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Cowboys news: How several different factors could shake up free agency and the draft

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Dallas Cowboys v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Corey Perrine/Getty Images

2018 Free Agency Preview: Dallas Cowboys - Austin Gayle, Pro Football Focus
Whether it's salary cap room, free agent prospects, or dream splash signings - PFF provides a great overview of the Cowboys free agency situation. And that includes one player who is an absolute "must re-sign."

Defensively, Dallas struck gold in breakout edge defender DeMarcus Lawrence, as he put forth an impressive performance rushing the passer to save a Cowboys defensive line without much other pass-rushing talent and aid the team’s young, rebuilding secondary. Starting with re-signing Lawrence, Cowboys general manager Jerry Jones should look to build on his improving defense and better equip Prescott with weapons on the offensive side of the ball this offseason.

3 under-the-radar Cowboys who could impact team’s draft plans - Donrey Marinas, Cowboys Wire
Most fans have all but written off defensive end Randy Gregory after he's had multiple issues complying with the leagues substance abuse policy. Is it possible the Cowboys second-round pick from 2015 returns and can actually add something to this unit? The answer to that question could affect what the team does in the upcoming draft. Donrey Marinas explains.

Perhaps still the most naturally gifted pass rusher the Cowboys employ, the former Cornhusker is now eligible for reinstatement. The Cowboys defensive line just so happen to be looking for another pass rusher to line up opposite of Pro-Bowler DeMarcus Lawrence. With the longterm futures of David Irving and Tyrone Crawford in question, Dallas is expected to look for additional pass rush help in the off-season.

There have been whispers about Gregory’s return and how he’s doing much better and has gotten his life in order. If (huge if) this is true and Gregory can finally be relied upon, his presence could be enough to sway Dallas from spending one of their premium picks on another pass rusher.

How Much Input Will Kris Richard Have in Cowboys Draft? - Brian Martin, Inside The Star
Kris Richard helped create the Legion of Boom in Seattle and now he's on the Cowboys staff as their new defensive backs coach. Last year he would have been like a kid in a candy store as the team took big steps to upgrade their secondary. It makes you wonder - what type of influence could Richard have in the upcoming draft?

We all know the Dallas Cowboys haven’t prioritized defensive lineman early in the draft under the tutelage of Rod Marinelli. But, maybe that changes if Richard has much of a say in the draft process.

This of course is just one example. It could extend to just about any defensive position. Richard might have a different philosophy of what he looks for in certain players than Marinelli. That could possibly change the types of players the Cowboys target come draft time.

We are still a few months away from the 2018 NFL Draft, but I think Kris Richard could shake things up in the Cowboys War Room. It’s just too bad that we have to wait to find out if I’m right or not.

Cowboys would be better off addressing this roster need in free agency instead of the draft - Dane Bruglar, SportsDay
The Cowboys will put together a strategy as to how they'll approach the draft. Consequently, that strategy may depend on what they do in free agency. Dane Brugler identifies a position the team should take a close look at when free agency rolls around.

Q: Are there any needs on this Cowboys roster you feel would be better-served if addressed through free agency?

Brugler: Left guard. I've made my position clear about drafting a guard at No. 19 (I'm against it). The Cowboys' OL remains the strength of the team and while they need an upgrade at LG, they don't need to use a first-round resource to do so. Finding a moderately priced stop-gap to fill the role at left guard is certainly possible. That would stabilize the OL and free up the Cowboys to target WR/DL/LB in the first three rounds.

5 free agents Dallas Cowboys could target at OL - Brandon George, SportsDay
The Cowboys will be looking for ways to add some depth on the offensive line this offseason. Brandon George provides some good free agent candidates, including a player with position flex who their new offensive line coach is all too familiar with.

Andre Smith, Bengals (6-4, 330):

Andre Smith has spent eight seasons of his nine-year career under the tutelage of new Cowboys offensive line coach Paul Alexander.

So why not more?

The Cowboys hired Alexander, the long-time Bengals offensive line coach, to replace Frank Pollack last month.

Smith spent his first seven seasons in Cincinnati before signing with the Vikings in 2016. Injuries limited him to only four games in Minnesota. He re-signed with the Bengals in 2017 on a one-year deal to play right guard but wound up as the team's swing tackle. Smith eventually began staring at right tackle until his season was ended with a sprained knee in December. Smith, 31, would provide the Cowboys with not only the swing tackle they covet but also give them depth at backup guard. He played in college at Alabama. He was the No. 6 overall pick in 2009.

