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WR Turnover has Only Just Begun for the Dallas Cowboys

John Williams

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Takeaway Tuesday: 2
AP Photo/Brandon Wade

As the Dallas Cowboys made the difficult decision to release Dez Bryant, it ushered in the beginning of the overhaul of the wide receiver group.

Much like they did in 2017 when they allowed Morris Claiborne, Brandon Carr, JJ Wilcox, and Barry Church to walk in free agency, and then proceeded to draft four defensive backs in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys began the painstaking task of overhauling a position group that has seen very little change in the last five years.

Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, and Cole Beasley have all been mainstays on the depth chart and had solidified roles with the team as the top three targets during the Tony Romo and now Dak Prescott eras.

What took place in the 2018 NFL Draft, however, was evidence that the team isn’t content with the status quo.

Cowboys Land Small School WR In Latest PFF Mock Draft

Colorado State Rams WR Michael Gallup (Photo by John Leyba/The Denver Post)

The first big move over draft weekend came on Friday, when the Dallas Cowboys were rumored to be targeting SMU Wide Receiver Courtland Sutton. Instead, they held their picks and selected Colorado State Wideout Michael Gallup with the 81st pick.

Many see Gallup as someone who will be a lead receiver, if not week one, then by the end of the season.

Then on Saturday, after team favorite Nyheim Hines went off the board, the Dallas Cowboys made a trade with the Los Angeles Rams for wide receiver Tavon Austin. In a draft that provided very little drama for the Cowboys, this was a shock.

There had been little indication they were interested in making a move for the dynamic wide receiver and kick returner, but they pulled the trigger adding a dynamic threat to a team that needed more explosiveness on the offensive side of the ball.

While many of us, this analyst included, were dreaming up the possibilities of what Tavon Austin could look like on the field with this current receiving core, the Dallas Cowboys got a call from the Oakland Raiders about one of their wide receivers. Another surprise took place.

Dallas Cowboys Acquire WR Tavon Austin Via Trade

Dallas Cowboys WR Tavon Austin

After only one season with the team, the Dallas Cowboys traded second year wide receiver, Ryan Switzer to the Oakland Raiders for defensive tackle Jihad Ward. Many thought Switzer could replace Beasley’s role in 2019, when the 2016 receiving leader's contract expired.

Switzer didn’t get a lot of opportunities on offense in his one year with the team and mostly because of the log jam at the top of the depth chart. Where Switzer’s impact was felt, however, was as a kick returner.

It’s important to note that Dallas had Jihad Ward only ranked five spots below current Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle, Maliek Collins in 2016. The Oakland Raiders made Ward their second round pick in 2016.

In 2013, the Dallas Cowboys had a first round grade on Tavon Austin.

The Dallas Cowboys came away with two players they really like for a fifth round pick and a player that wasn’t getting much run in Dallas.

Not bad. Not bad at all.

It could be argued that Switzer or another wide receiver was expendable with the addition of Tavon Austin. Austin is faster, more explosive, and has more experience playing the gadget role the team was hoping Ryan Switzer could play.

For the Los Angeles Rams, Austin took snaps lined up as a wide receiver and took snaps in the backfield. He was also the primary returner for the Rams. Austin immediately slots in as the team's kick and punt returner, jet-sweep guy, and deep threat, potentially making Deonte Thompson expendable.

While the Switzer move was a bit surprising, the Dallas Cowboys weren’t finished addressing the WR depth chart in the draft.

They selected Boise State wide receiver Cedric Wilson in the sixth round. Like Gallup, Wilson is a polished route runner who was very productive over his last couple of years at Boise State.

Who knows who will stick around after the 2018 season, but it’s obvious that the Cowboys want more consistent production from the wide receiver group and are trying to find guys who can get open quickly for quarterback Dak Prescott.

With Cole Beasley on a contract set to expire and approaching 30 years old next offseason, the team is expected to move on after the 2018 season.

Terrance Williams, though his contract would not allow for any team friendly management in 2018, gets a bit friendlier to the cap in 2019.

There are eight receivers on the roster who have a legitimate shot at being on the 53-man roster come week one. If you include a guy like Lance Lenoir who has made noise over the last two training camps, the wide receiver competition gets even more cloudy.

Cole Beasley, Terrance Williams, Allen Hurns, Tavon Austin, Michael Gallup, Noah Brown, Deonte Thompson, and Cedric Wilson all have a legitimate shot at making the roster. They may designate Austin as a RB and he could be listed on that depth chart, but what we know is they aren't going to take seven or eight players on the 53-man depth chart.

