clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Cowboys strike out on performance escalators from 2015 class, but next year will be different

The Cowboys have excelled in the premium rounds of the draft, but they’re not too shabby in later rounds, too.

2017 Pro Football Hall of Fame Game: Arizona Cardinals v Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys have earned a lot of praise for how well they’ve drafted in early rounds. And why not? Over the last seven drafts, the Cowboys have selected a total of seven All Pro players within the first two rounds of the draft. That’s an impressive haul and is a testament to the front office and their scouting department.

While the Cowboys have been good at landing star talent early, there is this growing perception that they just can’t seem to do much later in the draft. Is that really the case? Actually, the Cowboys have been doing pretty well in recent years when it comes to acquiring talent. And pretty soon, they’re going to have to put up the cash to pay for it in the form of performance escalators.

In 2011, there was a provision added to the collective bargaining agreement that rewards players who have outperformed their draft status by actuating proven performance escalators. This will allow players drafted after the second round to receive a pay increase if they exceed 35 percent of the snaps in two of their first three seasons in the league. Over the last couple years, the Cowboys have had to pay out a few of these escalators:

  • 2013 draft - Terrance Williams and J.J. Wilcox qualified for escalators in 2016
  • 2014 draft - Anthony Hitchens qualified last season

The team will not have to pay out any increases this season because of what little contribution they got from the latter part of the 2015 draft class. Neither Chaz Green, Damien Wilson, nor Geoff Swaim met the threshold and won’t see bonuses. Wilson was the closest of the three, playing in 30.7 percent of the defensive snaps last year and 26.8 percent of the snaps in 2016.

While the 2015 draft class hasn’t produced, things took a big turn for the better in 2016. As Todd Archer from ESPN reports, pay bumps are looming.

In 2019, the Cowboys will have to account for raises for Maliek Collins, Dak Prescott and Anthony Brown as they enter the final years of their contracts. Collins was the Cowboys’ third-round pick in 2016, while Prescott was a fourth-rounder and Brown came in the sixth round.

Prescott has played in more than 95 percent of the snaps in his first two seasons as the Cowboys’ starting quarterback. The Cowboys could look to sign him to a long-term deal for the first time after the 2019 season.

Collins has played in more than 60 percent of the snaps in his first two season, while Brown played in 68 percent as a rookie and 81 percent in 2017.

All three of these players have met their snap requirements in just the first two years in the league. Kavon Fraizer, who saw an increase in playing time this season, won’t make the cut as he only played in 21 percent of the defensive snaps.

This past season, the team got good contribution from Jourdan Lewis (third round) and Xavier Woods (sixth round) so they are off to good starts to meet their escalators. That’s a total of eight players over the last five drafts who are giving the team useful snaps. That’s solid. And if you combine that with the exceptional work the team is doing in early rounds, that’s a great amalgamation for building a strong team.

Contrary to popular belief, the Cowboys are getting good use out of their late-round picks. The front office will be happy to shell out a little extra cash if it means they are getting players that are on the field making plays. And this news is even more encouraging if you consider the team should have 10 picks in the upcoming draft.

Are you happy with the how the team has been drafting in later rounds?

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Blogging The Boys Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your Dallas Cowboys news from Blogging The Boys