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Underwhelming Cowboys Veterans Going Into Preseason – Week 3

Shane Carter

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Chaz Green

One of the harshest things for NFL players to experience is finding themselves on the cutting block for the first time due to diminishing skills. When normally they would be their usual selves and play up to their abilities, some hit the wall sooner than others and thus become expendable. Final cuts won’t be for another couple of weeks and there’s always a few surprises. For the Cowboys, it usually comes in the form of a free agent who signed only months earlier.

In recent memory, players like Nolan Carroll and Damontre Moore were added with the idea and hope that they would be a big part of the defense, but were both released that same year.

It's only preseason but there are some veterans not playing up to standards who could find themselves unemployed if they don’t turn it around. Father Time is undefeated and some of these players are losing early. Don’t put it past Jerry Jones to release a vet if it makes financial and football sense. He’s done it before and he’ll likely do it again.

Kony Ealy

Sean's Scout: As Late FA Signing, New DE Kony Ealy Brings Value at DEIt wasn’t that long ago when Kony Ealy was a first round draft pick by the Carolina Panthers. After a great performance in Super Bowl 50, people thought that Ealy was beginning to become the player Carolina had drafted.

However, despite putting up 14 sacks in three seasons, he was subsequently traded to New England, released and signed a one year deal with the Jets, which resulted in him only getting one sack and starting only four games.

If Dallas were desperate for edge rushers then Kony Ealy would be almost a lock just based on the need. However, Dallas has what looks like its best pass rush rotation in years.

Players like DeMarcus Lawrence, Randy Gregory, Tyrone Crawford, Taco Charlton, Dorance Armstrong Jr, Charles Tapper, and the eventual return of David Irving could spell bad news for Ealy. He’s being outplayed by too many defensive ends to justify keeping him and he may find himself looking for work in another city.

Chaz Green

Chaz Green

Dallas Cowboys OL Chaz Green

This one shouldn’t be a shock to many. Chaz Green was thought to be the answer at left guard this time last year, but never got the job back from Jonathan Cooper. Even worse, when Tyron Smith was out, he was asked to fill in at right tackle and was a disaster, rightfully losing the job by halftime.

This preseason, he’s been La’el Collins’ backup at right tackle. In case you’ve missed any action, he hasn’t looked much better, and there’s nowhere else he can fill in.

The team signed Cameron Fleming to be the swing tackle, Kadeem Edwards has been a better option at guard, and even despite Zack Martin and Travis Frederick expected to miss time, expect the team to play the waiver wire to fill that final offensive lineman spot.

Chaz Green’s roster spot looks likely to be vacant.

Deonte Thompson

Cowboys WR Deonte Thompson Benefits Most From Terrance Williams Issue

Sometimes the best ability is availability, and Deonte Thompson, for all the praise he’s getting from camp, hasn’t been available. Despite his praise from training camp, he's been slowed by an Achilles injury which has limited his ability to practice and play.

Thompson is already in a battle with several other healthy, talented receivers. We’ve already seen Dak Prescott look comfortable in throwing it to a variety of pass catchers, which leaves Thompson only a short window to show off his skills.

The good news for him is that there’re still two preseason games left and he’s finally scheduled to return.

If he wants any sort of shot at the final 53-man roster, he needs to get right in a hurry. He may have a chance to earn a 6th receiver spot, or potentially the main return man spot, but he’s limited on time. And the clock is ticking.

Datone Jones

Can DL Datone Jones be a Difference Maker in 2018?

As much depth as the Cowboys have at the edge, they have almost as much quality depth inside.

Maliek Collins is scheduled to return from the PUP list, and David Irving will return after serving a four-game suspension for substance abuse. Throw in Jihad Ward, who the Cowboys traded for in this recent NFL draft, playing up to his potential; and free agent Antwaun Woods who has been a camp standout, earning first team reps.

Datone Jones, however, has not played up to his expectations. He may make the final 53-man roster, but it will be for lack of depth. When both Collins and Irving return, his spot would likely be the one snatched away. Unlike the previous players on this list, Datone Jones will make the roster because his position group isn’t as deep. Yet.

