With the Dallas Cowboys season officially over and the team transitioning into the 2018 offseason, some tough questions about this roster must be answered. Whether it's Dez Bryant's contract, the future of LB Anthony Hitchens, or which holes the team will prioritize come draft day, the decisions over the next few months will greatly shape the future of the Dallas Cowboys.
Stephen Jones and company have a very important offseason ahead of them, but there's one player in particular entering free agency I would like to see back in 2018: offensive linemen Jonathan Cooper.
Cooper has had a somewhat tumultuous career.
The former first-round pick of the Arizona Cardinals found himself on three different teams during the 2016 season, despite putting in some solid work with the Cleveland Browns. His most recent stop was here in Dallas, and though originally thought of as simply a depth signing, Cooper proved to be quite valuable as the 2017 season wore on.
When the Cowboys decided to move La'el Collins to right tackle permanently, Cooper and former third-round pick Chaz Green were left to battle for the starting left guard spot. Chaz Green was named the starter pretty much from the jump, but injuries and inconsistent play opened the door for Jonathan Cooper.
Once he got his shot, Cooper played some solid football and left the coaching staff no other option but to keep him as the starting guard for the remainder of 2017. And while some of his fellow linemen battled injuries throughout the year, Cooper remained healthy and steady for nearly the entire season.
Unfortunately for Jonathan Cooper, he suffered a leg injury during the meaningless season finale last Sunday. Hopefully he will recover quickly, and the injury won't hurt his prospects in free agency too much.
Jonathan Cooper was nowhere near the perfect player, but for the right price, I'd really like to see him back with the Cowboys next season.
He proved that he is good enough to start at left guard for this team, and when Tyron Smith was healthy, we saw minimal issues from that left side of the line. Even if you still view him as a replacement level player, which is probably accurate, he still provides value if/when needed for spot-starts or in relief of injured players.
Plus, with all of the holes this team clearly has to fill, do we really want to add left guard onto the list?
Dallas likely needs to revamp their receiving corps and improve multiple spots on the defense already, so drafting a guard early could get in the way of developing the rest of the roster (unless his name is Quenton Nelson).
Will he ever be an All-Pro? No, probably not. But with the way the salary cap works, there's simply no way to piece five all-stars together on the offensive line while building a competent team around them.
So, in all likelihood, the Cowboys will just have to settle for three-to-four of those linemen.
Oakland Raiders’ Wide Receiver Amari Cooper On the Trade Block
Aside from Wide Receiver Cole Beasley, the Dallas Cowboys haven't received much production from their wide receiver group outside of the occasional big play from fellow wide outs Michael Gallup or Tavon Austin. Well, the Oakland Raiders apparently are willing to listen to offers for Wide Receiver Amari Cooper and, according to Michael Rapaport, are asking for a first round draft pick in return.
Raiders want a first round pick for Amari Cooper, per @RapSheet.
The Dallas Cowboys could use someone with Cooper's ability, even if he has been a drop machine through his first four seasons. In his first two seasons in the NFL, 2015 and 2016, Cooper averaged 77 receptions on 131 targets, for 1,111.5 yards, and 5.5 touchdowns. Through his first three seasons in the NFL, Cooper averaged 11 drops a season, including 18 in his rookie season.
Any time you start a discussion about whether you should trade for someone, the question always begins with "what are you paying?" What would you be willing to pay for Amari Cooper? After back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons to start his career, he only went for 680 yards in 14 games (48.6 yards per game). Though the yardage wasn't great last year, he did catch seven touchdowns for the Oakland Raiders.
So far in 2018, Cooper is averaging 46.7 yards per game on 3.67 receptions per game and has only scored one touchdown.
I wouldn't send a top 60 pick for Amari Cooper. He's a good player, but is he better than what Michael Gallup could be? Because if you trade for Cooper he's going to likely eat into Gallup's snap count and we need to find out if Michal Gallup is a player that the Dallas Cowboys could rely on in the future. But, if the Cowboys coaching staff brought Cooper in to replace Allen Hurns, then I'd be very happy to talk about acquiring the former first round draft choice.
