There is a lot of news to cover today about a couple of players who are not part of the Dallas Cowboys. However, it seems whenever they are mentioned, the Cowboys come up because, well, Dallas is linked to every potential free agent in the league at some point. And for both these players, that has been going on for a couple of years already.
The two names are Johnny Manziel and Robert Griffin III. It looks almost certain that both will be released by their teams soon. With the horribly disappointing performance of the backups to Tony Romo in 2015, a lot of people start connecting dots, even though some of those dots may be largely imaginary.
There has been an almost constant stream of reports of continuing issues for Manziel. Now the Browns have pretty much made it clear that he is going to be gone. Probably the only reason he is not already on the street is that the Cleveland Browns, like most teams, have already rolled their cap space over into the new NFL year that starts on March 9, and releasing JFF would put them over the cap with no way to fix the situation. But that handwriting on the wall is in all caps.
"We've been clear about expectations for our players on and off the field," said Cleveland Browns EVP of Football Operations Sashi Brown. "Johnny's continual involvement in incidents that run counter to those expectations undermines the hard work of his teammates and the reputation of our organization. His status with our team will be addressed when permitted by league rules. We will have no further comment at this time."
Meanwhile, as our own Cool One has reported, there are many who think that RG3 is going to wind up in Dallas. It looks like Washington is also poised to move on from him, and unlike with Manziel, there is at least a chance Griffin may still have some productive football in him.
In the right environment, he could rediscover the form that let him take the NFL by storm in 2012. In Dallas, he'd likely sit behind Tony Romo for the next two years, which would give him time to learn how to pass from the pocket, a prerequisite for his future in the NFL. And with Romo's injury history, Griffin would probably get a few starts here and there anyway. And given how low the bar has been set in Dallas for backup QBs, there's virtually no way for Griffin to disappoint.
The question is whether either player would be a wise move for Dallas. The idea of acquiring JFF has always seemed like a bad move to many. It is hard to figure out why you would want to pursue a player who has underperformed on the field while finding new and inventive ways to screw up off it. But the Johnny Football love was strong with many. Now, though, even staunch supporters of the idea like Mac Engel have thrown in the towel.
When Austin's favorite part-time resident appeared to "get it" back in November when he was handed the keys to the Browns, and actually played some decent ball, I was all in to bring him to the Cowboys - as long as that move required nothing in exchange.
After watching Manziel shoot himself in the face by going to Vegas during the season and trying to lie about it, blowing off treatment with the Browns and now this latest incident it's apparent he is just a stupid young man with no concept of consequences.
Some still think taking a look at Manziel on a "no-risk" deal is still a viable option, but it is now rather obvious that "no-risk" is not an operable concept where he is concerned.
Meanwhile, there is still a good bit of "real" news to get to.
With Al Golden no longer available, Dallas continues to search for a replacement for Jerome Henderson. The newest names on the radar are Mike Nolan and Tim Lewis.
Nolan stepped down as Chargers linebackers coach last month to pursue other opportunities. He also has been the defensive coordinator for seven teams (Giants, Redskins, Jets, Ravens, Broncos, Dolphins and Falcons) and the 49ers' head coach from 2005-08. His father, Dick, was a Cowboys defensive assistant from 1962-67 and again from 1986-90.
Lewis, the 49ers' secondary coach in 2015, was one of several assistants to move on after the season as San Francisco retools its staff under new head coach Chip Kelly. Lewis has previously coached the secondary in Pittsburgh, Carolina, Seattle and Atlanta. He also was the Steelers' and Giants' defensive coordinator from 2000-03 and 2004-06, respectively.
Dallas' offensive coordinator admits that things didn't go so well last season with the various injury issues. But he seems to be channeling his head coach when he talks about addressing them.
"We haven't really completely sat down and said what our adjustments are going to be," Linehan said. "I don't anticipate anything major. Obviously we're working to improve in some areas we fell short, so we'll do that here in the upcoming months and we really have to get ourselves back to where we really started and where we were in training camp and where we were early in the year, get back to that. There are a lot of things we've got to do better. I think we have to start by everyone looking in the mirror and saying, 'This is what we've got to do individually and then collectively as a group, and then as a team.' So it's pretty cut and dry that way."
Nick Eatman looks at the situation of the defensive line for the Cowboys. He sees one clear need for an upgrade, although it is not a position the team has been willing to spend much draft capital on in the past.
Upgrades Needed: The Cowboys could use some help at the 1-technique, and it could come from within if Terrell McClain can return healthy this year. McClain has battled all sorts of injuries in his first two seasons with Dallas, missing most of 2015 with a toe injury. Even if he returns, the Cowboys need to get bigger and younger in the middle. This 2016 draft is rather deep with 1-technique players and the Cowboys could stand to get one that could contribute right away.
New reasons have emerged for the downfall of former starting running back Joseph Randle.
On Nov. 3, a combination of issues led the Cowboys to release Randle. In addition to showing signs of mental instability, he had been involved in placing wagers on sporting events during the 2015 season, sources said.
"All of that became apparent to us right during the season," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said last week from a Senior Bowl practice in Mobile, Ala. "Not before the season. It became real acute, a combination of things. Some issues ... became more apparent."
This report is littered with names of interest to Cowboys fans. One note may have an impact on Dallas at the number four spot.
There will be more that comes about the Robert Nkemdiche window-falling incident in the weeks to come, especially as the coverage of Nkemdiche's ramps up at the Combine. And that incident may involve currently projected #1 overall pick Laremy Tunsil in a way that could impact Tunsil's draft value.
Sturm's draft profiles are always worth a read. And Josh Doctson will almost certainly be a Dallas Days invite.
Doctson is in the top 50 and maybe even in the mix for the 1st round. He has really shown he is willing to work hard and figure out what is needed and then he plays with a confidence and a competiveness that teams are going to want to get their hands on. He knows he is good and isn't afraid to show it. Also, with that catch radius and flair for the spectacular, it is easy to see why we should not be shocked if he doesn't get to that Dallas pick at the top of Round 2. But, if he does, expect the name to be quite high on their board.
While we are on the subject of wide receivers that may be of interest to the Cowboys, Bryan Broaddus offers up two from the Senior Bowl.
I was expecting a big game from Oklahoma wide receiver Sterling Shepard, but instead it was Baylor's Jay Lee and Southeast Missouri State's Paul McRoberts, Southeast Missouri who stood out. There were not many snaps of man coverage, so their routes were usually executed against zone or off coverage -- which made their jobs a tad bit easier. What I did like was how both of these receivers were able to finish -- whether it was the curl, slant or in, they were able to work to the open space and receive the ball.
And finally, a little something for all of you still ensconced on the Carson Wentz bandwagon.
What did Wentz think about working with Garrett through three days of practices and Saturday's game?
"He was good," Wentz said. "Just talking with him and all the coaches, you can just tell that they're very smart. They know the game. Being around guys like that is just going to benefit me going forward."