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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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Dak Prescott Impresses, Draws Compliments All Minicamp Long

Kevin Brady

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Dak Prescott and Coaches Both to Blame for Cowboys Offensive Woes
James D. Smith via AP

Dak Prescott stood before the media Thursday in a Stetson Cowboy hat, answering questions about his upcoming contract extension.

“I’ve got my cowboy hat on, so I’m a Cowboy, we’ll say that.”

Prescott has cemented himself as the franchise quarterback of America's Team, and now it's time for the franchise to pay him like it. Set to earn roughly $34 million per year (according to recent rumors/reports), Prescott is going to be a very rich and comfortable man in the near future.

But, for now, he still plays under his fourth round rookie contract. You wouldn't be able to tell by watching him on the field, however. Though it was just minicamp, Prescott was impressive as ever over the last couple weeks of practice, earning praise from all levels within the organization.

Veteran Jason Witten complimented both Prescott's anticipation and accuracy, saying his throws have been "off the charts" at minicamp. Prescott himself said that this is the best he's felt since he's entered the league, and it certainly makes sense for this to be the case.

"Is it three years under my belt or just seeing defenses a whole lot more clear, being quicker and faster in everything I want to do, having great teammates around me? Who really knows the answer, but I feel great. I feel confident, and my teammates do, as well.” - Prescott to DallasCowboys.com

If Prescott was ever going to be comfortable, hungry, and ready to go, this is likely the time that it would happen. He has three relatively successful seasons under his belt, and ended 2018 on the best stretch of his career. He is the unquestioned starting quarterback for this team, and has the backing of every key decision maker in the building.

Prescott now has an offensive coordinator who he has not only worked closely with (in some capacity) since he entered the league in 2016, but is also being lauded for his creativity as an offensive mastermind. His quarterbacks coach, Jon Kitna, has been receiving similar praise for how he can coach up Prescott and get his footwork consistent, to help him "throw it through a Fruit Loop."

The time is now for Dak Prescott, and it's encouraging to see how he is responding to this increased pressure and responsibility. Then again we should have no doubt that he will respond positively, as he as throughout his entire young career.

Whenever faced with adversity, Prescott has answered the bell. Now he has all the supporters he needs, and just needs to prove them right.



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Does RB Ezekiel Elliott Have A Chance At NFL MVP?

Kevin Brady

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Ezekiel Elliott

Who is the Cowboys best player?

A question debated seemingly daily on social media, most fans seem to center their arguments around the same few names. Dak Prescott, Zack Martin, Tyron Smith, DeMarcus Lawrence, and Ezekiel Elliott.

As a running back, it's quite possible that Elliott is both the best of that bunch and the least important to the team's overall success. NFL.com's Adam Schein disagrees with the latter statement, however, placing Ezekiel Elliott among his top ten contenders for 2019 NFL MVP.

"I think the Cowboys are going to challenge for the Super Bowl in 2019 -- and I think Zeke fuels this team. When Elliott runs for 95-plus yards, the Cowboys are 19-4; when he falls below that benchmark, they're 9-8." - Adam Schein

Schein's prediction will no doubt make Cowboys Nation swoon, but does Elliott really have the opportunity to compete for an MVP award?

For one, this would require the Cowboys be among the best teams in the league this season. It's quite possible, as they did win 10 regular season and 1 playoff game a year ago, but it will have to happen once again for Elliott to be considered.

Next, Ezekiel Elliott would have to put up incredible numbers. Well, it's safe to assume this will likely be the case if condition one is met. Elliott is going to get a lot of opportunities to touch the ball each game, and finding himself among the league's rushing leaders has never been an issue for the young running back. Especially if the team has a lead and is running the ball to kill clock.

Even if both these conditions prove true, though, Elliott will still have trouble getting himself in the real MVP discussion. These awards tend to go to certain positions, and running back is not among that list. If Dallas has such a successful 2019, and their offense is clicking, it's more likely Dak Prescott will be the one contending for that MVP honor.

I know to some it sounds crazy, but Prescott will likely need to be closer to MVP level than Elliott if the Cowboys are to contend in the way Adam Schein suggests in his article.

So, likely, Schein should have named Prescott among his top ten MVP contenders, not Elliott.



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Amari Cooper Says He’s Focused On Football, Not His Next Contract

Kevin Brady

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Report: Cowboys Waiting Until After Season for Amari Cooper Contract Talks 1

It seems like all anyone has talked about this offseason is who the Cowboys should re-sign, and how they can go about doing so.

Wide receiver Amari Cooper, of course, is heavily involved in those conversations. The Cowboys used their 2019 first round pick to trade for the Pro Bowl wide out last season, and Cooper's emergence helped to turn their struggling offense around immediately.

In just 9 games with the Cowboys last season, he caught 53 passes for 725 yards and 6 touchdowns. He quickly gained the trust of quarterback Dak Prescott, and exhibited a chemistry with the young passer that no one else really has to this point. Outside of maybe Cole Beasley in 2016, perhaps.

While the football world seems to be focusing on what Amari Cooper's contract will look like after 2019, the receiver himself claims to be solely focused on the upcoming season. Cooper spoke with ESPN's Todd Archer about this very subject, emphasizing where his mind lies at this time.

"I just handle my business...I'm more anxious about camp and actually playing football." - Amari Cooper.

Amari Cooper has just one year left on his contract as he plays under the fifth year option from his rookie deal. Cooper will make $13.9 million this season, putting him behind some of the league's other WR1s like Odell Beckham Jr., Mike Evans, Antonio Brown, and DeAndre Hopkins.

There had been speculation around whether any of the Cowboys left with just one year on their contract would hold-out through parts of offseason activity, but Cooper alluded that it never seemed to cross his mind.

"I just want to get better and I love football. That's why I'm here" - Cooper.

Of course, Amari Cooper will play a huge role in the Cowboys offense in 2019. Combining him with a second year version of Michael Gallup, and new versatile threats like Tony Pollard and Randall Cobb, will help make the Dallas passing game as multiple as it's been in years.

The Cowboys will eventually need to get Amari Cooper locked up long term, but for the time being it seems like both he and the franchise are more focused on what will happen on the field in 2019 than in the negotiating room next Spring.



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