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Cowboys news: Paycut for Dez Bryant? Re-sign DeMarcus Lawrence? And what to do with Anthony Hitchens?

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NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Pay cut for Dez? 'Everyone has to be accountable,' Stephen Jones says - David Moore, SportsDay
It should be interesting to see who this whole Dez ordeal plays out. The front office certainly values what Bryant brings to the team, but at what cost? David Moore provides some comments from Cowboys Executive Vice President, Stephen Jones about his star wide receiver.

"No one wants to compete and get after it more than Dez,'' Jones said from a ceremony for the inaugural Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year award. "At the same time, we all know this is a business where everyone has to be accountable."

Jones would go on to say...

"Certainly, we're going to be grinding it out and trying to determine what is in the best interest of our business," Jones said. "Dez understands this is a business.

Cowboys Chat: Biggest issue with Dez, Williams, and Beasley - Reid Hanson, Sport DFW
Reid Hanson answers questions about the Cowboys wide receiving trio, including offering up his suggestion as to why Dez Bryant struggled so much last season.

Q: Dez Bryant was disappointing in 2017, to say the least. It looked like his skills eroded to the point he’s no longer a No.1 WR in this league and may have even played his last game with the Cowboys. Is that an accurate assessment?

A: I don’t believe it is. Dez is now 29 so to say his skills are eroding is scientifically correct to some degree but I don’t think it’s what led to his disappointing 2017 season. The number one thing that hurt Dez Bryant in 2017 was Dez Bryant’s attitude. That sounds like an oversimplification but let me explain…

As we all saw last season, the routes by Cowboys receivers were pretty predictable. It allowed opposing cornerbacks to sit on them and contest virtually every reception. Combine that with Dak Prescott’s less-than-accurate throws and you have a very frustrating situation for Dez.

Dez Bryant, arguably the most emotional player in the NFL, let that get to him. You could see it, not only on the sideline, but in the way he played. He pouted and mailed it in far too many times. Bob Strum collected film on all of his drops and highlighted how little effort Dez gave to some balls. Dez Bryant of 2015 wouldn’t have done that.

From one tough financial decision to another...

DeMarcus Lawrence will remain with the Cowboys - David Moore, SportsDay
David Moore would also share Stephen Jones comments about what's going on with their biggest offseason decision - DeMarcus Lawrence.

"We won't let D-Law not be a Dallas Cowboy next year,'' executive vice president Stephen Jones said. "We'll get that straight right now.''

"We're going to do everything we can to make something work then if we don't get it done, we'll franchise him and we'll go back to work. We'd like to not have that franchise tag hanging out there.''

Jones will be meeting with Lawrence's agent next week in hopes of working out a long-term deal. If they are unsuccessful by March 6th, the Cowboys will tag Lawrence, but they will still have until July 16 to get a deal done before Tank would officially play the 2018 season under the tag price of approximately $17.5 million.

Should Dallas re-sign DeMarcus Lawrence? - Maxwell Ogden, With The First Pick
Once Lawrence is tagged, it will then become a waiting game until a long-term deal is worked out. The only question is - how much will it cost?

Lawrence finished the 2017 campaign with 58 tackles, 14.5 sacks, four forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries. He was tied with Calais Campbell for second in the NFL in sacks, trailing just Chandler Jones of the Arizona Cardinals.

For his play, Lawrence was named a Second-Team All-Pro and a Pro Bowler.

Pro Football Focus graded Lawrence as the third-best edge defender in the NFL behind just Cameron Jordan and Von Miller. He received the second-best grade in pass rushing and a No. 9 ranking in run defense.

Lawrence has admittedly battled injuries, but it’s worth noting that he played at a high level during his rookie and sophomore NFL seasons.

Extending Zack Martin and DeMarcus Lawrence is huge, but keeping this guy in Dallas is just as big for the Cowboys - Kevin Sherrington, SportsDay
While the bigger name players get a lot of attention when it comes to contract talks, it's easy to forget about Anthony Hitchens. But is that a mistake? How important is it to bring him back in 2018? Kevin Sherrington explains.

Question: Why doesn't it seem like Dallas is making a bigger deal of re-signing Hitchens? Isn't that depth they desperately need to hold onto behind Lee/Smith?

Kevin Sherrington: You could make the case that he's their most valuable linebacker, simply because he's always available, he plays all three positions, and he plays them all very well. When you've got LBs like Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith with their injury histories, it's imperative to have a dependable LB like Hitchens. I know they probably think they could get another guy like him in the draft, and they probably could. But this team has designs on getting to a Super Bowl now. Unless they take a LB in the first or second round, I don't see anyone coming in this season and playing to Hitchens' level. I think bringing Hitchens back is just about as important as an extension for Martin or a contract or tag for Lawrence.

