There is plenty of debate swirling around quarterback Tony Romo and how the Cowboys should handle his latest injury. The recovery period for his fractured vertebrae has been given everything from 4-10 weeks.
The Cowboys have the option of putting Romo on Injured Reserve but then bringing him back after eight weeks. They could also just leave him on the 53-man roster, inactive on gamedays, and keeping the option to bring Romo back at whatever point he can go.
There are plenty of a factors to consider when determining how you want to handle Romo's status. Here is a summary:
If Dallas doesn't put Romo in IR then it will tie up a roster spot. It means one of your other positions won't be as deep, or that you may have to risk losing a talented young player from off your practice squad.
Consider one of their raw talents like running back Darius Jackson or tight end Rico Gathers. Dallas would probably like to keep both on the roster to avoid another team poaching them. But that roster spot occupied by a recovering Romo would likely cost one of them that protection.
As of the writing of this article, Dallas has yet to add any new quarterbacks. Right now they only have Dak Prescott and Jameil Showers active and able to play. They held a workout with free agent Austin Davis yesterday, but not deal has been made yet.
If Dallas wants to keep Romo off of IR then, early in the year, they may actually have to carry four quarterbacks! Prescott would start and then Davis or some other veteran would be added. However, they may then need to keep Showers on the roster while the veteran addition has time to learn the offense.
Personally, I have no problem with Showers being Dak's backup now and going forward. I think he's shown himself to be a capable player and his style of play would make for an easy transition if he had to come in for Prescott.
Last year, Dallas traded for a veteran backup QB who checked every single box. Matt Cassel was as good a backup option as you could ask for on paper, but we all saw how that turned out. It's hard to ask any player to just walk in and play without spending one training camp or preseason with a team.
Last year we saw what happened when Tony Romo tried to come back quickly from an injury. He lasted one-and-a-half games.
Of course, this is an entirely different injury to a different part of the body. One has nothing to do with the other. However, it's still a glaring reminder of what can happen if you try to rush things.
If Romo is placed on IR then he would miss at least seven games. He would be out for Week 1-6 and then be able to start practicing. Week 7 is Dallas bye, essentially giving the team a bonus game with Romo once he returns.
If they think Romo needs at least 8-10 weeks of recovery then there's no question that you put him on IR. It would be a waste of a roster spot otherwise.
The only question is how much everyone feels he can really come back closer to that 4-6 range. If he only has to miss a quarter of the season, or even less, then you probably want to leave you options open.
The Dak Factor
At this point everyone agrees on one thing; Dallas may have something really special in Dak Prescott. Maybe they want use this time to see just what the kid has.
A couple of games may not tell you everything. The aforementioned Austin Davis or a guy like Matt Flynn have all made millions off a few great games. But increased exposure reveals the truth.
Seven games is plenty of time to learn what Prescott is. You will know for sure if you need to keep scouting mid-round quarterbacks in the next few drafts or if you already have the future in place.
What's more, seven games is enough time for Prescott to potentially earn the starting QB job from this point forward. If Prescott is a rookie phenom and the team is winning with him, how do you justify bringing Romo back in? Seven games of evidence is enough to sell the majority of people that you're making the best decision for the franchise.
Obviously, none of us are rooting against Romo. But ultimately we root for the Cowboys and whatever's best for the team. Ask a Patriots fan if they lose any sleep over what happened with Drew Bledsoe and Tom Brady.
~ ~ ~
The decision to be made here is difficult. It has multiple layers; medical information, loyalty to players, team performance, and others.
What scares me is the idea that Romo will push to come back. That could be for his love of the game and desire to play, but also the fear of being the new Drew Bledsoe. Romo has already been quoted that he sees himself playing a few more years. We assume he wants those years to be in Dallas, and Prescott is now a threat to that goal.
Putting Romo on Injured Reserve would mitigate that risk. It would give him a full 10 weeks between the date of his injury and the earliest point that he could play again, with nine games still to go in the season.
What's more, if takes a huge monkey off the back of Dak Prescott and the coaches as they try to get through the games during his absence. It would eliminate the "when's Tony playing" question from everyone's minds, setting a firm timetable. As much as I believe in Prescott's ability to handle pressure, why pile on?
Granted, I don't know how realistic the possibility of Romo coming back by Week 3 or 4 truly is. If they think there's a legitimate potential then I guess I can't fault them for wanting to keep the option open.
However, if the 8-10 week recovery time is the more realistic timetable then I think the team's best decision is to put Tony Romo in Injured Reserve. Relieve some of the pressure off your rookie QB and force your veteran to put his health over all other concerns.
Clearly, it's not an easy choice.
Cowboys Sign WR Devin Smith, Former 2nd-Round Pick
The Dallas Cowboys have reportedly signed Receiver Devin Smith, previously with the New York Jets, to a futures contract. Smith was a 2nd-round pick, 37th overall, in the 2015 NFL Draft.
Before going pro, Devin was a college teammate of current Cowboys Ezekiel Elliott, Rod Smith, and Noah Brown. They were all members of the 2014 Ohio State Buckeyes team that won the National Championship.
Smith's agent, Jason Bernstein, tweeting the following earlier today:
Congrats to WR Devin Smith @dsmithosu for signing with the #DallasCowboys! Welcome back. https://t.co/hCMYoE8fEh
Thus far, Smith's NFL career has been marred by injuries. He has suffered two ACL tears in the same knee and only been able to appear in 14 games. He was waived by the Jets last summer and was not with any team last season.
Overall, the 2015 class of receivers has been disappointing. Amari Cooper has been a star and other later-round picks like Tyler Lockett, Stefon Diggs, and Jamison Crowder have been good. But the other big names of the class, such as Kevin White, Breshad Perriman, and DeVante Parker, have not lived up to the hype.
