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Which Dallas Cowboys Free Agents Will Be Back in 2019?

John Williams

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Has the Time Come to Bid Farewell to WR Cole Beasley?

The Dallas Cowboys have several important decisions to make this offseason as they approach free agency and the draft. Will they make a splash and be spenders this year with high priced players like Earl Thomas and Landon Collins available? Will they continue to go the conservative route and resign their own players and just get their toes wet in free agency?

The first question we have to answer as the Dallas Cowboys begin roster building is which of their expiring contracts will they look to bring back for the 2019 season and beyond?

Below are each of the Dallas Cowboys free agents heading into the offseason and a "confidence rating" describing how confident I am that they'll return to the Dallas Cowboys for 2019.

It's a 0 ✭’s means I don’t believe the player will be back. Five ✭’s means I’m locking them into the 2019 depth chart right now.

DeMarcus Lawrence, Defensive End

When Stephen Jones and Jason Garrett both say that getting a long-term deal done with DeMarcus Lawrence is a high priority, you can bet that they are going to do everything they can to get a long-term deal done with DeMarcus Lawrence.

The only question here is whether they'll have to use the franchise tag on Lawrence or not. Their hope is to get a contract done for Lawrence prior to the free agency period opening. They wouldn't want Lawrence to get to free agency where teams like the Indianapolis Colts -- with nearly twice as much cap space as the Cowboys -- could make Lawrence an offer he can't refuse to upgrade their pass rush.

This is where the franchise tag comes in. If they use it, they get to spend the Spring negotiating with their Pro Bowl defensive end. Lawrence proved last year that he's willing to play on the franchise tag and if they weren't able to come to a contract agreement, would likely do the same this year.

DeMarcus Lawrence is coming back.

Confidence Rating: ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

Cole Beasley, Wide Receiver

I've gone back and forth on whether not Cole Beasley would return all season. Heading into the offseason, I wasn't very confident that Beasley returns because of what's gone on under Scott Linehan in 2018. Let's just say, I was more confident in his return Tuesday morning before reading Cole Beasley's accusations that the front office was dictating who got the football in the passing game. Cole Beasley was asked a question and in typical Cole Beasley form, he answered it. He further explained his comments on Wednesday when he said this:

Cole Beasley on Twitter

Some are misunderstanding my point. EVERY team's gameplan in pro sports is dictated by the front office. Big free agent additions, high draft picks, etc are going to get the most opps. And I'm not mad at that! Lol I just want to help my team win. All good players want the rock.

This makes much more sense than the Cowboys front office is telling the coaches who to get the ball too, though I still disagree. Amari Cooper operates in similar spots to Cole Beasley and with Dak Prescott's penchant for spreading the ball around, it means some games, one of their better receivers may not get the ball. See Amari Cooper for a couple games down the stretch.

Do I believe that Jerry Jones or Stephen Jones were telling the coaching staff where to focus in the passing game? No and neither should you. Do I believe that he was somewhat phased out of the offense? Yes. Even the casual fan could see that the Cowboys passing game didn't really look Beasley's way much through the first 58 minutes of games. When the Cowboys went hurry-up, which allowed Dak Prescott to manipulate the play call, Beasley was much more involved.

Before he made those comments on Twitter on Tuesday, I would have put the odds at a return at about 50/50. He wants more opportunity, and perhaps the new offensive coordinator can sell him on more opportunities in 2019.

Cole Beasley is still an excellent wide receiver, but he'll turn 30 in April and if past history suggests how the Cowboys will approach Beasley, then he won't be back.

They don't like to pay age.

Confidence Rating: ✭ ✭

Tavon Austin, Wide Receiver

Tavon Austin was the epitome of Much Ado About Nothing this season as he came in with a ton of hype but had a really hard time living up to it because of usage and injury.

Austin played only 115 snaps on offense and 26 snaps on special teams this season. That's less than Deonte Thompson who was only with the team for half the year.

Austin only played in 10 games this season and caught only eight passes on 13 targets. He did have two touchdowns and averaged 17.5 yards per reception, but the Cowboys never fully committed to using him in the offense and so his impact was limited.

