We are now days away from the start of the Cowboys 2016 Training camp. Finally, right? With camp comes competition, starting positions and backup jobs are all in jeopardy as players will be fighting day in and day out to earn a spot on this years Cowboys' roster.
Cowboys' camp is filled with "sexy" position battles, such as the backup quarterback position and the number two receiver role. Possibly the most intriguing battle of all might be one you haven't thought about yet, the battle for the "swing tackle" role.
What is a swing tackle?
In simplest terms, the swing tackle is the first-backup offensive lineman who can fill in at both left and right tackle if needed. While he is the "sixth man" of sorts and wouldn't be in the weekly starting lineup, the importance swing tackle position cannot be understated.
In 2014, Jermey Parnell filled this role for the Cowboys and was needed to actually start at right tackle during Doug Free's absence. While Parnell certainly didn't play poorly, there was still a noticeable drop-off in his play from that of Free's. Of course there will be a drop-off when any backup fills in for a starter, but Parnell was about as good a backup tackle as you could ask for.
Parnell's departure has left the Cowboys with questions about their swing tackle role for the past two offseasons. With the reported signings of tackle Cameron Bradfield and Darryl Baldwin, there now seems to be three players legitimately competing for this very important role.
The Cowboys drafted Chaz Green in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft to the surprise of most of the football world. While the team had been declared the owners of the league's top offensive line, they still found it necessary to select an offensive lineman with one of their first three picks.
Green spent most of the 2015 season injured, after undergoing hip surgery during the offseason. This offseason, however, was filled with hope for Green's future, as the team seems to believe Green is set to show why he was worth a third round pick. It was even rumored for a while that Green would have a chance to compete for the starting right tackle job with Doug Free, something that seems well out of the realm of possibilities at this point.
Others, including myself, remain skeptical. I didn't see a whole lot out of Green during his time at Florida to make me believe is he up to the challenge of starting in the NFL as a tackle, but I hope to be proved wrong. His chances don't look great after the Cowboys recent moves to add two offensive tackles, however.
Bradfield was the first of two offensive tackles signed to the Cowboys this week. These moves came to the surprise of many, especially considering the optimism around Charles Brown and Chaz Green among many Cowboys fans and writers.
Bradfield has something Green doesn't have, NFL-game experience. While he hasn't played in the league since the 2014 season, Bradfield did start 27 of his 41 career games over three years with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Most importantly, he did so at both right and left tackle.
Now it is hard to know how much Bradfield has left in the tank, or even if he can play at all anymore, but his experience, size, and relatively young age give him a shot to compete for the swing tackle role.
The second of two tackles signed to the Cowboys this week, Darryl Baldwin might as well be a rookie. After signing as an undrafted free agent to the Baltimore Ravens in 2015, Baldwin saw no game action during his rookie year, and was only on the roster for three preseason games.
What gives you hope with Baldwin is his excellent length. At 6'6" 305 pounds, Baldwin has good arm length and knew how to use it at Ohio State. His upper body strength and pass blocking punch also give you some hope that he could carve himself out a niche as a swing tackle.
Baldwin started all of his college games at right tackle, however, and is probably nothing more than a camp body. With that being said, I would be surprised if Baldwin made the final 53-man roster at all.
What should they do?
As you can see, the Cowboys offensive line depth, especially at tackle, is lacking. Bradfield gives a sort of veteran presence to the bench, but the ceiling of this swing tackle position will go as high as Chaz Green will.
Green has to make good on his third round selection, and if he doesn't, we will all look back at rounds two and three of the 2015 draft with a ton of questions about the team handled their picks.
Hopefully for the Cowboys, Chaz Green can come through. But I certainly have my doubts.
Free Agent WR Allen Hurns Plans to Sign With Cowboys
It looks as if the Dallas Cowboys will be adding yet another wide receiver through free agency. According to sources, Allen Hurns plans on signing with the Cowboys.
WR Allen Hurns just told me, "I'm going to sign with Dallas." #Cowboys
This is a move that seemed unlikely after the Cowboys signed Deonte Thompson a few days ago, but I know a lot of Cowboys Nation will be excited about this transaction.
While this move is exciting, it does create more confusion for the Cowboys and their wide receivers. It's difficult to imagine all of these WRs sticking to the roster, which means there will be some tough decisions that need to be made.
What will the Cowboys do with Dez Bryant?
Will Cole Beasley be cut or traded?
Are the Cowboys comfortable absorbing Terrance Williams' cap hit if traded or released?
Will this keep the Cowboys from drafting a WR early?
All of these questions and more will have to be answered eventually. But, one thing is for sure, things are definitely about to get interesting.
Of course, there is a bonus here for the Dallas Cowboys. Since Allen Hurns was released by the Jacksonville Jaguars, he doesn't count against the Cowboys compensatory picks next season.
