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Cowboys news: Jason Witten restructures contract, opens the door for Cameron Fleming signing

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Don’t look now, but your Dallas Cowboys are making moves!

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NFL: New England Patriots at Arizona Cardinals Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Jason Witten, Dallas Restructure Contract to Create Cap Space - Rob Goldberg, Bleacher Report
Don't look now folks, but the Cowboys have some extra cash for the 2018 season.

Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten has reportedly restructured his contract to create an extra $3.5 million in cap space, according to Todd Archer of ESPN.com.

Even at 35 years old, he doesn't appear ready to retire anytime soon. He was quick to discuss his return to the field immediately after his 2017 season ended.

"Oh, I'm back," Witten said in December, per Archer. "I'm coming back. I love playing this game too much, and I know that I can play it at a high level."

Cameron Fleming expected to sign with Dallas Cowboys - Staff, ESPN
And the Cowboys are wasting no time putting that extra cap space to use.

The 320-pound Fleming, who entered the NFL as a 2014 fourth-round draft pick of the Patriots, rotated between third and fourth on the depth chart at the start of the regular season. He ultimately became the top replacement for injured right tackle Marcus Cannon by the end of the season.

Fleming played in 12 regular-season games (six starts) and started two of the Patriots' three playoff games. His presence as a powerful blocker on the edge, which he had shown in Stanford's pro-style offense, is one of his primary assets.

Not only is he a reliable player, he’s one of those great locker room guys who is highly intelligent.

Coach Bill Belichick complimented Fleming several times over the past four years. Belichick called him one of the most respected players on the team in 2016 and most recently said in December, "Cam's been a solid player for us for four years, and he's always been ready to step in whenever we've called on him at both tackle spots and sometimes at guard and jumbo tight end and things like that."

Fleming, 25, majored in aeronautics and astronautics at Stanford. At 6-foot-6, he said he is one inch too tall to be an astronaut, so he put all of his effort into professional football.

Sounds like this kid has the right stuff.

Cowboys expected to sign Patriots offensive tackle Cameron Fleming - Bernd Buchmasser, Pats Pulpit
The Cowboys now have themselves a reliable insurance policy that allows them to compete should adversity strike.

Fleming entered the 2017 season as the Patriots’ number four option at the tackle position behind Nate Solder and Marcus Cannon; he ended it by starting the Super Bowl at the right tackle spot. In between, the former fourth round draft pick saw a season-ending injury to Cannon as well as an injury to his replacement LaAdrian Waddle. As a result, Fleming was elevated to a starting role in week 13 – and he never looked back.

Fleming originally joined the Patriots as a fourth-round draft pick in 2014 and despite serving mostly as a depth option over the next four seasons still appeared in 56 games – 22 of which starts. New England therefore loses an experienced swing tackle option that might have had a chance to earn a starting role with Solder leaving to join New York.


Allen Hurns' can earn up to $6 million in 2018 with Cowboys - Todd Archer, ESPN
The news keeps getting better on the Hurns deal as not only is his 2018 cap hit cheap, but the team can walk away from him after the season with a minimal dead money hit.

The only part of the deal that is guaranteed is the $2.5 million signing bonus. He will also receive a $2.5 million base salary in 2018 and $1 million total in 46-man roster bonuses.

The Cowboys have to pick up the second year of the deal by the final day of the 2018 league year, with Hurns earning a $4 million base salary and up to $1 million in 46-man roster bonuses. He can also earn another $1 million in playing time incentives with $500,000 for 75 percent of the snaps and another $500,000 for 85 percent of the snaps.

What will the Cowboys do with Dez Bryant? - Mike Florio, ProFootballTalk
While bringing in Hurns isn't the writing on the wall that sends Dez packing, could the message be loud and clear that his cost needs to come down? This now gives the team more options and makes you wonder what the future holds for the Cowboys All Pro receiver.

The team’s decision to give Hurns, who was cut by the Jaguars this week, a two-year, $12 million deal has sparked increased speculation that Bryant is indeed on the outs. It remains possible that the Cowboys and Bryant will agree on a new deal that pays him much less than $12.5 million. The benefit for Bryant could be an agreement to wipe out the 2019 season of his contract, making him a free agent after this year.

If he stays at a reduced salary, the question becomes setting the right amount. One source suggested that the Hurns deal has cash flow of $5 million this year; maybe the Cowboys will try to get Bryant to cut his pay to $6 million.

