The story of the day is, of course, that the Cowboys inked Dan Bailey to a long-term contract (multiple sites, including KD's excellent post). That's good sauce, since Bailey's 89 made field goals are already second most in team history, and his 90.8 field goal percentage is the highest in team history. Also, his eight game-winning field goals are the most in Cowboys history. In case you haven't been paying attention (or have never, ever, looked at KD's Twitter feed), this just in: the dude's good. And so is the contract, as Clarence Hill writes:
As a restricted free-agent, Bailey was likely going to get the second round tender offer of $2.124 million. The new deal certainly surpasses that in average per season but the length of the contract helps keep the money down so it will likely give him a lower cap figure in 2014 to help the Cowboys can [sic] sign other players.
Color me pleased. And now on to the day's other big story, the Senior Bowl...
Former pro personnel guy Bryan Broaddus offers up a list of ten players who caught his eye during Senior Bowl practices. Good news for Cowboys fans: a good nine of them play positions (DL, QB, WR, OL) that figure to be positions of need come May. At the top of the list? The early horse out of the draft gate, of course:
Aaron Donald/ DT/ Pitt: Not many teams will like his lack of height but there is no questioning how he played this week. He was the most disruptive player for either squad. His film and work here gives him a nice platform into the Combine.
Nice platform, indeed.
After early reports that the team almost certainly wouldn't be looking for a new signal caller in the upcoming draft, there appears to be a wee change of heart in the works. Can it be that they are looking for Romo's successor? Well, not so much. Stephen Jones:
"You always have to be open to that. Yeah, and whether it’s a guy ultimately one day, your future, even if it's at some point it enables you to not have a better (more expensive) backup, that saves you money if you’re able to get on a guy like that, so we’re always open to it."
It seems that the front office is questioning whether they got full value paying a backup QB what they have paid Kyle Orton the past two seasons. Given how much they are spending for their starter, it's a legit question...
On the other hand, they won't draft a running back, unless a rare value opportunity presents itself. Why? Because they are pleased by Joseph Randle's progress. Oh, yeah, and that super dynamic Lance Dunbar guy.
Jones the Elder is pleased to have (finally) spent first round selections in 2011 and 2013 on O-linemen. But don't expect him to do it again any time soon: "This is an either-or proposition," he reminds us, "and if you use your resources one place, you don’t have them to go another place."
In the past two years, it's not only DeMarcus Ware's sacks that have taken a dive; his practice time has been severely curtailed as well. As usual, Todd Archer does his research, and comes up with some interesting numbers:
Over the last two years, Ware has been on the daily injury report 57 times. He has been listed as a full participant 14 times. He has been listed as limited 22 times and as did not practice 21 times....Of the 96 practices the last two seasons in which a daily injury report was filed with the league, Ware was limited or out 43 times. That is a staggering percentage.
Staggering indeed. And, as Archer intimates, one of the reasons why Ware has not been as effective on Sundays: he's not getting the necessary reps.
The key, of course, is injuries. As his head coach explains:
The guy has dealt with a lot of different things over the last couple years – a shoulder, and elbow, a quad, different injuries here and there – and that happens. It’s the nature of football. He’s always done an amazing job fighting through those things, doing what he can do to get himself to Sunday. I think if we get him to a point where he is healthy throughout the season, you’ll see similar production to what he’s had throughout his career.
At his age, that seems a pretty dicey proposition. Because of that, will they be able to convince him to take a pay cut? Because...
Using all of their available cap space and then some appears to be the Cowboys operational model. This is an all-but guaranteed strategy when you have a high-rent quarterback, as Dallas does. Jones the Younger opines:
It’ll limit you. At the same time, I think we can manage to get through it, get done what we need to get done and get better. … I think we’ll always manage through it, but we’re still in a tight situation after coming off the penalties and things like that.
I suppose by "things like that," he's referring to giving bloated contracts to aging players who are highly unlikely to play to the level of the deal in its final years....
In a chat transcript, the DMN's David Moore presents some numbers that offer a bitter antidote to Jerry Jones' claim that his team has been "one game away" from a division championship in each of the last three seasons:
The chance to make the playoffs on the final day of the regular season deals in hope and what a team could be. The reality is the Cowboys fell short each time. The reality is 12 teams in the NFC have made the playoffs the last four seasons, 14 teams have had a least one season with 10 wins and the Cowboys aren't among them. That is what Jones must focus on as he assess [sic] this team, not about what could have been.
There are 16 NFC teams, and the Cowboys are one of four not to make the playoffs from 2010-13, and one of only two (the other is the Rams) not to have a ten win season. That's not pretty. Not pretty at all.
- Senior Bowl 2014: What We Learned From The Practices
- NFL Draft 2014: The Top 100 College Prospects (Pre-Senior Bowl Edition)
- Jerry Jones: "I Like Where We Are At Running Back"
- Two Arms Up: Cowboys Ink Kicker Dan Bailey To Six-Year Extension
- Five Moments That Shaped The Cowboys' 2013 Season (Pt. IV): Romo's Back Injury