Training camp will provide more clarity as to the roles each could play in 2018 but one thing is clear, a shakeup is happening and more surprises could be on the horizon.



Dallas Cowboys optimist bringing factual reasonable takes to Cowboys Nation and the NFL Community. I wasn't always a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quick as I could.

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8 Comments
  • EverybodyTalks

    Our WRs stunk it up last year. When Zeke was gone, so were they. I love what is going on with the HARD hints.
    Hint 1: Dez is terminated.
    Hint 2: You sign Hurns and Deontay.
    Hint 3: You sign Gallup and Wilson during the draft.
    Hint 4: Switzer is traded to the Raiders.
    Hint 5: There are no SAFE SPACES to hide. Do Your Job or go somewhere else.

    So the most expensive, highest production WR is gone. Then, at the opposite end of the spectrum, the youngest WR is traded. The WR room has a new coach in the WR room and there is only elbow room with so many WRs. FO wants “competition”—-No, that is just their way of saying they want WRs that can get OPEN.

    • John Williams

      My prediction for the WR group come week 1
      Hurns
      Terrance
      Bease
      Gallup
      Wilson
      Brown

      How the depth chart will look week 17
      Gallup
      Hurns
      Bease
      Terrance
      Wilson
      Brown

      • Chuck Wright

        sounds about right

      • EverybodyTalks

        Great list. I definitely agree with you on Gallup moving up. I believe he will be an impact WR by the end of the season. To me, Beasley and Twill seem like 2a and 2B WRs. The wrinkle is with Witten retiring, Cole may become an even more important safety valve for Dak. A lot depends on opponent’s defensive scheme towards him. The dark horse, who I’m really curious about, is Cedric Wilson. Wilson could also be above TWill by the end of the season. If so, Terrance might be gone in 2019. For me, the real question mark is Brown. Body type like Dez. You had to check the jersey number to be sure. Can he push up into the WR pack, verses hanging to be at the bottom of the WR list each year? If not, is Deonte the WR, replacing Butler, as the stretch WR?

  • Hector Espindola

    Hope the rookies, including Brown, beat T-Will. If Will McClay saw Dez tape, I don´t know what they all are waiting to see Williams. These kids can beat him!!

    • John Williams

      Williams contract doesn’t really allow them to move on. They’d not really get much cap relief for moving on and they would eat a ton of dead money over the next two cap years.

    • John Williams

      A trade is the best option, but given his cap numbers it would be unlikely.

  • Mr. Jaguar

    The Cowboys are a business, if T Will don’t product, he out , same with the Bease. Imho, I expect the Cowboys to have a whole new group of wide receivers, who are perceise route runners, who can digest defensive schemes on the fly, and can separate with speed. I wouldn’t count out Brown. Him and Rico, have been working out with the receiver guru, that Dez is supposed to be hooking up with, to improve their route running skill, an the ability to make adjustments against the opposition defense, with the speed to separate.

    Dak Attack will be deadly weapon with speed in 2018 and beyond, you can take it to the bank. Just my two cents worth.

Star Blog

Cole Beasley Key to Cowboys Passing Game Productivity?

Brian Martin

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The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for Cowboys Against Jaguars 1

What most of us already knew was confirmed last Sunday afternoon against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Wide Receiver Cole Beasley is the Dallas Cowboys best receiver and is the key to the passing game productivity. He is not only the most productive, but the most consistent.

Cole Beasley isn't the tallest or the fastest and definitely doesn't look like a prototypical NFL receiver, but he showed last week against the Jaguars why opposing defenses have to account for him on every single play. He torched Jacksonville's top-ranked passing defense for 101 yards on nine catches and added two touchdowns, and it's that production that could help open up the entire passing game for the Cowboys.

It's painfully obvious Cole Beasley has been Dak Prescott's favorite target in the passing game since he took over the starting duties in 2016. Once opposing defenses figured that out they started to make things extremely difficult by bracketing Beasley in coverage and the passing game hasn't been the same since. But, that could be changing if the Jaguars game was an indication of what we might see moving forward.

Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan did a much better job of moving Beasley around to create favorable matchups against the Jaguars. I think we will see much more of that moving forward, but that likely means opposing defenses will once again try to take away Prescott's favorite target. That actually could end up helping the Cowboys passing game though.

Dak Prescott, Michael Gallup

Dallas Cowboys WR Michael Gallup

If opposing defenses indeed try to contain Cole Beasley like they've done in the past, it should help provide more opportunities for Dallas' other pass catchers. Spreading the ball around to several different receivers would not only help Prescott and the passing game, but also open up the entire offense.

