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Cowboys news: Dallas adding depth to offensive line; how a “Smashmouth offense” could help Cowboys

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The Monday morning links.

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Cleveland Browns Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Cowboys expected to sign another free agent, depth option to the offensive line - SportsDay

The Cowboys continued to finalize deals with free agents, including free agent Marcus Martin on Sunday.

It appears the Dallas Cowboys have added another body to their offensive line.

In addition to the expected signing of former New England Patriots tackle Cameron Fleming, multiple reports have said Dallas is also expected to strike a deal with ex-Cleveland Browns guard/center Marcus Martin.

Report: Cowboys expected to sign former 49ers OL Marcus Martin - Patrik Walker, Cowboys247

Patrik Walker adds more information about the former 49ers and Browns’ offensive guard. He will likely be a backup for America’s Team.

Martin is a former third-round pick (2014) out of USC by the 49ers and spent three seasons with the club before he was released and claimed off waivers by the Cleveland Browns. The 6-foot-3, 321 lb. veteran won’t be looked at as a starter but more so insurance in the way Cooper would’ve been had he remained in Dallas. The team will still very much look to locate a cornerstone player to place on the left of All-Pro center Travis Frederick going forward, but with the current stock of free agents available at guard, it’s likely going to come by way of the NFL Draft. The signing of Martin will be paramount in providing insurance and depth behind whomever takes the reins as LG1, and the move combines with the other recent signings to give a much more clear picture of how the Cowboys are set to handle the coming Draft -- where they’ll dig deeper into their love of a player like Will Hernandez (UTEP), who is already set to be one of the team’s Official 30 visits after having also met with them at the 2018 Reese’s Senior Bowl.

With rumors are swirling the team could move right tackle La’El Collins back inside to guard, it’s becoming increasingly more clear those are nothing more than wandering whispers because although he’d be an upgrade over Martin, Fleming would be a downgrade at RT and was truly brought in to swing behind Collins and Smith as opposed to supplanting the former altogether. That move would also create yet another issue should Smith go down with injury, because they’d then be forced to move Collins back to RT and slide Fleming to LT while hoping Martin could carry the role of starting LG until further notice.

Dallas Cowboys expected to sign Marcus Martin; Starting left guard? - Steven Mullenax, The Landry Hat

Can new offensive line coach Paul Alexander get the best out of the former third-round selection?

he 24-year old fell out of favor in San Francisco and was picked up off the waiver wire by the Cleveland Browns last March. But Martin never played a single meaningful snap in Cleveland, spending all of last season as a healthy scratch.

Certainly a bit of a project for new offensive line coach Paul Alexander, the 6-foot-3, 310 pound Martin is a former high draft pick who is still young enough to get his game back. He also provides some position flex, with the ability to play both at guard and center.

With the signing away of their starting left guard from last season, Jonathan Cooper, who inked a one-year deal with the Niners as a free agent, Marcus Martin could be a candidate to take his place along the offensive line. But the expected signing of Cameron Fleming could also mean Dallas has decided to move starting right tackle La’el Collins back to left guard instead. That would mean Martin would then likely be the replacement for backup Joe Looney, who is currently a free agent.

Cowboys Joe Looney close to a deal to return to team - David Moore, SportsDay

The Cowboys are also set on bringing back reserve lineman Joe Looney.

Looney didn’t start a game for the Cowboys last season but he’s a veteran presence in the offensive line who can step in at all three interior line positions. He’s part of the team’s Jumbo Package when it replaces a tight end with an extra lineman.

Looney accepts his role, is well-liked among his teammates and has a positive impact on the locker room, helping to keep things light.

Maybe “Smashmouth Spread” should be the new word for a Dak-friendly offense - Dave Halprin, BTB

As the Cowboys are adjusting its scheme to fit its franchise quarterback’s strengths, our own Dave Halprin wrote on the “Smashmouth Spread” offense. This is the type of offense that would take the Cowboys to the next level.

The idea here is that they should now expand on these concepts, and incorporate some of the options or bubble screens you see teams like Kansas City employ. We wrote about this idea last month. In that article Dak himself spoke of emulating the Chiefs or the Panthers. In fact, Panthers QB Cam Newton ran a lot of these same concepts back at Auburn. Kansas City last year was almost a college offense and they were killing defenses for much of the season (strangely it didn’t work against Dallas in 2017). Here are a few looks at concepts the Chiefs used last year.

Besides the Smashmouth Spread, there are some other concepts the Cowboys could borrow. The aforementioned Rams also ran a lot of tight receiver formations that allow for option routes to the inside our outside, taking the sideline out of play as a defender. They also used rub (pick) routes from this formation. (This is one of my biggest pet peeves, rub routes from stacked or bunch formations are so effective in the NFL, but the Cowboys hardly ever use them). The Rams used a ton of play-action and they used Todd Gurley as a pass receiving weapon. Elliott could do the same.

