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The Cowboys Linebacker Shuffle of 2014

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Cowboys Blog - The Cowboys Linebacker Shuffle of 2014

The '07 Giants, '12 Ravens and '13 Seahawks. These teams' strategy to build a core group on the defense highlight the importance of a dominant defensive unit in order to win a championship.

Following a 2013 season in which the Dallas defense was historically one of the worst of all-time en route to a 3rd consecutive 8-8 season, the Cowboys were far from a Super Bowl contender.

A 13 win season in 2014 with the 19th ranked defense in the NFL for the Cowboys was one of the biggest surprises in the league. Dallas still has plenty of room for improvement on the defensive side of the ball, but many players have given Cowboys fans a renewed hope for their previously dreadful defense.

A lot of credit is due to defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, who preached team defense and inspired his men to play hard. Marinelli was rewarded with a new three-year contract.

Marinelli's defense withstood the loss of Dallas' all-time sack leader DeMarcus Ware, plus big injuries to key players. Their biggest loss was defensive captain Sean Lee, who tore his ACL prior to the start of the season.

Lee's injury began a shuffle of linebackers for the Cowboys. The linebacker corps proved to be a revolving door throughout the 2014 campaign. Shortly after he went down, Dallas traded for the underachieving linebacker Rolando McClain. The acquisition of McClain proved to be a key addition. He became a co-defensive captain and showed the league why he was the 8th-overall pick in the 2010 draft.

Playing in 13 games, plus two playoff matches in which he suffered concussions in each, McClain recorded 81 tackles and two interceptions. Jerry Jones has indicated an interest in signing the free-agent linebacker to a new contract, but McClain's value on the market took a hit after it was reported that he faces a potential 4-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.

Dallas never shies from reclamation projects and McClain certainly fits that bill. The Cowboys already took the chance when they acquired him, a twice-retired linebacker who had underperformed greatly throughout his career. If McClain can stay healthy and clean, he and Lee could make a devastating combination in the middle of the Dallas defense.

Justin Durant was also a co-defensive captain of the Cowboys defense, after signing a two-year deal prior to the 2013 season. Durant only suited up for 16 games in two years but proved his value to this team.

Durant recorded 73 tackles and one interception as a Cowboy, but his worth extends beyond the stat sheet. Durant's leadership of a group of inexperienced linebackers was an asset to the success of the team. Reports have surfaced that Dallas is nearing a 3-year agreement with the free-agent linebacker as of March 8th.

After undergoing surgery to repair a torn triceps, Durant is clear to play and interested in helping bring a championship to Dallas. His injury opened the door for rookie Anthony Hitchens to make his presence felt on a defense that sorely needed it.

The Cowboys 2014 4th-round pick from Iowa played in every game for the Cowboys, recording 75 tackles and one interception. His play following Durant's season ending injury was pivotal for the Cowboys success. Although his rookie campaign may be overshadowed by memories of the controversial pass-interference play in the wild card playoff game, Hitchens has earned a key role on the Cowboys defense going forward.

Bruce Carter also provided stability in the linebacker corps, but he is expected to find a new home this offseason via free agency.

The Cowboys will have difficulties contending for a Super Bowl with a mediocre defense, which is why Dallas has big needs to fill on that side of the ball before the 2015 season.

Their secondary - aside from Orlando Scandrick - is suspect and the defensive line was far from dominant. The linebacker corps were solid despite the loss of their captain.

The improvement of this defense starts with resigning McClain and Durant. These two veterans, plus the addition of Lee, while Hitchens provides depth and youth can form a successful linebacker unit in 2015 and beyond.

Offense wins games, but defense wins championships.



I'm a 20-year old journalism student at Stony Brook University. I was born and raised on Long Island and have been a diehard Cowboys fan all of my life. My earliest memory as a Cowboy fan was watching my all-time favorite player Emmitt Smith break the NFL rushing record. I'm a movie buff as well as a lover of all things Breaking Bad and New York Mets!

