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The Untouchables: 5 Players the Dallas Cowboys Can’t Trade

John Williams

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Cowboys Expansion Draft: Protecting America's Team's Future
AP Photo/James D Smith

The other day, Marcus Mosher of Bleacher Report and the Locked on Cowboys Podcast posted a very interesting hypothetical:

Marcus Mosher on Twitter

Late night #Cowboys hypothetical....Dallas has the most CB depth they've had in years. What would the compensation need to be for you to trade Jourdan Lewis?

Cowboys Nation had a lot of thoughts on the matter. From Earl Thomas to Corey Coleman to draft pick compensation to, "get outta here."

While on the surface, trading Jourdan Lewis -- arguably the best corner on the Dallas Cowboys depth chart -- seems crazy, you have to also think about it. Really, you should be thinking about almost every player on your roster and their tradability.

With Byron Jones, Chidobe Awuzie, and Anthony Brown the top three corners -- at the moment --  in nickel situations, the team could have an opportunity to use their depth to acquire a player who helps them at a position of need. Say a TE or a WR or an interior defensive lineman...

It's these kinds of thoughts that have kept the New England Patriots as the best team in football for nearly two decades. Aside from Tom Brady, they explore everything. Everyone is tradable. Super Bowl winners, leaders on the team, star players. Everyone.

But it did have me thinking, who are the players on the Dallas Cowboys that are untouchable. I'll give you five.

1. Dak Prescott, Quarterback

As I outlined in my 2018 projection for Dak last week, I think he's a franchise quarterback that's capable of leading this team to the Super Bowl. You don't trade him and you don't think about trading him unless someone is offering you a superior quarterback like Aaron Rodgers, which they aren't.

You just don't trade young franchise caliber quarterbacks this early in their career unless they aren't working out for you anymore.

Now, the wide receiver group is devoid of the sort of gravitational pull Dez Bryant had, but Dak will be as efficient as he was in 2016 at getting the ball to the open man.

Dak is going to have his best season yet in 2018 and the Dallas Cowboys will reap the rewards.

2. Zack Martin, Guard

As he prepares to become the highest paid guard in the NFL, Zack Martin is an anchor on an offensive line that is the best in the NFL.

He was the final piece to the puzzle when they drafted him in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft and he hasn't disappointed. Here's the resume:

  • Two-time First Team All-Pro
  • Two-time Second Team All-Pro
  • Four-time Pro Bowler

Yes, the contract is rich, but he pretty much sums up your identity as the Dallas Cowboys. Big, strong, athletic, and physical in a run game that has become the bread and butter of this team over the last four seasons.

Going into his fifth season at right guard, there's no sign that he's slowing down in his play and production.

He's the best in the NFL at his position and you don't trade that away willy-nilly.

DeMarcus Lawrence, Broncos

Dallas Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence

3. DeMarcus Lawrence, Defensive End

Finding elite pass rush is about as difficult as it is to find elite tackle play. Make no mistake about it, DeMarcus Lawrence is elite. After 2018, the rest of the NFL will think so too.

Lawrence's ability to rush the passer and play the run with equal effectiveness is what makes him so good. He was on the field for 67% of the team's defensive snaps, and nobody along the defensive line played more than he did.

In 2017, Lawrence received his first All-Pro selection after a 14.5 sack season. He did that while only having David Irving for eight games last season. Imagine if Irving isn't suspended or concussed.

The two seasons "Tank" has played all 16 games, Lawrence had eight sacks in 2015 and 14.5 in 2017. Once you find an elite pass rusher, you don't let him walk away.

Get ready to pay out some cash in the 2019 offseason.

4. Tyron Smith, Tackle

Sure, Tyron Smith has dealt with back injuries that have limited his play some over the last several years, but even in a limited capacity, he's better than all but a few offensive tackles in the NFL.

In his career he's only missed seven games, though six have come in the last two seasons combined. He's only 28 years old and has several years of his prime left to make a significant impact for the Dallas Cowboys.

