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Cowboys News: Is Earl Thomas to the Cowboys realistic, more Dez Bryant discussion

The latest Cowboys news links for your Wednesday morning.

NFL: Pro Bowl-NFC Practice Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Many more dots needed to connect Earl Thomas, Cowboys - Todd Archer, ESPN

Archer explains that there is still a lot that has to happen before we can really begin to start thinking about All-Pro safety Earl Thomas wearing the star.

1. When Earl Thomas followed Jason Garrett into the Cowboys’ locker room after the Seattle Seahawks’ win at AT&T Stadium last December, it raised a lot of eyebrows. Thomas was heard telling Garrett to come get him, which means he believes his time with Seattle is coming to an end. Now that Kris Richard will be the Cowboys’ passing game coordinator after spending the previous three years as Seattle’s defensive coordinator, the connecting of the dots is already starting to happen, but I wonder if that is a little premature. Thomas has said he will sit out if he doesn’t get a new deal from Seattle. He wants megabucks. He might even deserve megabucks. Is there a better safety in the league than Thomas? He turns 29 in May. Would the Cowboys be willing to fork over the compensation necessary to do a trade with Seattle, if the Seahawks don’t cut him, and would they then fork over the big money? It would be a bold move. The Cowboys’ last bold move was in the 2012 draft when they moved up to take Morris Claiborne. That didn’t work out the way they hoped.

Seahawks need to pay Earl Thomas now instead of paying for it later - Matt Calkins, The Seattle Times

From the Seahawks’ side of things:

Sorry, but from a pure football standpoint, it makes no sense to deal Thomas away. Perhaps some are concerned that he’d cause tension in the locker room, but I doubt he’d be distracting.

Thomas isn’t malicious. His heart just pumps truth serum. He wasn’t trying to cause friction when he said Wagner was too injured to play in the loss to the Rams. Nor was he ill-intended when he told Cowboys coach Jason Garrett to “Come get me” after the win in Dallas.

Earl’s reclusive nature won’t win him any Teammate of the Year awards. But come game time, he’ll always have himself prepared and opponents scared.

Earl Thomas holdout talk doesn’t mean much right now - Derek Lewis, Seahawks 247

Lewis writes that the holdout talk coming from Thomas doesn’t really mean all that much at the moment.

A more nefarious view would suggest that Thomas is angling to control his way out of town after believing he’s not in Seattle’s long-term plans and everything from heading into the Dallas Cowboys locker room to his public comments is an effort to push his way towards an exit. Except, it doesn’t much help Thomas to decrease his trade value by causing a public mess. He and his agent could steer things much easier from behind closer doors and there’s no incentive to bring out the heavy artillery in January.

In the end, it would take a lot from the Seahawks to get from this point to a holdout in September. They’d have to decide they want to trade Thomas. Find out, they don’t like any of the deals. Not want to give the best safety in football a contract extension after finding no trade deals. And essentially decide they want to lose him for nothing in 2019’s free agency. Because even if he plays 2018 without a new deal, the relationship would have to be set on fire by that point and he’ll likely walk in 2019.

None of that makes much business or football sense for Seattle; so the chances of a holdout range from slim to none at this point.

Cowboys coaching hire update: Ben Bloom & Keith O’Quinn promoted as part of 2018 staff - Dave Halprin, BTB

The Cowboys continued to fill out its staff on Tuesday, as Ben Bloom and Keith O’Quinn were both hired. Here is the latest:

Ben Bloom will move into the role of linebacker coach, while Keith O’Quinn will be the special teams coordinator. Both coaches were already on the Cowboys staff and are being promoted.

It had been assumed that O’Quinn would be the guy to replace Rich Bisaccia after he moved to Oakland to join Jon Gruden. O’Quinn was Bisaccia’s assistant for the past four seasons. The special teams did pretty well last year, ranking fifth in Rick Gosselin’s annual special teams rankings.

Bloom will be replacing Matt Eberflus, who will be joining Josh McDaniel in Indianapolis. Bloom has held a variety of positions with the Cowboys.

Keith O’Quinn, Ben Bloom moving into different roles on Cowboys staff - Todd Archer, ESPN

Todd Archer has more.

Slowly but surely the Dallas Cowboys are filling out their coaching staff with Keith O’Quinn ascending to special teams coordinator and Ben Bloom moving to linebackers coach, according to multiple sources.

