As many of you probably already know, when it comes to representing Cowboys Nation, I fall well on the optimistic side more times than not. While the four-win 2015 season certainly drained my optimism a bit, I've had no issues with the way this team has gone about trying to remedy 2015 by preparing for a resurgence in 2016.
In place of the flashy signings that fans were begging for, they've put more of an emphasis on re-signing their own talented guys. Morris Claiborne, Kyle Wilber, and Rolando McClain will all return to a defense that welcomes back Orlando Scandrick alongside a full strength Tyrone Crawford.
Cedric Thornton was brought in from the rival Eagles to upgrade the 1T defensive tackle spot, which will only further improve the production Rod Marinelli gets from Crawford on the defensive line along with the likes of David Irving.
Sticking with the defense, the one area of concern that fans can legitimately worry about is the defensive end position. While a combo of DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory is certainly exciting, Gregory will miss the first four games of the year due to suspension - leaving the team to plan for a future that does not involve their 2015 second round pick.
In the absence of Gregory, the Cowboys starter across from Lawrence would currently be Ryan Russell. Russell may be a guy that someday develops into a solid piece of the defense, but for now is an unproven starter.
That said, did we really want to pull a New York Giants and give Olivier Vernon $85 million? The 12-4 Dallas Cowboys of 2014 got 6 sacks from Jeremy Mincey and 3 from George Selvie - while both created constant pressure. Mincey is still a free agent that could return to Dallas, along with Jack Crawford.
A defensive end rotation of Lawrence, Gregory, Mincey, and Russell is not going to take the league by storm, but if paired with a rookie like Joey Bosa or Ronald Blair, this unit could certainly get the job done for the Cowboys.
A big part of the reason that I have faith in this defensive line is thanks to the style of offense that the Cowboys will hope to play in 2016. As we all just learned the hard way, this team is centered around Tony Romo. With Romo back, the offense can once again dominate games and more importantly take the lead early in games.
The Dallas defense is, from a tactical standpoint, built to play with the lead - and that is hopefully what they will be doing a lot of this season. After forcing offenses to play catch-up against them, the Cowboys defensive line can get after quarterbacks like they did in 2014 without that superstar presence.
This will be a very refreshing site to see on defense, as opposed to the way opposing offenses were able to completely control the game against the Cowboys this past year.
Of course, the team's off season on the offensive end has not gone without some exciting moves either. Earlier today, Lance Dunbar agreed to a one-year deal to stay in Dallas for 2016. While Dunbar played just 4 games in 2015 before a season ending injury, the limited time he saw with Romo at quarterback led to some explosive plays.
If Dunbar can stay healthy for 16 games, pairing him with Darren McFadden at running back behind Romo will allow the Cowboys to get back to their dominant, clock-killing, smash mouth football ways while simultaneously opening up the passing game for a healthy Dez Bryant and Co.
With the draft quickly approaching, I hope Cowboys Nation can collectively begin to gain more hope for 2016. Will McClay along with Stephen and Jerry Jones know what they are doing, and want nothing more than a Super Bowl in the coming years for veterans such as Romo and Jason Witten.
I'm not guaranteeing that Super Bowl 51 will be the time for the 'Boys to raise the Lombardi, but I'm optimistically ready to watch them try to play their way to Houston and prove a lot of people wrong - some Cowboys fans included.
Report: Raiders Sign Former Cowboys LB Kyle Wilber
A Free Agency period filled with departures continued for the Dallas Cowboys today, as the Oakland Raiders have reportedly signed the now-former Cowboys LB Kyle Wilber.
The Raiders have signed LB Kyle Wilber: https://t.co/TaC6cqjval
Wilber has been with the Cowboys since 2012, and has played in all 16 games four of the past five seasons. Most of his time has come on special teams, but he did provide solid linebacker depth for the Cowboys since joining the team.
Dallas has now lost both Wilber and Anthony Hitchens, depleting their linebacker depth even further over the last couple weeks.
The Raiders have now signed two key special teams contributors for the Cowboys in Keith Smith and Kyle Wilber this offseason. Hopefully Dallas can replace these types of "replacement level" players throughout the rest of the offseason, especially during the NFL Draft.
Report: Cowboys Officially Release CB Orlando Scandrick
After requesting his release from the team just a few days ago, Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick has gotten his wish. According to ESPN's Josina Anderson, Scandrick has officially been cut by the Dallas Cowboys.
I'm told the #Cowboys have informed CB Orlando Scandrick he will be released, per source.
This move will reportedly save the Cowboys roughly $1.4M against the salary cap, as we hope they finally look to make some moves during the Free Agency period.
Scandrick's release comes after an offseason in which the Cowboys totally overhauled the back end of their defense, specifically their cornerbacks. With the emergence of young, promising players such as Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis, and the health issues of the aging Scandrick, the move makes a lot of sense.
In fact, after the Cowboys drafted Awuzie in the second round of last year's draft it was rumored the Cowboys were looking to move Scandrick for extra draft picks. Instead, one year later, they have cut him to save some cap room.
Orlando Scandrick should have a market to find a new team elsewhere, but his time in Dallas has now come to a close.
Dallas Cowboys Restructure Travis Frederick’s Contract, Clear Cap Space
Patience is a virtue for football fans everywhere this time of the year, especially those of the Dallas Cowboys. A team known for using free agency to deal with their own expiring contracts and players, Cowboys Nation has been anxiously awaiting an addition to improve this roster before the draft. While the wait will continue for outside help in Dallas, the Cowboys have created $7.5 million in cap space by restructuring the contract of Center Travis Frederick.
C Travis Frederick will restructure his deal to help clear up roughly 7.5M in cap space for the #Cowboys per source informed
Restructuring the contracts of their cornerstone players is nothing new for the Cowboys. Rarely doing so with a clear "next move" in sight, the market for top FA talent at WR and OL may have already passed the Cowboys.
Having the space to negotiate with available players now opens the door just slightly further for Earl Thomas or Tyrann Mathieu acquisitions to become realistic. Reportedly, the Cowboys have inquired about both safeties (Thomas via popular trade talks and Mathieu as a free agent, released by the Cardinals) and have been met with price tags the Jones' were forced to turn away.
Giving up assets for players that will warrant large future contracts is not currently the Dallas Cowboys' way, but being able to sign somebody in free agency has been. To avoid a repeat of 2017, a season arguably derailed as soon as the team's free agent class failed entirely, the Cowboys will need to find proven players that can contribute on the market in the coming weeks.
With the help of the anchor to their star-studded offensive line, the Cowboys can come to this market with slightly thicker wallets now. Keep the optimistic tweets alive, and tip Travis Frederick accordingly.
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