We haven't really seen much of Allen Hurns or Michael Gallup this season, but both are more than capable of being more productive if they are seeing single coverage more often. That's what's likely to happen if defenses bracket Beasley in coverage once again. Both WRs need to be more involved anyway and Beasley's recent spike in production could help do just that.

Now, if defenses decide to try and cover Beasley one-on-one like the Jaguars did quite a bit of last Sunday, the Cowboys would be wise to take advantage of that mismatch. He simply can't be covered by a single defensive back because of his precise route running ability. He is that good.

Regardless of how opposing defenses try to handle/contain Cole Beasley, he is without a doubt key to the Dallas Cowboys passing game productivity. Just the threat of him on the field changes a defenses approach, which is why he is Dallas' #1  WR in my book. He absolutely has to be more involved moving forward, even if it is as a decoy.

Do you think Cole Beasley is the key to the Cowboys passing game productivity?



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Star Blog

How ‘Bout them Cowboys?! Dallas Set to Lasso Redskins in Week 7

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How ‘Bout them Cowboys?! Dallas Set to Lasso Redskins in Week 7

Well, what do you think now of America’s Team? Anyone who foresaw Dallas’s evisceration of the league’s No. 1 defense hailing from Jacksonville is a downright soothsayer. In case you were in a coma this past weekend, the Cowboys obliterated the Jaguars’ vaunted defense to the tune of a 40-7 massacre in which Dak Prescott tossed for 183 yards, two passing touchdowns and ran one into the end zone for good measure. When the dust settled Prescott had chewed up 82 yards on the ground and Ezekiel Elliott surpassed the century mark in rushing with 106 yards and a touchdown of his own.

It was a glorious day to be a Cowboys fan and it’s safe to say that America’s Team is back!

Or are they?

Dallas is in a three-way logjam for the top spot in the NFC East with the Redskins and Eagles, but the way they made mincemeat of the Jacksonville defense gives us all hope that more good things are in the cards soon.

Seventh-year WR Cole Beasley blew the doors off of the Jags secondary by catching nine passes on 11 targets for a pair of touchdown receptions and 101 yards. It was a season-high for Beasley and the fact that Prescott has no real top-tier targets after the departures of Dez Bryant and Jason Witten makes it even more special.

This is a team that was not supposed to be able to move the ball through the air and, to be fair, hasn’t done much of it this season as evidenced by their 29th ranked passing game. But a little creative game planning by Head Coach Jason Garrett and Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan paid dividends and the lingering specter of their heartbreaking overtime loss to the Texans in Week 5 was exorcised by the dominating victory.

What has gotten lost in the euphoria of Dallas’s week 6 win is their defense, as the Cowboys had three sacks, seven quarterback hits, and an interception by Jeff heath.

Jacksonville’s Blake Bortles was under siege and did not respond well to the pressure after establishing career highs in passing yards over the last two weeks leading up to this contest. But his opportunity to become the fifth NFL QB with three consecutive games of 375 passing yards or more evaporated in the heat of a blistering Dallas defense. Bortles ended the day with 149 yards, a TD and a pick.

As the Cowboys move on to Washington, we see that their success at home is only equaled by their struggles on the road. Dallas is now 3-0 at home and 0-3 on the highway. Buoyed off their stunning blitzkrieg of the Jags, we see that one of the most respected and trusted online sportsbooks in the industry, BetOnline has the Cowboys as 1 ½ point underdogs which is most likely a few points below what they would have been had they not won so convincingly last week.

Those who like to back up their football prognostications with cold, hard cash understand that Dallas is not only losing on the road but losing money for their backers in those contests. In those three losing games, Dallas is 0-2-1 against the spread but this week could be different. Against their divisional foes this week, Dallas is 4-0 straight up and 3-1 ATS versus Washington over the last two seasons.

The way this Cowboys defense is playing and the sudden explosion of Cole Beasley as a focal point of the passing attack, we could very easily see their first road win of the year.



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Star Blog

Should the Dallas Cowboys Trade for These 2 Oakland Raiders?

John Williams

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Should the Cowboys Make a Trade for These Oakland Raiders?

The trade deadline on October 30th will be here faster than we know. It's the final opportunity that NFL teams will have an opportunity to make a significant upgrade to their roster. And if you're a frequent reader of the Dallas Cowboys, then you know that the Dallas Cowboys could use some help, especially on the offensive side of the football.

