The Cowboys suffered another loss in Tuesday's practice when Tyrone Crawford--the projected starting left end--went down with a right ankle injury. Crawford was carted off the field with his face in his hands and tears streaming down his face.
While we're still waiting to hear official word and details about the severity of the injury, it sounds like it may not be quite as bad as we all initially thought. Still, one thing is for sure: the Cowboys cannot afford to lose another defensive end before the start of the season.
Due to David Irving, Damontre Moore, and Randy Gregory being suspended and the injury to Tyrone Crawford, as it stands now the Cowboys defensive end depth chart heading into week one looks something like this.
- DeMarcus Lawrence - Right Defensive End
- Taco Charlton - Left Defensive End
- Benson Mayowa - Rotational Defensive End
- Charles Tapper - Rotational Defensive End
And with all the suspensions and injuries I'm sure Lenny Jones and/or Lewis Neal will find their way on the roster for at least a couple of weeks.
That list is far from pretty, and honestly it scares me.
DeMarcus Lawrence (back), Benson Mayowa (knee), and Charles Tapper (back/hip) are all managing/dealing with injuries. Both Mayowa and Tapper were held out of practice early this week trying to recover from knee swelling and back tightness.
To make matters worse Taco Charlton is off to a slow start to camp and has yet to live up to his first round expectations.
Over the last decade or so, the Cowboys haven't been very aggressive in the trade market. From time to time they will catch a guy on a practice squad (David Irving) or when things get real ugly, they'll give up a late round pick for a player (Matt Cassel).
When searching for a trade partner the first thing to look at is what teams around the NFL are currently rebuilding their rosters. The first few teams that come to mind are the New York Jets, the Los Angeles Rams, and the Chicago Bears.
New York Jets - Sheldon Richardson - DE
Sheldon Richardson's name is always brought up around trade deadlines and whenever a player around the league goes down with an injury. Richardson isn't your prototypical 4-3 defensive end, but could fill in well on the left side of the DL.
Richardson had his worst year of his career in 2016.
With just 1.5 sacks and 38 tackles, Richardson struggled on the field but also had his fair share of struggles off the field as well. Richardson has no problem voicing his opinion and does so almost to a fault.
If the Cowboys want to take a risk on a high risk/high reward kind of player, Sheldon Richardson may be their guy.
The state the Jets are in right now, I believe you could get Richardson for a 2018 second and fourth round pick. With the amount of compensation picks the Cowboys are expected to have in the 2018 NFL Draft these are draft picks I would be more than willing to give up.
Los Angeles Rams - Robert Quinn - DE
Robert Quinn is one of the few very talented players the Rams currently have on their roster, but injuries have slowed Quinn down quite a bit over the last few seasons. When healthy Robert Quinn is one of the more dominant pass rushers in the NFL.
At 27 years old, Quinn still should have plenty of gas left in the tank.
In his six NFL seasons he has posted impressive sack numbers (54.0) and an even more impressive amount of forced fumbles (18). Quinn is your prototypical right defensive end, and would provide juice off the edge like the Cowboys haven't had since DeMarcus Ware.
With Robert Quinn's age and the recent decline in production I also believe a 2018 second rounder and a 2019 second rounder could pry Quinn away from the Rams.
If he is fully healthy and at full strength I wouldn't be completely against giving up a first rounder. Especially if you're thinking the Cowboys won't be picking until the back-end of round one like this year's draft.
Chicago Bears - Lamarr Houston/Willie Young - DE
The Bears currently have two veteran pass rushers who--if I was Stephen Jones--I would be making calls about immediately.
Lamarr Houston and Willie Young are interesting for a few reasons.
- Both Houston and Young play in Chicago's 3-4 scheme as outside linebackers
- Both players are in their 30's
- Both players are currently being pushed by the younger healthier players behind them
When healthy, both players are very strong pass rushers for the Bears. In his last three years with the Bears, Willie Young has tallied up 24 sacks and 73 tackles as one of the Bears' better defenders.
Lamarr Houston is probably the better player but hasn't been able to stay healthy. In his seven-year career, Houston has 25 sacks on his resume, all while not playing a full 16 games since 2013.
The Bears are in complete rebuild mode right now and would probably take whatever they could get for either guy. With their injury history, age, and talent coming up behind them, the Cowboys would be smart to see what it would take to land one of the two talented pass rushers.
I believe a mid round pick in 2018 would be enough to land either one of these guys.
The Cowboys may feel comfortable with what they have now at defensive end and stay put, but I certainly do not.
These guys listed above are options that wouldn't set the team back financially or take away a lot of draft picks and would provide a positive veteran presence, career success, and some added juice off the edge to try to get this team competing for a Lombardi Trophy.
Should Gregory’s Potential Reinstatement Alter Cowboys Draft Plan?
A lot has happened with the Dallas Cowboys roster in a short period of time leading up to the 2018 NFL Draft. Just four days away now, the Cowboys are still adjusting to life without Dez Bryant, and may be preparing to welcome back Randy Gregory this season.
After months of speculation about the Cowboys' exiled pass rusher turning his life around for the better, the end result may be Gregory triumphantly returning to the field and filling a considerable position of need in Dallas.
Through Gregory's numerous absences from the Cowboys, the team has searched for temporary fixes at his right defensive end spot until drafting Taco Charlton in the first round last year. In his rookie season, Charlton looked much better at left end behind DeMarcus Lawrence than he ever did rushing against left tackles.
ALERT: Sources offer me very positive reports on #Cowboys DE @RandyGregory_4 coming bid for NFL reinstatement, as @BobbyBeltTX also notes. Randy Gregory has a chance to be a terrific story.
