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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.

Game Notes

Monday Morning Hangover: Cowboys Dominate Jaguars Top-Ranked Defense

Brian Martin

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Monday Morning Hangover: Cowboys Dominate Jaguars Top-Ranked Defense 1

After watching the Houston Texans defeat the Dallas Cowboys in the Week 5, I decided to lower my expectations heading into this week's matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars. After all, the Cowboys offense has been one of the worst in the league this season and they were going up against the top-ranked Jaguars defense. Boy was I surprised at what took place Sunday afternoon.

I don't know how you started off your football Sunday, but I decided to watch the Texans take on the Buffalo Bills. I didn't have much of a choice since I live in the Houston area and it was the only game on TV, but I still wanted to see how they played after beating my Cowboys in overtime a week prior. I was disgusted at what I saw and unfortunately took it out on my cold beverage.

The Texans looked nothing like the team we saw against the Cowboys. They were pretty much dominated by the Buffalo Bills, which I'm ashamed to say put me in a rather foul mood ahead of kickoff time in Dallas. I was expecting another sloppy performance, but what we all witnessed was anything but that.

The Dallas Cowboys offense pretty much moved the ball at will against the Jacksonville Jaguars top-ranked defense. I don't think anyone could have predicted that, especially considering the Jaguars were the best overall defense in the league and where the top-ranked in the passing game as well. I thought if the Cowboys were going to have any kind of chance it was against their 14th ranked run defense.

Ezekiel Elliott

Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott

Well, the Cowboys ended up dominating on the offensive side of the ball and completely exploited the Jaguars defense both on the ground and through the air. Quarterback Dak Prescott, Running Back Ezekiel Elliott, and Wide Receiver Cole Beasley all raised the level of their game and were big contributors to the 40 points the offense put on the board.

Prescott may have thrown for little less than 200 yards, but he was able to connect with Beasley nine times for 101 yards and two touchdowns. With all of the struggles in the passing game for the Cowboys, these two need to continue to connect like this.

Where Prescott was the most impactful against the Jaguars was with his feet. He was really close to being the Cowboys leading rusher with 82 yards and a TD on just 11 carries, but Zeke ended up surpassing him in the end with 106 yards and a TD on 24 carries. Regardless, the Jaguars defense didn't have an answer for Prescott's feet Sunday afternoon.

I have hope once again that this offense is clicking, but I've gone down this road once before. The Dallas Cowboys are still right in the mix of things in the NFC East division and will have a chance to distance themselves next week when they take on the Washington Redskins.

Now, here's the difficult part of all of this. The Cowboys now need to carry over this impressive offensive performance against the Jaguars into next week against the rival Redskins. We've all seen them riding on a high before this season, only to crash back down to earth the following week. They can't afford to do that with a division foe up next on the schedule.

What did you think about the Dallas Cowboys offense against the Jaguars?



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Game Notes

DAL 40, JAX 7: Cowboys Answer The Bell In Dominant Win

Kevin Brady

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DAL 40, JAX 7: Cowboys Answer The Bell In Dominant Win

It seems like a pattern is developing here during the 2018 Dallas Cowboys season.

For a team and an offense which has looked absolutely horrid on the road, the Cowboys appear to be one of the better teams in the conference when playing at home.

That trend continued today as the Cowboys dominated the now 3-3 Jacksonville Jaguars from start to finish, en route to a 40-7 home victory over last year's AFC semi-finalist.

Quarterback Dak Prescott had possibly his best game of the season, making up for his poor performance in Houston a week ago. While Prescott only threw for 183 yards on 17 completions, it was his 82 rushing yards on 11 carries which put this offense over the top. Plus, the Cowboys were in "kill the clock" mode for basically the entire second half.

The real story here was the offensive line, however. The o-line which has been heavily criticized by the fan base during the season, and has shouldered a heavy amount of the blame for the poor offensive production, finally stepped up and played to their standards this afternoon. Prescott had great pass protection all day, which was evident in his passing numbers and Cole Beasley's receiving performance.

