As if the offseason wasn't frustrating enough, the Dallas Cowboys have further complicated things by the way they are attempting to upgrade the wide receiver position.
First, they attempt to acquire Sammy Watkins through free agency, but luckily that never materialized. Then they sign not one but two free agent WRs, Deonte Thompson and Allen Hurns.
Things have definitely gotten a lot more interesting and confusing at the WR position for the Dallas Cowboys. Surprisingly enough, it's looking as if things could get even more frustrating because the Cowboys are doing their due diligence in scouting this upcoming 2018 WR draft class as well.
The overabundance of WRs on the roster is of course a good and bad thing for the Dallas Cowboys. They can pretty much pick and choose who they want to carry on the team for the 2018 season, but that would mean making some tough decisions.
As a Cowboys fan, on the outside looking in, there seems to be no clear plan about how the Cowboys want to deploy their WRs for next season. The coaching staff surely knows what they're doing, which means we have to remain patient until decisions are finalized.
But until then, we can speculate and try to sort through the confusion in order to try and figure out exactly what the Dallas Cowboys have in mind for their wide receiver position heading into 2018 season.
Below is how I personally have the WR depth chart. I also tried to share with you what I think the Cowboys could be thinking with each player, plus my personal opinion.
The Dallas Cowboys still haven't really confirmed what they plan on doing with Dez Bryant, and the recent Allen Hurns signing only further complicates things. There has already been speculation that Hurns is Bryant's replacement, but apparently the Cowboys like the idea of keeping them both as well.
There are several things the Cowboys can do. They can choose to keep him on the roster in 2018 at his current salary, ask him to take a pay cut, or possibly extend him a few more years. They could also outright cut him if they are ready to move on and willing to absorb his $8 million cap hit this season. A trade is also a possibility.
As you can see, until the Dallas Cowboys finally announce what they intend to do with Bryant, the WR position will continue to be a hot topic this offseason. Personally, I don't think they should move on yet. I think Allen Hurns' addition will actually help Bryant this season.
Cole Beasley is another unknown right now. Many fans around Cowboys Nation have speculated that Ryan Switzer is ready to surpass him on the depth chart, which would mean Beasley becomes expendable for the Cowboys.
The Dallas Cowboys could save $3.25 million by releasing or trading Cole Beasley. It makes sense in a way because Beasley is entering the last year of his contract, but then the offense is relying on Switzer, who didn't receive a lot of offensive snaps last year in his rookie season. It's a gamble.
I personally believe it would be a mistake to move on from Beasley right now. He is the most "Dak friendly" WR currently on the Cowboys roster. But, he has a few things working against him though. The Cowboys can create more cap space without him and his heir apparent might already be on the roster.
There is no denying it, the Allen Hurns signing was a huge one for the Dallas Cowboys. His addition gives the Cowboys more leverage in any negotiations they may have with Dez Bryant, something they didn't have before hand. He's also an upgrade at the WR2 position.
The Dallas Cowboys pursuit of Sammy Watkins in the first week of free agency luckily failed, and it ultimately led to the signing of Hurns. Strangely enough, Hurns has nearly the same kind of production as Watkins throughout their careers in the NFL. Hurns however cost a fraction of what the Cowboys would have had to pay for Watkins.
I think this was a really good addition for the Dallas Cowboys offense. If nothing else, he is a WR2 upgrade, but could end up being the WR1 if the Cowboys move on from Dez Bryant.
I'm not ashamed to admit it, but I've been a fan of T Will, despite what the majority of the Cowboys fan base believes. I think he is underrated for what he does for the offense, but it definitely doesn't go unnoticed by the coaching staff. That is why they re-signed him last offseason.
Unfortunately, I think it's time to move on. As much as I like Williams, I didn't think re-signing him last year was the right move for the Cowboys. I think his skill set would be better suited in a different offensive scheme, but that's neither here nor there now.
I don't think the Cowboys will outright release Williams. It would just create too much dead money this season. A trade on the other hand is a possibility, although a small one. It would reduce his cap hit a little bit. I'd personally explore T Will's market value and try to work out a trade.
Ryan Switzer should be much more involved in the offensive game plan in 2018. It should have probably happened last season, but the Cowboys thought it best to simplify things for him as a rookie and make him return specialist.
