Cowboys extend punter Chris Jones through 2021 season

The Dallas Cowboys have locked up their kicking specialists into the next decade. Today they inked punter Chris Jones to a four-year extension that will keep him with the team through the 2021 season. He was scheduled to be a free agent after 2017. The Cowboys previously signed Dan Bailey to a contract that will keep him in Dallas through the 2020 season.

Jones replaced Mat McBriar and has had a successful career in Dallas but has yet to receive any post-season honors like a Pro Bowl berth. He has been a solid punter with excellent skills at pinning the opposition deep.

Jones is entering his sixth NFL season. He’s averaging 45.2 yards per punt; in 2016 he averaged 45.9 yards per punt. He’s also good at pinning opponents inside the 20-yard line. He has the Cowboys’ all-time highest percentage of punts downed inside the 20 with 39.9 percent (113 of 283).

But of course, when you bring up Chris Jones, most Cowboys fans think of only one thing.

“The Puntisher”

Source:-bloggingtheboys

Five observations from Cowboys training camp: Fights! Turnovers! Jet sweeps! More!

Unlike the first three practices in Oxnard, which were conducted in the afternoon, Thursday’s fourth practice was a morning practice. The CBA only allows four consecutive days of practice and the idea behind the Cowboys’ morning practice on the fourth day is to allow the players a little more time to regenerate before the next practice, which is scheduled for Saturday afternoon.

On to our five observations from Thursday’s practice:

Fight!

At the end of practice on Thursday, Jason Garrett addressed the different fights that had broken out during the day, and it didn’t sound like he was particularly concerned.

“You like that. You’d rather have to dial it back than constantly have to light a fire under your guys.”

But the chippy attitude between the OL and DL didn’t just suddenly break out towards the end of practice. I noticed early on in the in OL/DL drills that the OL was playing not just through the whistle, but way beyond it. At some point, the D-line must have decided to push back.

Turnovers!

Chidobe Awuzie has been taking snaps mostly with the second team in camp so far, but that hasn’t stopped him from establishing a mini-streak of sorts with interceptions in two consecutive practices.

In Wednesday’s compete period, Awuzie tipped a Dak Prescott pass targeted at Brice Butlerand caught the ball while going to the ground.

On Thursday, he intercepted a Kellen Moore pass during team drills, even if the play was blown dead due to a defensive offsides.

Can he keep the streak going for three practices in a row? And even his mini-streak might not be safe:

Anthony Brown and Mark Nzeocha (yes, the German has more interceptions than all other LBs combined!) each had an interception today as well and will be looking to establish a mini-streak of their own on Saturday.

Jourdan Lewis

Lewis joined the team for the first time on Thursday, and while he didn’t play during team drills, he did take part in position drills for defensive backs. I wasn’t able to tell too much from those drills, even if they were happening right in front of me. He looked as athletic as the next guy, but he looked smoother in his transitions and it seemed that he was able to flip his hips a little faster than some of the other DBs – but that may just have been wishful thinking on my part.

He’s expected to join team drills on Saturday, so see how he performs in team drills soon enough.

Is Rod Smith the No. 3 running back?

Todd Archer suggested yesterday that Rod Smith might be ahead of Alfred Morris on the depth chart.

I have no idea whether this is true or not, but I did try to keep an eye on Rod Smith today, and he did have some nice runs in the team sessions. He also has the advantage of playing special teams (which Morris does not), so having him ranked above Morris may not be that big a stretch. At the same time, Morris had a very good day on Wednesday with the second team while Darren McFadden was taking a veteran day.

A Rod Smith/Alfred Morris roster battle was not something I anticipated going into camp, so this will bear watching.

Who will run the jet sweep?

Despite Lucky Whitehead’s departure, the jet sweep is alive and well in Dallas. The Cowboys ran the jet sweep once on Wednesday with Ryan Switzer (4.51 forty) and once on Thursday with Terrance Williams (4.52 forty). Perhaps they’ll try Brice Butler (4.36 forty) next?

In any case, the jet sweep will likely be much more effective if multiple players can run it.

source:-blogging the boys

Why Quarterback Is Again An Offseason Priority For The Cowboys

The biggest story of 2016 for the Dallas Cowboys was how they wound up with their new franchise quarterback through a combination of good evaluation and just plain luck. Dak Prescott proved to be far more capable than anyone dreamed. Arguably, he represents the greatest first-year return on draft investment ever, not just for Dallas, but for any team.

