One of the big mysteries on the Dallas Cowboys roster right now is offensive lineman Chaz Green. Is he a guard? Is he a tackle? Does he have any shot at being a significant player this season?
A third-round pick in last year's draft, Green was essentially "redshirted" in 2015 with a known hip issue that required surgery. He had that done after the draft and missed all of training camp and preseason. Green was on the Physically Unable to Perform list for as long as is allowed, then was kept inactive the rest of the season.
During those late-season practices, reports had Green getting some work at guard due to struggling at tackle. However, coming into this year, those same sources have Green back to primarily playing at offensive tackle. It makes sense given the Cowboys' situation there compared to the interior line.
Dallas is set for this year and probably most of the next decade at most of their starting offensive line positions. Tyron Smith, La'el Collins, Travis Frederick, and Zack Martin aren't expected to be leaving anytime soon. What's more, Dallas has two veteran interior line reserves in Ronald Leary and newly-signed Joe Looney.
It's right tackle, and the swing tackle role behind it, that give Chaz Green the best opportunity to have a role now and in the future. According to Cowboys insider Bryan Broaddus, however, there won't be any competition for the starting job this season:
"Chaz Green will not beat Doug Free out for his job at right tackle – it just will not happen. Where Green needs to focus is trying to beat Charles Brown out for that job as the swing tackle."
This shouldn't be a surprise or even a disappointment. Green is essentially still a rookie with all of the missed time last year. For whatever flaws he has, Free has experience and chemistry on his side. Free's also a very strong run blocker and that increases his value with Dallas' focus on the rushing attack.
So what about that backup job? After trying several different guys during the 2015 camp and preseason, Dallas eventually signed veteran Charles Brown before Week One. He never had to play much, thankfully, but the Cowboys must have seen enough in practice to want to re-sign him this past March. Brown is playing for the veteran minimum of $760k this season with no guaranteed money.
The Cowboys would love for Green to supplant Brown as the swing tackle this year. Ideally they would only keep three backup linemen; one tackle to go with Leary and Looney as the interior reserves. It frees up a valuable roster spot for some other position.
If Green can't handle the job then Dallas will have a tough decision to make. You'd hate to give up on a third-round pick this soon, especially one who didn't have much of a rookie season. Dallas would have to still think enough of Green's potential to want to carry him all season, likely never putting him on the active gameday roster.
Of course, they could cut Green and try to put him on the practice squad. They may not be worried about him getting poached a year removed from his draft class. Also, frankly, they may not care too much if his value has fallen to the point of being released.
For a few years the third round of the NFL Draft was becoming a good friend to the Dallas Cowboys. From 2011-2013 it yielded DeMarco Murray, Tyrone Crawford, and Terrance Williams. After not having a pick in 2014, Dallas took Green last year and just selected defensive tackle Maliek Collins in this past April's draft.
Both Green and Collins have had tough starts. Collins broke his foot a few weeks ago and could miss all of training camp and most of the preseason. However, third-round picks don't often hit the ground running. Murray and Crawford, and even Jason Hatcher a few years earlier, had slow beginnings before eventually becoming big names. Even if these early years aren't noteworthy for Green, it doesn't mean he won't have a career.
However, there's also plenty of room for Green to be a failed pick. Between Hatcher and the Murray-Crawford-Williams drafts, Dallas drafted offensive linemen James Marten and Robert Brewster in the third round. Both were out of the league within a few years.
So, the mystery around Green is still just that and may linger for another season or two. He's become easily forgotten because of La'el Collins being picked up as a free agent in that same draft class. However, with right tackle still the weak spot of the offensive line and the closest to needing a fresh face, Green is still very relevant to the Cowboys current and future goals.
Cowboys Will Tag DeMarcus Lawrence; What’s the Plan?
February 20 is an important day for NFL clubs this year. Why? It's the first day in which teams can franchise tag any player. Since 2015, when the Dallas Cowboys tagged Dez Bryant before they were able to work out a long-term deal, Jerry Jones & Co. haven't used the franchise tag. In 2018, though, that will change.
DeMarcus Lawrence just played his best season yet in 2017, and he's looking to get paid big time. Through three years, he had been able to rack up nine sacks, 52 tackles and three forced fumbles. In just 2017, he sacked opposing quarterbacks 14.5 times, had 35 tackles and managed to force four fumbles.
Not only did Lawrence look like an elite pass rusher, but he also improved as a run defender a lot. The Cowboys have been looking for a "War Daddy" for a long, long time and Lawrence seems to be the answer for this football team.
After such a big year, one would expect the Cowboys to sign him to a multi-year enormous contract. But there's a catch. Lawrence failed to remain healthy early in his career and really didn't make as much of an impact until last season.
There's no question that D-Law will be wearing a star come the 2018 NFL season, but will he be doing it under a long-term deal or under a franchise tag?
