Things are rather quiet on the news front for the Dallas Cowboys as the NFL gathers itself for the next big event, the NFL Combine. The Cowboys have not made any moves with their roster yet, but they will likely be coming soon. But we still have the links you want to keep you up to date on the key happenings in Dallas and the NFL as a whole.
The owner/general manager/effusive spokesman of the Cowboys expresses his feelings about having to be a spectator for the Super Bowl in his unique idiom.
"It's inspirational," Jerry Jones said of being around the Super Bowl festivities. "It makes you want to just empty your bucket to get in here and have this kind of experience. We feel that way. It's deliberate.
"I hate it. I scream in my pillow when I go home at night when we're here. I want [the Dallas Cowboys] to be here so bad, but it's filling my bucket up so we can go."
The Super Bowl runner-up is now one of the teams that the Cowboys have to chase down next season if they right their ship this fall.
Carolina is a young team that dominated the competition in the NFC yet came up short in the Super Bowl. As coach Ron Rivera told his players Sunday night, they reached the top of the mountain but failed to scale the peak.
Beware a young team on a mission. Kuechly vowed the Panthers will come back strong. Norman talked about how this team will continue to pound and said the loss will make Carolina stronger next season and the years after that.
Need a little salt in the wound? Given that two of the key figures for the Denver Broncos, Wade Phillips and DeMarcus Ware, were both in Dallas in 2007, just think what might have been had the team not stumbled late in the season.
That Cowboys defense was not as suffocating as this Broncos defense, but that Cowboys offense was infinitely better than this Broncos offense.
To me, Denver's win reinforced the missed opportunity 2007 was for the Cowboys. Imagine just how different things would be around this team.
The need to find a better backup for Tony Romo is clear after the 2015 debacle, and one name that is being bandied about as a veteran option is Robert Griffin III. Due to his cost, Washington is not expected to keep him. Many are concerned by the injuries that sent him to the bench, but this look at him points out why things might go better if he should land in Dallas.
One of Griffin's biggest issues in Washington was his propensity to take sacks. Injuries slowed him some and he didn't ever regain his rookie form.
But the Cowboys' strength is that it has one of the league's top offensive lines, if not the best. And they're young up front. The bulk of the unit should be around well after Romo retires.
Nick Eatman looks at the middle of the offensive line, and offers an interesting possibility for how the team might choose to handle the backup position with the starters set for the foreseeable future.
Veteran Ron Leary is a restricted free agent and it will be interesting to see what the Cowboys do in terms of a tender offer. Considering he wasn't drafted, issuing the original-round tender for Leary would give other teams a chance to sign him without giving up any compensation. Veteran Mackenzy Bernadeau is a free agent and might not return. If the Cowboys lose both, don't be surprised if Chaz Green gets work at guard instead of competing for a position at tackle.
Bryan Broaddus looks at Anthony Hitchens and what his role might be this year.
Where He Fits: Staff will tell you that they love his position flexibility at all three linebacker spots, but in reality he is a much better fit as a MIKE or WILL than he is as a SAM because of his lack of length. If there is an area that he needs to improve on it would be his ability to take on blockers, and this is where that lack of length hurts him. Depending what happens with Rolando McClain and in the NFL Draft, he could be the starter as the MIKE for this defense. Played less in nickel once McClain returned to the lineup. When he gets it going, can be a tackling machine.
As free agency draws nearer and we all look for players we want to see the Cowboys sign, Todd Archer offers a cautionary tale about the risks inherent in paying for players that, after all, are no longer wanted by their old team. He uses the free agents that left Dallas in 2015 for greener pastures as illustration.
The Dallas Cowboys lost eight players after the 2014 season to unrestricted free agency: Bruce Carter, Justin Durant, Dwayne Harris, Henry Melton, DeMarco Murray, Jermey Parnell, George Selvie and Anthony Spencer. They also chose not to tender an offer to restricted free-agent cornerback Sterling Moore, which allowed him to leave as well.
Those nine players received guaranteed money totaling a little more than $53 million from the Philadelphia Eagles, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Atlanta Falcons, New York Giants, Jacksonville Jaguars and New Orleans Saints.
There are always draft profiles to look at this time of year.
Last season showed that not having a good enough backup for Dez Bryant was almost as big an issue as not having one for Romo. If he should make it to Dallas' second pick at 34, or if they trade back, this receiver might be in play for them.
Every team in the league wants a big play threat and a home run hitter. Coleman scored 20 TDs last season and had them all by November 5th. He is dynamic and explosive and maybe the best over-the-top threat in this draft, with plenty of impressive skills to compliment it as a slot receiver and a WR screen specialist. In the NFL, you cannot have enough top end speed and guys who can take you the length of the field on 1-play. We talk about receivers getting separation from their man, well, either you have a safety over the top of Corey Coleman or he is going to get open. He has to be in the top handful of receivers in this draft and likely not to get out of the 1st round. But, if he does, the Cowboys would love this to start Round 2.
Tony Pauline may write on the website of Dallas' enemy number one, but he is good at draft stuff. The Cowboys cold certainly use safety help, so this is of interest.
Last week, I mentioned Boise State safety Darian Thompson was receiving late first-round consideration by a number of teams. Another safety prospect who is also getting similar grades is junior Keanu Neal of Florida. Several teams believe Neal is the "best-looking safety in the draft" and love his explosive play. Neal struggled with a leg injury early last season and was a bit slow on his return. Several scouts mentioned the 2014 film is more indicative of his true next-level potential when Neal presented himself as a complete player at the position, deftly stopping the run and covering the pass.
Looking beyond the Cowboys, the NFL is still trying to get its domestic violence policy in order. They have taken one step that may be more public relations than anything else (which is to an extent true of the approach to the whole issue), but it might make a few college players stop and think for a moment.
This only applies to those convicted of offenses, which limits it, especially given how often star athletes seem to get a break from law enforcement in college towns.
. . . all players entering the combine would be required to undergo a background check. If a player refused, or if the background check revealed a domestic violence or sexual assault conviction, that player would be banned from all "league-related events," including the NFL Draft.
Note that this does not mean that they could not be drafted, just not attend the event. They would also still be able to participate in their school's pro day.
And now for the looming elephant in the room. The league tried to ban Greg Hardy for ten games for his incident, and his victim was reportedly not injured as badly as the woman Johnny Manziel allegedly assaulted. It will be interesting to see how the NFL handles his case, especially if Manziel, unlike Hardy, winds up with a conviction that stands.
Johnny Manziel's ex-girlfriend says she's deaf in her left ear from a beating by the Cleveland Browns quarterback in a fight over another woman.
Many feel bad about Manziel's life going to hell, but it is also hard for others not to think he is just getting what he has earned through his own choices and actions.