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Cowboys news: Earl Thomas trade talk will just not go away

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The Monday morning Cowboys links.

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Green Bay Packers Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Bryan Broaddus of caused a minor stir when he went on 105.3 The Fan last week, and said he feels a possible Earl Thomas trade is still in play for the Cowboys. The resulting headlines feel like they are becoming more imaginative by the hour:

5:43 PM - July 8: Seahawks safety, Earl Thomas, trade talks heating up - Fansided

7:24 PM - July 8: Seahawks, Cowboys reportedly in trade talks about S Earl Thomas -

07:53 - July 8: Seahawks, Cowboys reportedly discussing S Thomas - TSX Files

It’ll be amusing to see how this continues to develop. In the meantime, we wondered yesterday how much of an impact Thomas would make in Dallas.

Mailbag: How many wins of a difference would Earl Thomas make in Dallas? - RJ Ochoa, Blogging The Boys

In the latest edition of the BTB Mailbag, BTB addresses whether or not two wins would play a role in trading for ET.

Playoffs not withstanding, let’s just say the addition of Earl Thomas automatically gives Dallas two extra wins this season. Would you pull the trigger on the trade?

This is a fascinating way to look at the ever-changing and always interesting (in wild ways) Earl Thomas situation with the Cowboys. When his name comes up we imagine him reuniting with Kris Richard and helping mold the other Dallas DBs, but what would his presence literally amount to?

Two wins feels fair. When you look back at last season for example, Thomas likely makes the difference in the losses to the Green Bay Packers and the Los Angeles Rams. Had the Cowboys won two more games they’d have finished 11-5, gotten the second wildcard spot, and traveled to LA to take on the Rams in the wildcard round.

P.S.: submit your questions for future mailbags here.

Updated game-by-game predictions for Cowboys' 2018 schedule: Does making playoffs come down to adding Earl Thomas? - Jon Machota, SportsDay
Machota has the Cowboys finishing 9-7 this year, but believes adding Thomas could get them 1-2 more wins.

Dallas finishes with nine wins for the second consecutive season. Over the last five years, only four teams have made the NFC playoffs with nine or fewer wins. Three of them won their respective division. It's unlikely that nine wins will get the job done in the NFC East this season. For the Cowboys to make the playoffs they'll have to be extremely fortunate in the health department. Avoid any significant injuries to key players and 10 or 11 wins is possible. Finding a way to add Earl Thomas could get the job done as well.

Poll: What player would you be willing to trade the Cowboys 2019 first-round pick for? - Danny Phantom, BTB

Speaking of trades, which player around the league would you be willing to part ways with a first for? Aaron Donald was a popular answer.

This seems like the obvious answer to me. Aaron Donald has been a superstar from the moment he entered the league. Kudo’s to all you BTB members who were desperately hoping he fell to the Cowboys in the 2014 NFL Draft. Of course, the Cowboys got a nice consolation prize in Zack Martin who is not too shabby himself.

Adding a player like Donald would be an instant spark to the Cowboys defensive line. In four seasons, Donald has 39 sacks and is the explosive pass-rushing monster the coaching staff looks for in their defensive tackles. If there is a drawback in choosing Donald, it would be his contract situation. Currently, he is playing under his fifth-year option which is only $6.9 million. Unlike Martin, the Rams have yet to come to terms with their 2014 first-round star so the Cowboys would need to be willing to commit long-term deal to make it worth it. With DeMarcus Lawrence also looking for a long-term deal, just how much money are the Cowboys willing to sling out for their defensive line?

Cowboys Rumors: Demarcus Lawrence Seeking 5-Year Contract, Deadline July 16 - Tim Daniels, Bleacher Report

Betting on himself could lead to a big pay day for the Tank.

Dallas Cowboys defensive end Demarcus Lawrence is reportedly seeking a five-year contract extension before the July 16 deadline to extend players who received the franchise tag.

After signing the franchise tag in early March, the South Carolina native told NFL Network’s Jane Slater he was prepared to show the 2017 campaign was no fluke.

”I feel like they have given me the opportunity to really break the bank next year,” Lawrence said.

How will David Irving respond to starting another Cowboys season on the sidelines? - Jori Epstein, SportsDay

While DeMarcus Lawerence is flourishing, another defensive lineman is struggling — at least off of the field. Esptein writes on David Irving’s outlook for 2018.

2018 outlook: Again, Irving will miss the first four games of the Cowboys season - this time for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy. He’s set to return Oct. 7 against the Texans after Dallas faces the Panthers, Giants, Seahawks and Lions without Irving and his 7-3 wingspan. Irving can still participate in offseason and preseason activities, which he’ll want to do after missing all of OTAs and showing up to work on the side at minicamp with extra weight. Irving said at minicamp he thought he and Lawrence could average a sack a quarter as a tandem duo in the league. First, he’ll need to get back on the field -- a contract when he becomes a free agent in 2019 will depend on it. Irving said he’s not concerned the time off will leave him lagging when he returns to play. “Everyone questions my commitment and this and that,” he said. “But I don’t know, when I’m on the field, I really don’t get too much questioning.”