A starting wide receiver group of Cole Beasley, Amari Cooper, and Michael Gallup would be a very difficult group to cover and Quarterback Dak Prescott showed on Sunday that he has what it takes to get the ball down field to his receivers.
The Cowboys probably wouldn't make this trade, unless Jerry Jones got involved, because they value their draft picks too much, but if the Dallas Cowboys could get him for a third round pick I'd do it in a heart beat. For a second round pick, I'd have to get a fifth or sixth back from Oakland in that deal. Cooper's a good player, but hasn't shown to be one of the best at his position.
There are a couple other players from Oakland that I'm more interested in trading for.
✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭
What do you think? Would you trade for Amari Cooper, and if so, what would you be willing to give?
David Irving Ready to “Be Put Through Ringer” in First Action with Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys patience in Defensive Tackle David Irving is set to pay off on Sunday, as Irving will play in his first game of 2018 after being suspended for the first four weeks. Irving was eligible to play last week in the Cowboys overtime loss at the Texans, but did not make the trip to Houston as he dealt with off-field concerns.
The Cowboys defense has performed admirably without Irving, but in a needed game against the Jaguars, it could be up to this defense to win the game for Dallas - something a disruptive player like Irving has the ability to do on any given snap.
While the plan is for the Cowboys to ease Irving into this game, his impact from the DT position might be enough to leave him on the field as much as needed in a tight game.
Irving said the coaches want to play him 10-15 snaps Sunday. "That's what they say now but if it's a close game, I know good and well Marinelli is going to be sending me out there & putting me through the ringer. I'm ready for it.
Like a good left-handed pitcher in baseball or three-point specialist in basketball, the Cowboys have afforded Irving a long leash despite his unreliability thanks to a 6'7" and 290 pound frame that makes him a menace for opposing guards.
The 3T-DT position is a pivotal one in Marinelli's scheme, and one the Cowboys have afforded Irving every opportunity to fill, yielding results whenever the former Chiefs practice squad steal suits up.
Filling in for Irving through the Cowboys first five games of the season has been reliable veteran Tyrone Crawford. Expected to play at defensive end this season, Crawford has recorded 14 tackles and one sack from the 3T position.
With Irving back in the "Hot Boyz" rotation, it will be interesting to see if Crawford once again goes out to right defensive end, where Randy Gregory has struggled to make the most out of his own return from suspension.
Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli is not expecting similar struggles from Irving, prepared to put him "through the ringer".
Where Passing Game Coordinator Kris Richard calls the Cowboys defense, Marinelli is still one of the most respected coaches at The Star, demanding a lot of his defensive line in particular. It's the pairing of Marinelli's motivation and Irving's intangibles that have the Cowboys defense on the brink of taking another step toward's one of the league's best.
With their own offense set to line up against perhaps the best overall defense in Jacksonville on Sunday, Irving's return is just in time. The NFC East is far from out of reach for the Cowboys, who will be at full strength on defense once Sean Lee returns as early as next week.
The Cowboys have never lost a game in which Lee, Irving, and Defensive End DeMarcus Lawrence play at least 20% of the team's snaps on defense. Perhaps this stat will have to be adjusted to include rookie Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch in short time, but for now the Cowboys are hours away from fighting for a 3-3 start to 2018, doing so with one of their most important defenders back in the lineup.
Dak Prescott is the Leader the Cowboys Need Right Now
The Dallas Cowboys (2-3) get set to face a Jacksonville Jaguars (3-2) squad that has one of the best defenses in the NFL, which leaves few believing that America's Team will see a turn around on Sunday afternoon at AT&T Stadium. Every game is different and this team is 2-0 at home in 2018. There is a possibility that Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys can come away with a win to even their record at 3-3.
