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Dallas Cowboys

Will Nolan Carroll Be the Next Cedric Thornton?

Jess Haynie



Nolan Carroll

Cowboys cornerback Nolan Carroll was their biggest free agent signing of the 2017 offseason. While not a blockbuster move, Carroll was clearly intended to be a major part of the CB rotation and perhaps even a starter based on his contract.

However, six months later, Carroll may be falling down the depth chart. Before he went out of the Week 2 game in Denver with a concussion, Nolan was struggling mightily against the Broncos receivers. Last week in Arizona, rookie Jourdan Lewis was the number-three CB and showed positive signs in both the passing game and run support. Second-round pick Chidobe Awuzie should also be back shortly from his hamstring injury; another guy pushing for playing time.

Cowboys Headlines - "We Hate Them" Ex-Eagle DT Cedric Thornton Speaks On Former Team

DT Cedric Thornton

The situation is similar to what Dallas just went through with defensive tackle Cedric Thornton. Signed last year to a starter's contract, Thornton was forced to the bench by standout rookie Maliek Collins and a surprisingly healthy season from Terrell McClain. It was a disappointing outcome for Thornton, but the only real pain for the Cowboys was the unnecessary expense.

Even after McClain left in free agency last March, Cedric Thornton could not work his way back up the depth chart. Dallas signed Stephen Paea, a former Rod Marinelli player in Chicago, and it was Paea who took over McClain's starting role. Thornton was still stuck on the bench, and eventually released the day after final cuts.

Thornton had struggled with hamstring issues that limit him in camp, but there was also talk that he'd been struggling in general. Perhaps the unexpected bench role had sapped his motivation, which wouldn't be too surprising. Whether it was due to health or performance, Thornton's four-year deal barely lasted over one season. Dallas ate $3 million in guaranteed money to release him.

The Cedric Thornton signing made sense at the time. Dallas hadn't drafted Maliek Collins yet and had no idea that Terrell McClain, who was seemingly always injured, would finally be ready to work. Those are hindsight issues that the Cowboys really can't feel too upset about.

Is CB Nolan Carroll A Starter Or An Expensive Backup?

CB Nolan Carroll

Similarly, the Nolan Carroll singing made sense when it happened. The draft hadn't occurred yet.  Even though Dallas let Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne walk in free agency because of the CB depth in the 2017 draft class, they couldn't fully rely on that. They knew Carroll from his years in Philadelphia and saw him as an adequate veteran replacement for who they lost.

Now the Cowboys find themselves with two highly-drafted players in Jourdan Lewis and Chidobe Awuzie who need playing time, much like Maliek Collins last year. They already have their starters in Orlando Scandrick and Anthony Brown. After the way Lewis played against the Cardinals, it may be tough for Nolan Carroll to get back into that top three without an injury.

If we are back in a Cedric Thornton situation, the good news is that Carroll's contract isn't as cumbersome. Thornton's deal was for four years and $18 million with $6 million guaranteed.  Carroll's is just three years at $10 million, only $3 million guaranteed.  Dallas can actually cut him after this year and get back $2 million in cap relief from his $4 million 2018 cap hit.

That is starting to appear as the likely outcome. Even if Carroll comes back and has a solid season, Awuzie, Brown, and Lewis aren't going anywhere. Scandrick still has two years on his deal and would be a better depth option than Carroll, if he isn't still starting. It's hard to imagine Dallas keeping a guy at $4 million who may be the fifth CB on the depth chart.

These things happen when free agency begins over a month before the draft. Teams have to make decisions to cover themselves for the following season, having only projections and possibilities to rely on in the draft. Sometimes you sign a guy who ends up becoming irrelevant if your rookies show up to play.

It's a good problem to have.

Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

1 Comment
  • Hobbes49

    It kills me Carroll wears Everson Walls number. He has been awful and should be gone.

Player News

Dallas Cowboys Sign LB Joe Thomas to 2 Year Deal

Sean Martin



Dallas Cowboys Sign LB Joe Thomas to 2 Year Deal

At long last, the Dallas Cowboys have their first free agent addition of this offseason. Having lost starters Jonathan Cooper and Anthony Hitchens at left guard and linebacker respectively, the team has added depth at LB with Joe Thomas signing a two-year deal.

The 2018 season will actually mark Joe Thomas' second stint with the Dallas Cowboys, as he was signed to their practice squad in 2015. The team that signed Thomas out of South Carolina State following the 2014 draft, the Green Bay Packers, added Thomas back to their active roster for the 2015 season.

Jon Machota on Twitter

Source: Cowboys have agreed to a 2-year deal with free agent LB Joe Thomas. He visited the Cowboys today. Thomas has played in 42 games over the last three seasons with the Packers. He had a career-high 70 tackles in 2016.