Plus, Dak Prescott is not being utilized to his full potential by getting him on the move and allowing him to use his legs more often. You don’t want Prescott running the ball all the time, but all it takes is a serious threat that he might run to make some of these concepts work. He needs to do it occasionally, probably a little more than he has been, to keep the defense honest. Frankly, sometimes these are free yards where he can just slide after making a gain and avoid taking a hit. The counter plays where you pull a guard and tackle would also seem to be a natural fit for the Cowboys personnel. Doing these plays from a spread formation is an interesting wrinkle.

What we learned about the Dallas Cowboys during Week 2 of free agency - SportsDay

What did the Cowboys accomplish during the second week of free agency? Well, they got their franchise quarterback some new weapons.

New toys for Dak

The depth chart at wide receiver has become fairly crowded over the last few days with the additions of ex-Jaguar Allen Hurns and ex-Bill Deonte Thompson.

Thompson, a six-year veteran, signed a one-year deal for $2.5 million with a $1 million signing bonus, according to a source, after racking up 38 catches for 555 yards with two touchdowns in 2017.

Hurns agreed to a two-year, $12 million deal with the Cowboys on Friday, sources said. Before the 2016 season, he signed a four-year, $40 million contract extension with Jacksonville that included $16 million guaranteed. But he was released earlier this week.

The Cowboys Perfectly Handled the Need for a WR - Mauricio Rodriguez, Inside The Star

The Cowboys entered free agency with a need at wide receiver, but they handled the situation perfectly.

Despite having some very well-known names in the WR room, the truth is that Dak Prescott’s offense needed a new, fresh guy to provide this group a much-needed spark.

Dez Bryant has struggled to get back to his old self, Cole Beasley failed to replicate his 2016 monster season last year when he started facing double-teams constantly, and Terrance Williams has yet to prove he can be a reliable target on a consistent basis.

Now, the Cowboys are bringing in the former Jaguar WR Allen Hurns in an effort to create the “Dak-friendly offense” we’ve all been talking about.

If we stick to football here, this team’s offense has the opportunity to be one of the league’s best if Hurns and Bryant can be on the field at the same time. As mentioned earlier, Hurns will be the spark this team definitely needs.

Allen Hurns is excited to be a Cowboy which is exciting for the offense - Michael Sisemore, BTB

Perhaps the biggest acquisition was Allen Hurns. The former Jaguars wide receiver is excited to play with The Star on his helmet, which should make you excited for this offense in 2018.

Hurns is getting paid like a WR2 and after last season, it’s a wonderful thought to go into camp this year in Battle Royal mode at receiver. For the Cowboys, with such a strong running game, bolstering the receiver corps like they have is making good on the promise to become more “Dak-friendly”.

There are a ton of factors that lead to Allen Hurns becoming a Cowboy but everyone should share in the excitement. Despite being relatively quiet for more than a week into free agency, the Cowboys still shopped aggressively and made a great move for their offense. Of course, there is still plenty of work ahead but it’s okay to get hyped about this guy joining the offense:

One Offseason Move Every NFL Team Could Regret - Brad Gagnon, Bleacher Report

But what about moves that the Cowboys could regret? Gagnon isn’t sure about the decision to tag Tank.

Dallas Cowboys: Using the Franchise Tag on Demarcus Lawrence

The Dallas Cowboys were once again MIA in free agency, probably because they once again had little money to spend. It didn’t help that $17.1 million of salary-cap space was occupied by the franchise tag they used on Demarcus Lawrence.

The Cowboys might not regret keeping the defensive end after a Pro Bowl season in which he put up 14.5 sacks and forced four fumbles, but they could rue that they didn’t find a way to sign him to a long-term contract that would have allowed them to chase more top-tier free agents.

Who knows? With Lawrence signed, Dallas might have been able to land someone like Dontari Poe, Vinny Curry, Allen Robinson or Jimmy Graham, all of whom would have addressed major needs.

If Cowboys surprise and draft a RB in the early rounds, here’s the prospect to watch for - Dane Brugler, SportsDay

In draft news, Dane Brugler says to keep an eye on NC State’s Nyheim Hines in April if the Cowboys decide to go the RB route.

Q: If the Cowboys take a running back, what rounds do you see that being in and who are some guys to keep an eye on?

Brugler: Anywhere on Day 3, running back will be fair game. LSU’s Darrel Williams is an every-down back with a diverse skill set. Grambling State’s Martez Carter is a talented late-round option to watch. If the Cowboys do surprise and take a RB in the first three rounds, NC State’s Nyheim Hines is the player to watch. He is a better version of Donnel Pumphrey, whom the Cowboys targeted in last year’s draft. Hines has a track background and will help out as a pass-catcher and returner. He is more of a do-everything weapon than traditional back.