We’re now less than a week away from the annual NFL spending spree known as free agency, which opens March 13th. There’s been a lot of talk about how active the Dallas Cowboys are going to be this offseason, with them already linked to several high-profile free agents.
Jerry Jones’ recent comments would have you believe that the Cowboys will be aggressive in their attempt to improve a roster that went to the divisional round of the playoffs last season.
Other reports make it sound like the Dallas Cowboys will be business as usually in their pursuit of free agents starting next week. Namely, letting the top-tier players find their deals, while shopping for bargains after the first wave has passed.
Obviously, fans want their team to have a balance between smart spending and adding top-tier talent, but sometimes you have to compromise one of those. You can’t always get a top-tier talent unless you’re willing to spend freely. This is where the Dallas Cowboys find themselves between a rock and a hard place.
they've drafted well and managed their contracts well so that they have minimal dead money on their 2019 cap, but what good is that money unless they spend it.
As the Dallas Cowboys get ready for the first phase of roster building, let’s take a look at their top team needs heading into free agency.
1. Defensive Tackle
As it stands now, the Dallas Cowboys only have two defensive tackles on the roster for 2019. Maliek Collins and Antwaun Woods, who both started the playoff games and should be penciled in to start week one of the 2019 season are the only two defensive tackles in the roster.
David Irving, Datone Jones, Daniel Ross, and Caraun Reid are all set to be free agents and there’s been no indication that they plan to bring any of them back. Tyrone Crawford who spends sometime on the Cowboys interior may be forced to be at right defensive end full-time this season if Randy Gregory’s “indefinite suspension” bleeds over into the regular season.
That leaves at least two spots in the defensive tackle depth chart that the Cowboys need to fill to have their rotational tackle group.
Free agency provides some options, but it’s the draft that provides the best opportunity to get players to fill in behind Woods and Collins this year. In many mock drafts, draft analysts have the Dallas Cowboys taking a defensive tackle in the second or third round. With the depth of talent available in 2019, the Cowboys could double up at the position.
The free agent safety group looks to be one of the best positional groups to ever walk into free agency.
Earl Thomas, Eric Weddle, Landon Collins, Tyrann Matthieu, Tre Boston, Glover Quin, and several other interesting names are going to be looking for new teams this Spring.
The Dallas Cowboys have been linked to Earl Thomas for more than a year now, but the presence of this kind of free agent class could have the Cowboys looking in a younger or cheaper direction.
With Xavier Woods versatility to play either safety role, the Cowboys can approach the safety market with an open mind. Jeff Heath on the other hand left us with a bad taste in our mouths from the 2018 season. Heath’s a solid role player who contributes on special teams, but got over-exposed in 2018. Too many times he allowed ball carriers to pick up tons of extra yardage by trying to strip the ball out instead of just tackling. An upgrade is needed there.
While Earl Thomas is the top name that many in Cowboys Nation want, Landon Collins might be the player that makes the most sense. He’s only 25, been to three Pro Bowls and been selected to omen First-Team All-Pro Team.
Collins is a guy you can add to this young group and continue to build with, and allows Woods to stay in the more traditional free safety spot that he played last year. Woods played really well in 2018 and will be one of your full-time safeties when the 2019 season rolls around.
If a free agent safety isn’t your cup of tea, there will be options for the Dallas Cowboys at 58, such as Darnell Savage Jr. from Maryland.
3. Wide Receiver
Terrance Williams is gone, Allen Hurns is hurt, Cole Beasley looks to be on his way out, Noah Brown has some skill but is best served as your fourth or fifth wide receiver and Cedric Wilson isn’t really a known quantity. Outside of Amari Cooper, and to a lesser extent Michael Gallup, this wide receiver group has some needs.
This draft may be light at the top of the draft at wide receiver, but there are several guys that could be around in the second and third round when the Dallas Cowboys make their picks.
The Cowboys could go after a speed guy like Marquise Brown from the University of Oklahoma, a slot wide receiver like Andy Isabella or Deebo Samuel, or get a big target with a huge catch radius in Iowa State's Hakeem Butler.
4. Defensive End
What looked like a strength heading into the offense, with DeMarcus Lawrence set to get his big contract extension and Randy Gregory coming off of his first full season, now looks like an area of need.