On special teams, the coaching staff didn't trust him enough as the full time kick or punt returner. He showed what he's capable of in the playoffs when he hit a couple big returns against the Seattle Seahawks -- though one was called back by a penalty.

Confidence Rating: ✭ ✭

Geoff Swaim, Tight End

Geoff Swaim's 2018 season got off to a pretty good start as the starting tight end for the Dallas Cowboys. Sadly it ended with him going on IR and the two tight ends behind him, Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz emerged in his absence.

The Cowboys are looking toward the NFL draft with sites set on a deep tight end class that has a lot of really intriguing options in the top 100.

Swaim is a team favorite. A guy who will do what's asked in both the passing game and the running game. I can see a scenario where they bring him back to fill out their tight end room, if the money is right, and draft a player to develop.

As in everything in free agency, it depends on the money.

Confidence Rating: ✭ ✭

Cameron Fleming, Offensive Tackle

Cameron Fleming was an important offseason signing in 2018. After the debacle of 2017, highlighted by the Atlanta Falcons game where Dak Prescott took eight sacks, they needed to do something. Neither Chaz Green or Byron Bell could block anyone that day, which led to Dak Prescott not trusting his protection, even in the early part of this season.

The Cowboys had to shore up their depth at tackle in the event that Tyron Smith missed games, which he did. They should look to bring Fleming back on a one to two year deal to continue being the swing tackle. Fleming may want to go find a starting job and there will likely be options out there for him if he wants him, but I'd be going a bit above market value on a contract to bring him back as Tyron Smith has missed games in each of the last three seasons. Having a tackle who can play both sides of the offensive line and play with some effectiveness is important.

See Joe Looney.

Confidence Rating: ✭ ✭ ✭

David Irving, Defensive Tackle

I've long been an advocate for having David Irving a part of the Dallas Cowboys because he possesses elite traits as a 3-technique defensive tackle. The problem is that he was absent for much of the season, first because of a high ankle sprain he suffered after coming back from his suspension and then because of personal reasons.

Owner and General Manager Jerry Jones has long taken chances on troubled players who have ability, to give them an opportunity to turn their lives around and to this point. Whatever's going on in his personal life has kept him away from the team for the vast majority of this season, leaning many to question if David Irving even wants to play football.

Based on talent alone, I'd bring him back, but at a one year incentive laden contract.

Confidence Rating: ✭

Damien Wilson, Linebacker

Damien Wilson isn't the best linebacker in the world, but as a Strong side linebacker, he's pretty effective. He's good at setting the edge in the running game and offers some pass rushing ability as well.

Wilson was second among linebackers for the Dallas Cowboys with 4 total pressures and tied with Sean Lee for second at the position in sacks with one. Wilson isn't someone you want playing a major role in nickel or dime packages, but he brings something to the table on early downs and helps you on special teams.

If he wants to be back and the money's right, I would think the front office tries to bring him back. He's a good fourth or fifth linebacker for your squad and they like to resign their own guys, but they could also look to the draft to fill his role.

Confidence Rating: ✭ ✭

Rod Smith, Running Back

Running back Rod Smith isn't the most explosive number two running back in the NFL, but he's been a solid contributor who averaged 2.6 touches per game. He played a lot on special teams and that matters to the franchise.

I believe they look to draft a running back this offseason, but that shouldn't preclude them from resigning Smith. There are a lot of big names in the running back free agent market this season and so there may not be a lot of money or opportunity to find more of a role elsewhere.

Confidence Rating: ✭

Jamize Olawale, Full Back

Do the Dallas Cowboys even know how to use a full back. Jamize Olawale only played 10% of the snaps this season. The only players to play fewer than Olawale were; Noah Brown, Adam Redmond (reserve guard), Terrance Williams (injured reserve after week three), Darius Jackson (end of season practice squad call up), Lance Lenoir (end of season practice squad call up), Jourdan Lewis (defensive back), Cooper Rush (back up quarterback), and Brice Butler (only played three snaps before being released week 3).

This team doesn't value a full back and doesn't use one much either, therefore they shouldn't really have one. They can use Dalton Schultz in an h-back role that does some lead blocking for Elliott, or draft a tight end to fill that role.