As good as that is for the Cowboys, it came with the unfortunate downside of ending the career of Tony Romo in Dallas with much more of a whimper than a bang. And it also means that there is a very familiar question facing the Cowboys again this year: Just what do they do about the backup quarterback situation?

In a recent mock draft, SBN draft maven Dan Kadar not only looked at who he projected for teams to take in the first round this year, he also addressed the question of whether each team should draft a quarterback. His answer for Dallas was succinct.

Should they draft a quarterback? Lol

That is funny, as well. It also is pretty much the wrong answer.

With Romo on his way out (and the whole story of where he might end up growing daily), the Cowboys now have exactly zero backup quarterbacks under contract. Kellen Moore and Mark Sanchez are both free agents. Even if the team should re-sign one of them, they still need at least two more camp arms. But camp arms and possible future backups are two different beasts, and the Cowboys have to be looking for the latter. Obviously they are not going to be looking to draft a quarterback early, but on day three, it becomes not just a possibility. It should be something of a priority.

It is certain that the team will want at least one experienced backup going into training camp, and that search would logically begin with Moore and Sanchez. Of the two, Moore would be the more likely option (signing both seems highly improbable). In the first installment of his breakdown of the roster, our own Mark Aggarwal laid out the logic.

Kellen Moore: Second String – As a favorite of Scott Linehan, there is a good possibility the Cowboys will re-sign him to backup Prescott. He knows the Cowboys system, has the trust of the coaches and should come relatively cheap.

That would result in more deja vu all over again, as having Moore as the incumbent backup to the established starter is exactly where the Cowboys were a year ago. Of course, Prescott does not have the injury and age concerns Romo had. But the team was clearly looking to upgrade at the position when they took Prescott in the draft, and that also still applies. The problem with Moore is that his ceiling just looks limited.

What the drafting of Prescott did show was that the staff, especially the coaches, were able to see something that others clearly missed (or at least were unwilling to move on before Dallas got its chance at the end of the fourth round last year). The odds are staggering against finding another Dak this year – but that wasn’t what they thought they had when they took him. They believed at the time they had a developmental quarterback with a lot of upside and good intangibles. This year, they should be combing the available quarterbacks for the same thing. They won’t find a second Dak – but maybe they can find Dak Lite.

The Cowboys have not had a history of taking quarterbacks in the draft in the years before Prescott was selected, but they also had a similar aversion to taking offensive linemen early before a certain Tyron Smith was drafted. His success led to a complete revision of the approach which led to adding Travis Frederick and Zack Martin, and indirectly to La’el Collins as well. Now that they hit the mother lode with Prescott, it would not be surprising to see them go back to that well.

However, this is seen as a relatively weak quarterback class, with no Jared Goff or Carson Wentz creating a sellers’ market for top draft spots to take perceived blue chips. The Cowboys do not want to force things here. They need to stick to their board, which they have been doing fairly well of late. If the value is not there, they will have to go the UDFA route (which, admittedly, they have also had some remarkable success at doing in the not too distant past). They can also consider signing another veteran backup, such as Josh McCown, but that is not a long-term solution. The goal for Dallas is to find a young arm with good football intelligence and processing speed to groom.

The ideal model here is the New England Patriots, who have a long history of drafting quarterbacks, making them look good, flipping them for draft picks, rinse, and repeat. Jimmy Garoppolo is the latest, and we all know about Matt Cassel as well. As much as we love to hate the hoodie, Bill Belichick is a master at this game. And there is nothing wrong with stealing an idea from the best.

What the Cowboys should be hoping for is a QB they have a third- or fourth-round grade on to slip into the sixth or seventh round, the way cornerback Anthony Brown did last year. Brown was the other real draft coup from last year, able to start capably when Morris Claiborne was injured, and now one of the cornerstones for rebuilding the secondary with so many key payers from last year also free agents.

If that happens, the Cowboys need to be ready to pull the trigger. There is no guarantee that they will solve the QB2 issue this time around, but it may take more than one shot at the target. They can’t be shy about making the pick if their scouting backs the move. Like it or not, it is a real need to address this year – as long as everything lines up properly.

[Source:-Blogging The Boys]

Five Potential Cap Casualties For The Dallas Cowboys In 2017

Our sister site Pride of Detroit, the SB Nation community for fans of the Detroit Lions, had an interesting piece earlier this week on Detroit’s potential cap casualties.