5. Travis Frederick, Center

While not nearly as valuable as the offensive tackle on your football team, and perhaps not as dominant as Zack Martin, Travis Frederick is elite in his own right.

Keeping the front side of the pocket clean for a quarterback to step into is so valuable, and Frederick does an amazing job at that.

Sam Monson on Twitter

Travis Frederick has surrendered one sack over the past four seasons. The end.

As the leader of the offensive line, his intelligence and defensive recognition helps everyone along the line.

Having an elite center isn't something you usually think of when it comes to roster construction priorities, but when you don't have it, you notice it. You may not notice Frederick's greatness on every play, but that's probably a good thing. He does his job and the offense flourishes with him at the center of it.

Cowboys Defense Better Or Worse Then Last Season?

Dallas Cowboys LB Sean Lee, Jaylon Smith (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Honorable Mentions

Sean Lee, Linebacker

Though he's 32, we saw what the defense looked like without him last season. Given that the rest of the linebacking options are unproven, you don't want to move his leadership ability and talent level.

Jourdan Lewis, Cornerback

Like I said earlier, he may be the best corner on the team, and with the NFL employing three wide receiver sets more than 70% of the time and using quick-hit passes over the middle to move their offense down the field, Lewis is very valuable.

He's sticky and aggressive, both things that make a slot corner very important to a defense. While he may be behind Anthony Brown at the moment, don't expect that to continue.

Ezekiel Elliott, Running Back

The general perception around the league is that the running back position has become devalued. I'd argue that the second contract at the running back position has become devalued. Team's still want elite runners like Ezekiel Elliott or Todd Gurley, they're just becoming less likely to pay them elite money for their second contract. Elliott's about to turn 23 and will have three more seasons before he hits the dreaded 27-year-old RB decline.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

I do think the Dallas Cowboys -- like the Patriots -- should look at most of their players as opportunities to upgrade, but these are a few that I'd be less likely to deal.

Who are your Dallas Cowboys untouchables?



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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Star Blog

Cowboys en Español: Hablemos de los Coaches

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Cowboys en Español: Hablemos de los Coaches
Smiley N. Pool / The Dallas Morning News

Lamentablemente, la temporada 2018 de los Dallas Cowboys ha llegado a su fin. Lo hizo cuando el equipo visitó Los Angeles para intentar sorprender a los Rams en su propio campo en la Ronda Divisional de los playoffs. Ni siquiera con una invasión exitosa de la afición de Dallas pudieron ganarse un pase al Campeonato de Conferencia. En vez de eso, los Cowboys estarán viendo desde casa y la afición estará preguntándose: ¿qué sigue para los Dallas Cowboys?

Parece ya una tradición anual que no podemos dejar pasar. Este momento en el que comenzamos a cuestionar, una vez más, que entrenador es digno de quedarse en la franquicia y cual debe irse. En esta edición de "Cowboys en Español," hablaremos específicamente de los tres principales coaches en el equipo.

Cowboys DC Rod Marinelli Should Be On The Hot Seat

Coordinador Defensivo Rod Marinelli

El futuro del coordinador defensivo de los Dallas Cowboys no se puede tratar sin mencionar a Kris Richard. Fue la defensiva la que llevó al equipo hasta la postemporada y fue la unidad que cargó al equipo en muchas de sus victorias. Incluso con la llegada de Amari Cooper a Dallas, la defensiva fue siempre el pilar de la franquicia esta temporada.

Jaylon Smith y Leighton Vander Esch sorprendentemente se perfilaron como uno de los mejores duos de linebackers en toda la liga, la línea defensiva fue muy exitosa con Randy Gregory y DeMarcus Lawrence en los extremos y con la grata sorpresa que fue Antwaun Woods en el centro. La secundaria vio la mejor temporada en la controversial carrera de Byron Jones e hizo un excelente trabajo con un talento decente, pero no genial.

