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Dallas Cowboys News And Notes: Cowboys Add Two Defenders With Very Different Pedigrees

All the news that's fit to link. Today's top storylines: Efe Obada joins the team; so does a guy named Rolando McClain; linebacking unit suddenly comes into focus; Cowboys re-structure Romo to get Hardy, McClain deals under cap; Dallas still exercising financial prudence; Romo speaks; draft profiles; and: what the heck is the NFL doing?

Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

As it happened on April Fools' Day, this story seemed an appropriate lead-off:

Dallas Cowboys add Brit footballer Efe Obada to roster - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas

The Cowboys added a 6-foot-6, 255-pound TE/ DE who played in the British American Football Association. Wondering how the heck they found this guy? Here's the connection:

With the Warriors, Obada’s defensive coordinator was Aden Durde, who was a coaching intern for the Cowboys last summer in training camp and met up with the club when it played the Jacksonville Jaguars in London last season.

Wednesday's real top story, of course, was the news that the Cowboys inked Rolando McClain to a one-year deal:

Rolando McClain Re-Signs For 1-Year Contract To Anchor Middle of Defense - Nick Eatman, The Mothership

After a visit earlier this week with the Patriots in New England, McClain suddenly had a decision to make regarding his future. The linebacker has decided to stay in Dallas, re-signing with the Cowboys for a one-year deal, reportedly worth $3 million, with a chance to earn another $1 million in incentives. Seems pretty fair.

With Rolando McClain back, Cowboys’ Sean Lee moves to ‘his most natural position’ - David Moore, DMN

In what owner Jerry Jones labeled the ideal scenario during the Owner's Meeting, Moore writes, Rolando McClain’s return cements Sean Lee’s move to the outside. His head coach agrees:

"Sean Lee has great instincts,’’ Garrett said. "In our defense, he would be protected by that under-tackle, that three-technique at the Will, where he can go and use those instincts. "It’s the Derrick Brooks position, it’s the Lance Briggs position, and we just think Sean would do a fantastic job at it."

By keeping Rolando McClain, Dallas Cowboys are stronger at LB - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas

Now that Rolando McClain is returning to the Dallas Cowboys, Archer writes, the entire linebacker group looks to be fairly stout. To wit:

  • Sean Lee will move to weakside linebacker, which is the playmaking position in the Cowboys’ 4-3 scheme.
  • McClain gives the Cowboys a physical presence in the middle of the defense.
  • Anthony Hitchens finished third on the defense in tackles and was better than anybody could have expected as a fourth-round pick.
  • the Cowboys have signed Jasper Brinkley and Andrew Gachkar in free agency to help with depth (Brinkley) and to be a special-teams force (Gachkar).
  • Kyle Wilber, who can play strongside linebacker or defensive end in pass-rushing situations, is still on the roster.
  • don't forget about Keith Rivers, a former No. 1 pick, who can be in the mix on the strong side as well.
  • or Dakoda Watson, who might be the wild card here, especially if they decide to employ an OTTO linebacker

Dallas Cowboys better on defense, but is it guaranteed? - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas

On the downside, Toddzilla notes that, although the Cowboys acquired pass rusher Greg Hardy in free agency, re-signed LB Rolando McClain, and will welcome Sean Lee back to the lineup, the question looms: can they get them on the field together?

There is no guarantee they will get more than 10 games together if Hardy receives a six-game suspension. There is no guarantee McClain will make it through a season healthy or avoid possible trouble with the league. There is no guarantee Lee will make it through a season healthy.


In closely-related news, the Cowboys re-structured Tony Romo's contract

Cowboys Restructure Tony Romo's Contract, Free Up Cap Space - Dave Halprin, Blogging The Boys

The Cowboys, our fearless leaders writes, created $12.8 million in cap space for 2015 by lowering Romo's base to $1 million and converting $16 million into a signing bonus.


What might this mean? The Dallas Morning News staged a point-counterpoint between two of its greybeards:

What do Cowboys' latest moves mean? Adrian Peterson, come on down! - Tim Cowlishaw, DMN

Cowlishaw insists that, by pushing money into the future for Romo, it's obvious the team is thinking about 2015 and 2015 only. To wit:

A series of moves, highlighted by Tony Romo restructuring his contract to save $12.8 million in cap room for 2015, suggests one thing and one thing only. Adrian Peterson. Come on down.

Cowboys would be foolish to acquire Jerry Jones' new man-crush Adrian Peterson - Kevin Sherrington, DMN

Sherrington counters with the now-familiar argument: acquiring AD would be foolish after seeing Stephen Jones's good work to create more flexibility under the salary cap, largely by avoiding long-term deals with stars over 30:

Let’s say the Cowboys prove foolish enough to give the Vikings what they want, and Peterson’s willing to give the Cowboys a discount. He’s not going to take a 50 percent pay cut, or $6 million a year, which was the Cowboys’ final offer to DeMarco Murray. And if you’re not going to give $8 or $9 million a year to a 27-year-old back who gained 1,845 yards last season, why would you give it to a 30-year-old?