As teams around the league get ready for free agency, many have started cutting players to create some additional cap space. The New York Giants for example released Victor Cruz and Rashad Jennings on Monday, freeing up $10 million in cap space. The Dolphins on Thursday released defensive linemen Mario Williams and Earl Mitchell to free up $12.5 million in cap space, and offensive tackle Branden Albert will likely follow either via cut or trade, clearing an additional $7.2 million in cap space.

For the Cowboys, Tony Romo is the most obvious candidate to be cut or traded, but he’s not the only one.

1. Tony Romo

Cap Saved: $5.1 million/Cash Saved: $14 million

The Cowboys can clear $5.1 million of cap space by trading or releasing Romo now, and could clear even more space by making Romo a June 1 cut, which would free up $14.0 million in cap space. However, as a June 1 cut, Romo would remain on the Cowboys’ books in 2018 with $8.9 worth of dead money counting against the cap.

Romo will not play for Dallas in 2017, and his impact on the 2017 salary cap will depend on whether the Cowboys find a trade partner for Romo or release him outright

2. Alfred Morris

Cap Saved: $1.6 million/Cash Saved: $1.6 million

Morris arrived in Dallas as a two-time Pro Bowler and a three-time 1,000+ yard rusher and was expected to share carries with Darren McFadden. That all changed when the Cowboys drafted Ezekiel Elliott and McFadden was injured, but in the end, he totaled just 69 carries for a career-low 3.5 yards per attempt, and was inactive when McFadden was back in the lineup over the final two regular season games and in the playoffs .

The Cowboys will restructure some big contracts to get under the cap by March 9, and may not need the $1.6 million cap savings from Morris, but they are likely to move on from him at some point, as they can get that type of production for a lot less.

3. Cedric Thornton

Cap Saved: $0.5 million/Cash Saved: $0 million

Cedric Thornton signed a 4-year, $17.0 million contract last year, including $9.0 million guaranteed, which means his entire $3.0 million base salary this year is fully guaranteed. The Cowboys can’t save any real money by cutting him, and the $0.5 million in cap savings isn’t going to make any difference in the grand scheme of things.

Thornton didn’t start a single game last year, and only played 262 defensive snaps, but he was fairly productive in the process, recording 18 tackles, 3 TFLs, 1.5 sacks, and 9 QB pressures, along with one forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

The Cowboys will almost certainly stick with Thornton for now, but if they find an upgrade in free agency or the draft, that could change. If the Cowboys make him a June 1 cut, they could create $3 million in cap space for 2017 (though they’d be left with $3 million of dead money in 2018).

4. Joe Looney

Cap Saved: $0.8 million/Cash Saved: $0.8 million

On paper this looks like a substantial potential saving for a backup interior lineman who played just 156 snaps on offense, but those are “fake” savings as the Cowboys would have to find a replacement for Looney, and it’s not clear that that replacement would be any cheaper.

5. James Hanna

Cap Saved: $1.5 million/Cash Saved: $2.3 million

Hanna may come as a bit of a surprise on this list, and it’s unlikely that he would be a cap casualty. But there is a chance Hanna could get released with an injury settlement.

Hanna had developed into a solid No. 2 tight end behind Jason Witten, and the Cowboys signed him to a 3-year, $8.25 million contract extension in March 2016. But then Hanna entered training camp complaining about knee soreness and was subsequently placed on the PUP list with what was initially described as a “bone bruise.”

For Cowboys fans, “bone bruise” set off all kinds of alarms because that was the same description the Cowboys used to describe an injury that effectively ended the career of Anthony Spencer. In Spencer’s case the term was used as a euphemism for potential microfracture injuries, and those almost never resolve well.

In mid-August, Hanna and the Cowboys opted for knee surgery to address his knee issue, but that apparently didn’t result in a significant improvement, so Hanna underwent a second knee surgery in November.

The Cowboys are not going to cut Hanna now as they are going to wait and see how his recovery progresses. But if he is unable to play by training camp, the Cowboys could cut him, thereby creating $2.3 million cap space in 2017.

[Source:-Blogging The Bpys]

What’s Next For Cowboys Ezekiel Elliott? How About 2,000 Yards?