Please stay tuned and we will continue to keep you updated on contract details and any other news involving Allen Hurns as it becomes available.
What do you think about the Allen Hurns signing?
What Signing Thompson Means for Hurns and Cowboys WR Position
UPDATE: News of Hurns saying he will sign with the Cowboys broke as this article went live.
Free Agency began a bit late for the Dallas Cowboys, but they've already done enough to get fans discussing about the latest additions to the roster. Adding help on offense, defense and special teams in form of tier-2 free agents may not be what Cowboys Nation wants to see, but I'm certain they wouldn't have enjoyed giving Sammy Watkins a three-year $48M contract, either.
However, the Cowboys are clearly in the wide receiver market after an offensively disappointing season. They have quite a few of this year's class of wide receivers prospects scheduled to visit Dallas, and they've hosted some WR free agents as well.
This week, they even signed one.
Deonte Thompson, who started seven games for the Bills last year, is coming to Dallas on a one-year $2.5M contract. The 29-year old could be the burner receiver this offense is missing and could end up being an improved version of Brice Butler for the Cowboys in 2018.
He hasn't had a great career but last season was his best year so far. Starting three games for the Bears and seven for the Bills, Thompson was able to rack up a career-high 555 yards and two touchdowns.
His best attribute as a player is definitely the speed he brings to the table and his ability to separate down the field, which he'll be looking to do on Dak Prescott's offense this season.
But there was another wide receiver visiting Dallas this week and now we wonder whether or not the Deonte Thompson signing will keep the Cowboys from targeting former Jaguars' WR Allen Hurns.
According to Todd Archer, that won't be the case.
Told the signing of Deonte Thompson does not close the door on the Cowboys' interest in Allen Hurns, who visited the team Wednesday and had dinner. Things could get interesting in the Cowboys' wide receivers' room. https://t.co/Ivt5uk9kBN
It shouldn't be. First of all, Hurns is a much better player than Thompson and would provide this offense with a receiver who can play in the "X" or in the "Z" role. We've been talking about getting Prescott a reliable target to try to give him a "best friend." Allen Hurns could be just that.
Sure, he's had a couple of down seasons, but the talent is there to take.
Simply put, the Deonte Thompson signing shouldn't stop the Cowboys from looking at WR in the first round of the NFL Draft. Allen Hurns would.
It sure would make things interesting in the wide receiver room for Dallas. Despite what many believe, Dez Bryant will probably remain a Cowboy even if Hurns is signed. Let's say the Cowboys go out there and get the 26-year old from Jacksonville and have to decide which six receivers to keep for the season.
They'd possibly have to decide among these:
- Dez Bryant
- Terrrance Williams
- Cole Beasley
- Ryan Switzer
- Allen Hurns
- Deonte Thompson
- Noah Brown
- A drafted rookie?
This is where a lot of dilemmas start taking form. Cole Beasley and Ryan Switzer are basically the same player and if you're not going to use them both at the same time, do you keep them anyway? What about Terrance Williams? He could be the worst receiver to make the cut just because of his contract.
Noah Brown showed promise in 2017, are they ready to move on from him? And finally, a rookie could very well end up beating Deonte Thompson, who was guaranteed a million in his contract.
Wide receiver is indeed one of the top needs for the Dallas Cowboys. They could head to the 2018 NFL Draft needing one in the top rounds or they could be fine signing Hurns and taking a late-rounder receiver to compete in training camp for a spot on the roster.
As long as they're having a tough time deciding because they are all good, it should be fine.
Cowboys Sign Free Agent WR Deonte Thompson
The Dallas Cowboys added some speed to their receiver corps today by signing free agent Deonte Thompson. He played for both the Chicago Bears and Buffalo Bills last season.
Thompson, who turned 29 last month, went undrafted in 2012. He had a quiet to start to his career as a reserve and practice squad guy in Baltimore and Chicago, but finally got a chance to shine with seven starts last year for the Bills. He 27 catches for 430 yards and one touchdown in just 11 games.
The #Cowboys signed WR Deonte Thompson, per agent @davidcanter. He gets 1-year, $2.5M with a $1M signing bonus.
Deonte brings some much-needed speed to the Cowboys offense. He ran a 4.31 40-yard dash as a rookie, and while he's 29 now he still poses more of a vertical threat than the current Dallas receivers.
Given the low salary in this deal, Thompson may not be seen as much than a replacement for Brice Butler near the bottom of Dallas' depth chart. We also have to wait and see what happens with the draft and other moves this offseason to know where he fits into the bigger picture.
For now, though, Cowboys fans can take a little comfort in knowing the front office hasn't completely fallen asleep at the wheel.
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