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Cowboys news: Earl Thomas announces holdout; will Cowboys make a move?

All of the latest Dallas Cowboys news for your Monday morning.

NFL: Pro Bowl-NFC Practice Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Earl Thomas to skip Seahawks’ mandatory minicamp over contract - ESPN

Remember all the talk about the Cowboys trading for Earl Thomas? Well, the All-Pro safety took to Twitter to announce that he would not attend mandatory minicamps.

Seattle Seahawks star safety Earl Thomas announced Sunday that he will not attend this week’s mandatory minicamp “until my contract situation is resolved.”

In a message posted on Twitter, Thomas emphasized that he wants to “remain a Seahawk for the rest of my career.” But Thomas, who is entering the final year of a four-year, $40 million deal, also said he wants to “have certainty in regards to the upcoming years of my career.”

“I also believe that based on my production over the last 8 years that I’ve earned the right to have this taken care of as soon as possible,” Thomas wrote. “I want to have certainty in regards to the upcoming years of my career.”

Does Pro Bowl safety Earl Thomas’ holdout in Seattle give a trade to Dallas new life? - Clarence Hill, The Star-Telegram

So with that news, can the Thomas-to-Dallas scenario actually happen? Hill writes on the possibility.

The Dallas Cowboys addressed every perceived off-season need in the draft or free agency, save for safety.

It’s no coincidence.

While the Cowboys have expressed confidence in 2017 sixth-round pick Xavier Woods being able to step in at free safety with Jeff Heath and blank competing at strong safety, the team has also quietly held out hope of being able to acquire Pro Bowl free safety Earl Thomas in a trade with Seattle.

There is no question the Cowboys would love to add the proven playmaker to the back end of what is an improving defense. The presence of former Seattle defensive coordinator Kris Richard as the team’s new secondary coach makes it easy to connect those dots.

The Cowboys had already had talks with Seattle about acquiring Thomas at the start of free agency and during the draft.

Seattle safety Earl Thomas won’t attend minicamp until his ‘contract situation is resolved’ - David Moore and Jon Machota, SportsDay

He did say “come get me”, after all.

That social media posting is somewhat notable from the Cowboys’ perspective.

After the Seahawks’ victory over Dallas in December at AT&T Stadium, Thomas told head coach Jason Garrett outside the Cowboys’ locker room that he’d like them to try to acquire him if they ever have the opportunity.

The six-time Pro Bowler, who is still regarded as one of the NFL’s best safeties, later clarified that he wanted to continue his career in Seattle, but the Cowboys were the only other team he wanted to play for “when Seattle kicks me to the curb.”

Thomas is in the final year of a four-year, $40 million deal. The Cowboys have the salary cap space to add the former Texas Longhorn standout if the teams can agree to a trade. There was speculation that Dallas would make a move for Thomas during the draft.

Dak Prescott likes energy in Cowboys’ locker room - Kirstie Chiappelli, Sporting News

Dak, meanwhile, is loving the energy that is surrounding his team.

Dak Prescott has a good feeling about the season ahead.

During the organization’s annual Cowboys U youth football event on Thursday, the Cowboys quarterback discussed the team’s chemistry during their three weeks of OTAs and expressed his optimism about the direction they’re headed.

”We got a good feel for one another,” Prescott said, via the Dallas Morning News. “We got a good feel for this offense. We got a good feel for this defense. A great feel for where this team is heading. I liked everything I saw out there.”

1 Problem Every NFL Team’s Top Young Player Must Improve - Justis Mosqueda, Bleacher Report

Speaking of Dak, here is one aspect that Prescott needs to improve on the most this offseason.

Dallas Cowboys: Dak Prescott’s Accuracy

In 2016, Dak Prescott shocked the world by posting a 104.9 passer rating in absence of the injured Tony Romo. That number dropped to 86.6 in 2017, and he threw nine more interceptions while averaging 1.2 fewer yards per pass attempt as a sophomore.

After the Cowboys lost tight end Jason Witten to retirement and cut receiver Dez Bryant, they’ll need Prescott to look like his 2016 self to make the playoffs. However, he’ll be doing so without the help of the skill talent that surrounded him that year.

Allen Hurns, Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley and Geoff Swaim might be the most targeted Cowboys this season. None of them had more than 600 receiving yards or 60 receptions last year.

The training wheels are officially off in Dallas. The offense will only go as far as Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott will it to.

Cowboys RBs coach says Ezekiel Elliott feels he “didn’t accomplish anything” in 2017 – Charean Williams, ProFootballTalk
Elliott has a lot to prove after missing six games last season.

“With what happened last year with the whole suspension and everything, I think he felt as though he didn’t accomplish anything,” Cowboys running backs coach Gary Brown said. “But he did accomplish some things.

“Hopefully, he doesn’t put too much pressure on himself. If he doesn’t, I think we’ll have a great Zeke.”

