After what seems like forever waiting for something to happen with free agency (outside of the re-signings of their own, of course), we finally had some very significant developments on that front for the Dallas Cowboys. The team stuck with its philosophy of waiting until the first waves of big-name signings were done and then sought to bring in players that were much more affordable. The results on Tuesday were pretty good.
On Monday, the feeling seemed to be that Alfred Morris was going to move on and listen to other teams before he made a decision. Maybe they just sat him down and played a lot of video of the Cowboys offensive line.
The #Cowboys signed RB Alfred Morris to a 2-year worth $3.5M base, source said, with a chance to earn up to $5.5M.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 22, 2016
The Cowboys saw Darren McFadden have a much more productive year than anyone thought the often-injured, aging back could. They are banking on lightning striking twice.
In signing Morris, the Cowboys are reaffirming their faith in the offensive line
Morris was not just a back who had some very good years with Washington. He was in every sense of the word a right kind of guy, to coin a phrase.
Alfred Morris was more than just a running back for them; he was a regular guy who worked hard and succeeded -- and he was theirs. Then he was allowed to leave in free agency; then he signed Tuesday with the Dallas Cowboys.
So, yes, this one will hurt.
Bryan Broaddus takes a look at the video, and it certainly sounds like the Cowboys got an immediate upgrade at running back in Morris, despite his age.
There is no question that Morris can still play and the tape showed that. His physical toughness and desire to finish are still there. He has never had top-notch playing speed, but where he has had success is in his ability to take the ball in a one-back set, read the blocks and accelerate through the hole. He also still has the ability to make the first defender miss and bounce the ball to the outside.
And by pieces, he primarily means those five big'uns up front and a pretty good passing game.
"I feel like with the pieces they have here, I think it will definitely help propel us to that next level. Everybody who plays this game wants to win a Super Bowl. I feel like they have a lot of pieces here, amongst other things, to get us to that point."
It looks like Dallas found the right numbers to back the Raiders off of matching their offer for Benson Mayowa.
The offer sheet Mayowa signed with the Cowboys, according to NFL Network, includes a $700,000 base salary and $3.3 million bonus in 2016, and base salaries of $2.5 million and $2.75 million the next two years. That's a good chunk of money for a player who was just a rotational guy in Oakland.
One random comment (which I cannot locate) had it that Oakland may actually have a cash flow issue that affected things. Seems weird, but then, this is Oakland.
In a year when there was not a lot of depth at pass rusher in free agency, and things don't look much better in the draft, the Cowboys are going for quantity. They've tried it before.
The Cowboys have gone with a quantity over quality approach for their pass rush before. In 2014, Jeremy Mincey led the Cowboys with six sacks. The Cowboys had 13 players record at least a half-sack that season.
This fits in with what our own Michael Sisemore described earlier.
There is still one more shoe to hopefully drop for the Cowboys, and it sounds like a deal with Patrick Robinson is just a matter of time. Apparently, he changed agents in the middle of free agency, for some reason.
The only thing the Cowboys are waiting on now is for CB Patrick Robinson to resolve his agent situation. A 3-year deal is pretty much done— Clarence Hill (@clarencehilljr) March 22, 2016
Here is a look at what the Cowboys are (hopefully) getting.
Patrick Robinson is a cover corner through and through. While he lacks the ideal size for the Cowboys, he plays bigger than his measurables. I rarely saw his height or arm length becoming a problem for him. He excels in sticky coverage and uses his positioning and body control to cover receivers. He is a lot like Orlando Scandrick in that respect.
One thing I noticed with Robinson was versatility, something the Cowboys really covet. There were games where Robinson was used mostly in the slot and others where he played the outside cornerback position. He plays on both sides of the formation as well. What is even more important is that San Diego played both man and zone coverage and I didn't see him struggle with either.
However, things may have hit a snag late Tuesday night.
CB Patrick Robinson, who came close to signing in Dallas, will visit the #Colts tomorrow, source said.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 23, 2016
There was a lot of negative reaction on social media (some of which was rumored to have come from the author of this article, which is clearly scurrilous slander), but according to DMN beat writer Brandon George, Dallas has not withdrawn its offer and still considers itself to be in the mix.
As much as it has dismayed many, this was the way Dallas was going to do it all along.
"I just don't think in winning now by overpaying guys that it helps you win now," executive vice president Stephen Jones said. "Just don't think you're getting a player that's going to make a difference. On top of that you're way overpaying him. I think there's better ways to do it, starting with the draft."
Although there is certainly room for debate about how effectively they have done so, the Cowboys have (pending the Robinson deal) addressed all the most pressing needs on the roster except backup quarterback - and that was a desolate wasteland in free agency this year.
Of course, this time of year there is always draft talk to get to.
The signings today have led to various comments about how the Cowboys won't draft this or that player with the fourth overall pick, which completely misses the intent. Dallas signed Morris and Mayowa so they are more free to draft the best player they can at four without making it a need-based decision. This article points out that there are pluses and minuses for all the usual suspects for the Cowboys to take in the first round - although it still tries to link the choice to who the Cowboys have just added.
The Cowboys are looking at all the players they think could help them. Sheldon Rankins could be a way to upgrade the defensive line even further.
Cowboys' defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli loves players with high motors and lateral quickness, two of Rankins most attractive traits. He can easily line up in the "A" gap and gobble up multiple blockers to help open up an expressway to the quarterback for other defensive cohorts; but he can also use his lateral speed to get around blockers and chase down whomever is unlucky enough to have the ball in their hands.
Obviously Dallas would like to find more help rushing the passer. Here is what Jon Machota had to say about Shaq Lawson.
An outstanding run defender and pass rusher, Lawson had 12.5 sacks last season, including two in the national championship game against Alabama. He would be a versatile addition up front for the Cowboys, likely playing left end and then moving inside in passing situations
Hargreaves is not seen as fitting the ideal profile for Cowboys defensive backs, but his athleticism may make them consider him if Jalen Ramsey is not available. Lots of other notes here on prospects.
Oh, yeah, the owner's meeting is still ongoing. That means some rule changes, but first, some pearls of wisdom from Dallas' owner, Jerry Jones.
Sigh. We won't even bother with quotes here, just this trenchant observation.
Does #CowboysNation understand the diff of 'Jerry keeps talking Manziel?' vs. 'Media keeps asking Jerry to talk Manziel'?— mike fisher ✭ (@fishsports) March 22, 2016
Here, the principle involved is best described by a new term introduced this week.
New word:— Patrik Walker (@VoiceOfTheStar) March 20, 2016
Jerryatrics (noun, pronounced "jeh ree ak triks"); a word to describe a purposefully nonsensical statement by Jerry Jones.
There are still a couple of rules still to be decided, but several have passed, including elimination of all "chop blocks", an expansion of the horsecollar rules, and making the longer PAT try permanent.
John Mara said owners will take up ejection rule and touchback at 25 Wednesday. May vote or table until May.— Judy Battista (@judybattista) March 22, 2016
The league, particularly league vice president of officiating Dean Blandino, continue to stretch and deform the definition of a catch to deny the irrefutable fact that Dez caught it.
This is just wrong.