Whatever the outcome, it’s looking less and less likely that the Cowboys will be paying Bryant $12.5 million this year.

Too many Cowboys receivers - Is Dez the odd man out? - Reid Hanson, Sport DFW
Everyone is trying to guess which old receiver is likely to get bounced from the rotation with the addition of Hurns. While 2018 may be an audition year to truly answer that question, which player is the front runner to receive fewer targets this season?

Odd man out?

Obviously Dez Bryant is the first name that pops up when considering who the odd man out is. Dez is overpaid and underperforming. His attitude and effort last season left something to be desired, to say the least.

Additionally, Allen Hurns is nearly a clone to what Dez Bryant is. He’s big, he blocks well, he lacks speed but plays above the rim. He battles for the ball and doesn’t go down without a fight. Hurns isn’t as athletically gifted, but the similarities are striking.

But as we discussed on Friday, Dez is more releaseable next season. Terrance Williams is impossible to cut this season and virtually untradeable at his salary – until next season. And Cole Beasley may be tradeable but he’s not too expensive to keep either.

Is Dez Bryant the odd man out? He sure could be but my gut tells me the odd man out will be someone else. We’ll talk about that someone later (hint: the paperboy). What’s your gut telling you?

Which Cowboys are most likely feeling pressure after Dallas' two WR signings - Matt Mosley, SportsDay
There are only so many targets to divvy up and with Allen Hurns joining the receiving group, things are a little crowded now. Which player will be affected by this signing the most? Matt Mosley explains.

After two WR signings this week, whose jobs are most likely being thrown into question?

Matt Mosley: We're mostly focused on Dez Bryant because he's the No. 1 receiver. But maybe Terrance Williams is someone who could feel some pressure. He's always been more valued by his coaches and teammates than by fans. He's guaranteed $3.5 million in salary this season, if I recall correctly. He would make an interesting piece in a trade. Would someone like the Redskins or Giants take a look at Williams for a fourth or fifth-round pick? Probably so. I don't think you'd get much more than that. But Thompson and Hurns are going to have a great shot of making this team. Thompson feels like a personal pick of the new WRs coach Sanjay Lal. Hurns is someone who's put up solid numbers in the past.

Instant Analysis: Hurns signing makes Beasley, Williams Cowboys trade bait - K.D. Drummond, Cowboys Wire
With so many bodies vying for playing time, the Cowboys may be looking to trade away one of their current receivers. But who would be the most likely candidate for that? K.D. explains.

Williams just re-signed with Dallas in 2017, reportedly eschewing other offers to sign for less to return to Dallas and his home state of Texas. That deal, however, included guaranteed salary in 2018 to the tune of $3.5 million. That means there would be no financial benefit to releasing him.

If the club could find a trade offer though, they would rid themselves of Williams guaranteed salary of $3.5 million, see his 2019 and 2020 prorated bonuses accelerate ($2.5 million in dead money) and see a $1 million cap savings this year. Because of the logjam, the club should consider basically any offer for Williams, just to ease the cap burden. If they could package him to move a spot or two in any draft round, that’d be a bonus.

But Williams might not be the most tempting player to offer up as trade bait.

The team now has three players capable of playing in the slot and Beasley is in the final year of his contract. He’s both a candidate to be traded or released, though it’s hard to fathom there being no market for a player who had been so difficult to guard for multiple seasons prior to the collapse in 2017.

New England has always felt like a prime Beasley landing spot and they just lost Danny Amendola (another former Cowboy) to the Dolphins in free agency.

Moving Beasley would save Dallas $3.25 million on the cap immediately, leaving $1 million in dead money from his original signing bonus proration. Beasley could bring Dallas a Day 3 selection.

Four key questions for the Cowboys in the wake of signing WR Allen Hurns - Kevin Sherrington, SportsDay
The signing of Hurns brings about many questions and Kevin Sherrington takes a moment to answer some of them, including how the team could view this year’s college prospects.

Do they still draft Calvin Ridley at 19?

Calvin Ridley, generally considered the best receiver in the draft, might just be available to the Cowboys next month at JerryWorld. If Jerry Jones is willing to wait for the 19th pick to ripen, Ridley could be a nice catch.

