about earlier this week, Dallas has good reason to look at adding a veteran passer to the mix this offseason. If Rush and White beat him out, that's great. But if not, it adds an experienced voice to help Dak Prescott in this critical upcoming year.

You can go a few different ways. Some of the projected free agents can match Prescott's mobile style, such as Tyrod Taylor, Trevor Siemian, or Robert Griffin III. Others give you the experience edge such as Ryan Fitzpatrick, Josh McCown, or Matt Schaub.

It doesn't seem likely that the Cowboys would draft another QB after just taking Mike White last year with a fifth-round pick. Unless they are moving to a completely different philosophy, Dallas will likely give White at least another year or two to develop as a mid-round selection.

Ideally, at least one of White or Cooper Rush will show some growth this year and inspire confidence as the immediate backup. But adding a veteran for competition certainly couldn't hurt, and Dallas has the cap space to do it.

Thankfully, everything that Dallas might have to do this offseason at quarterback is optional.  They can choose whether or not to redo Prescott's contract, or whether or not to pursue upgrades behind him. There is no gaping hole being created by a potential free agent departure.

The Cowboys have the power now, but that can quickly change next season once Dak's a free agent. That's why they still have a big decision to make in 2019.



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