Over the next couple months there will be extensive discussions about who the Cowboys first round pick should be. The front office has been lights-out fantastic when it comes to their first-round selections with five of their last seven picks being All Pro players. And two of those All Pros have been selected in the last three drafts and achieved their All Pro status their rookie seasons. Zack Martin accomplished this in 2014 and then Ezekiel Elliott did it again last season. Being rookie standouts aren’t the only similarity between these two. Both picks came with a lot of criticism as draft pundits had different players penciled in for the Cowboys when their spot came up. Last season, the great debate centered around two remarkable collegiate athletes – Zeke and Jalen Ramsey.

The Cowboys finally ended the suspense on draft day by selecting the Ohio State running back sensation with the fourth-overall pick. And they haven’t looked back since.

Elliott was a remarkable choice. While it wasn’t hard to see how talented he was, it was exhilarating to watch him put in on display within the Cowboys offense. Elliott broke franchise rookie records left and right. In just his first season, he finished with the fifth-highest rushing output of any Cowboys player with 1,631 yards. And he scored the fourth-most rushing touchdowns in Cowboys history with 15. Only the great touchdown magpie, Emmitt Smith, had seasons with more. And he’s just getting started.

Recently, WFAA sat down and talked to Zeke’s mother and asked her how does he build on such an incredible start? Her response…

Silly moms and their outlandish predictions. Only this declaration doesn’t seem that absurd. Let’s do some quick math here.

Zeke averaged 5.1 yards per carry last season. If you couple that per carry production with the same workload that DeMarco Murray got in 2014, Elliott would finish with 1,999 yards on the season. Of course, it would be highly unlikely to see him getting his tape cut in Week 17 if he is close to eclipsing such an incredible mark.

Elliott’s rookie totals would have been higher had he played in the regular season finale. They also would have been higher if he didn’t get off to a slow start. Yes, he was still a rookie and had to learn some patience and build chemistry with his offensive line. During the first two games of his career, he only averaged 67 yards. But once he started allowing the holes to open up and found the creases, he went on a tear. Over the next four games he averaged over 140 yards per game.

Expect more big games from Elliott in 2017 versus games where he will be shut down. To reach the 2,000 yard mark, he’ll need to rush for an average of 125 yards a game. He has the skill to make the big runs and he will certainly have plenty of opportunities. The Cowboys offense had the most rushing attempts of any team in the league last season and they will continue to be a run-heavy team. Don’t expect that to change any time soon.

As talented as Elliott is, one of the most exciting things about him is his drive. Instilled in him as a child, he loves to compete. Both his parents were extremely athletic, including his mother who was a track star. His parents were committed to his education and has exhibited great family values as they helped him reach his athletic goals. In just watching the above video, you can see why this kid has so much fire in him and is so dedicated to his craft. He’s got big plans.

There’s no denying that Zeke can be a goofball. He showed up to the draft in a crop top, he jumped in the kettle, he chased down a crazed fan at the Pro Bowl, and he regularly reminds those watching that he needs the ball with his “feed me” gesture. But as much fun as he loves to have, he’s has an overwhelming desire to compete. Just ask his coach.Zeke’s getting to 2,000 yards. Whether it happens in 2017 or the year after, it’s coming. His mother said so and that’s good enough for me. Never question a women’s intuition.

[Source:-Blogging the eboys]

Dallas Cowboys Mock Draft 2.0 : (Mockery II) Cowboys Are Defended

We’re back with our Mock Draft 2.0. This is just the second of many that we’re going to be throwing out from now until draft time. This week will be a little different as we’re going to play around a little bit. As has been established, for the Dallas Cowboys, this draft has depth at all the right positions. For a team that needs significant re-shaping of their defense, this year’s draft could offer a lot of value.

Remember that we here at BTB trust the CBS charts and when it comes to any dealings to be done, and check out the Walter Football Draft Value Chart for points. Let’s begin making a mockery of the draft once again and the Dallas Cowboys are on the clock…

The New England Patriots come calling to trade up for another pass rusher (Taco Charlton), the offer is picks 32+96 (706 points) for Dallas’ 28th pick and 5th rounder in 2018 for approximately 680 points.

The reasoning for a deal like this is that if it were a straight up trade, the Cowboys would be gaining too much. Next years’ 5th is equivocally related to this year’s sixth round pick because team’s value for picks is at their highest the day of the draft. Dallas adds a 5th round selection to sweeten the deal, only giving the Cowboys an edge of slightly over 20 points.