The Cowboys are known for trying to reclaim players who once had high draft status and bad starts to their careers. They are clearly hoping to cash in on Smith's previously perceived potential, which had him projected as a possible first-round talent at one time.
For both Devin and Dallas' sake, we hope it's a success!
DeMarcus Lawrence Named Top Free Agent Of The 2019 Class
Much has been made about the Dallas Cowboys 2019 free agent class. Dallas has a ton of cap space moving forward, but they are going to "have" to pay many of the key players on their roster over the next two offseasons in order to keep their young core together.
Of course, when you're drafting, that's the goal. To draft so well that when your own players become free agents, you go ahead and pay them to keep them around, rather than overpay on the free agent market for external players.
One of the major pieces the Cowboys will have to retain this offseason is defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence. And while Cowboys Nation often thinks of Lawrence as underrated around the league, the NFL has caught onto his importance as he enters free agency this Spring.
ESPN.com ranked their top 10 free agents for 2019, with DeMarcus Lawrence clocking in at number one, over elite players like Jadeveon Clowney and Le'Veon Bell.
ESPN's top 10 free agents for 2019 and what Le'Veon Bell should be looking to command based on previous measures. https://t.co/aJ7H1n001t
DeMarcus Lawrence is going to command big time money, likely even Khalil Mack-type money. But the fact of the matter is that he has earned it. Lawrence has been the heart and soul of the Cowboys defensive line the last two seasons, and the most consistent edge player on the team as well.
Not only has he been an effective pass rusher, but DeMarcus Lawrence also plays with a relentless motor against the run that can sometimes be rare to find in those premier pass rushers. He really is a jack of all trades at defensive end, and should be priority number one for the Cowboys this offseason.
Thankfully, I can't imagine the Cowboys not retaining DeMarcus Lawrence and extending him in the coming months.
When it Mattered Most, Cowboys Offensive Line Protected Dak Prescott
Throughout the 2018 NFL season, one of the major story lines surrounding the Dallas Cowboys was how frequently Dak Prescott was taking sacks. It's an area that the Cowboys will have to look at in the offseason to better protect their franchise quarterback moving forward. In the playoffs, however, Dak Prescott and the offensive line were much better at keeping their prized possession upright than they were in the regular season.
In the regular season, Dak Prescott was sacked 56 times for an average of 3.5 times a game. There was only one game where he wasn't sacked at all, way back in week two against the New York Giants. Four times this season, the Cowboys' quarterback was sacked five or more times. The New Orleans Saints got him for a season high seven times.
According to Pro Football Focus, Dak was "kept clean" -- not pressured -- on 63% of his drop backs during the regular season, which ranked 25th in the NFL. When kept clean, Prescott completed 74.1% of his passes, which was good for 5th in the NFL during the regular season. He was under pressure 37% of the time, which was the sixth highest rate in the NFL and his completion percentage dropped to 52.6%, still good for 10th in the NFL. It was better than Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, Patrick Mahomes, Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, and Baker Mayfield.
During the playoffs, Prescott's "kept clean" percentage rose from 63% to 68% and he was only sacked once in each game. The one sack against the Los Angeles Rams probably shouldn't have been called a sack as the referee blew the whistle because Prescott was "in the grasp"...
...of his offensive lineman.
During the playoffs, the Cowboys offensive line kept the pressure off of Prescott at a better rate, allowing him to be pressured on only 31.9% of his drop backs. Meaning he was kept clean at an improved rate from the regular season at 68.1% of his drop backs. This while playing against two teams that are really good at rushing the passer. The Los Angeles Rams and the Seattle Seahawks both finished in the top half of the league in sacks this season and feature players like Aaron Donald, Jarran Reed, and Frank Clark who all had double-digit sacks.
As we know, pressure rates and sacks aren't all completely on the offensive line. The quarterback, wide receivers, and the play calling all factor in, but the Cowboys are trending in the right direction with their pass protection. A full offseason for Connor Williams in the Dallas Cowboys strength and conditioning program, better health for Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, and -- fingers crossed -- Travis Frederick, should all help the offensive line play at a higher level heading into the 2019 season.
It can't be overstated how important it will be to get Travis Frederick back into the fold this season. Joe Looney was good, and that might be overstating it a bit. He was not noticeable on most plays during the season, but getting your All-Pro center back will tremendously help the offense in every facet of the game. Frederick's one of the smarter players in the NFL, who helps everyone on the offense to see the blitzes and calls out the protections. Both his mental and physical ability will be a welcomed site when the Cowboys begin practicing in the offseason.
With another year of growth for the quarterback and for the young pieces along the offensive line, and with a full offseason for Dak Prescott to grow with Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and Blake Jarwin, the Cowboys should be better next season at keeping the quarterback clean.
Star Blog2 weeks ago
Should Tavon Austin’s Role Get Expanded Against His Former Team?
Dallas Cowboys4 days ago
5 Potential Candidates Cowboys Could Target to Replace OC Scott Linehan
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
Texas Forever? Kris Richard Appears Closer to Staying with Cowboys
Dallas Cowboys6 days ago
Cowboys Getting Over $30 Million Cap Space from Expiring Dead Money
Dallas Cowboys1 day ago
3 Reasons Not to Hate Kellen Moore Becoming Offensive Coordinator
Dallas Cowboys2 days ago
Tony Romo Won’t Be the Next Dallas Cowboys Offensive Coordinator
Player News3 days ago
Cowboys Sign WR Devin Smith, Former 2nd-Round Pick
Dallas Cowboys5 days ago
Top 5 Offseason Priorities for the Dallas Cowboys