While the Cowboys refer to their offense as “Dak friendly,” Elliott is a quarterback’s best friend. Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said Elliott is “going to touch the ball a lot” this season.

Here's how Ezekiel Elliott could be in line for more a touches - Jon Machota, SportsDay
Dez Bryant (132), Jason Witten (87), and Brice Butler (23) combined for 50% of the Cowboys' 485 targets in 2017. Odds are some of those targets will go Elliott's way in 2018.

With Jason Witten and Dez Bryant no longer on the roster, Elliott should be in line for even more touches. His carries will remain in the 20 to 25 per game range, but the targets in the passing game could see a noticeable increase.

Elliott has been spending extra time after OTA practices catching passes on the JUGS machine.

Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan wasn't willing to commit to any predictions other than to say Elliott's "going to touch the ball a lot" and it will be more than any other skill position player on the team.

2018 NFL season: Predicting every NFC team's MVP -
Dan Hanzus picks one MVP for each NFC team, and his pick for the Cowboys is Elliott.

Elliott is now free and clear of a 2017 that was marred by legal troubles, the lingering threat of suspension and then an actual suspension that shortened his season by six games. As viewers of "All or Nothing" know, the drama clearly took a toll on the star running back, who never seemed quite himself after that spectacular rookie campaign of 2016. We expect Elliott to be much closer to his rookie version this fall, and don't be surprised when all the stories about Elliott being in the best shape of his life start piling up in August. Elliott will be motivated and unburdened, and -- given the suspect state of the Dallas passing game -- will assuredly continue to be the focal point of the offense.

Zeke gonna eat.

Dallas Cowboys boast best offensive line in their division - Tyrone Starr, The Landry Hat

Fortunately, the Cowboys have the best offensive line in the NFC East.

The Cowboys earn the gold medal for two reasons.

First, Tyron Smith and Zack Martin are both the best at their respective positions in the NFL. That means something. When Smith is right, he is easily one of the three best linemen in all of football. As for Martin, in four years, he’s been to four Pro-Bowl’s and been chosen as an All-Pro twice.

Frederick is also one of the top four or five centers in the NFL, bolstered by four Pro-Bowl selections as well as 2016’s All-Pro nomination.

With Williams and Collins rounding out the starting five, this is one of the two or three best groups, hands down.

Could Connor Williams Actually Define the Cowboys’ Season? - Mauricio Rodriguez, Inside The Star

Despite having a talented offensive line, the Cowboys need Connor Williams to step up in a big way during his rookie season.

Truth be told, I believed Cooper could’ve been this team’s left guard in 2018 and the Cowboys wouldn’t have had a problem running the football. Having said that, Connor Williams is clearly an upgrade over the 28-year old veteran who will play in San Francisco next season.

With the offense’s identity clearly revolving around Zeke and the running game, it was very important for the team to figure out the offensive line’s only vacant spot, and they did a great job finding Williams with the 50th overall pick.

This is the year in which the unit will try to reclaim it’s title of being the best in the league and rookie Connor Williams will have to step up in order for them to do so.

Dallas Cowboys: 3 Ways to fix the offense in 2018 - Joel W. Cade, NFL Spin Zone

Three ways that Dallas can improve on the offensive side of the ball this upcoming season.

Cowboys should do what Dak does best

The Cowboys need to run more RPOs. RPOs are becoming more a trend in the NFL. They are becoming more popular not as a central philosophy of an NFL offense. Instead, they are being used as constraint plays to keep defenders locked up on receivers and tight ends thereby taking those defenders out of the play. As a constraint, an RPO package should be in every NFL playbook. But for the Cowboys, an RPO package will help Dak Prescott for two reasons.

First, Prescott is comfortable running RPOs. Last season the Cowboys ran RPOs in red zone situations. It allowed the run option to force linebackers to come up in support thereby gaining more separation for receivers. Wide receiver separation was a major issue in the Cowboys offense. They creatively solved it with RPOs. Prescott looked comfortable and confident running those plays. RPOs are a piece to build on for Prescott’s future.

Film Review: Can UDFA Kam Kelly be a hidden gem for the Dallas Cowboys? - Cole Patterson, BTB

If you’re looking for an UDFA to make the 53-man squad, keep an eye on for Kam Kelly.

Kelly’s size compares favorably to the former Stanford defensive back, as well as his toughness and versatility. Similar to Sherman, Kelly fell through the cracks on draft day. Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller ranked Kelly as the 13th best safety in the 2018 draft class.

Miller wasn’t alone on being high on the SDSU product, as the draft guru himself, Dane Brugler, said that it’s “easy to appreciate the toughness” that Kelly plays with.

It remains to be seen if Kelly can make the 53-man roster — much less grow into a contributor for the Cowboys — but the DFW native has the talent to make an impact for his hometown team.

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