Pick 32: Dallas Cowboys select Charles Harris, DE, Missouri (CBS 32nd)

If you’re looking for the perfect pass rusher for Rod Marinelli, this would be his guy. Harris has a motor that never quits and is built in that mold that Marinelli covets. He’s got a quick first-step and he can get right up the field with ease. He’s got good bend to him and size to where he’s not overwhelmed against taller tackles.

Harris is an athletically gifted guy with the ability to play loose. A good character guy who was a leader in the locker room at Missou and a leader in the stat sheets, what’s not to love?

With the realization that we’re getting cute here, the Dallas Cowboys pick up the phone once again. It’s the Atlanta Falcons. The offer is picks 63 + 132 (316 points) for Pick 60 (300 points). It’s a deal worth taking. Dallas now has two-thirds and two-fourths in a draft that has some value in the middle rounds.

Pick 63: Dallas Cowboys select Tarell Basham, DL, Ohio (CBS 62nd)

Boom! The Dallas Cowboys grab another pass rusher with their second pick. Some folks may be looking for a corner here, but there are corners to be had late. Here the Cowboys land another top defensive end with some versatility. If the Cowboys can’t rely on Randy Gregory or DeMarcus Lawrence, they can certainly replace them.

Basham has the initial first-step quickness that is a must in a Marinelli-style defense and he’s another high-character guy that will suffice for Jason Garrett. Basham was MAC Defensive Player of the Year with 10 sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss. The best part about Basham is that he can play all over the defensive line, another coveted attribute of Marinelli’s.

Pick 92: Dallas Cowboys select Rasul Douglas, CB, West Virginia (CBS 88th)

Douglas has size and grit for the position. He certainly fits what this front office wants in their corners as they prefer long bodies. Douglas also has a tremendous amount of skill and caught the eye of many with his exceptional 2016 year. Douglas had eight interceptions in 2016 with 70 tackles and eight pass breakups.

For a defense that will need to replace a starter down the road, Douglas could be that guy with a little more polish in his game. There are concerns about his speed and he’ll need to run well at the Combine but the traits and abilities are there with the nose for the ball.

Pick 96: Dallas Cowboys select Zay Jones, WR, East Carolina (CBS 89th)

Cowboys have some question marks on the offensive side of the ball as they’re likely to lose one of their two free-agent receivers on the open market. Zay Jones was a standout from the Senior Bowl that really did a lot to help himself. The one thing that Zay showed was that get him the ball and good things happen. He was routinely finding separation creases in the defense to lead his team in receptions in that contest.

In fact, Jones is the FBS All-Time leader in receptions and has that tremendously high character as he’s expected to be a steal in this year’s class. He’s a finisher but he’s not a speedy guy. If Dallas is looking for more speed than Zay might not be their man but he could be the ultimate outside presence next to Dez Bryant.

Pick 132: Dallas Cowboys select Dan Skipper, OT, Arkansas (CBS 134th)

At some point, the Cowboys have to look at the aging Doug Free and the fact that Chaz Greenhas yet to remain healthy for a solution at right tackle. Skipper stands out in a pretty weak class of tackles and could be one of those guys that will fly up the charts if he tests well.

He’s a physical intimidating specimen at almost 6’10 and over 300 pounds. He’s got good ability to block to the second level in the running game. He’s plays with tenacity and can anchor down to protect the passer. He’s got some mauler in him and that bodes well for his NFL goals.

Pick 135: Dallas Cowboys select Carroll Phillips, LB, Illinois (CBS 146th)

With no fifth-round pick, the Cowboys decide to take the linebacker right here. Phillips projects well as a strong-side linebacker in the Cowboys’ scheme.

When Marinelli does blitz, he likes to use a linebacker and this could be Phillips in the right role. He’s pretty good at standing up and rushing the passer and this could free Sean Lee up to not have to blitz and stay in coverage. Cowboys met with Carroll at the Senior Bowl and he’s definitely a guy who could help their defense moving forward.

Pick 212: Dallas Cowboys select Eric Saubert, TE, Drake (CBS 211th)

This is a deep tight end draft class and Saubert has some traits for a good blocking tight end. He’s certainly no eventual replacement to Jason Witten but he has some skills. Dallas is looking to add another tight end and Saubert is a late-round guy with upside.

Suabert has some lapses at times and then flashes of brilliance. He needs the work to gain a level of consistency but could turn into something good in years two through four.