3 Offensive tackle targets in 2018 NFL Draft - Stephen Forsha, NFL Spin Zone
There will certainly be plenty of opportunities to take an offensive linemen in the upcoming draft. The only question is - when will it happen? Stephen Forsha identifies three potential targets, including this Day 3 find...

3. Joseph Noteboom, TCU

The Dallas Cowboys could wait and not select an offensive tackle in the first round and later select TCU offensive tackle Joseph Noteboom to help bring some depth to the position and then some. Noteboom played all four years. The 6-5, 322-pound tackle has received an invite to the NFL Combine later this month and has received praise for the work he put in while at TCU.

Want a Cowboys free-agency splash? Maybe look at these still-costly blunders before you say for sure - Kristi Scales, SportsDay
Many fans want the Cowboys to go splashing around in free agency, especially in light of the Philadelphia Eagles recent success. But if there is a lesson to be learned here, it's that taking risks in free agency hasn't been so prosperous for the team in the past. Kristi Scales explains:

Defensive lineman Cedric Thornton was the biggest Cowboys' free-agent signing in 2016. He signed for four years, $17 million with $6 million guaranteed. A defensive end with the Eagles, Thornton was poor fit when moved inside to tackle in the Cowboys' 4-3 scheme. He was released by the Cowboys in September 2017 and signed with the Bills. With the Cowboys in 2016, he totaled 1 ½ sacks and 22 tackles, not a lot of bang for the buck!

Thornton will cost $2.5 million versus the Cowboys' 2018 cap.

In 2018, the Cowboys' biggest veteran free-agent signing was cornerback Nolan Carroll, another former Philadelphia Eagle. Carroll signed with Dallas for 3 years, $10m, including a $3m signing bonus. Carroll was released October 11. He played the first two games of the season, and that was it. He totaled seven tackles in those two games.

Carroll will cost the Cowboys $2m versus the 2018 cap.

As you might expect, the Cowboys will tread carefully when it comes to which players they will and won’t sign.

Cowboys free agents most likely to depart in 2018: WR Brice Butler made it clear he wants to be a starter, and that's unlikely in Dallas - Kate Hairopoulos, SportsDay
Free agency will begin in a month and the Cowboys will have some tough decisions to make on their own 10 unrestricted free agents entering the market. Kate Hairopoulos counts down five players who are most likely to depart, including #1 on this list...

Why Butler is unlikely to return: During a series of interviews after the season, Butler made it clear that he felt he deserved more opportunities among the Cowboys receivers and that he wants to be a starter going forward.

While Butler pointed to a passing game that certainly had its problems last season, he hasn't been consistently reliable when the Cowboys did turn to him in key moments during his tenure.

Dallas appears to be returning most of its current receiving corps in Dez Bryant, Cole Beasley, Terrance Williams, Noah Brown and Ryan Switzer. The Cowboys will likely look to free agency and/or the draft to add a new, speedy outside receiver instead of bringing back Butler.

Why Christian Kirk is Dak friendly - Christian Blood, The Landry Hat
If Brice Butler departs, then the team will be on the look out for another receiver who can be a vertical threat for Dak Prescott. And there are some appealing options in the draft, including Texas A&M's Christian Kirk.

Kirk is a versatile route runner who gains the kind of separation that many feel is lacking in the Dallas Cowboys offense. Right now we can find strong, tall and quick – but not fast.

Kirk may not be the fastest wide receiver coming out of college, but he’s going to be near the top. While his height isn’t necessarily outstanding, it doesn’t need to be. Kirk is a guy who can get lost in coverage and he’s certainly a weapon that can get deep downfield quickly. He’s so talented that just his presence on the field forces defensive coordinators to address him with top notch personnel.

Placing the top 50 players on a 2018 draft board for the Dallas Cowboys - Danny Phantom, Blogging The Boys
Make sure to provide some feedback towards the BTB Big Board.

As weeks go by, certain players will rise and fall based on the feedback we get in the comment section. If you have a player you are wanting to endorse, make sure to let us know. And when you come across a good comment that you agree with, don’t forget to rec it so it gets heard. The more recs, the more clout that opinion will have when the board is modified for the next go-round.

By the time the draft gets here, we’ll have put together a nice draft board that we can follow as players are selected. This will even direct us to the “best available” players remaining on our board as the draft continues.

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