I know I shouldn't be spreading hope and cheer about the Dallas Cowboys after what we've seen this season, but I just can't help myself. There are several reasons I believe this team can still make a run at the playoffs and one of those reasons is Dak Prescott.
While the wide receiver group and the coaching staff attempt to deflect criticism, Dak Prescott, the leader on the offense is willing to accept it.
Speaking to the media on Thursday, Dak let everyone know that he still has confidence in this team despite the start to the season and knows that there are things that he needs to work on for this offense to move forward.
“Obviously I haven’t had my best showing of that here recently. Getting my feet right, making sure it’s all in line, feet and eyes in line, and just making sure the ball’s coming out of my hand earlier.”
Dak Prescott - via Rob Phillips of DallasCowboys.com
You can find plenty of people on Twitter or Facebook to tell you what's wrong with Dak Prescott. Shoot, I wrote a piece looking at how long Dak has had in the pocket and how long he's held onto the football. Whether it's his footwork, throwing technique, processing speed, or accuracy, there are a lot of things to point to for reasons not to believe in Dak Prescott. However, there are intangibles to Dak's game that don't necessarily show up on film or in the stat book.
The most important intangible, to me, is leadership. A leader always believes that the best is yet to come. Yes, they are willing to take a personal inventory of where they and those they lead are at, but they always believe that people can be more than what they've shown. Even themselves.
Even though there isn't a lot of belief left in the Dallas Cowboys' offense right now, Dak Prescott still believes.
On Thursday, he told reporters, "I don't think we're far off."
Dak Prescott has always exhibited leadership qualities. From the first snaps he took as a rookie in his 2016 opener against the New York Giants, he's always showed an ability to rally when the deck seemed stacked against him. If you need more evidence, look to the Green Bay Packers divisional playoff game in 2016, when they got down 21-3 -- largely due to errors by others on the offense -- and he rallied the team to nearly pull off a miraculous comeback.
Prescott's not a perfect quarterback. He has things that he has to get better at if he wants to be the franchise quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys. The positive take away is Dak Prescott isn't unwilling to look at the things he needs to do to get better or to work on those things.
I know most of us are down on Dak at this point and things are looking bleak, but that doesn't mean that he's finished as a starting quarterback in this league or even for the Dallas Cowboys. And sitting a half game back of the Philadelphia Eagles, after their win over the New York Giants Thursday night, Dak Prescott has a chance to keep the Dallas Cowboys in the playoff hunt.
They're right in the thick of this thing and while there's plenty of reasons to doubt this team, one thing you should never doubt is Dak's resolve. He will continue to play hard and fight to rally the rest of the offense around him to go and get the job done.
Don't forget that just two weeks ago against one of the better pass defenses in the NFL, the Detroit Lions, Dak Prescott led the Cowboys on a game-winning drive with under two minutes to play in the fourth quarter.
There is a lot of criticism coming at Prescott and the Cowboys' offense, but leadership means standing tall in the face of adversity and Dak Prescott has that in spades.
He may not be the leader you want right now, but with everyone telling the Dallas Cowboys that they aren't good enough, he's the leader you need.
Star Blog6 days ago
If Jason Garrett’s Out, Who’s In? Potential HC Candidates
Star Blog2 days ago
Should the Dallas Cowboys Trade for These 2 Oakland Raiders?
Player News6 days ago
Leighton Vander Esch Lands on List of NFL’s Top 10 Rookies
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
Dez Bryant Tweets Desire to Return to Dallas Cowboys
Dallas Cowboys1 week ago
Did Garrett’s OT Decision Cost Him More Than Just the Game?
Star Blog5 days ago
Is Jason Garrett Losing the Cowboys Locker Room?
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
3 Dallas Cowboys Players Who are Performing at an Elite Level
Game Notes2 weeks ago
Takeaway Tuesday: CB Awuzie Hasn’t Met Expectations in 2018