Owner and general manager Jerry Jones made reference to O’Quinn becoming the special teams’ coach last week while at the Senior Bowl. He served as Rich Bisaccia’s assistant special teams’ coach from 2014-17. He has been on the staff since Jason Garrett was named head coach on a permanent basis in 2011. Bisaccia left the Cowboys to become special teams’ coordinator for the Oakland Raiders.

Jones said there is no timetable for when a coaching staff would be finished but he said last week it could be filled soon.

Cowboys staff nearly complete with promotion of Ben Bloom to LBs coach - David Moore, SportsDay

Ben Bloom has been on the Cowboys’ staff since 2011; now, he gets to coach Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith.

Bloom’s elevation -- he has served in several support roles for the defensive staff since his hiring in 2011 -- leaves two vacancies on Jason Garrett’s staff. The Cowboys still need to find a tight ends coach and are discussing the possibility of adding a special teams assistant, a source said.

The club reached an agreement with Keith O’Quinn to become its special teams coordinator last week.

Dallas expressed an interest in John Pagano and interviewed the former Raiders defensive coordinator about becoming its linebackers coach. But Pagano has reportedly accepted a similar position with the Houston Texans, opening the door for Bloom.

Mailbag: Rather Acquire Veteran Safety Or Sign D-Law? Adding Another Back? - The Mothership

The team of Bryan Broaddus and Nick Eatman were asked if they’d rather the Cowboys go after a veteran safety (like Thomas, for example) or re-sign Demarcus Lawrence if it came to the point that only one could get done. Eatman weighs in:

I am no expert on the intricacies of our salary cap situation, but if the Cowboys had to choose between re-signing DeMarcus Lawrence to a long-term deal, or acquiring a player like Earl Thomas, which do you think would be more beneficial to the Cowboys’ defense?

Nick: Call me greedy, but I say both. I think it only happens if you indeed sign Lawrence to a long-term deal now and can lower his cap hit this year. If he plays for the tag, that’s $17 million right there. Obviously, Thomas is still under contract with another team but with one year remaining on his deal, and with his apparent interest in playing for the Cowboys as he showed after their game, it’s not out of the question that a trade could occur. If I had to pick, I would take a Pro Bowl safety because the Cowboys haven’t had a consistent great player at that position since Darren Woodson.

Michael Irvin: Cowboys would be ‘stupid’ to cut Dez Bryant - Todd Archer, ESPN

In case you haven’t heard by now, former Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin says the Cowboys would be “stupid” to part ways with current wideout Dez Bryant. Archer writes on the subject.

Bryant, 29, is signed through 2019 and is slated to make $12.5 million in each of the next two seasons, with a $16.5 million salary-cap figure in 2018. If the Cowboys cut Bryant, they would save $8.5 million against the cap. They could save $12.5 million if he is designated a post-June 1 cut, but he would count $4 million against the 2019 cap.

Bryant has been bothered by knee, foot and ankle injuries since signing the contract. The Cowboys had ineffective quarterback play in 2015 and have transitioned from Tony Romo to Dak Prescott the past two seasons with a run-heavy offense.

Michael Irvin: Cowboys Would Be ‘Stupid’ To Release Dez Bryant - Vincent Frank, Forbes

Vincent Frank of Forbes, however, disagrees with the Hall of Fame receiver.

It’s true that No. 1 receivers don’t grow on trees. But Irvin’s assumption that the Cowboys need a so-called No. 1 receiver doesn’t make a ton of sense. They boast one of the best running backs in the game, Ezekiel Elliott. And as the Patriots have proven year after year, having a top-flight receiver isn’t necessarily a necessity in today’s NFL. For their part, the Cowboys would save $8 million against the cap by releasing Bryant. In turn, they could get a cheaper and younger alternative in a 2018 NFL Draft that’s seemingly stacked with top-end receiver prospects.

As of right now, the Cowboys are an estimated $20.5 million under the projected 2018 salary cap. That number does not include impending free agent Demarcus Lawrence, who will either be signed a lucrative long-term deal prior to March or find himself franchise tagged. If the Cowboys were to place said tag on Lawrence, that would cost an estimated $17.6 million — leaving the team short of the necessary cash to even sign its draft class.