And Rainer Sabin offered this breathless take:

The reasons Cowboys threw salary cap caution to wind and restructured Romo's deal - Rainer Sabin, DMN

Sabin responds to the Romo restructure thusly: the Cowboys shifted gears mid-way through free agency. Thus, he claims, the restructuring of Romo’s contract offers the latest "bit of proof" that the Cowboys are doing everything possible to win their sixth Vince Lombardi Trophy while they still have Number Nine:

Eventually, they mustered a wan response with a series of minor acquisitions, including the signings of running back Darren McFadden, fullback Jed Collins and a pair of veteran linebackers with little name recognition. Not until eight days had passed in the new league year did the Cowboys make a move that indicated their vision aligned with Romo’s short-term outlook.

Of course one of BTB's native sons has the real story, and it's of the sober, not breathless variety:

Cowboys McClain Deal + Romo Trigger - KD Drummond, Cowboys HQ

The always-sensible Drummond points out that the $12.8-mil-worth-of-room Romo restructure has nothing to do with Adrian Peterson. Nope, it's about simple math:

Projecting a modest two-game suspension for Hardy, a $2.5m hit for McClain and the lower end of working in-season capital, Dallas needs approximately $15 million of cap space, an additional $13.6 million from where they are now.

And, in case you still find the math elusive, here's a the breakdown, courtesy of Drummond's CHQ running mate, Mike Fisher:


Although the Romo news does somewhat mitigate recent stories extolling the Cowboys financial prudence, this much remains true:

Cowboys Are One Of The Thriftiest Teams In The League - O.C.C., Blogging The Boys

We know that the Cowboys haven't been big spenders in free agency this offseason, The Cool One writes, but you might be surprised at just how thrifty they have been:

$4.7 million in guaranteed money is the fifth lowest total in the league, and chump change compared to the likes of the Eagles ($53.5 million in guaranteed money), Dolphins ($75.5 million), Jets ($75.5 million), and Jaguars ($78.8 million) who hemorrhaged guaranteed dollars this offseason.

This evidence, it would be hoped, will go a ways to quiet the trolls who climbed onto the comments section to express indignation at this piece's conclusions on Monday:

Which NFC East Team Has The Most Effective Front Office? - Blogging The Boys


Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo breaks down pass to Dez Bryant - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas

Tony Romo went on Dallas radio and explained the fourth-down play-call to Dez Bryant that effectively ended the Cowboys' playoff loss in Green Bay. It's a long explanation, so I'll share just a part of it:

"So I say, 'Hey, it's one-on-one; Dez hasn't gotten this but three times the whole game. It's our season on the line. Let's do what we do.' You give him a chance...I changed the protection to try and give myself the ability to go through the progression to them and then finish with Dez. My thought was, let's get the first down. Get through one, two and my third option is going to be Dez on a go route. The problem was we only had five men and they were rushing six. I tried to manipulate the line and change the call so we could pick up the fifth guy and I did that, the problem was the sixth guy came."

Fascinating stuff. I suggest clicking the link and reading the explanation in its entirety.


A couple of draft profiles on cornerbacks in whom the Cowboys might should be interested:

Dallas Cowboys draft breakdown: CB Kevin Johnson - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas

Archer starts us off with a look at the current leader in the clubhouse to be the pick at #27. Here's the general assessment:

Fluid athlete with natural movement skills. Loose in hips and turns easily. Flexible lower half. Natural backpedal and maintains quality leverage. Smooth transition out of breaks. Above-average man coverage skills both in press- and off-man technique. Quick short-area closing burst. Adequate recovery speed and overall range.

2015 NFL Draft profile: What I see in Alex Carter, CB, Stanford - Bob Sturm, DMN

Sturm takes his turn, looking at Stanford's big corner, Alex Carter. Here's the takeaway:

Corner is a spot where you need to get guys who fit your style, and it does seem that Carter fits what Dallas does. He is big and physical and able to win in the red zone. He also seems ready to compete against the big receivers who are all over the league and can battle for the ball. He is a "high makeup" player as well where teams that meet him and look in his eye can’t wait to get him into their room as he certainly interviews and tests very well. He is good, not great, but you need good corners now more than ever. He is not the type of guy to push himself into the top round (I don’t believe) and he might never be your #1 corner. But, when you need 3 solid corners, he fits the bill of adding quality to your secondary at the right spot and at the right price.


Why Does The NFL Need To See Photo Evidence Of Greg Hardy's Abuse? - Tom Ley,

Ley writes that the NFL's attempt to acquire photos of Nicole Holder's injuries isn’t an example of strong investigatory work; rather, it's the latest reminder that the league office has no idea what it’s doing:

The NFL wants these photos not because it cares about getting Hardy’s punishment right, but because it wants to get the optics of the punishment right. The question the NFL is trying to answer isn’t "Did Greg Hardy beat his ex-girlfriend?" but rather "How bad will we look if these pictures become public without us seeing them, and our punishment is deemed to have been too light?"

His conclusion is potent indeed:

...this is the corner the NFL has painted itself into by forming an extralegal judicial branch and insisting on being counted on to act as America’s moral authority. As long as the NFL keeps insisting that there is a proper number of games and paychecks to be missed for every conceivable legal transgression, it’s going to find itself scrambling to maintain any kind of consistency. So while everyone else has already settled on the fact that Greg Hardy did something terrible to Nicole Holder, the NFL is withholding judgment until all of the bruises have been counted. There is no clearer argument for why a sports league shouldn’t be in the business of investigating and adjudicating crimes.


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