Cowboys will not place franchise tag on DeMarcus Lawrence tomorrow as that window opens but will do so by March 6 w/ understanding the goal is to reach a long-term deal. Both sides have until July 16 to make that happen.
For now, according to David Moore from Dallas Morning News, the Cowboys will franchise tag Lawrence with the objective of getting a deal done in July. The tag however, is not expected to be placed as soon as possible.
In 2015, the Cowboys didn't place the franchise tag on Dez Bryant until the final deadline day. This year's deadline is March 6th, so it may be two weeks before they make it official with DeMarcus Lawrence. #CowboysNation #DallasCowboys
What would franchise tagging DeMarcus Lawrence mean for this team?
First of all, they'd make sure he doesn't hit free agency in March. This gives the front office time to get to work and restructure players' contracts if they have to in order to open up as much cap space as they can before giving him a deal.
It's worth mentioning as well, cap savings from players who are designated as post-June 1 cuts will already be available. If you want to be more familiarized with the Cowboys' cap situation, I highly recommend you read John Williams' deep dive on the matter.
It'll continue to be a very interesting story for this offseason, as handing a franchise tag to a player tends to become a non-friendly situation for both parties. Let's hope that's not the case for the Cowboys and Lawrence this year and that everything works out fine.
Here at Inside The Star, we'll continue updating you and the rest of Cowboys Nation throughout the offseason.
Watch: Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith Goes Bowling for First Time Since College Injury
Dallas Cowboys Linebacker Jaylon Smith did not just defy all odds and return to normalcy in 2017, starting as the Cowboys' middle linebacker for a full 16 games. He became one of the team's and NFL's brightest success stories, earning the right to celebrate everyday activities returning to his life - as football did this season.
This is exactly what Jaylon Smith did on Twitter Friday afternoon, posting a Snapchat video of himself bowling. The caption on Twitter adds that Smith was enjoying his time at the lanes for the first time in two years.
It was January 1st, 2016 when Jaylon Smith's injury in the Fiesta Bowl against Notre Dame changed his outlook forever. In that moment, Smith went from a projected top ten pick in the 2016 NFL Draft to a LB that would need a team to take a chance on him - and be patient.
The Dallas Cowboys proved to be that team, using the 34th overall pick on the Notre Dame star and supporting his efforts to return to the field from day one. The entire Cowboys' organization was rewarded by Smith remarkably playing every game this season, inspired by his constant determination to do just that.
So, a normal offseason for Jaylon Smith is anything but right now. Still battling the drop foot condition (one that is reportedly healing well and "fading") which limits his movement ability in the lower body, Smith is a normal Dallas Cowboys football player from this point forward.
He can say he's already defined all odds, can expect to take an even bigger stride forward in 2018, and Jaylon Smith can go bowling again. You can't help but be happy for #54.
Dak Prescott’s Accuracy Stands Out in Final 2017 Stats
2017 was a season that left the Dallas Cowboys with a ton of questions to think about. Dez Bryant's contract, Sean Lee and Tyron Smith's availability, and the future of DeMarcus Lawrence and David Irving are some of those questions.
But there's another more pressing question for the Cowboys. How can they get the most out of Quarterback Dak Prescott and avoid another struggling year for him?
Also, what if he has another rough year? At what point does quarterback become a position that needs to be evaluated if he continues to struggle?
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that will be the case. In fact, I have a lot of faith in Dak. I think he's shown a lot to be excited about and I definitely believe there's a "quarterback curve" in the NFL. Hopefully, #4 finds a way to get back on track in 2018.
A reason to be optimistic about Prescott's future is an impressive stat from NFL Next Gen Stats. Turns out, Dak Prescott ranked first in the NFL in "tight window throws" completion percentage with 45.8%.
According to Matt Harmon from NFL.com, a "tight window throw" is defined as a pass in which the intended receiver has less than a yard of separation from the defender.
Dak Prescott is far from a perfect quarterback and he's constantly bashed about his throwing accuracy. Just recently, he took part in a passing competition with David Carr before the NFL Honors and well... it's fair to say Carr completely beat him.
David Carr 6, Dak Prescott 1 pic.twitter.com/rV532Q3Cob
— uSTADIUM (@uSTADIUM) 6 de febrero de 2018
Cowboys Twitter was anything but forgiving for the young quarterback, but at the end of the day, I'm not sure a casual passing competition at an event like that one is the way you judge an NFL starting quarterback who has a 22-10 record in his career.
Dak has a long way to go before being considered an excellent quarterback in the league, but a bad season like 2017 doesn't mean it's the end of his career and that the Dallas Cowboys should start Cooper Rush over him.
It's not the first quarterback who struggles one year and he won't be the last one to bounce back from one. As of right now, Dak Prescott rightfully is the Dallas Cowboys QB1. Hopefully he has a better year next season.
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