I'm pretty confident in saying that the Cowboys won't be bringing Olawale back. He just finished a contract that was paying him $2 million a year. 0% chance they bring him back at that money and there's zero chance he he would want to come back to play 10% of the Cowboys snaps in 2019

Confidence Rating:

L.P. Ladouceur, Long Snapper

After DeMarcus Lawrence, what happens with L.P. Ladouceur is the most concerning free agent for me. The long-snapper has been with the Cowboys since 2005 and has snapped in 221 games for them. In all those years watching the team, I can't remember a bad snap.

Ladouceur will turn 38 in March, so the question, as it was last offseason is more about if he wants to keep playing or not. The Cowboys will want him back and if he wants to play, he'll do so with a star on his helmet. Eventually, every player runs out of steam for the grind of an NFL season.

Confidence Rating: ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

Other Free Agents

Daniel Ross, Defensive Tackle

Defensive Tackle, Daniel Ross was effective on a limited basis for the Dallas Cowboys. He provided some penetration at the 1-technique defensive tackle position and finished the season with 14 tackles, one sack, three tackles for loss, ten total pressures, eight stops (according to Pro Football Focus) and seven quarterback hits.

For the Cowboys and Ross it will be about the money. They like him as a reserve defensive tackle.

Confidence Rating: ✭ ✭ ✭

Caraun Reid, Defensive Tackle

Caraun Reid had a similar season to Daniel Ross this offseason. Seldom used, but effective at times at stopping the run and generating pressure from the Dallas Cowboys interior. He finished the season with 10 tackles, 0.5 sacks, one tackle for loss, three quarterback hits, nine stops, and 10 total pressures.

Age will be a bigger factor heading into his contract negotiations as he'll turn 28 next November. If it were to come down to Ross or Reid, I believe they'd opt for the younger of the two, that being Ross.

Confidence Rating: ✭

Datone Jones, Defensive Tackle

Prior to being put on injured reserve in week four of the NFL Season, Datone Jones had only played in one game. He played five snaps against the Seattle Seahawks and didn't record a stat in that game. Datone Jones will be 29 in July and will likely be on his way out the door. The Cowboys will look to add a defensive tackle in the draft.

Confidence Rating: ✭

Justin March-Lillard, Linebacker

This team likes Justin March-Lillard and his ability to play both the middle and weak side spots at linebacker. He's a developmental project who could earn more of a role this season if the Dallas Cowboys resign him and the likelihood that Sean Lee will no longer be on the roster.

Confidence Rating: ✭ ✭ ✭

Marcus Martin, Guard

Marcus Martin is a developmental depth player for the Dallas Cowboys who had to be put on IR week one of this season. He's only 23, but with Connor Williams likely staking his claim at left guard, Patrick Ehringer back next season to add depth on the interior and Xavier Su'a Filo still under contract for the 2019 season, the Cowboys will likely move on from Marcus Martin this offseason.

Confidence Rating:

Darian Thompson, Safety

Darian Thompson was on the active roster for 10 games in 2018, but didn't record a single stat. He played only one snap on defense and 54 snaps on special teams. Safety is a high priority this offseason as they look to solidify their defense with either a big name free agent target or through the draft. Thompson will be moving on.

Confidence Rating:

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

A lot of decisions still have to be made as the Cowboys front office lays out their game plan for how they’ll improve the roster over the next five or six months. Like the NFL season is a grind, the offseason is as well. When it comes to the Dallas Cowboys, there will be no shortage of rumors, reports, and breaking news.

Stick around Inside The Star for all the latest in Dallas Cowboys news and analysis.



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Dallas Cowboys

Terrance Williams Was OK, But Cowboys Need More From Michael Gallup

Jess Haynie

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Can WR Michael Gallup Eclipse 1,000 Receiving Yards as a Rookie?

Just yesterday, the Dallas Cowboys declined an option on Wide Receiver Terrance Williams' contract and ended his six-year tenure with the team. One reason the veteran was no longer in their plans was the presence of Michael Gallup, who the team has high hopes for entering just his second NFL season.

It's interesting to compare Gallup and Williams on several levels. Just as Terrance's time ends, having only made a few appearance last year in just three games, Michael was a fast learner as a rookie and emerged as the team's number-two receiver by the playoffs.

Both were third-round picks, with Williams (74th) being selected just seven spots higher overall in 2013 than Gallup (81st) was in 2018.