Todo esto, y el haber terminado como la sexta mejor defensiva en puntos permitidos (20.2) y la quinta mejor contra la corrida (94.6), hace a Rod Marinelli merecedor de una ronda de aplausos. Sin embargo, Richard probablemente merezca más aplausos.

Fue Richard quien revolucionó la defensiva de los Cowboys y la convirtió en un grupo mucho más agresivo. Fue él quien implementó jugadas de "blitz" en el equipo (algo no común con Marinelli) y quien en un punto de la temporada, comenzó a seleccionar las jugadas desde la banda.

En esta posición, me parece que los Dallas Cowboys tienen que enfrentar la dura decisión de decirle a Marinelli que es tiempo de dejarle el puesto a Kris Richard. Si bien no se llevó un trabajo de head coach, es muy probable que le llovieran ofertas a Richard si no se hace con el título de coordinador defensivo en Dallas.

Scott Linehan Acknowledges Need for New "Wrinkles" in Cowboys Offense

Dallas Cowboys OC Scott Linehan (Tim Heitman / USA TODAY Sports)

Coordinador Ofensivo Scott Linehan

Con un equipo tan polémico como este, la afición de Dallas no concuerda en muchas cosas. Sin embargo, lo hacen al hablar del pésimo trabajo que Scott Linehan ha realizado mandando las jugadas en ofensiva. Realmente ha sido doloroso de ver y es en mi opinión, el mayor problema que tiene el equipo actualmente.

Semana tras semana, fuimos testigos de pésimas decisiones en la ofensiva de los Cowboys. Vimos como el equipo se aferraba a llenar la caja de defensivos antes de correr el balón con Ezekiel Elliott. Vimos incontables pases pantalla en tercera oportunidad y largo. Pero no solo es lo que vimos, sino lo que no vimos.

A pesar de la innegable habilidad para correr el balón de Dak Prescott, Linehan se rehusó a explotar esta versatilidad de su QB. Vimos pocos "QB sneaks," jugada donde el mariscal toma el balón bajo centro y consigue poco yardage detrás del empuje de su línea ofensiva.

Siendo honestos, los Cowboys llevan dos años sufriendo por este coordinador. Dejarlo volver en el 2019 sería una decisión ridícula. Los comentarios en la radio de Jason Garrett no lucen prometedores, pero realmente sería una sorpresa que fueran ciertos. Linehan no debe volver... punto.

Jerry Jones Delivers Vote of Confidence in "Real Deal" Jason Garrett

Head Coach Jason Garrett

El futuro en esta posición será muy debatido durante los próximos meses, pero de los tres que hemos mencionado es sin lugar a dudas el más seguro de todos. Nos guste o no, Jason Garrett estará al frente del equipo la próxima temporada.

Garrett está lejos de ser un gran coach y aún le hace falta demostrar que puede cumplir las aspiraciones de los Cowboys de traer un sexto Trofeo Lombardi a casa. Pero siendo honesto, este equipo debería tener suficiente con Garrett y un par de buenos coordinadores. ¿El problema? No hay un par de buenos coordinadores en el equipo.

Sin embargo, Garrett ha demostrado que cuenta con el amor y apoyo de sus jugadores. Ha demostrado que efectivamente, puede ganar la división (lo ha hecho en tres de los últimos cinco años). Este año el equipo le dio la vuelta a la temporada después de comenzar 3-5.

Lo más preocupante en mi opinión, es la falta de urgencia para despedir a Linehan, por ejemplo. Quizá a puerta cerrada Garrett quiere un cambio en su staff, pero nunca lo sabremos.

Jason Garrett no es un coach excelente, pero podría ser suficiente para llevar a los Cowboys a un Super Bowl si tiene un equipo adecuado. Todo parece indicar que su trabajo está seguro (incluso más de lo que pensamos) así que es tiempo de esperar que se arreglen sus coordinadores.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: Hablemos de los Coaches" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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Star Blog

2018 Draft Class Season Review: LB Leighton Vander Esch

Kevin Brady

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Leighton Vander Esch Lands on List of NFL's Top 10 Rookies

As the first round draft pick of America's Team, any player would be under a ton of pressure from all angles. Whether it's from the fans on the outside or the organization on the inside, the expectations around being a first round pick for the Cowboys are immense. But the pressure placed upon linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, from the second he was announced as the 19th overall draft pick, was second to none.