DeMarcus Lawrence needs shoulder surgery. His contract situation looks like something that could drag on throughout the offseason and into training camp. Lawrence was tagged with the non-exclusive franchise tag, which means he could negotiate with teams, but the Cowboys would still have the opportunity to match any offer. This could be the Cowboys way of letting another team set his price. So long as it isn’t a team like the Colts or 49ers who have gone of cap space, Lawrence wouldn’t likely see an offer that the Cowboys couldn’t match.
When it’s all said and done, Lawrence will be suiting up week one for the Cowboys.
Randy Gregory however, may Ben a different story a season he’s been suspended indefinitely by Commissioner Roger Goodell. Gregory, will forevermore be one step away from his NFL career being over, and this latest suspension is a reminder if that. Gregory’s a terrific football player, but nearly impossible to count on him always being available.
Thankfully, like it is for defensive tackles, the 2019 NFL Draft is full of potential defensive ends throughout the draft. Names like Charles Omenihu and Chase Winovich could be options for the Cowboys at 58.
There are several intriguiging options the Cowboys could pursue in free agency from big money names like Justin Houston and Trey Flowers to lower prices options like Dante Fowler or Shane Ray.
Though they have Taco Charlton, Dorance Armstrong, and Tyrone Crawford in the mix at defensive end, it would benefit them to add another player at the position, especially if Crawford has to continue splitting snaps between end and tackle.
5. Running Back
It may be odd to look at a position group that features the NFL’s league leader in rushing two out of the last three seasons, and while the need at running back isn’t exactly about Ezekiel Elliott, it kind of is about Ezekiel Elliott.
The Dallas Cowboys are looking to extend their dynamic runner and if they do so, it would be wise for them to get someone who can share some of the running and passing game burden.
Whether they trade for Duke Johnson or sign a free agent like TJ Yeldon or Jalen Richard, the Cowboys hope ave some options to explore.
The NFL Draft is another place to find a guy who can give you 5-10 touches per game. In particular, the Dallas Cowboys could use a player to help in the passing game and be a “change of pace” back for the Cowboys.
The Cowboys appeared to make a concerted effort to throw the ball to Ezekiel Elliott last season, but it didn’t always turn out to be a good thing. Finding a player with more suddenness and burst as a receiver will help the offense when Quarterback Dak Prescott goes to check the ball down. Also, adding a receiving back has the added benefit if keeping Elliott fresher throughout the game and in the regular season.
If paying Ezekiel Elliott is a priority, then finding a player to compliment him and give the team quality snaps should be a priority too.
✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭
The beginning of the 2019 season may still be six months away, but preparation and roster construction begin soon on March 13th. Armed with $50 million in salary cap room, the Cowboys have the opportunity to be players in the early stages of free agency this year at positions of need.
How they end up using the cap space will be an interesting storyline to watch throughout March.
The Time has Come to See More of Tight End Blake Jarwin
When Jason Witten made his triumphant return from the Monday Night Football booth to the Dallas Cowboys' locker room, the addition was met with a bit of reserved optimism. On the one hand, it was awesome to get one of the best players in the history of the franchise back on the field and in the locker room. On the other hand, it meant that he would eat into the snap counts of Blake Jarwin, Dalton Schultz, or any rookie they potentially drafted in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Though, upon arrival, the Cowboys and Witten stated the future Hall of Famer would only play roughly 25 snaps a game, it didn't take long to figure out that Witten was the starting and full-time player at tight end. In training camp, Witten got a majority of the first-team snaps. In the first nine games of the 2019 season, Witten's played nearly twice as many snaps as Blake Jarwin.
It's an unfortunate turn from the narrative we were being fed in the offseason as Blake Jarwin provides a receiving dynamic that no other tight end for the Dallas Cowboys can. He's quicker, more agile, and has much more athleticism than Jason Witten.
On a per snap basis, Blake Jarwin is offering more in yards per snap and in yards per route run. Jarwin has accrued 0.811 yards per snap to Jason Witten's 0.711. Basically, if you prorate Jarwin's yards per snap total of 0.811 to Jason Witten's snap count of 475, Jarwin would theoretically have nearly 50 more receiving yards than Witten while providing another downfield threat to the passing game.