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BREAKING: Cowboys Sign Ex-Packers WR Randall Cobb

Brian Martin

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BREAKING: Cowboys Sign Ex-Packers WR Randall Cobb

According to multiple sources, the Dallas Cowboys have signed former Green Bay Packers Wide Receiver Randall Cobb to a one-year deal to help bolster their depth at the WR position and potentially become Cole Beasley's replacement.

Adam Schefter on Twitter

Cowboys are giving former Packers' WR Randall Cobb a one-year, $5 million deal, per source. https://t.co/8KWFPjSP8T

The Dallas Cowboys met with Randall Cobb earlier this week, but he eventually left Dallas without a contract. He must've had a change of heart or just needed time to ponder the Cowboys offer, but regardless of what transpired in that short time he is now part of America's Team.

During his time with the Packers, Cobb accumulated 470 receptions for 5,524 receiving yards and 41 touchdowns. The eight-year veteran will now be expected to replace some of Cole Beasley's production out of the slot for the Dallas Cowboys.

After years of watching Beasley as the Cowboys slot WR, it will be really interesting to see Randall Cobb in that role. He's not as quick twitched as No. 11, but can be just as dangerous due to his ability to be more of a down the field receiver. He also brings added value in the return game and could compete with Tavon Austin to become the return specialist.

This could mean the Cowboys forgo drafting a wide receiver early in the 2019 NFL Draft, but I wouldn't put it past them. Regardless of what happens, this is an excellent addition.

Welcome to Cowboys Nation Randall Cobb!



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REPORT: Dallas Cowboys Re-sign Long Snapper L.P. Ladouceur

Jess Haynie

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L.P. Ladouceur

L.P. Ladouceur is returning for his 15th season as the Cowboys' long snapper. The veteran free agent was re-signed by Dalals today to a one-year deal.

Thanks to Jason Witten's one-year sabbatical with Monday Night Football, Ladouceur has now been with the Cowboys for more consecutive seasons than any current player. He just turned 38 last week, but Louis-Philippe remains one of the top long snappers in football.

Todd Archer on Twitter

The Cowboys have signed long-snapper L.P. Ladouceur to a one-year deal worth $1.03 million and $90,000 in bonus money, but he will count $735,000 against the cap. This will be Ladouceur's 15th season with the Cowboys, tying Ed "Too Tall" Jones, Mark... https://t.co/2iDsi6RX7e

Retaining Ladouceur is an underrated move for the Cowboys given their situation at kicker.

Brett Maher was only 80% accurate overall on field goals last year. The team could be considering an upgrade in free agency.

Whether they bring Maher back or try someone new, having a long snapper with Ladouceur's performance perfection will make things much easier for them.



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REPORT: Cowboys Negotiating Trade with Dolphins for DE Robert Quinn

Jess Haynie

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Robert Quinn

According to a report just minutes ago, the Dallas Cowboys are visiting with Miami Dolphins' Defensive End Robert Quinn today as part of a possible trade. Miami is looking for a trade partner to try to get something back for Quinn before making him a salary cap casualty.

Quinn is in the final year of his contract and is set to count $12.9 million against the Dolphins' salary cap. Most of that is his base salary of $11.8 million, which Miami is reportedly willing to pay part of to help facilitate a trade.

Tom Pelissero on Twitter

Robert Quinn was spotted today on his way to visit the #Cowboys, who are in trade talks with the #Dolphins for the veteran DE, sources say. Quinn would need to agree to any deal. So, this is another step in the process, with a Dallas team that obviously needs pass rush.

The Cowboys need DE help with DeMarcus Lawrence's contract still unresolved and Randy Gregory now indefinitely suspended for another drug policy violation. They signed Kerry Hyder from the Lions yesterday, but he isn't a proven commodity like Quinn.

Turning 29 in May, Robert Quinn is a two-time Pro Bowler and former first-round pick of the Rams. He hasn't had the same production in recent years but still had 6.5 sacks for Miami in 2018 and 8.5 the prior year with Los Angeles.

Ever the bargain shoppers these days, Dallas is probably hoping to get Quinn for late-round draft pick or perhaps a pick swap.



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