With OTAs approaching, the Dallas Cowboys will work on starting the 2017 NFL season in the best position possible. There are still a few big-name free agents who have yet to land with a team. Some may fit what the Cowboys are looking for. Others, however, whether it's due to age or scheme fit, may not be in the Cowboys' plans.
When we take a look at the positions, the team could still use an upgrade or a veteran presence at the defensive end position. The only issue with the team adding another defensive lineman is they already have a very crowded DE group.
The Defensive Ends
- DeMarcus Lawrence - DeMarcus Lawrence is coming off multiple back surgeries and hasn't lived up to his hefty expectations after the team traded up to draft him in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft.
- Taco Charlton - Taco Charlton, after being drafted with the 28th overall pick in this year's NFL Draft, will be forced to play early and often for the Dallas Cowboys. Dallas drafted Charlton to come in and compete for a starting job immediately.
- Benson Mayowa - Benson Mayowa, the team's sack leader in 2016, will look to regain the same form early in 2017 that he finished with in 2016. After starting out the season very slow, Mayowa turned it on in the last month of the season, finishing the season with four sacks in the final five games.
- David Irving - We saw David Irving's ability to absolutely take over a game last year in Green Bay, and then against Tampa Bay. If Irving can learn to play at that level consistently, he may just earn himself a starting job.
- Tyrone Crawford - Tyrone Crawford is looked at to be the veteran along the defensive line, and maybe even on the whole defense. What Crawford lacks is the skill set to really take this defense over the top.Crawford has found himself bouncing all around the line, playing both defensive end and defense tackle. With the emergence of second year player Maliek Collins and the addition of Stephen Paea and Joey Ivie, the Cowboys may make Crawford a primary left defensive end.
- Charles Tapper - The one real question mark in the room comes with second year player, Charles Tapper. Tapper was supposed to be a big addition to the Cowboys defense last year before spending his whole season rehabbing from a back injury that has followed Tapper his whole life.Tapper has a lot of potential coming off the edge. Questions still remain with his health and if he can translate his college success to the NFL.
- Damontre Moore - Damontre Moore was signed this offseason as a free agent after spending time with the Seahawks, Giants, and Dolphins. Moore showed flashes of why some teams viewed him as a first round pick while with the Seahawks last year. Moore by no means has a reserved spot on the team, due to his contract size, off the field issues, and his lack of consistency.
Free Agent Options
- Dwight Freeney - Even at 37-years-old, Dwight Freeney was a valuable piece to the Atlanta Falcons' Super Bowl run last year. Freeney was healthy for all but one game in 2016 and finished the regular season with three sacks while playing in very limited snaps.Freeney was more than just a player for the Falcons. He was a mentor for all the young talents along that Atlanta defensive line. That's exactly what the Cowboys need in their defensive meeting rooms.
- Devin Taylor - I am a bit surprised Devin Taylor is still available this deep into the offseason. At just 27-years-old, Taylor should still have plenty of gas left in the tank and he would be relatively cheap. Taylor racked up 4.5 sacks in 2016 as a starter on the Detroit Lions defense. Taylor is a player who has had success in the league and could be an important role-player coming off the bench.
- Elvis Dumervil - Dumervil is just two years removed from his 17-sack season with the Baltimore Ravens, but is now searching for a job. You don't hear that very often.Dumervil missed about half the season last year dealing with a foot injury that kept him out eight of the team's sixteen games. Dumervil -- when healthy -- is still a very dangerous pass rusher coming off the edge.Dallas would be smart to offer Dumervil an incentive based "prove it" deal.
As you can see, the options are very limited this deep into the offseason, but one thing is for sure: injuries are going to happen and there is no such thing as too many pass rushers.
All three of the free agents listed above have had success in the league and would bring a veteran presence to a locker room full of young guys. The average age of the Cowboys' defensive ends is 24. While youth benefits your defense, having a veteran or two in the locker room to mentor and teach the young bloods a thing or two can take an average defense over the top.