Anthony Hitchens big free agency target - Clarence Hill Jr., Star-Telegram
While Stephen Jones made it real clear that DeMarcus Lawrence isn't getting away, he didn't accentuate that same level of confidence when it came to Anthony Hitchens. Don't get me wrong, they still want him, but as Clarence Hill reports, Jones comments are riddled with uncertainty.

Regarding Hitchens, Jones, said, “I can’t say enough good things about him. He’s one of those guys who’s available, you can count on him. He’s the type of guy you want on your football team. Certainly, we’ve got some good football players there in Sean Lee, a great football player that I think a lot of in terms of his drive. And Jaylon Smith and what he can be for us. That’s going to be one that we certainly don’t want to get out of here, but we certainly also have to understand that this one big puzzle that we’ve got to put together.”

Cowboys 2018 Free Agency: Could Anthony Hitchens really return to Dallas? - RJ Ochoa, Blogging The Boys
Our own RJ Ochoa says hold the phone for a minute as Stephen Jones wasn't done talking. He provides this little nugget of a tweet from David Moore:

But RJ would also add...

Now for what it’s worth this could just be Stephen Jones saying what you say in situations like this. He’s not about to come out and say they totally expect Hitchens to leave and that they already have plans for what to do with his locker.

While we’re not about to try and dissect the depth of this particular comment, it does stand to reason that the Cowboys would want Hitchens back. At the same time though, it also stands to reason that the Cowboys could be convinced of Sean Lee’s health and Jaylon Smith’s talent and be willing to roll with those plus whatever they nab in the draft.

And if the Cowboys can’t retain the players they want, they can always look to the draft and go after some WR, DE, or LB options.

The War Room Experiment: How the Cowboys’ first four rounds COULD look – Jeff Cavanaugh, The Athletic
Want a taste of what it's like in the Cowboys war room? Well, sorry - I don't have that authority to provide such an experience. I can, however, offer up this hypothetical adventure through the mind of The Athletic's Jeff Cavanaugh as he contemplates what to do in the first four rounds, including a first rounder that might surprise you.

Names start rolling off the board. Names we like for our team. Names that make us happy, angry, sad, elated, depressed. When eighteen have been called, my Cowboys are on the clock. I'll use my personal rankings of players to tell you who we are considering at pick #19. I have five players left with first-round grades when our turn arrives.

In consideration:

Maurice Hurst (DT Michigan)

Isaiah Wynn (OG Georgia)

Mike Hughes (CB UCF)

Harold Landry (DE Boston College)

Who does he pick? I'm on pins and needles...

We turn in the name.

Harold Landry, DE, Boston College.

Dallas Cowboys Draft 2018: Five wide receivers and where the Cowboys can find them - Michael Sisemore, Blogging The Boys
Whether you're hoping to replace Dez or just looking for a complementary receiver, there is a lot of interest in the wide receiver crop in the upcoming draft. Our own Micheal Sisemore discusses a handful of candidates and what round they might be available, including a great value guy in round three.

Michael Gallup, 6’1, 198 lbs, Colorado State (Brugler: 99th, 12th WR)

Gallup is a solid receiver with good hands and outstanding route running abilities. He’s played equally well whether inside or outside for Colorado State. He’s a very fluid athlete that has that ability to pluck the ball outside of his frame and make spectacular catches. He’s strong and elusive but has a tendency to not focus on the catch first. He often bobbled a few before the catch and will need to understand that the NFL won’t allow the freelancing he did. Gallup is a very physical receiver but will need to learn to protect himself better at the next level.

Shaquem Griffin wins inaugural 'Jason Witten Man of the Year' - Patrik Walker, 247 Sports
The name "Jason Witten" and title "Man of the Year" belong together for all of eternity so it only seems fitting that the college football award would carry his name. The inaugural recipient of such an honor is Central Florida linebacker Shaquem Griffin, who beat out 154 other nominees for the award.

Griffin's story is well-known and utterly courageous, with the LB overcoming a condition known as amniotic band syndrome, which caused the fingers on his left hand to not fully develop. The severe pain from the underdeveloped fingers led his mother to have hand amputated, but Griffin never allowed his disability to halt his ability. As he now prepares to prove himself at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, IN, his journey is one that warms everyone's heart -- especially Witten's.

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