Of course, it's possible that the Cowboys have already decided, like some of their peers, that Ridley sits precariously at the top of an unimpressive receiving corps in this draft. Didn't blow anyone away at the combine or Alabama's pro day. Last year's draft class certainly wasn't a recommendation, either. The top five wide receivers drafted combined for 87 receptions, 901 yards and two touchdowns in their rookie seasons.

Who might fall to the Cowboys at No. 19 as a result of QBs flying off the draft board? - Dane Brugler, SportsDay
The Cowboys are trying to pull out all the stops so they can just grab a great player left over when they are on the clock in the first round. But who might that player be? Draft expert Dane Brugler throws out a couple names.

Q: With QBs figuring to fly off the board like crazy in Round 1, which players do you think have the potential to fall to Dallas at 19?

Brugler: I think 50/50 chance WR Calvin Ridley is available at No. 19. Two of the best defensive players in this draft (SS Derwin James, LB Roquan Smith) are players I would be tracking to see how far they fall, but I can't see either getting close to No. 19. UTSA's Marcus Davenport could fall out of the top 18 picks -- he could be good value.

War Room Experiment 2.0 – How the Cowboys’ draft COULD go – Jeff Cavanaugh, The Athletic
Jeff Cavanaugh gives an encore performance in his war room experiment as he goes through his decision making process for each pick. Last time he selected players like Harold Landry (19), Dallas Goedert (50), and Derrick Nnadi (81). Who are his choices this time around? Well, here's a taste...

SECOND ROUND: Justin Reid – S – Stanford

Tyrell Crosby is a good player and this team definitely needs a swing tackle, but we have potential starters we're looking at here so we can remove him as well.

Similar to our first round pick I'm going to eliminate tight end simply because I picked one in the second round last time and there's nothing interesting about repetition, especially when the point of the exercise is to examine how different options look.

Anyone interested in doubling down at defensive tackle? Phillips and Senat can both play the nose but also have the quickness to penetrate.

Justin Reid had five interceptions this year and tested as a top tier athlete. He could be an upgrade at free safety.

We want to see what Taco Charlton looks like in year two, plus Demarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford are still here. So we don't need a defensive end.

I really like all of those receivers, but that might be the spot where we say there isn't much separation between them, and there should be good options available a round later.

We won't have another shot at Reid, Phillips or Kirk. Let's get wild, grab a free safety and see what happens at receiver (I know I'm going to regret this but it's kind of the point of the exercise).

Can the Dallas Cowboys land NaVorro Bowman this time? - Terence Watson, The Landry Hat
After the new wears off the Allen Hurns and Cameron Fleming signings, fans will regroup and be chomping at the bit for the next fun acquisition. Following these deals with a player like NaVorro Bowman would continue to turn frowns upside down when it comes to the Cowboys approach to free agency.

In Bowman, you are getting a player with no off-the-field issues. The veteran linebacker does come with some injury history though. In 2015, he tore his ACL and MCL. In 2016, ironically against the Cowboys, Bowman tore his Achilles tendon.

Bowman returned last season, but saw his playing time severely cut by the Niners before his outright released. He quickly signed with Oakland and was immediately inserted in as their starting middle linebacker, demonstrating just how much experience and football intelligence he possesses.

Bowman is not only a smart player, but he’s a consistent player as well. In his eight-year career, he has played in 107 games including the playoffs. During that time, Bowman has racked up 638 solo tackles, 16.5 sacks, 29 passes defended, 5 interceptions, and 9 forced fumbles. Solid numbers for a player who missed time with two serious injuries in his career.

Some people believe in second chances. And I am one of those people. When you have a Pro Bowl-caliber player available in free agency at a position of need, you sign him.

Tony Romo shoots 82, finishes last in PGA Tour debut - Staff, ESPN

It wasn't all good news for Cowboys fans who still hold a place in their heart for that Romo fella. Apparently, he's not great at everything. He started strong, but struggled in his PGA Tour debut. The former Cowboys quarterback explains:

"I lipped out three or four putts early, some short putts that kind of got me almost a little bit pressing,'' Romo said. "I just didn't hit the irons very good today. The back nine's 4,000-some yards, so when you're not hitting those, well, you're going to have tough shots.

"Short-sided a few times, made too many mistakes. So a lot of stuff to learn from, and in a good way. I'll be able to kind of assess why I didn't play as well as I wanted to, and then you go attack it. In a month from now, I think we'll see things a little better.''