If Jones really expects to stay on the squad then it will require him to play like he should. He’ll need to produce more because his spot won’t be safe for too long. Jones was a player who may have had a lot of hype around him in training camp, but with the regular season getting closer, there’s maybe not so much for him anymore.



Lifelong Cowboys fan, who doesn’t mind telling the harsh truth. I’ve got a Bachelors Degree in Electronic Media and Communications from Texas Tech University. I welcome all opinions but I will shut down any troll.

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Dallas Cowboys

Did DC Rod Marinelli Have Increased Role in Cowboys Loss at Rams?

Sean Martin

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Did DC Rod Marinelli Have Increased Role in Cowboys Loss at Rams?

The Dallas Cowboys Divisional Round loss at the Los Angeles Rams is still fresh on the minds of their players, staff, and front office. So much so that the team had to fan the flames on a Jason Garrett comment expecting Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan to return. Garrett himself walked back this "report" once Stephen Jones noted it's still too early for any coaching staff changes. The focus will remain on Linehan's post until it's removed or the Cowboys OC is retained, but one coordinator the Cowboys now expect to keep is Rod Marinelli on defense.

Marinelli himself disputed the season-long belief that this was likely his last as the Cowboys defensive coordinator. With Passing Game Coordinator Kris Richard not taking any of the three HC positions he interviewed for, Marinelli doesn't have to worry about shuffling his title to accommodate Richard - who called the plays from week one this season anyway.

Rod's title does include his specialty as defensive line coach though, a unit that the Rams dominated with their offensive line to a historic degree. The Rams' season-high 273 rushing yards was provided by both Todd Gurley and C.J. Anderson surpassing 100 yards on the ground, the first time in team history they've had two backs reach this mark in a single playoff game.

Rams HC Sean McVay hardly had to reach into his vaunted 'bag of tricks' to expose the Cowboys defense in a way they hadn't been all year, but there was still an element of brilliance in his offensive game plan. It came out after the game that the Rams picked up on the keys the Dallas defensive linemen used to signal stunts and twists before the snap. While this is nothing more than just great scouting yielding an unforeseen advantage, it's left the Cowboys with more than enough time to ponder what went wrong in the Coliseum.

Danny Heifetz on Twitter

The Rams offensive line knew what the Cowboys defensive line was going to do before the snap on Saturday. https://t.co/oGo6Eiz4av

The answer to this may be nothing other than the coaching questions the Cowboys are already considering. With Richard's interviews in Tampa Bay, Miami, and New York coming at the beginning of the week leading up to game day, it's possible Marinelli had a larger say in the Cowboys preparation on defense.

It was Marinelli's defense that conceded 412 yards to the Rams in 2017 in a loss at AT&T Stadium. Matching him up with McVay leaves a lot to be desired, while Richard helps bridge this gap - something he was seen desperately trying to do on the sideline with a battered Cowboys defense.

As each day of the offseason passes, a change at either coordinator position becomes less likely in Dallas. On offense, the play caller has more than a season's worth of evidence showing the deficiencies of the Cowboys attack. In a league fueled by recency bias however, Marinelli certainly didn't leave his best performance on the field in Los Angeles.

Somewhere in the middle of this is Jason Garrett, safely in place as the head coach that should be personally trying to upgrade his top two assistants however possible. Marinelli signing up for another year makes this hard on defense, though Richard should resume play calling duties next season.

Again, this leaves the onus of the Cowboys improvements for 2019 on the offensive side of the ball, something that'll be realized when the shock of their defense letting them down in the biggest game of the season is gone.

Tell us what you think about "Did DC Rod Marinelli Have Increased Role in Cowboys Loss at Rams?" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys Getting Over $30 Million Cap Space from Expiring Dead Money

Jess Haynie

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Tony Romo, Dez Bryant

You may have already heard that the Dallas Cowboys will be flush with salary cap space in 2019, and that's very accurate. A huge portion of it comes from over $30 million in expiring cap penalties, otherwise known as "dead money."