Terrance came to Dallas when Dez Bryant was firmly entrenched as the team's primary receiver. Michael was drafted less than a month after Dez was released, but Amari Cooper soon established himself as the number-one WR midway through the year.

In both cases, the Cowboys hoped that their third-round selection would yield a player who could at least play a complimentary role as a solid roleplayer, if not regular starter.

For all his warts Terrance Williams was ultimately a solid draft pick. He started in about 75% of the games he played in and was a proficient run blocker, helping both DeMarco Murray and Ezekiel Elliott have big years. He also made some highlight reel catches in his time.

Did Terrance Williams' Big Game Quiet His Doubters?

Dallas Cowboys WR Terrance Williams

But with those big plays came some big blunders. Terrance often had a bad drop for every good catch he made. A huge mental error may have cost Dallas the 2016 season opener against the Giants. And if the team wasn't already starting to turn on him, his 2018 arrest for public intoxication seemed to push them over the edge.

That said, the biggest issue with Williams was his inability to produce without other plays drawing attention. He didn't rise to the occasion when Dez Bryant was injured. He rarely even made defenses pay for giving Dez too much attention.

At his best, Terrance was a solid number-two receiver. Plenty of teams who've spent first-round picks on receivers wish they could they'd gotten as much in return. Nobody should be disappointed with how that 2013 third-round pick turned out.

But when it comes to Michael Gallup, Dallas should hope that Williams' career is the floor for Gallup's potential. As teams key on Amari Cooper going forward, can Gallup do damage in ways that Terrance rarely could?

Even more importantly, if Cooper were to ever get injured, could Michael step up and take on a larger role? Can Dallas finally have a number-two receiver with the capacity for occasionally taking the lead?

#DALvsWAS: Michael Gallup Will Play, Value Extends Beyond Passing Game 1

Dallas Cowboys WR Michael Gallup

That may be putting too much pressure on young Mr. Gallup but it's really not an unfair expectation. Recent drafts have produced highly productive third-round receivers such as Keenan Allen, Cooper Kupp, Kenny Golladay, and Tyler Lockett.

Even more pressure comes if Cole Beasley leaves the team in free agency. While his role lessened toward the end of 2018, Cole remained one of Dak Prescott's favorite options in clutch situations. He was almost impossible to stop with just one man covering him, and that gave defenses a real dilemma once Amari Cooper arrived.

Can Gallup fill those shoes? Can he become a reliable target when the game is on the line?

In the end, all Michael has to do is be a solid starter to provide a great value for his draft selection. The Williams standard isn't a bad measure.

But if the Cowboys ever want to win more than just the occasional playoff game then they need another receiving threat who truly punishes opposing defenses. They need the next Alvin Harper, not the next Terrance Williams.

We can only hope, as the team does, that Michael Gallup is up to the task.



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Dallas Cowboys

Deep Dive into the Dallas Cowboys 2019 Salary Cap

John Williams

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Sean's Scout: Cowboys Blitzes Keep Giants Play Makers in Check

The Dallas Cowboys are heading into free agency, which opens March 13th, in really good shape. The Cowboys will be able to be aggressive in the free agent market if they want to. They have the 10th most cap space in the NFL. It could make for a fun free agency period for the front office and Cowboys Nation, however, we know how this team has felt about spending on outside free agents since being burned by the Brandon Carr signing.

In years past, they’ve opted to bargain shop. Last year was a departure from the norm though, as they chased the mythical unicorn that is Sammy Watkins last offseason.

Sometimes the best deals are the ones you don’t make. 

They haven’t generally been a team that chased big-time free agents, though this could be the season that all changes with several free agent safeties that could be immediate upgrades.

We know they’re going to spend a lot of money on their own with Demarcus Lawrence coming free and Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott, and Dak Prescott looking for contract extensions, but they’re could Ben opportunities to bring in a star from another player to come where The Star.

I hope Jerry Jones has his signing hand ready, it’s going to be putting in a lot of work over the next couple of months.

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve had people on Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, Google+, MySpace, AOL Chatrooms, and via USPS correspondence express concern about whether the Dallas Cowboys will be able to afford all their guys and chase free agents.