Randy Gregory can beat left tackles with speed and bend, but also has more career suspensions than he does sacks. Finding another defensive end with these traits in the draft could put the Cowboys defensive line over the top, but doing so with this year's class could cost them a pick better spent elsewhere.
Of course, this will be the case if Gregory does complete a comeback that the Cowboys have been understandably quiet about until recently. Stephen Jones has said the plan for Gregory is to apply for reinstatement following the draft.
The Cowboys "smart" approach of rebuilding their front four on defense as if Gregory would never see the field again has yielded them plenty of success - at all but the spot Gregory would line up at. DeMarcus Lawrence, David Irving, Maliek Collins, and Taco Charlton should all inspire hope for this unit in 2018.
This is more than we were ever able to say about forgotten defenders like Benson Mayowa, who remains a free agent RDE.
The same can be said about prospects like Harold Landry or Marcus Davenport. At this point though, it feels like a priority draft pick spent at DE is a sudden sign of nervousness about Randy Gregory's return by the Cowboys.
This team has plenty of depth to deploy Rod Marinelli's patented "waves" of pass rushers, finally entering a season with an elite talent at DE too. The opportunity to have DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory attack opposing quarterbacks from opposite sides is a reality the Cowboys are prepared to work towards.
They should do so looking elsewhere early in the draft, coming back to defensive end if a developmental player they like falls.
Cowboys Quarterback is playing Moneyball
Money talks, and no one talks louder than the Dallas Cowboys. It’s hard to find a more affordable Pro Bowl player than Dak Prescott. A former fourth-round pick from Mississippi State, Prescott is only scheduled to make around $680,000 in 2018. It’s only his third year, but it may be his most important when it comes to his future with the Cowboys.
When a team drafts its franchise quarterback, they usually only get about two seasons to prove they’re "the guy."
Every year, teams draft someone, usually in the first round, with hopes that he'll be their sought after franchise quarterback. However, by being drafted so high, there’s little margin for error afforded to them.
In Dak Prescott’s case, being drafted outside the first round, he wasn’t expected to contribute near as much in his first two seasons as he has. A day-one starter for the then injured Tony Romo gave him his opportunity and he has made the most of it.
In two seasons, Dak Prescott has a 22-10 record, made the playoffs and Pro Bowl, completed 65.2% of his passes and has added a new dimension in the Cowboys offense thanks to his mobility in and out of the pocket. However, I wouldn’t be the first to tell you that his year two wasn’t as good as his year one was. Prescott lost four more games, completed fewer passes and more interceptions in year two.
To be fair, some of his issues attributed to the injury of Tyron Smith, Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension and many of his receivers dropping more passes than we’ve previously seen. These issues will have to be cleaned up not only for the team, but for Dak Prescott’s future.
According to Spotrac.com, Dak Prescott’s market value today is around $25 million a year, which would make him among the most paid players in the league. In comparison, Kirk Cousins will be paid the most in the league at $28 million this year, while Aaron Rodgers will make $22 million.
So, the Cowboys quarterback's market value is among the best in the league.
Cowboys fans everywhere are rooting for him to succeed but year three will be crucial. If he can improve on his play from a year ago and keep winning games, he would likely see his extension happen sometime around his fourth season.
People have already seen Prescott at his highs and lows. Going into 2018 with a new receiving core, the return of Ezekiel Elliott and a new left guard will get rid of any excuses.
If Dak Prescott really is who he believes he is, and who fans know he can be, then the Cowboys have their quarterback. If not, then the search will continue.
Prescott should be plenty motivated to be the Cowboys quarterback for the present and the future. Also, he should be motivated by how much money he could get it.
It is a game, but it’s still a business. And C.R.E.A.M.
Cowboys Expected to Pick Up Byron Jones’ Fifth-Year Option
2018 should be a huge year for the Cowboys' 2015 first-round pick Bryon Jones. After being used all over the secondary, it seems like he'll finally find a position to stay next season. The announcement was made that heading into his contract year, Jones would be moved to the cornerback position full-time.
Fortunately for him, the Cowboys are now expected to pick up his fifth-year option. This may come as a surprise for Cowboys Nation, given there haven't been any hints by the franchise to do so. However, it definitely will be a wise decision.
The #Cowboys are expected to pick up the fifth-year option for Byron Jones, source said. That should give him $6.17M salary for 2019, one that is guaranteed for injury. The 2015 first-round pick should benefit from a full-time move to corner.
Since he played most of his snaps as a safety in 2017 (his third year in the league), Byron's fifth-option will be less expensive than one from a cornerback. This is obviously good news for the front office since it means more cap space will be available in 2019.
Hopefully, Byron finds success under the new secondary coach in Dallas, Kris Richard. With him moving to cornerback full-time, we might just see his incredible athleticism translate into consistent impact on the field.
Byron Jones said ever since Kris Richard was hired as the Cowboys' new DBs coach he talked about moving Byron back to CB. "I think it will be a good move for me and the team.
Jones has a ton of talent but bouncing from one position to another is not good for player progression. Heck, we talk about how hard it is for many talented prospects to come into the NFL and adapt, now imagine a player who's played in different spots in the secondary all through his first three years.
If #31 becomes a quality starting cornerback in 2018, the CB room will be loaded in Dallas.
Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis showed us they could become the next great CB duo for the Cowboys in their rookie seasons. Anthony Brown had a rough 2017, but can still play at a decent level if he's not asked to be CB1.
Add Byron Jones to the mix, and Cowboys Nation should be really comfortable with how this position will look next season.
Picking Byron's fifth-year option will be a wise decision for Dallas, and Cowboys fans should be happy about it. Let's go!
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