It felt like Cowboys Nation let out a collective groan when Vander Esch was taken, with fans hoping for a more glamorous first round selection. Someone like wide receiver Calvin Ridley or edge rusher Harold Landry would've done the trick, but after Vander Esch's rookie season it's hard to imagine either of those players would have had the impact Vander Esch did in 2018.

Though he didn't start a game until week 4, and didn't become the unquestioned full-time starting WILL until week 10, Vander Esch earned Pro Bowl honors for his rookie season. Tallying 140 total tackles and 2 interceptions, Vander Esch made his presence felt week in and week out.

No counting stats can fully measure Leighton Vander Esch's impact as a rookie, however.

Prior to the 2018 season, the Cowboys defensive success often came down to the health of Sean Lee. When available and playing at his best, Lee led an overachieving Cowboys defense to solid performances each week. But, when Lee went out (as he often did), the entire Cowboys defense seemed to fall apart.5 Studs and Duds From the Dallas Cowboys 2018 Season

This year, though, that all changed. When Sean Lee was out with injury the Cowboys defense got better. Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith became a versatile, hard hitting tandem the NFL immediately feared, and helped to direct the Cowboys defense to signature wins throughout the 2018 season.

There are arguments against taking any off-ball linebacker in the first round, as the value of the position has been questioned due to the new style of offense in the NFL. Nowadays linebackers are relegated to two-down players, taken off the field in favor of faster defensive backs on critical passing downs.

Leighton Vander Esch is athletic enough to be both an old school run stopper, but also a three down linebacker in today's fast paced NFL.

Despite the doubts which surrounded the pick, the Cowboys absolutely nailed their first round selection in 2018. And Leighton Vander Esch made Dallas' front office look like geniuses each and every Sunday.



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Star Blog

What Is The Cowboys Most Pressing Offseason Need?

Kevin Brady

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Can we Believe General Manager Jerry Jones?

Finishing their season with a Division Round loss, Dallas Cowboys fans are getting a somewhat late start on the 2019 offseason. Of course, we'd much rather a later start, but the results are what they are.

Now Dallas must get better, and re-tool before heading into Dak Prescott's fourth season, and the Cowboys' 2019 campaign. Though they didn't feel all that close to a championship this season, looking around the roster, it's actually tough to identify one key need the Cowboys must address.

They are filled with young, talented players that they have high hopes for across the board. And in the places they are "older," such as across the offensive line, they have established veterans who aren't going anywhere anytime soon.

So what is the Cowboys' most pressing offseason need?

Well, despite already using their 2019 first round pick to address it, the answer very well might be wide receiver.

Adding Amari Cooper midseason provided a massive jolt to the Cowboys previously anemic passing attack, but on his own he is not enough to take this passing game to where it needs to be to compete in this new NFL.

Third round pick Michael Gallup is going to be a very good pro, and progressed really well as his rookie season went on. I think he can play opposite Amari Cooper nicely, and be the number two option in the passing game going forward.

Though arguably their best wide out against man coverage, Cole Beasley is a free agent, and if the reports are true about Scott Linehan returning in 2019 it could very well mean Beasley will not be opting to sign back with Dallas.

Regardless of Beasley's decision, however, the Cowboys need to seriously evaluate their pass catchers heading into next season.

This is a passing league. The rules have dictated that you must be able to pass the ball efficiently if you want to compete with the best of the best around the NFL. To take the next step in their progression, and reach an NFC title game and/or Super Bowl, Dak Prescott will need to have as explosive a group of pass catchers as possible.

The Cowboys have already taken solid steps to making this a reality, but another move or two this offseason could go a long way to putting Dallas in the conversation with teams like the Rams and the Saints in 2019.



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