Not to worry Cowboys fan, with a little salary cap and contract gymnastics, the sky’s the limit.

Let’s take a look.

Current Cap Space

According to OverTheCap.com, the 2019 Salary Cap is estimated to be around $190 million. After the release of Terrance Williams, the Dallas Cowboys are expected to have nearly $48 million in cap space available to them when free agency opens on March 13th.

When you look at that number by itself, it doesn’t look like a lot with big money contracts coming to DeMarcus Lawrence, Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott, and Byron Jones. Remember, though, the salary cap may be a fixed number, but contracts are pliable, meaning the team can do several things to create cap space through releases, how they structure new contracts, and restructures.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, the Dallas Cowboys will have the money they need to sign the players they want to sign.

Are Dallas Cowboys Building A Championship Defense? 2

Dallas Cowboys LB Sean Lee

Likely Releases

Sean Lee, Linebacker

Age and injury catch up to everyone and this is where we are with All-Pro Linebacker Sean Lee who will be turning 33 in July. Lee’s career has just been unlucky from the time he set foot in Dallas.

Since coming to the Cowboys in the 2010 draft, Lee has only played in 64% of the possible 149 games that the Dallas Cowboys have played in that time frame. Contrast that with a player like Zack Martin who has played in all but two games in his five-year career. That’s a 92% availability rate for his career.

The Dallas Cowboys don’t typically pay age. The difficult choice with Lee is that he’s long been a leader for the Dallas Cowboys. However, with the emergence of Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch, it’s extremely difficult to justify a $7 million cap hit to a part-time player.

Allen Hurns, Wide Receiver

Allen Hurns was a roller coaster ride in 2018.

First, it appeared he was brought in to be an upgrade at the number two spot. Then when the Cowboys shocked the world and released Dez Bryant, he immediately moved up the wide receiver pecking order, but was generally ineffective. After the Cowboys acquired Amari Cooper, Hurns became somewhat of an afterthought in the wide receiver snap distribution. Then he was lost in the win over the Seattle Seahawks with a gruesome ankle injury.

Allen Hurns is a fine player, but the Cowboys could get $5 million in cap relief by parting ways with the former 1,000 yard receiver.

A couple weeks ago, I outlined why I think Hurns could be a solution to the problem facing the Cowboys if Cole Beasley walked away. Hurns best attributes shine when deployed in the slot and asked to run over the middle of the field.

Coming off of the ankle injury, the Cowboys could easily move on and use that $5 million to extend one of their own or go after a big name in free agency.

Unlikely, but not Impossible Releases

The next few players are players that will most likely be on the squad in 2019. But as we saw with Dez Bryant, there can always be surprises.

Joe Looney, Center

The 2018 season seemed almost sunk when news came down that Center Travis Frederick was diagnosed with Guillen-Barre Syndrome during training camp. One of the stories of the 2018 season, was the play of Frederick’s backup Joe Looney. Looney may not have been the most valuable player, but you can’t understate how important he wasn’t to the success the Dallas Cowboys had in 2018.

We’ve seen what happens when backups who are incredibly inferior to the starter they play behind see action. Think back to Atlanta in 2017. If the Cowboys get better play from Chaz Green and Byron Bell, that game and perhaps the season turns out differently. Kind of like when Cameron Fleming filled in for Tyron Smith this season. It was a completely different result. Was Fleming perfect? No, but he wasn’t a disaster and the Cowboys were able to win games without their All-Pro left tackle.

Joe Looney is going to be with this team unless someone loses their center and wants to trade for him. In the event the Cowboys wanted to get some cap relief, they could save $1.5 million in 2019, with only $125 thousand in dead money on the cap.

I don’t see them making this move, but for those of you curious, there are the numbers.

Joe Thomas, Linebacker

Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch got all the glory at the linebacker position in 2018, and for good reason, but Joe Thomas was an important piece to the puzzle as well. He provided excellent depth and a lot of good snaps for the Cowboys in 2018, which is why I think he’s back next year.

He only saves you about $2 million on the cap, but if you didn’t want to pay a  backup linebacker $2 million, then you could part ways with him.