On Thursday, Marcus Mosher from The Raiders Wire on USA Today posed a hypothetical trade involving the Dallas Cowboys. In his scenario, he has the Dallas Cowboys trading for Wide Receiver Amari Cooper and thinks that Cooper could net the Raiders a top 75 draft selection.

Amari Cooper is a good wide receiver, but he's not a receiver I would trade a top-75 pick for. Cooper is a player that has a lot of talent, but has struggled with drops and inconsistency. Even now, with the Raiders he's having a hard time getting consistent opportunities.

Cooper's second on the team in targets, but third on the team in receptions behind a tight end and a running back. Cooper's also third on the team in yardage behind the two guys that I'd be way more interested in trading for; Tight End Jared Cook and Wide Receiver Jordy Nelson.

Yes, these guys are on the wrong side of 30, but they are guys that have been around a long time and can help your offense this season. Both would be upgrades at the position, even at their advanced NFL age.

Jared Cook - Tight End

You've heard the adage, "if you can't beat em, join em." Well, this is the reverse of that. "If he always beats you, acquire him."

That's what Oakland Raiders Tight End Jared Cook is to the Dallas Cowboys. Point of evidence.

Game Winning Jared Cook Catch Green Bay Packers at Dallas Cowboys

Uploaded by Kafin Walker on 2017-01-16.

That remarkable catch by Jared Cook still haunts me and many of you in Cowboys Nation. It was a perfectly thrown ball by Aaron Rodgers and Cook made an incredible catch along the sidelines that led to Mason Crosby's game-winning field goal at the end of regulation.

Jared Cook's Oakland Raiders team isn't going anywhere this season. They're already four games back of the AFC West leading Kansas City Chiefs and the AFC is looking deeper than it has in recent years. The Raiders and the Indianapolis Colts are the only teams in the NFC with less than two losses. That means there are 14 teams with better records than Jon Gruden's Oakland squad. This week the Raiders face a Seattle Seahawks team that beat the Dallas Cowboys and lost by only a couple of points to the undefeated Los Angeles Rams.

Cook has been one of the better tight ends in the NFL this season and would be a veteran presence that the Dallas Cowboys could add if they felt like they could make a run at the playoffs.

At 31, Cook is averaging six catches and 78 yards receiving per game. He'd give the Dallas Cowboys someone they could run on post, corner, and seam routes to challenge safeties deep. Something that they're lacking from the tight end position at the moment. Cook is leading the Oakland Raiders in targets, receptions, yards, and is second on the Raiders in touchdowns in 2018.

No offense to Geoff Swaim, who's been surprisingly good this year, but Jared Cook makes this offense better. He allows you to make Rico Gathers your TE3, which would allow Rico to continue learning the game without the responsibility of being a primary target on certain pass plays.

Jared Cook is in the last season of his deal, so you wouldn't have to be committed to him beyond 2018. The perfect rental who could step in and play pretty quickly.

Jordy Nelson - Wide Receiver

I know this team is allergic to adding veteran players, especially veterans over 30, but Jordy Nelson is another name that they should take a long look at.

At 33 years of age, Nelson leads the Raiders in receiving touchdowns and is second on the team with 15.9 yards per reception. He's also third in receptions and second in yards.

His numbers -- 20 receptions for 317 yards and three touchdowns -- would lead the Dallas Cowboys in all receiving categories.

Nelson's still got some juice left and he's always been a good route runner with good hands.

Here are some highlights from Jordy's week three performance against the Miami Dolphins.

Jordy Nelson Can't Be Stopped w/ 173 Yards & 1 TD vs. Miami!

Check out Jordy Nelson highlights, racking up 173 yards receiving! The Oakland Raiders take on the Miami Dolphins during Week 3 of the 2018 NFL season. Subscribe to NFL: http://j.mp/1L0bVBu Check out our other channels: NFL Vault http://www.youtube.com/nflvault NFL Network http://www.youtube.com/nflnetwork NFL Films http://www.youtube.com/nflfilms NFL Rush http://www.youtube.com/nflrush #NFL #Raiders #JordyNelson

Nelson doesn't have any guarantees left on the deal he signed this past offseason so if you cut him in the 2019 offseason, you'd get zero dead money added to your 2019 salary cap, but would get $7.2 million in savings.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

Because of their age and the fact that they'd likely be one-year rentals, I don't imagine that you'd have to give up much more than a fifth round pick for either of these guys. And while I don't think the Dallas Cowboys would take a look at trading for either veteran, it's something they should do if they have aspirations of making the playoffs in 2018.

The Dallas Cowboys offense could use a boost.

What's the most you'd be willing to offer for either Jordy Nelson or Jared Cook?

 



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