Quick explanation; dead money occurs when a player is released or retires prior to the expiration of their contract. Any guaranteed money, such as the original signing bonus or money converted in a restructuring, that has not yet been paid out according to the contract schedule is accelerated.

For example, when Tony Romo retired after 2016, he still had $19.6 million in guaranteed money owed to him. Dallas chose to split this dead money over two years, and thus had a $10.7 cap penalty in 2017 and $8.9 million last season.

But now Romo's dead money, along with Dez Bryant's and several other players, is coming off the Cowboys' books. The result is a roughly $30 million infusion of salary cap space for 2019.

Here were the major culprits for last year's dead money:

(All cap figures are taken from Spotrac.com)

  • QB Tony Romo - $8.9 million
  • WR Dez Bryant - $8 million
  • DT Cedric Thornton - $2.5 million
  • CB Orlando Scandrick - $2.3 million
  • CB Nolan Carroll - $2 million
  • WR Deonte Thompson - $1.8 million
  • DE Benson Mayowa - $1.1 million
  • K Dan Bailey - $800 thousand
  • TE James Hanna - $750 thousand

Those players alone make up a little over $28 million. Another $4 million or so came from over 30 players with lesser penalties that still added up.

Right now, the Cowboys have only $1.76 million in dead money on their 2019 salary cap. Nearly all of that is the $1.6 million still owed to Orlando Scandrick.

That difference is where the cap space comes from, and it will be of tremendous help to Dallas as they have major financial moves coming. They need to re-sign DeMarcus Lawrence, deal with a major salary bump for Amari Cooper, and consider a contract extension for Dak Prescott.

The 2019 number will change, of course, as the offseason rolls on. If Dallas elects to release players like Sean Lee, Tyrone Crawford, or others, some dead money will appear. But that will be offset by whatever cap savings motivated the move in the first place.

This is a good reminder of why the Cowboys' new era of fiscal conservatism is a good thing. After years of what felt like perpetual "salary cap hell," they are finally getting out from under those penalties and have complete flexibility this offseason. They may not even need to cut a guy like Crawford, who they almost would have been forced to in past seasons.

We'll be talking a lot more about individual players and their contracts in the weeks ahead, but this summary helps us see that Dallas isn't nearly up against the financial wall as they have been. We still miss guys like Romo and Dez, but we won't miss that awful dead money in 2019.



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Cowboys Expect C Travis Frederick Back for Offseason Program

Jess Haynie

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Travis Frederick

Lost in yesterday's hoopla over Scott Linehan's return was a positive report about Center Travis Frederick. In his comments to the media, Jason Garrett said that Frederick's recovery timetable should allow him to a full participant in the team's offseason program.

After never missing a start in his first five years, Travis missed all of 2018 dealing with the effects of Guillain-Barré Syndrome. The disease attacked his neurological system and required immediate and intensive treatment.

Rob Phillips on Twitter

Jason Garrett says the team anticipates Travis Frederick being involved in the offseason program right from the start this spring if he continues on the same positive track in recovery from Guillain-Barré syndrome. #cowboyswire

While Joe Looney performed admirably in Frederick's absence, he's not an elite talent. Travis has been arguably the best center in the NFL since entering the league in 2013.

It's hard to qualify what effect not having Frederick had on the Cowboys offense in 2018. Ezekiel Elliott still led the league in rushing, but short-yardage plays weren't as automatic as we've seen in past years. A 4th-and-1 stuff was part of what led to the Cowboys' loss this past Saturday.

Dak Prescott was the second-most sacked QB in the NFL in 2018. After being sacked just 25 and 32 times in his first two seasons, the number skyrocketed to 56 sacks.

That's not all on Frederick, of course. Tyron Smith had some health issues and there were was turnover at left guard.

But having your All-Pro veteran center out there to help with the pre-snap reads, and help the rookie guard on his left, might have helped avoid some of those issues.

Indeed, Travis Frederick's return is just one of many reasons for optimism with the 2019 season. One of the best players on the team, he was sorely missed this year and can only help as Dallas looks to build on their division title and playoff appearance.



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