Jeff Heath, Safety

Jeff Heath is a solid player, but gets relied upon for a little more than he should. He’d probably be best served with being a rotational safety in the NFL. He has a penchant for making plays, but also has some maddening snaps as well, like the final play against the Rams where Jared Goff was able to scramble for a first down. Heath never saw the bootleg and was late getting to Goff to keep him from picking up the first down.

The Dallas Cowboys like him as a player and he’s likely to stay with the team. He helps on special teams and provides valuable depth.

If they were to move on, they could save $2.5 million.

La’el Collins, Tackle

It’s not often you hear people talk about releasing a starting tackle, and I’m certainly not here to advocate for that.

Collins has had some up and down games, but in his short two-year stint at right tackle he’s been pretty good. He’s stood tall against some of the best pass rushers in the NFL.

His contract will carry him through the 2019 season, but if the Dallas Cowboys wanted to part ways, again, not saying they should, they could save a whopping $8.5 million in the salary cap.

$8.5 million could be the cost of Earl a Thomas or a Tre Boston. That’s  pretty big chunk of change.

Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, Travis Frederick, offensive line

Dallas Cowboys offensive linemen Tyron Smith, Zack Martin and Travis Frederick

Potential Restructures

When it comes to restructures, the Dallas Cowboys have been selective over recent years with who they choose to flip the switch on.

A restructure doesn’t change the money owed to the player, just changes when the pay out happens. When a team and a player agree to a restructure, the cap hit or base salary is lowered to a more manageable amount and the difference is paid out as a bonus. The bonus is then spread out evenly over the remaining years of the contract.

For example.

Player A has four years remaining on their deal with a cap hit of $16 million per year for the rest of the contract. The team and player A agree to restructure the contract to decrease this season’s base salary to $1 million dollars. The $15 million difference is then paid out as a bonus and then the cap hit is added to the final three years. So instead of the cap hit being $16 million per year for the remainder of the contract, it is now $21 million per year.

The problem with restructuring contracts is that you better hope that the players you restructure make it to the end of their contract otherwise you could end up with big dead money holds on your cap.

The Dallas Cowboys could restructure the following players:

Tyron Smith, Tackle

The Dallas Cowboys All-Pro Left Tackle may be the best draft pick they’ve made in the last 10 years. He’s been one of the best in the game at his position for nearly his entire NFL career and until recent seasons, had been incredibly reliable.

According to Over The Cap, if the Cowboys decided to restructure Smith’s contract, they could get $7.26 million added to the salary cap this season.

That’s a big number, which would help you get your hands on a top safety or defensive lineman in free agency. The reasons why you wouldn’t do it surround Tyron’s health.

He’s missed games each of the last three seasons because of back issues. He’s signed through the 2023 season, which is his age 33 season. It’s entirely possible that he continues to play at a high level through the end of the contract, but you’ll always be a bit concerned about his back.

Zack Martin, Guard

If Tyron was the best draft pick, Zack Martin is a close second. He’s been the definition of reliability as he’s provided elite guard play through the first five years of his career making the All-Pro team each of his first five seasons.

If I were managing the cap for the Dallas Cowboys, it would be a no brainer to restructure Martin who is signed through the 2024 season; his age 34 season. Offensive lineman can play at a high level well into their 30’s barring injury and Zack has the ability to be one of those guys. At his current pace, he could one day end up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

By restructuring Martin, the Dallas Cowboys could save $7.36 million on the 2019 salary cap.

Travis Frederick, Center

Last summer was a scary situation for Travis Frederick and by all accounts his recovery is going well. It sounds like he should be ready to go by training camp, and if that’s the case, there’s no reason to believe that Frederick won’t be the player we’ve all come to expect and missed during the 2018 season.

He’s a leader on the offensive line. He’s an excellent communicator and really good at blocking other big humans.

Getting Frederick back for the 2019 season is as big of an upgrade as you could have on an offense. He changes everything. He helps set protections and call out stunts. He will make Conor Williams a better guard just by being present. The offense as a whole will be better by having Frederick available.

Like Smith and Martin, there’s no reason to believe that he won’t play out his current contract at a high level. Even if he’s only 75% of his previous self because of the illness, that’s still a really good football player who is worth every bit of the $10 million a year he’s getting paid.