Dallas is now 3-3 on the season, tied with the defending champ Eagles and a half game behind Washington for first place in the NFC East. Next week the Cowboys have a huge game in Washington with first place on the line.

Other Notes

  • Cole Beasley proved once again why he's worthy of the pay day he'll get (probably somewhere else) this offseason. Beasley caught 9 balls for 101 yards and 2 touchdowns, dominating man coverage all game long.
  • These linebackers are legit. Both Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith were all over the field today, anchoring a group which was impressive yet again.
  • Brett Maher simply can't miss, going 4 for 4 on field goal attempts including a 55 yarder in the second half.
  • Ezekiel Elliott went over 100 yards rushing again this week, and it was somehow still a quiet day for him in the grand scheme of things.
  • Byron Jones was the best cornerback on either team today, deflecting 3 passes and staying sticky to the Jacksonville wide outs all day. He's been incredible this season and Sunday's game was no different.
  • Oh, and Randy Gregory sack alert! Party!



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Player News

David Irving Ready to “Be Put Through Ringer” in First Action with Cowboys

Sean Martin

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David Irving Ready to "Be Put Through Ringer" in First Action with Cowboys
(AP Photo/Brandon Wade)

The Dallas Cowboys patience in Defensive Tackle David Irving is set to pay off on Sunday, as Irving will play in his first game of 2018 after being suspended for the first four weeks. Irving was eligible to play last week in the Cowboys overtime loss at the Texans, but did not make the trip to Houston as he dealt with off-field concerns.

The Cowboys defense has performed admirably without Irving, but in a needed game against the Jaguars, it could be up to this defense to win the game for Dallas - something a disruptive player like Irving has the ability to do on any given snap.

While the plan is for the Cowboys to ease Irving into this game, his impact from the DT position might be enough to leave him on the field as much as needed in a tight game.

Kate Hairopoulos on Twitter

Irving said the coaches want to play him 10-15 snaps Sunday. "That's what they say now but if it's a close game, I know good and well Marinelli is going to be sending me out there & putting me through the ringer. I'm ready for it.

Like a good left-handed pitcher in baseball or three-point specialist in basketball, the Cowboys have afforded Irving a long leash despite his unreliability thanks to a 6'7" and 290 pound frame that makes him a menace for opposing guards.

The 3T-DT position is a pivotal one in Marinelli's scheme, and one the Cowboys have afforded Irving every opportunity to fill, yielding results whenever the former Chiefs practice squad steal suits up.

Filling in for Irving through the Cowboys first five games of the season has been reliable veteran Tyrone Crawford. Expected to play at defensive end this season, Crawford has recorded 14 tackles and one sack from the 3T position.

With Irving back in the "Hot Boyz" rotation, it will be interesting to see if Crawford once again goes out to right defensive end, where Randy Gregory has struggled to make the most out of his own return from suspension.

Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli is not expecting similar struggles from Irving, prepared to put him "through the ringer".

Where Passing Game Coordinator Kris Richard calls the Cowboys defense, Marinelli is still one of the most respected coaches at The Star, demanding a lot of his defensive line in particular. It's the pairing of Marinelli's motivation and Irving's intangibles that have the Cowboys defense on the brink of taking another step toward's one of the league's best.

With their own offense set to line up against perhaps the best overall defense in Jacksonville on Sunday, Irving's return is just in time. The NFC East is far from out of reach for the Cowboys, who will be at full strength on defense once Sean Lee returns as early as next week.

The Cowboys have never lost a game in which Lee, Irving, and Defensive End DeMarcus Lawrence play at least 20% of the team's snaps on defense. Perhaps this stat will have to be adjusted to include rookie Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch in short time, but for now the Cowboys are hours away from fighting for a 3-3 start to 2018, doing so with one of their most important defenders back in the lineup.

Tell us what you think about "David Irving Ready to “Be Put Through Ringer” in First Action with Cowboys" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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