If we look at yards per route run, Jarwin's outpacing Witten 1.97 to 1.37 per Pro Football Focus. If you were to give Jason Witten's number of routes run to Blake Jarwin and prorated based on Jarwin's production in 2019, he would have roughly 484 receiving yards or 150 more receiving yards than Jason Witten.
Obviously, Jarwin's still got some development that needs to happen as a run blocker to be able to get on the field more. The Cowboys coaching staff, however, has still elected to roll with Jason Witten over Blake Jarwin even in pass-heavy situations as we saw on Sunday Night Football. This is the first game of the year where the Cowboys needed to be in heavy passing mode, but they continue to keep one of their more athletic weapons on the sideline when they need to get chunk plays.
Jarwin's ability to attack up the seam can help open everything up for everyone else in the offense. Just having another vertical threat on the field can create space for Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and Randall Cobb underneath.
Jason Garrett and the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff isn't going to flip their snap counts anytime soon, but the time has come for Blake Jarwin to get more of the situational passing work. When the Cowboys get into obvious passing situations -- 3rd and longs or in two-minute situations -- Blake Jarwin needs to be the tight end on the field.
We've seen each of the last two weeks what Jarwin can do once he gets the ball in his hands. Against the New York Giants, he ripped off a game-changing 42-yard touchdown run and catch. On Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings, Jarwin had a big 26-yard reception that helped get the Cowboys going offensively.
Jason Witten will go into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and into the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor. It's time he and the coaching staff recognizes that the Dallas Cowboys could be an even more dynamic offensive team by getting the more athletic Blake Jarwin on the field more.
QB Colin Kaepernick to Hold Workout, Cowboys Showing an Interest
Former San Francisco 49ers Quarterback Colin Kaepernick is apparently attempting to resurrect his NFL career and will hold a private workout for teams on Saturday in Atlanta according to Adam Schefter.
NFL clubs were informed today that a private workout will be held for Colin Kaepernick on Saturday in Atlanta. Session will include on-field work and an interview. All clubs are invited to attend, and video of both the workout and interview will be made available to clubs.
For fans who believed Colin Kaepernick was blackballed after all of the kneeling during the national anthem fiasco, this is long overdue. For everyone else, they probably couldn't care less. But, where exactly do the Dallas Cowboys stand? After all, that's all we really care about here around Cowboys Nation. Right!?
Well, it appears as if the Dallas Cowboys could be at least a little bit interested. Or, it could just be them doing their due diligence. Either way, it looks as if they will have somebody on hand at the workout.
After speaking to another team from my last tweet, as of now, I'm told there is interest within the #Cowboys organization to send at least one representative to Colin Kaepernick's workout, per source.
If you put aside all of the protest stuff and kneeling during the national anthem, this is a move that actually makes quite a bit of sense for the Dallas Cowboys. And, you can bet that this is an opportunity Kaepernick himself has been waiting for.
I'm just getting word from my representatives that the NFL league office reached out to them about a workout in Atlanta on Saturday. I've been in shape and ready for this for 3 years, can't wait to see the head coaches and GMs on Saturday.
This may be the opportunity Kaepernick has been waiting for, but why should the Cowboys be interested? Well, let me try to lay it out for you little better…
You see, the Dallas Cowboys are going to need another backup quarterback next season. Cooper Rush is in the last year of his rookie contract and is set to become a free agent after the completion of the 2019 season. In Colin Kaepernick they would not only be upgrading Dak Prescott's backup, but also adding a QB with a similar skill set as him as well.
Now, there is a catch of course. There always is. Kaepernick hasn't thrown a pass in the NFL since the 2016 season. Also, he'd have to be willing to accept a backup role. Those are some pretty big red flags, but he could do a lot worse than bringing his talent to Texas as a member of the Dallas Cowboys.
The Cowboys could actually be the best spot for him to resurrect his career. The national attention he would receive as a member of America's Team could be the best place for him to put his talents on display and prove he still has something left in the tank, even if it is in a backup role. If he can do that, there's no telling where his career could go from there.