Irvin might have a horse in this race. He’s seemingly close to Bryant. But that doesn’t make his stance any less ridiculous

Super Bowl LII analysts differ on Dez Bryant’s value to Dallas Cowboys - Clarence Hill, The Star-Telegram

Furthermore, a handful of analysts weighed on Dez and the Cowboys.

NBC NFL analyst Rodney Harrison said there is no doubt in his mind that Bryant is gone because he is no longer a No. 1 receiver and not deserving of that contract.

“He will be gone,” Harrison said during a news conference to promote Super Bowl LII, which will air on NBC Sunday. “They ain’t going to pay him $12.5 million. Is he a No. 1? No. He is not a No. 1 receiver, but Dez can still play.”

“When you look at Dez and he is crying and screaming for the ball that becomes a distraction,” Harrison said. “You watch tape of Dez and you say ‘you not open and when you are open you are dropping the ball’.

“So he doesn’t have a lot of room to complain. If I was on that team, I would say, ‘Dez you have a young quarterback, just get open. It’s not about you and your individual stats, it’s about the team’. I don’t know if they have anybody in that locker room who will tell Dez that but he needs to straighten it out because that act gets old.”

Possible wide receiver targets for the Cowboys in each round of the 2018 NFL draft - Dane Brugler, SportsDay

If the Cowboys do decide to part ways with 88, who are some potential targets in the draft that could replace him? Dane Brugler, as always, has you covered — with potential targets in each round.

Fifth round - Daurice Fountain, Northern Iowa (6-2, 210)

A small-school gem, Fountain is as raw as sushi in certain areas, but the traits are intriguing. He has quick feet in/out of his breaks with the wheels to accelerate away from defenders. Fountain lacks nuance as a route runner and can be out-physicaled by defensive backs in a crowd, but his athletic traits and natural reflexes are great foundational traits worth coaching up.

Will the Dallas Cowboys reach for Michael Gallup in the draft? - Steven Mullenax, The Landry Hat

We wrote about Colorado State WR Michael Gallup last week. Would the Cowboys consider him on day one?

At this point, it appears it would be a rather “big reach” for the Dallas Cowboys to consider drafting Colorado State wide receiver Michael Gallup in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft. But the Cowboys will have the upcoming Scouting Combine and plenty of other workouts to help determine if Gallup is their guy or not. And if they fall in love with him, who knows?

Digging deep: PFF Senior Bowl standouts that should interest the Cowboys - Tom Ryle, BTB

Tom has some prospects from the Senior Bowl that Cowboys fans should keep an eye on.

Wide receiver

This was one group where there were different standouts in each of the three phases. In one-on-one drills, James Washington of Oklahoma State was the big winner. In press coverage or off coverage, he simply dominated. He is shaping up to be a day-one selection, but remember (as with all these players) there are a lot of underclassmen also in the mix. Washington may be in play at 19 for Dallas.

In team drills, however, Washington did not do nearly as well. There were two other receivers that stood out, DaeSean Hamilton of Penn State and Michael Gallup from Colorado State. And the game itself yielded two other top performers, D.J. Chark of LSU and Tre’Quan Smith from UCF. All five are receivers who seem to fit the Cowboys’ template for size and strength. If they don’t go WR in the first round, keep an eye on who might still be on the boards later on.

Chiefs reportedly trading Alex Smith to Redskins, setting up huge Kirk Cousins domino - Will Brinson, CBS Sports

There was some major NFL and NFC East news that broke on Tuesday evening. The Kansas City Chiefs have traded quarterback Alex Smith to the Redskins. Not only does this mean that Smith now joins Dak Prescott, Carson Wentz, and Eli Manning in the division, but it also means that Kirk Cousins is on his way out of D.C.

The Washington Redskins are making major waves in the quarterback market ahead of Super Bowl LII and are trading for quarterback Alex Smith, according to a report from Terez Paylor of the Kansas City Star.

It’s a stunning and bold move by Washington, a full month before the NFL Combine and NFL free agency open up, and it drastically changes the landscape of the quarterback market in 2018.

The biggest domino here? The Redskins trading for Smith almost certainly means the end of the Kirk Cousins era in Washington.

Cousins, who has been scheduled for free agency each of the last two years, played under the franchise tag in the last two seasons, meaning he had just a one-year guaranteed deal. It was strongly believed the Redskins would either transition tag Cousins or franchise tag him, but now it looks like the quarterback will waltz into completely unimpeded free agency.

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