That is something the Dallas Cowboys need desperately to reach an NFC Championship.
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!
Breaking: Scott Linehan and Dallas Cowboys Part Ways
Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network is reporting that the Dallas Cowboys and Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan have mutually agreed to part ways following a tumultuous season that saw the Dallas Cowboys offense finish outside the top 12 three out of his four seasons in Dallas.
Sources: The #Cowboys are firing OC Scott Linehan. Taking their offense in a new direction. An announcement is coming.
Scott Linehan was brought in prior to the 2015 season and saw his offenses finish 31st, fifth, 14th, and 22nd in his four years as the Cowboys play caller. The 2015 season can be excused as the Cowboys rolled out Kellen Moore, Matt Cassell, and Brandon Weeden for 13 starts after Tony Romo was injured twice during the season, but the team 2-11 in those 13 starts and the Cowboys failed to make the playoffs despite a strong performance on the defensive side of the football.
The Cowboys saw an offense that finished fifth in the NFL in points in 2016 decline each of the last two offseasons and Linehan has been continually criticized by analysts, fans, and players as well.
Many believe that the reason that Dez Bryant and Brice Butler weren't brought back in the offseason was because of the public criticism of the offense and the play caller instilling the offense and that criticism has carried over to this season when Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper acknowledged that the Philadelphia Eagles were sitting on the slant routes that they had run all game. Dak mentioned that he changed Amari's route to a go route, which led to a 75 yard touchdown that helped open up the offense.
Cole Beasley has been frustrated with his role for much of the season and deservedly so. He was often non-existent in the offensive game plan until the final five minutes of football games.
In the running game, the offense had become too predictable and reliant upon jumbo formations that led to Ezekiel Elliott having to run against eight in the box anywhere from 25-30% of the time. For perspective, Todd Gurley only ran against eight-man fronts around eight percent of the time. Scott Linehan never looked to attempt to take players out of the box, instead insisting on motioning more players into the box for the offensive line and Ezekiel Elliott to run against. It's amazing when you think about it, that Ezekiel Elliott was able to win the rushing title when facing loaded fronts as often as he did.
This was a move that needed to happen and the Dallas Cowboys didn't need to waste anymore time to make it happen. The offense had become stale and frustrating for the players as well as the fans. While Jason Garrett started the offseason saying he "didn't expect any changes," this was a move that absolutely had to happen for the offense to take a step forward. Below, you can read Jason Garrett's announcement on the move.
Cowboys have fired Scott Linehan
Even after the move for Amari Cooper, the offense looked better, but it still struggled at times to move the football.
The Cowboys have a young team with especially young players on the offensive side of the football. They have a quarterback who can throw from the pocket, but has excellent movement skills and capabilities of throwing the ball on the run. He's an excellent runner on designed runs. Despite us knowing all that, Scott Linehan looked reluctant to use him on designed quarterback runs that weren't read options or speed options. What you saw on designed runs in the Seattle game is what this team should be doing five times a game.
Now the question becomes, who should the Cowboys next offensive coordinator be? Our own, Staff Writer Brian Martin, laid out 5 Options to be the Next Offensive Coordinator earlier this week. I suggest you give it a read.
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.
Star Blog1 week ago
Should Tavon Austin’s Role Get Expanded Against His Former Team?
Dallas Cowboys2 days ago
5 Potential Candidates Cowboys Could Target to Replace OC Scott Linehan
Dallas Cowboys1 week ago
Texas Forever? Kris Richard Appears Closer to Staying with Cowboys
Dallas Cowboys4 days ago
Cowboys Getting Over $30 Million Cap Space from Expiring Dead Money
Dallas Cowboys6 days ago
What’s Next for Cowboys Coaching Staff After Divisional Round Loss?
Dallas Cowboys2 days ago
Top 5 Offseason Priorities for the Dallas Cowboys
Player News2 weeks ago
Allen Hurns Injury: Status, 2019 Prospects, Teammate Reactions
Dallas Cowboys1 week ago
It’s Time To Stop Doubting the Dallas Cowboys