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Dallas Cowboys News & Notes: Dez Bryant Could Get Franchise Tagged As Early As Monday

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Latest Cowboys headlines: Dez Bryant is a "no brainer" to get tagged; Cowboys could be one of the biggest players in free agency this year, just by re-signing their own players; Sean Lee poised for a bounce-back season.

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

NFL teams can start placing the franchise tag on prospective free agents starting on Monday, and have until March 2 to use the designation.

Predicting who gets tagged: Dez Bryant is a "no brainer" to get tagged - NFL.com
NFL.com offers a primer on possible candidates for the franchise tag, and calls Dez Bryant a "no brainer" to get the tag.

After contract talks with Bryant broke down during the season, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said in December that he wouldn't hesitate to tag the pass-catcher if necessary. Running back DeMarco Murray might not be back, but Jones has vowed to keep Bryant in Big D for the rest of his career.

Bob Sturm: If I’m Cowboys, here’s what I’m willing to offer Dez Bryant | Dallas Morning News
In a chat with fans, the Sturminator puts a price tag on Bryant.

With Bryant, we don’t know what his camp is asking for. I was told they thought a deal was nearly done and then he changed agents. Does he want Megatron money? I am ready to make him the 3rd highest WR in football, but not the highest. And that is a big difference. Megatron and Fitz both get $16m a year and a total deal over $110m. But then it drops to $12m a year and nobody over $65m total. I would be fine with Dez at 5 years for $70m and maybe even 6 years at $84m ($14 a year). I just don’t know if they see it that way.

Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant's reps will remain the same - ESPN Dallas
After switching agents last fall, the end of the partnership between Jay Z's Roc Nation and CAA last week may have thrown another spanner in the works for Bryant's contract extension - though Roc Nation was quick to point out that Bryant's agents will not change.

Ranking the Top 25 NFL free agents and where they might end up | USA Today
The Cowboys could be one of the biggest players in free agency this year, just by re-signing their own players - if this ranking by USA Today is anything to go by: Dez Bryant ranks second only to Ndamukong Suh; DeMarco Murray ranks 6th; Doug Free ranks 21st.

Early look at the top free agents for 2015 - ESPN
ESPN doesn't think as much about the Cowboys as USA Today does. Bryant is ranked 2nd, Murray is ranked 16th, no other Cowboy makes the list.

Video: Dez Bryant should be Cowboys' top priority | NBC Sports
The PFT crew discusses who is more important to the Dallas Cowboys, with Chris Canty and Takeo Spikes both agreeing that Dez Bryant strikes more fear into opposing defenses than DeMarco Murray does.

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Cowboys decline to pick up 3-year option on DT Henry Melton’s contract | Brandon George, DMN
The Cowboys had until today to decide whether they wanted to exercise a three-year option on Henry Melton's contract that would have paid him $9 million guaranteed in 2015. To absolutely nobody's surprise, the Cowboys declined the option.

Dallas Cowboys free agent debate: Henry Melton - Todd Archer, ESPN
Archer doesn't expect the Cowboys to make a strong push to re-sign free agent DT Henry Melton.

Crawford’s ascension limited Melton’s snaps to some degree. He might be able to command more money elsewhere than the Cowboys want to give him, with other teams believing he will be better a second year since the ACL injury. There was a tension among the coaches with Melton at different times during the season that almost led to him being deactivated twice. If he comes back, it would likely be on a one-year deal with incentives, perhaps similar to the contract Anthony Spencer signed in 2014.

Sean Lee poised for a bounce-back season | FOX Sports
Alex Marvez lists 15 players who should be primed for bounce-back performances in 2015, and Sean Lee is one of them.

Lee’s bad luck with injuries continued last year as he missed the entire 2014 campaign with a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered in an offseason practice. If he can stay healthy, Lee should regain his status as one of the NFL’s best linebackers.

Why Cowboys won't address pass-rushing needs through free agency | DMN
Jon Machota shared his opinion on what to do about the pass rush in a chat with fans on Friday.

The elite pass rushers will likely be gone by the time the Cowboys are on the clock. But there will still be some very good players at No. 27 who can help immediately. I believe they will continue building this team through the draft. I wouldn't pay big money for any of the top pass rushers that make it to free agency. I look at it this way: If you have an elite pass rusher on your team who is worth top dollar, why aren't you paying him? There must be a reason. The Cowboys should be worried about re-signing their own players, drafting well, and making a few more affordable free agency moves like they did last season.

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2015 NFL Draft: Interior D-line candidates looking better all the time - CBSSports.com
Kirwan runs through the top DTs in this year's draft class and divides them neatly by the technique they are most likely to play. Kirwan explains the different techniques and gives a rationale for each player's technique. Go and read the article for the full rationale, here's a summary of each player's best fit, per Kirwan.

Player School Technique
Leonard Williams USC 3-technique
Danny Shelton Washington 0/1-technique
Malcom Brown Texas 3/5-technique
Eddie Goldman Florida State 1-technique
Arik Armstead Oregon 5-technique
Jordan Phillips Oklahoma 0-technique
Carl Davis Iowa 1-technique
Mario Edwards Florida State 3-technique
Michael Bennett Ohio State 3-technique

Looking at the names at the bottom of the table where the players might be in the Cowboys' range, Kirwan notes that Carl Davis would fit most schemes but would probably play the 1-technique, Mario Edwards might move inside "if he has the mindset for inside work," and likes Bennett for a team like the Cowboys:

[Bennett] makes plays but he has to be on the move in a 4-3 stunt front to be at his best. He had five sacks in his final five college games and I was impressed with him vs. Wisconsin. Teams like Dallas, Seattle, and Jacksonville like one-gap penetrators and Bennett will be higher on their draft boards than others.

2015 Sturm Draft Profile: Carl Davis, DT, Iowa | Dallas Morning News
You can find Bob Sturm's profile of almost every lineman on the above list right here, and as if on cue, Sturm yesterday published his draft profile of Carl Davis:

I expect him to be a factor for many years, but I also want to be clear that I don’t fancy him as a 1st round pick who is A) without any clear flaws or B) a major upgrade over what the average NFL team has at that spot. He is a very good roster player who will help the team and improve the rotation quite a bit, but I watched him this week after being asked quite a bit how I feel about taking him at #27. I don’t think he is a 3-technique in the NFL and therefore as a 1-technique, he better be pretty special to be a candidate to get into Dallas’ 1st round. Eddie Goldman is that type of guy, but from the games I watched of Carl Davis – despite his Senior Bowl – I would value him a round or two later.

Random Factoids for 2015 NFL Scouting Combine | NFL.com
The original headline to this "photo essay" reads "Mindblowing stats for 2015 NFL Combine". I like my version of the headline better, and offer two of those factoids for the consideration of those Cowboys fans with a deep interest in college football.

There are 323 players scheduled to attend the 2015 Scouting Combine. Of those, over half (52.6 percent) come from SEC, ACC, and Pac-12 schools. The SEC leads the way with 69 players, followed by the ACC (57) and Pac-12 (44).

Among all schools, Florida State has the most players invited to the 2015 Scouting Combine with 12. In fact, either Florida State or Alabama has had the most players invited to the Combine for four straight years. 2011 was the last time that neither Florida State nor Alabama had the most invites - when North Carolina led all schools with 12 players.