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Cowboys 2018 draft and free agency rumors: Is Anthony Hitchens already gone?

People think Hitchens will be on the move, plus are the Cowboys looking at QBs?

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NFL: Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Cowboys biggest free agent decision is how to handle Anthony Hitchens. Everyone knows the Cowboys want him back, but can they afford him? It all depends on how worried Dallas might be about the health of Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith. We’ve all heard that former Cowboys linebacker coach and now Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator, Matt Eberflus, might have interest. The Colt are desperate for linebacker help. According to Tony Pauline at Draft Analyst, everyone at the combine assumes Hitchens is already bound for Indy.

- Just about everyone believes linebacker Anthony Hitchens will end up with the Indianapolis Colts.

Bob Sturm has an article out today at The Athletic and he agrees, laying out why the Cowboys can’t afford him.

The other big item on free agency day remains the Anthony Hitchens situation. I know they would love to keep him around, but I think it’s important to establish a ceiling price (let’s say 4 years/$16m), offer it to him right now, and if he wisely passes you simply walk away. You cannot afford to overpay for a spot like this. If they do, it’s because they are really concerned with the injury futures of Jaylon Smith, Sean Lee, or both. If they are both fit and the Cowboys are still are willing to go to $6m or $7m per on a 3rd LB, then something is very seriously wrong with the organization. I assume he is soon to be a member of the Indianapolis Colts.

If the Cowboys ceiling is indeed around $4 million a year, then there is no way they sign Hitchens. Even $5 mil per probably wouldn’t be enough.

In other rumors, do the Cowboys have their eye on a possible backup QB?

There were about 16 teams on hand for the Marshall pro day, including Reggie McKenzie of the Oakland Raiders. Several teams who wanted to see quarterback Chase Litton throw were unable to travel to West Virginia due to the nor’easter barreling down the east coast.

Litton threw a scripted workout of 75 passes, and only three hit the ground. He’s receiving a lot of interest from the Dallas Cowboys, Washington Reskins, New England Patriots and Cleveland Browns.

We all liked what Cooper Rush did in preseason, but there is certainly no harm in bringing in some competition. Litton generally ranks in the area of 10th among QB prospects. He has some of the physical gifts you want in a QB, but he does come with baggage of bad off-the-field decision-making. He’s trying to convince teams that is behind him.

Tony Pauline also mentions the Cowboys in conjunction with Purdue linebacker T.J. McCollum.

Western Kentucky transfer T.J. McCollum, another linebacker with next-level potential as a backup and special-teams player, also had a solid outing. After measuring 6-feet-1.5 and 236 pounds, he timed 4.75 in the 40, 7.1 in the three-cone and 4.4 in the short shuttle. McCollum was able to reach 34 inches in the vertical jump and had a nine-foot broad jump.

McCollum met with the Dallas Cowboys today.

We’ve brought up the name of Donte Moncrief multiple times when discussing free agents that might not break the bank, but could have tons of upside. We also mention that new wide receiver coach Sanjay Lal once coached Moncrief in Indy. Well, it looks like Moncrief will definitely be hitting the open market.

Moncrief isn’t likely to be re-signed by the Colts before impending free agents like him can begin negotiating with competing teams on Monday. In fact, all current indications point to Moncrief and the Colts parting ways for good after the free-agent market opens on Wednesday. General Manager Chris Ballard, having watched Moncrief underperform in 2017 during a contract year, seems very cool toward the idea of bringing him back.

We’re not the only place mentioning the Cowboys/Moncrief connection.

With questions about Dez Bryant both this year and each one that passes after, the Cowboys are going to have to do something to help Dak Prescott. Dallas has a brand new wide receivers coach, which means he could try to make a splash by bringing in new blood to compete. Moncrief isn’t going to single handily open up the passing game, but we’ve seen receivers similar to him work in unison to do so. He’d come cheap, which is important and could give the Cowboys offense the jolt it desperately needs.

Some final notes courtesy of Tony Pauline:

I’ve seen more than a few mocks have the Cowboys picking defensive end Arden Key in the first round. It happened again in our latest mock tracker. If Pauline is to be believed, Key is falling out of favor with teams as a first-round pick.

- Much-maligned pass rusher Arden Key of LSU continues to drop down draft boards, and the junior left a bad taste in the mouths of NFL decision makers during the combine by not running the 40 or participating in the bench press in Indianapolis. He was in the bottom half, and sometimes at the lowest levels, of the tests he did participate in, except for the short shuttle.

And finally, I’m not sure I buy this one.

As previously posted last week, Trumaine Johnson is likely to end up with the San Francisco 49ers. The Oakland Raiders want Johnson but do not have the cap space the Niners do. I’m also told the Dallas Cowboys want to sign Johnson but, like the Raiders, their cap space is limited compared to San Francisco.

I’m sure plenty of teams want to sign Johnson, but the Cowboys don’t have the money, and usually don’t spend that kind of money in free agency if they do have it. So they probably have as much interest as many other teams which is roughly - sure we’d like to have him, but there’s no way we can afford him so we’re really not interested.

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