Travis Frederick has five more years left on his contract. If the Cowboys were to restructure his deal, they could gain another $4.1 million in cap relief this offseason.

Tyrone Crawford, Defensive Line

If ever there was a player that was a victim of his contract it’s Tyrone Crawford. The Dallas Cowboys signed him to an extension thinking he would be the answer at the 3-technique defensive tackle spot. He was good on his rookie deal but his contract was more of a projection than a deal based on prior production.

Unfortunately, Crawford hasn’t lived up to his deal, but he’s been a reliable and versatile player for the Dallas Cowboys. His ability to play both at defensive end and defensive tackle has been huge over the years and he’s come up with some timely defensive plays.

Crawford has two years remaining on his contract that runs through the 2020 season and it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Cowboys keep him around. He’s a leader on the defense and he gives you good quality snaps. As they continue to wait for Randy Gregory and/or Taco Charlton to take steps forward, Crawford is a guy that they like and will continue to find snaps for.

If the Cowboys restructured Crawford’s contract, they could get a little over $3 million in cap savings this year. $3 million may not sound like a lot, but in combination with the other moves they could make with the cap, it can help. Every bit helps when constructing a roster. That money could go to paying for the 2019 draft class.

Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott

ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 18: Dak Prescott #4 and Ezekiel Elliott of the Dallas Cowboys celebrate after scoring a touchdown during the second quarter against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at AT&T Stadium on December 18, 2016 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Grand Total

The Dallas Cowboys front office has a lot of decisions to make this offseason and several of them will be in the form of extensions for their own players. They’ll have to figure out a way to use the contracts to their advantage.

If they did everything that could be an option to them, they could create another $48.22 million in space in the salary cap. If they didn’t release any of the “unlikely releases,” they could still free up another $33.72 million by releasing Lee and Hurns and restructuring Smith, Martin, Frederick, and Crawford.

So, they’ll be going into the offseason with at least $48 million in cap space, but through a few moves could have as much as $81-$96.22 million in cap space when it’s all said and done.

None of this even accounts for the way the Cowboys could structure the contracts of Elliott, Dak, Cooper, Lawrence, and Byron Jones. With some smart salary structuring, they won’t necessarily have to eat much of their cap hits in year one of their new contracts.

Don’t worry Cowboys fans. The Cowboys will be able to create enough money to get the things done that they want to get done. If they don’t sign anyone of note in free agency or extend your favorite player, it won’t be because they couldn’t afford to.

It’ll be because they didn’t want to.



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Player News

Report: Free Agent DL David Irving Not in Dallas Cowboys’ 2019 Plans

Jess Haynie

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David Irving

The Dallas Cowboys and troubled Defensive Lineman David Irving appear to be at an impasse. According to a report from David Moore of the Dallas Morning News, the team has "no intention" of trying to re-sign Irving and will allow him to become an unrestricted free agent.

Irving started the 2018 season with a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. He only appeared in two games after that, registering one sack and four tackles.

David Moore on Twitter

Source: Cowboys have no intention of keeping DT David Irving at this time https://t.co/vqMNZty6Aq via @sportsdaydfw

Despite reports of David's ongoing issues with an ankle injury, Dallas never placed him on injured reserve. Then came the reports that Irving was missing practices and team meetings while dealing with personal issues related to the custody of his daughter.

The team stayed pretty mum on the subject of Irving's status throughout the year, falling back on the ankle injury when pushed. But after months, it became clear that either David, the team, or both parties were disinterested in his return to football.

The Cowboys had high hopes after 2017, when Irving posted seven sacks in just eight games. They placed a second-round tender on him last offseason as a restricted free agent and were surely ready to give him a long-term deal if he'd built on that success.

But David's issues, physical or otherwise, have clearly done the opposite.

Dallas is known for working with troubled players, as we've recently seen with Randy Gregory. That they're closing the book on Irving suggests there's an issue with his desire towards football.

It's a sad loss for both. David's potential is enormous, as evidenced by his productivity when he actually does play. But he appears more likely to hit the Commissioner's exempt list in 2019 than the football field, given the reports of multiple failed drug tests over the last year.

Hopefully David Irving can turn things around one day and capitalize on his talent. But if it ever happens, it appears that it won't be with the Dallas Cowboys.



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