Thomas has spent the last three seasons starting eight games for the Packers, recording 70 tackles and an interception in 2016.

A contingency plan of Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith carrying the Cowboys for 16 games at LB requires adequate depth, which is exactly what the Cowboys are typically in the market for come free agency. Waiting longer than usual to make their first splash, the Cowboys absolutely need an addition like Thomas to perform better than last year's FA class.

Used in sub packages by the Packers while also playing special teams - where the Cowboys have lost core players in Keith Smith and Kyle Wilber - Thomas will have a great chance to impress two new Dallas coaches in Ben Bloom and Keith O'Quinn.

Tell us what you think about "Dallas Cowboys Sign LB Joe Thomas to 2 Year Deal" in the comments below. You can also email me at, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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Dallas Cowboys

Terrance Williams Contract Creates 2018 Job Security

Jess Haynie



Cowboys Headlines - Breaking Down Terrance Williams' Game-Ending Decision 1
Louis DeLuca/Dallas Morning News

There's been a lot of talk about what the Dallas Cowboys will do at the receiver position this offseason. While there's a great divide on what the team should do with Dez Bryant, there's a fairly unanimous opinion that Dallas should find an upgrade over Terrance Williams. No matter where he ends up on the depth chart, though, Williams' contract should keep him on the roster in 2018.

Last offseason, Terrance signed a four-year, $17 million deal to stay in Dallas. Because we are now just in the second year of that deal, it is cost prohibitive against the salary cap to release or trade him.

Williams is scheduled to count $4.75 million against the 2018 cap. If Dallas were to cut him, it would accelerate his remaining guaranteed money and create $7.25 million in dead money this year. He would cost more against the cap off the roster than on it.

Even the June-1st provision doesn't help. Williams' dead money in 2018 drops to $4.75 million, which is a net zero against his existing cap hit. It would also push $2.5 million of dead money to 2019. There's no benefit there, and you lose an experienced player who knows your system.

Did Terrance Williams' Big Game Quiet His Doubters?

Dallas Cowboys WR Terrance Williams

If the Cowboys do like their WR depth enough to want to move on from Terrance, one option is to try to trade him. A trade would lower the cap penalty to $3.75 million and save $1 million. If he's traded after June 1st, it would save $3.5 million against this year's cap.

Of course, it takes two to tango in this scenario. Williams hasn't scored a touchdown since 2016 and has never proven he can take on a significant role in an offense. He was serviceable when Dez Bryant and Jason Witten commanded more attention, but he's a low-end WR2 at best and many teams likely wouldn't want him in their top 2-3 receivers.

Perhaps something could happen during training camps or preseason, when injuries may make other teams desperate. Then again, something could happen in Dallas that makes them less willing to part with Terrance.

As it stands, it seems unlikely that Terrance Williams won't be a Cowboy in 2018. And really, that's not bad thing.

Even if he gets pushed down the depth chart, Terrance would be a good insurance policy against injuries or any other issues that could happen between now and September. $4.75 million is more than you'd like to pay your fourth WR but it's a one-year problem.

If the Cowboys do add more WR talent this offseason, there is a trickle-down effect that strengthens the entire club. Williams, with his experience, is an upgrade over Brice Butler as the fourth receiver.

Therefore, unless circumstances both here and elsewhere allow Dallas to find a trade partner, Terrance Williams should be back next year.

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Player News

Cowboys Trade for FB Jamize Olawale from Raiders

Jess Haynie



Jamize Olawale, Raiders

Less than a week after the Cowboys lost fullback Keith Smith to the Raiders in free agency, the two teams have worked out a trade to send FB Jamize Olawale from Oakland to Dallas.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

Fullback trade! The #Raiders are sending FB Jamize Olawale to the #Cowboys, sources say. Dallas has its fullback, one who was with Oakland since 2012.

To facilitate the trade, the Cowboys will send their fifth-round pick (173rd overall) to the Raiders for their sixth-round pick (192nd), moving back just 19 spots.

In return, Dallas not only brings in a veteran replacement at FB but a player they already know.

Jamize Olawale was an undrafted rookie free agent of the Cowboys in 2012. Despite a strong showing in that preseason, Dallas did not have room for him on the roster. He was on the team's practice squad until December, when Oakland poached him.

Since then, Olawale has been a regular roleplayer in the Raiders' offense. He's missed just six games since 2013.

Jamize brings more offensive firepower to the FB position than Keith Smith had. He's scored at least one touchdown in each of the last three seasons. He can be effective both running and receiving.

Through the trade, Dallas picks up the final year of Olawale's current contract. It calls for a $1.5 million base salary in 2018.

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