Pick 231: Dallas Cowboys select Johnathan Ford, S, Auburn (CBS 234th)

The Cowboys will need to add another young safety as they may lose one of their two free agents in March. Ford has the versatility to play safety and corner and has played well when asked to be in the nickel for the Tigers. He fits best as a free safety and that’s where he had most of his collegiate production.

Pick 249: Dallas Cowboys select Fred Ross, WR, Mississippi State (CBS 245th)

Ross had the majority of his production when he was playing with Cowboys’ starting quarterback Dak Prescott. He’s always open but he’s got a lot of work ahead of him to becoming a consistent wide receiver product. It’s worth a shot to get him back with a guy that he’s familiar with who might be able to turn him into something special.

[Source:-Blogging the Boys]

Cowboys Free Agent Focus 2017: Which WR Will The Cowboys Sign?

On Monday, we took a shot at zeroing in on some possible free agent candidates. It’s anyone’s guess as to what the team will do as they look to put together a couple new contracts to round out their position group, but today – it’s time for our guess. When we last left off, these nine candidates were placed on the table.

If we apply a rotisserie matrix to each category (best =9, worst = 1) and add up the collective score we get a new set of rankings:

Disclaimer: the cost numbers are completely related to how they are ranked from Walter Football. These values are subjective and not extremely reliable, but they do serve as a guide that approximates their price.

Kenny Stills

What’s interesting about this is that Kenny Stills leads the pack. Our own Michael Sisemore recently wrote about Stills being an appealing option for the Cowboys.

This past season was actually sort of a breakout for Stills and his best season since he’s been in the NFL in terms of playmaking ability. He finished the 2016 season with 43 receptions, 726 yards, and nine touchdowns (led team). Though he’s not the prototypical number one guy, a spot reserved for Jarvis Landry, Stills showed that he can be a great complement to Landry.

He mentioned several great points to support this choice, but you can now add solid run-blocker to the list. If the market dries up and Stills is still there when the costs become relatively cheap, he looks like a great choice.

Russell Shepard

A name that might be foreign to most of us is Russell Shepard from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He only played 433 snaps, which is comparable to Brice Butler so he’s not a player that sees a lot of action. The Bucs also used him for 154 snaps on special teams so he would have some value there as well. His score is boosted by the fact that he’ll most likely be the cheapest player of this group, but he still meets the other three requirements. He’s an under the radar type of player, but that falls in line with how Dallas works in free agency. “Who is that guy?” is something we are no stranger to hearing.

And it looks like he catches the ball with his hands.

Brandon LaFell

LaFell was solid filling in for A.J. Green when he got hurt. He logged over 1,000 snaps and graded out as the 12th-best run blocker in the NFL last season. He was able to essentially match his 2014 16-game season playing with the New England Patriots offense. He could be equally effective in an offense as good as the Cowboys.

Michael Floyd

When Floyd was released by the Arizona Cardinals, many Cowboys fans wanted the team to snag him as is the norm whenever a former big-name player gets dropped. And when New England signed him, more frustration mounted as many associate any move they make as a brilliant one. But the change of scenery hasn’t done much show any indication of resurrecting his career. Maybe it’s being new to a system? Maybe he’s just falling out of the league?

At one point Floyd was looking like the heir apparent to Larry Fitzgerald after a great 2013 season where he had over 1,000 yards receiving, but those days are over. Could he still be a valuable contributor to the receiving group?

Dontrelle Inman

Inman was a late bloomer as he spend his first two seasons in the CFL. Shout out to all you Toronto Argonauts fans. During his three seasons with the Chargers he has shown some nice growth and had 58 catches for 810 yards last season. While he emerged as Philip Rivers main target when Keenan Allen went down, he fits better as the number two WR.

He’s got that TWilly toe-tap down.

Kenny Britt

The Cowboys love players who have that first-rounder upside despite struggling to live up to their draft price. Mostly because they come cheap and have the talent to still be decent even if they never reach their full potential. Britt has been so-so during his first seven years in the league, but then broke out last year when he surpassed the 1,000 yard mark for the first time in his career. At 6’3” 215 lbs, he’s even bigger than Williams’ frame.

His recent success could drive up his price, but that’s the only thing working against him as he possesses many attributes that would fit in nicely with the Cowboys.