Switzer's roster spot is secure. There is no way he is going anywhere and he could take the biggest jump up the depth chart. He has already shown how dangerous he can be when the ball is in his hands, now he just has to do it as a receiver rather than a returner.
I think he could adequately replace Cole Beasley as the Cowboys slot receiver. He doesn't have the advanced route running skills as Beasley, but he is bigger and more explosive. There may be a little bit of a drop off in production, but I don't think it would be all that much.
I personally have Noah Brown ahead of Deonte Thompson on the depth chart right now. I really like how he contributed to the offense last year as a rookie and wish he would have received more opportunities in the passing game.
Brown fits the Cowboys prototypical parameters they look for in their outside WRs and can do the dirty work Terrance Williams is so highly regarded for doing. He is still a work in progress, but someone that shows a lot of promise. I don't think it's time to give up on him just yet.
Not only can Brown provide depth at the WR position, but he has the skill set to play a little tight end as well. He may look like a WR, but he blocks like a tight end. That could come in handy next season, especially for a team who has a run first mentality.
Deonte Thompson has to prove himself before he is able to secure a roster spot. He does provide the speed element that is lacking from the Cowboys offense after Brice Butler departed via free agency, but he's still an unknown.
I believe he is an upgrade over Butler however. He is a better route runner and looks more comfortable catching the ball. It will be interesting to see what kind of role the Cowboys have in mind for him, but he's not exactly a lock to make the team yet.
Do you think the Dallas Cowboys have a plan for their wide receivers?
Ezekiel Elliott vs Byron Jones Part II: The Case For Paying Zeke
It's a debate that has raged on social media for some time now and it likely won't slow down as the offseason progresses and the Dallas Cowboys begin to hand out massive contracts to their top players. Pay Ezekiel Elliott? Pay Byron Jones? If you could only pay one, which would you pay?
This week fellow Inside The Star Staff Writer, Kevin Brady took to Twitter to poll the populous and his results were a bit surprising to me.
if you can only pay one it should be
The results inspired me to see what would happen if I put the same poll on my timeline.
Inspired by my teammate @KevinBrady88, if you can only pay one, which would it be?
On Monday, Kevin wrote a piece looking at one of the difficult decisions facing the Dallas Cowboys this offseason or next. If the Cowboys could only extend Byron Jones OR Ezekiel Elliott, who should they choose? Kevin, as am I, is a firm believer in Byron Jones ability and says the Cowboys should extend them, and I agree. But let's look at the other side of the argument.
To begin, the Cowboys should and probably will get both guys contract extensions either this offseason or next. It's not impossible with the cap continuing to increase at a rate of about $8-12 million per year that the Cowboys will have the space to get the deals done that they need to get done. Ezekiel Elliott and Byron Jones included.
Byron Jones settled in nicely at cornerback during his first full season at cornerback and knowing what we know about Jones, he won't be satisfied with a second team All-Pro appearance. Expect him to get better. However, if there's a single player that represents the current identity of the Dallas Cowboys, it's Running Back Ezekiel Elliott.
The Cowboys made him the fourth overall pick in 2016 and haven't looked back in their plan to establish the running game. For his career Elliott has averaged 26.9 touches per game over the course of his 40 games.
Here's a look at what Elliott's per game and per 16 game paces look like through the first three seasons of his career.
As you can see from the table above, Ezekiel Elliott is averaging 131.2 total yards per game for his career. In his rookie season he had 1,994 total yards and he sat out the week 17 game against the Philadelphia Eagles when the Cowboys had the NFC and home field advantage locked up. In 2017, Elliott sat out six games and still had nearly 1,000 yards rushing. In 2018, Elliott broke through the 2,000 total yard barrier after seeing a huge increase in his targets and receptions.
Ezekiel Elliott has been everything the Dallas Cowboys could have hoped for and more. With the leadership role he's taken with the team, he's a player that leads both vocally and by example. There are few players on the Dallas Cowboys that give as much effort as he does each snap. How many times has it looked like Elliott was about to get dropped for a two or three yard loss only to grind through tackles to pick up a four yard gain? How many times has he bounced off tacklers to get to the first down marker? Ezekiel Elliott is the human personification of dirty yards, but don't let that fool you into thinking that Elliott can't take it to the house every time he touches the ball. Elliott's is a game breaker who threatens the defense every time he steps on the field.