In all honesty, this sounds like a win-win for both the Dallas Cowboys and Colin Kaepernick. Uniting these two could be a match made in heaven. It's very possible both parties are interested in one another, but unfortunately we won't know how things turn out anytime soon. It's a waiting game now…
Do you think Colin Kaepernick would be a good fit with the Dallas Cowboys?
Takeaway Tuesday: Cowboys Turned Their Back on Prescott’s MVP Performance
The Dallas Cowboys have lost games to the Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints, New York Jets and the Minnesota Vikings. Last Sunday Night, the Cowboys hosted the Vikings on primetime and lost in a game that went down to the wire. It felt like the toughest loss of the season. Why? Let's dive in to this week's edition of Takeaway Tuesday.
Cowboys Turned Their Back on Dak Prescott's MVP Performance
Cowboys Nation was shocked with the Cowboys' play-calling late in the game and for good reason. After starting the drive backed up at their own five, Prescott completed six of seven passes for 79 yards. Then, on second down and two to go, the Cowboys ran the ball with Ezekiel Elliott for no gain. On a short yardage down, that was comprehensible. Maybe not ideal, but understandable. On third down, though, they handed it off again to Zeke.
In the game in which Dak Prescott was playing at an MVP level, with less than two minutes on the clock, the Cowboys took the ball away from him to put the game on the star running back who was having a rough day with less than 50 yards against a stout Vikings defense.
Now granted, the play on third down seemed to be an RPO concept with Jason Witten as the pass option. But why are you giving Dak one pass option when he's dominated all night? Why are you instead trusting Elliott in a game in which he failed to average three yards per carry? Prescott was unbelievably clutch, throwing for almost 400 yards, three touchdowns and a 100% conversion rate on 3rd & 7+.
This was by far the number one reason why the loss to the Vikings was so frustrating to watch. The Cowboys have a franchise quarterback. But they need to learn to trust him as such and put the games on his hands when needed. Not on their running back, regardless of how much they pay each.
Jason Garrett Must Be More Aggressive in Fourth Down Decisions
It's easy to say this in retrospective, but I believe the Cowboys didn't make the right decisions when facing fourth down last Sunday night. The first notorious decision came in the second quarter, when the Cowboys faced 4th & 4 with the ball on the Vikings' 40 yard-line. Being behind 14-0, they decided to punt.
It turned out fine for the Cowboys in the end, tying the game 14-14 later in the second. But the analytics trend in the NFL really has evidence to back up the fact that Dallas should've gone for it in such a critical spot.
In the fourth quarter, the Cowboys decided to kick the field goal being on their opponents' five. Down 21-28, Brett Maher went out to kick the field goal, which put the Cowboys behind by four points instead of seven. They still needed a touchdown to take the lead with ten minutes left on the game.
Kevin Brady took a deeper look at the Cowboys' win probabilities on this article for Inside The Star.
was working on a post for @InsideTheStarDC on this last night. here's the estimated WP for each scenario on that fourth and goal.
The Baltimore Ravens are taking the league by storm using analytics and making the right decisions in fourth down. Yet, some teams in the NFL are not catching up. The Cowboys are one of those teams.
Cowboys Defense Exposed Again
The main reason the Cowboys lost to the Vikings was coaching and that's clear. But defense earned the second place. Kirk Cousins played a good game versus Rod Marinelli's unit, despite the box score suggesting otherwise. He made a couple of impressive throws at AT&T Stadium while Kyle Rudolph finished night with two touchdown catches and a two point conversion.
Dalvin Cook, one of the toughest offensive weapons to face in this league totaled 183 yards last weekend. It's not easy to face Cook and limit him and the Cowboys failed to do so. The linebackers had a very rough day overall and there wasn't a single performance to point out as a positive.
Slow Starts Won't Stop
Every week. Every week we talk about how this Cowboys team started slow against any opponent. In six games, they haven't scored a TD in the first quarter. Not even at the beginning of the season, when they went 3-0 against poor teams did they start a game on the right foot. Who to blame? Both players and coaches, but I'd lean toward coaching first.
Bottom line, there's a huge problem with the way this football team prepares for gameday and the Cowboys need to figure it out fast. Their backs are against the wall and playing from behind every game costs games. At 5-4 and headed toward tough opponents in the second half of the season, it's time to put an end to such starts.
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