The Redskins Duo

Either of the free agent receivers would be nice to have on the Cowboys. Pierre Garcon is a great run blocker and DeSean Jackson is a top-notch deep threat. Both have reached the 30-year-age mark so they have that going against them, but they are proven commodities and should get a decent deal from someone other than Dallas. These are two players whose price Cowboys fans wouldn’t mind seeing elevate as it would then mean one of two things – either Washington had to pay out a hefty penny to keep them or they’ll be catching passes elsewhere next season.

Prediction

I’m still on board the TWilly train. He’s a great fit for the team and retaining him would be good for the offense. The problem however, is that his price will most likely be too high. It’s possible he doesn’t have enough suitors and the Cowboys luck out and keep him. But it’s more possible that another WR on this list goes for cheaper. Since he’s at the top of the scoring matrix, I’m aligned with my colleague, Mr. Sisemore, that Kenny Stills would be a great addition. If the price of Kenny Britt falls a bit, he would be a great replacement for Williams.

But it all comes down to which of these players slide down the price scale. Between Williams, Stills, and Britt – the most affordable of these options will be your Cowboys wide receiver.

And don’t be surprised if Shepard sneaks in as a low cost replacement for Butler.

Which WR do you think the Cowboys will sign in free agency?

[Source:-Blogging the boys]

Return Of Injured Cowboys Could Provide A Big Boost In 2017

As we noted earlier, the Cowboys have a lot of free agents – 20 overall. Especially hard hit among the position groups will be the secondary, the defensive line, and wide receivers.

Yet the Cowboys also have some high-quality players who were sidelined for some or all of 2016 who might play very big roles next season.

Jaylon Smith

Smith was projected by many to be one of the top-five players taken in the 2016 draft until he blew out his knee in Notre Dame’s bowl game. The injury played a role in several players, likely to enter the NFL draft, skipping bowl games this year so they wouldn’t suffer something similar.

The word this month is that the nerve is regenerating and Smith will be ready for offseason activities. That is tremendous news, as the Cowboys are in need of more playmakers on defense, with Sean Lee being the team’s lone defensive Pro-Bowl and All-Pro player.

Smith doesn’t play in any of the position groups that will be most impacted by free agency, but if the Cowboys are set at linebacker, they can turn their draft attention elsewhere.

La’el Collins

Collins started the season at left guard, but he didn’t start well. Pro Football Focus rated him as having the worst performance for an offensive lineman in the NFL in the week-one loss to the Giants. So in odd sort of way, his toe-injury opened the door for Ron Leary to return and upgrade the Cowboys’ offensive line.

This offseason, Leary is almost certain to accept an offer to move on, with the Cowboys unable to match because of the need to re-sign Zack Martin. The good news for Dallas is that it has Collins to step back in at left guard, with another offseason to gain strength and improve his consistency.

One thing Collins excelled at was getting out in space, so if he can improve his fundamentals, there’s no reason Collins can’t exceed what Leary brought to the Cowboys. And it’s possible Collins could still be used at tackle, where he played in college, and take over for Doug Free, if not in 2017, then in 2018 when Free’s contract is up. With the addition of Jonathan Cooper, Dallas might have found another guard it could plug in next to Tyron Smith.

In any event, that’s a second first-round talent Dallas has waiting in the wings.

Charles Tapper

Tapper might best be remembered as the fourth-round pick Dallas took ahead of Dak Prescott, but let’s hope not. At Oklahoma, he played out of position, as a defensive end in a 3-4 front. This negated the value of his speed. Here was our breakdown post-draft. He was forced to sit out all of 2016 because of an undiagnosed stress fracture bone in his back.

Tapper does not have Randy Gregory’s speed, but he’s much bigger, and could become a valuable player in Rod Marinelli’s rotation at defensive end. The Cowboys could lose players among the group of Jack Crawford, Terrell McClain, and Ryan Davis this offseason. Tapper may make it easier for the Cowboys to move on from some of these players.

James Hanna, Geoff Swaim, and Rico Gathers

Only the first two players are returning from injury, but it makes sense to put Gathers here as well, because he might make the biggest impact of all of them, given his mammoth size. None of these tight ends will ever displace Jason Witten, but that’s not really their role. Their job is to block and catch the occasional pass, and on that score, all are likely an upgrade over Gavin Escobar, who is a free agent.