In 2018, Elliott led the NFL in yards after contact, per Pro Football Focus. His 949 yards after contact in 2018 would have ranked 13th in the NFL in rushing, which was better than David Johnson's 940 yards rushing last season.
Not many running backs effect a football game like Ezekiel Elliott does.
Few players outside of the quarterback position are as much of a focal point for their offense while being an attention grabber for opposing defenses like Ezekiel Elliott is. In 2018, he saw eight or more men in the box on nearly 25% of his carries in 2018. Some of that is related to the Dallas Cowboys insistence on using two tight ends on 50% of their running plays (per Sharp Football), but the other aspect is related to how much they respect the Dallas Cowboys running game. Since the 2014, the Cowboys have been synonymous with running the football. DeMarco Murray, Darren McFadden, and now Ezekiel Elliott have been the faces of that running game behind the Cowboys elite offensive line.
Even in a down year for offensive line play from the Dallas Cowboys, Elliott still managed to lead the NFL in rushing for the second time in three seasons. Elliott made the Pro Bowl for the second time in three years as well. Were it not for the railroad job done by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in 2017, there's a really good chance that Elliott leads the league in rushing three years in a row and that the Dallas Cowboys make the playoffs all three seasons.
Sure, the running back position is undervalued in the NFL and rushing yardage can be replaced, but there are intangibles to Elliott's game that are very difficult to replace. His ability to grind out the dirty yards, break big plays, create yards after contact, pass protect, be a threat as a receiver, and his leadership make him a player that is difficult to replace.
Yes, Byron Jones was really good in 2018 and deserves to get paid by the Dallas Cowboys as well, but you'd be hard pressed to find a player on the Cowboys roster who has been as consistent and dominating week in and week out as Ezekiel Elliott has been over the last three years.
BREAKING: Cowboys Sign Ex-Packers WR Randall Cobb
According to multiple sources, the Dallas Cowboys have signed former Green Bay Packers Wide Receiver Randall Cobb to a one-year deal to help bolster their depth at the WR position and potentially become Cole Beasley's replacement.
Cowboys are giving former Packers' WR Randall Cobb a one-year, $5 million deal, per source. https://t.co/8KWFPjSP8T
The Dallas Cowboys met with Randall Cobb earlier this week, but he eventually left Dallas without a contract. He must've had a change of heart or just needed time to ponder the Cowboys offer, but regardless of what transpired in that short time he is now part of America's Team.
During his time with the Packers, Cobb accumulated 470 receptions for 5,524 receiving yards and 41 touchdowns. The eight-year veteran will now be expected to replace some of Cole Beasley's production out of the slot for the Dallas Cowboys.
After years of watching Beasley as the Cowboys slot WR, it will be really interesting to see Randall Cobb in that role. He's not as quick twitched as No. 11, but can be just as dangerous due to his ability to be more of a down the field receiver. He also brings added value in the return game and could compete with Tavon Austin to become the return specialist.
This could mean the Cowboys forgo drafting a wide receiver early in the 2019 NFL Draft, but I wouldn't put it past them. Regardless of what happens, this is an excellent addition.
Welcome to Cowboys Nation Randall Cobb!
REPORT: Dallas Cowboys Re-sign Long Snapper L.P. Ladouceur
L.P. Ladouceur is returning for his 15th season as the Cowboys' long snapper. The veteran free agent was re-signed by Dalals today to a one-year deal.
Thanks to Jason Witten's one-year sabbatical with Monday Night Football, Ladouceur has now been with the Cowboys for more consecutive seasons than any current player. He just turned 38 last week, but Louis-Philippe remains one of the top long snappers in football.
The Cowboys have signed long-snapper L.P. Ladouceur to a one-year deal worth $1.03 million and $90,000 in bonus money, but he will count $735,000 against the cap. This will be Ladouceur's 15th season with the Cowboys, tying Ed "Too Tall" Jones, Mark... https://t.co/2iDsi6RX7e
Retaining Ladouceur is an underrated move for the Cowboys given their situation at kicker.
Brett Maher was only 80% accurate overall on field goals last year. The team could be considering an upgrade in free agency.
Whether they bring Maher back or try someone new, having a long snapper with Ladouceur's performance perfection will make things much easier for them.
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