DeMarcus Lawrence

Why is he on this list? Because he missed four games to suspension, and three more games because of a back injury that he needed offseason surgery to try to correct. As a result, he dropped from eight sacks in 2015 to one in 2016. He may get more surgery this offseason, but if he can come back like he played in 2015 or better, he would re-emerge as the Cowboys’ best pass rusher. Since he’ll be in a contract year as well, he should be highly motivated to put forth his best year as a pro.

The Cowboys have lots of free agents, but between these returning players, compensatory picks they are likely to pick up for several of their players if they sign elsewhere, what they might get in a trade of Tony Romo, and their own draft, the Cowboys could end up with a much stronger roster in 2017.

[Source:-Blogging The Boys]

Return Of Injured Cowboys Could Provide A Big Boost In 2017

As we noted earlier, the Cowboys have a lot of free agents – 20 overall. Especially hard hit among the position groups will be the secondary, the defensive line, and wide receivers.

Yet the Cowboys also have some high-quality players who were sidelined for some or all of 2016 who might play very big roles next season.

Jaylon Smith

Smith was projected by many to be one of the top-five players taken in the 2016 draft until he blew out his knee in Notre Dame’s bowl game. The injury played a role in several players, likely to enter the NFL draft, skipping bowl games this year so they wouldn’t suffer something similar.

The word this month is that the nerve is regenerating and Smith will be ready for offseason activities. That is tremendous news, as the Cowboys are in need of more playmakers on defense, with Sean Lee being the team’s lone defensive Pro-Bowl and All-Pro player.

Smith doesn’t play in any of the position groups that will be most impacted by free agency, but if the Cowboys are set at linebacker, they can turn their draft attention elsewhere.

La’el Collins

Collins started the season at left guard, but he didn’t start well. Pro Football Focus rated him as having the worst performance for an offensive lineman in the NFL in the week-one loss to the Giants. So in odd sort of way, his toe-injury opened the door for Ron Leary to return and upgrade the Cowboys’ offensive line.

This offseason, Leary is almost certain to accept an offer to move on, with the Cowboys unable to match because of the need to re-sign Zack Martin. The good news for Dallas is that it has Collins to step back in at left guard, with another offseason to gain strength and improve his consistency.

One thing Collins excelled at was getting out in space, so if he can improve his fundamentals, there’s no reason Collins can’t exceed what Leary brought to the Cowboys. And it’s possible Collins could still be used at tackle, where he played in college, and take over for Doug Free, if not in 2017, then in 2018 when Free’s contract is up. With the addition of Jonathan Cooper, Dallas might have found another guard it could plug in next to Tyron Smith.

In any event, that’s a second first-round talent Dallas has waiting in the wings.

Charles Tapper

Tapper might best be remembered as the fourth-round pick Dallas took ahead of Dak Prescott, but let’s hope not. At Oklahoma, he played out of position, as a defensive end in a 3-4 front. This negated the value of his speed. Here was our breakdown post-draft. He was forced to sit out all of 2016 because of an undiagnosed stress fracture bone in his back.

Tapper does not have Randy Gregory’s speed, but he’s much bigger, and could become a valuable player in Rod Marinelli’s rotation at defensive end. The Cowboys could lose players among the group of Jack Crawford, Terrell McClain, and Ryan Davis this offseason. Tapper may make it easier for the Cowboys to move on from some of these players.

James Hanna, Geoff Swaim, and Rico Gathers

Only the first two players are returning from injury, but it makes sense to put Gathers here as well, because he might make the biggest impact of all of them, given his mammoth size. None of these tight ends will ever displace Jason Witten, but that’s not really their role. Their job is to block and catch the occasional pass, and on that score, all are likely an upgrade over Gavin Escobar, who is a free agent.

DeMarcus Lawrence

Why is he on this list? Because he missed four games to suspension, and three more games because of a back injury that he needed offseason surgery to try to correct. As a result, he dropped from eight sacks in 2015 to one in 2016. He may get more surgery this offseason, but if he can come back like he played in 2015 or better, he would re-emerge as the Cowboys’ best pass rusher. Since he’ll be in a contract year as well, he should be highly motivated to put forth his best year as a pro.

The Cowboys have lots of free agents, but between these returning players, compensatory picks they are likely to pick up for several of their players if they sign elsewhere, what they might get in a trade of Tony Romo, and their own draft, the Cowboys could end up with a much stronger roster in 2017.

[Source:-Bloging The Boys]

BTB Cowboys Podcast: Previewing The Packers Offense And Cowboys Defense

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[Source:-Blogging The Boys]