Cowboys 2018 over/under: 1,750 rushing yards for Ezekiel Elliott - Dave Halprin, Blogging The Boys
Halprin sets the over/under for Elliott at 1,750 yards. A poll at the bottom of the post shows readers are pretty evenly split, with 54% taking the over.

We’re going to set an over/under for 2018 at 1,750 yards. That’s a huge number and would be the second-best number over the last half decade behind only Murray’s remarkable 2014 season with the Cowboys. We’re pushing the number for a couple of reasons. The Cowboys line should be a little better in 2018. La’el Collins is now settled in at right tackle with some experience, Tyron Smith claims he’s as healthy as he’s been in a while, Cam Fleming can provide decent depth, and Connor Williams looks like he could be an upgrade at left guard. Additionally, Elliott should also be running with a chip on his shoulder after the events of the 2017 season.

Elliott had 191 carries in his first eight (pre-suspension) games last year, which put him on pace for 382 carries over 16 games. Will the Cowboys give him a similar workload in 2018, even at the risk of overworking his body, or will they be cautious with their star?

Quarterback Tiers and Rankings Based Exclusively on the 2017 Season - Cian Fahey, Pre Snap Reads
This is not a new article, but a reader put it up in the Fanshots. Fahey's findings are bound to surprise some people, as he ranks Dak Prescott as a Tier 2 QB behind only Tom Brady, Matt Ryan, Drew Brees, and Aaron Rodgers.

These rankings are based exclusively on what each quarterback did from September 2017 to February 2018. It’s not about previous seasons, skill sets or where the quarterback is in his career at the time. It’s solely about each player’s performance in that single season.

Did you know? Only 5.3 percent of Dak Prescott’s attempts were screens, the second-lowest rate in the league.

If you thought Dak Prescott played like a superstar as a rookie but was awful during his second season, you’re likely conflating quarterback evaluation with evaluating the offense as a whole. Everything on the Cowboys offense got significantly worse in 2017. The offensive line got weaker at left guard and right tackle with new players, the center’s performances dropped off and the left tackle was hurt. Jason Witten was even slower at tight end. Dez Bryant spent the season struggling to get open then had a monumental number of drops when he did get open. Ezekiel Elliott was out of shape then out of the league for six weeks through suspension.

Everything was worse except for the quarterback. The quarterback actually got better.

Prescott wasn’t a star during his rookie season. The Cowboys should have gone back to Tony Romo. But he grew in his second season. He was one of the most accurate passers in the league, ranking fourth in the league with a 60.2 depth-adjusted accuracy percentage. That was while throwing to a group of receivers who couldn’t separate and offered limited catch radiuses.

Prescott wasn’t just checking down either. He threw 58.2 percent of his passes further than five yards downfield, the seventh-highest rate in the league. More significantly, he threw the second-highest rate of passes into the 1-20 yard range. 77.2 percent of the Cowboys passing game existed within those parameters. It was the opposite of a short and shot play offense.

Throwing into the 1-20 yard range is tougher to do than throwing the ball short and deep. In the Cowboys offense it meant an over-reliance on isolated routes with straight dropbacks where the quarterback had to manage the pocket. 29 quarterbacks used play action or screens more often than Prescott did. He wasn’t throwing into distorted coverages or making quick throws into the flat that gained big yardage. He was responsible for throwing receivers open and carrying an offense that wasn’t built to work without an all star supporting cast.

It was the same offense that Garrett ran during Prescott’s rookie season, but without the incredible pass protection and dominant running game, and with a worse group of receivers, the quarterback never had a real chance.

What really stood out from Prescott was his acumen. He showed off more command of his offense during his second season. Making successful audibles and adjustments to spring receivers open. That was on the occasions when he had opportunities to do so. Jason Garrett’s refusal to adjust to his personnel or to his opponents meant that Prescott often appeared to be the only one on the Dallas offense who was trying to make the offense function smoother.

Although the numbers weren’t there, Prescott’s precision as a passer, his intelligence as a quarterback and his physical skill set to function inside and outside of structure were obvious. The Cowboys have a lot of problems, the quarterback isn’t one.

The entire article is an interesting read, and as a teaser for the rest of the article, here are the “did you know’s” for the other NFC East QBs:

Alex Smith – Tier 3.

Did you know? 14.9 percent of Alex Smith’s attempts were screens, yet only 11.8 percent of his yards came on screen plays.

10. Carson Wentz – Tier 3.

Did you know? 7.9 percent of Wentz’s yards were gained on inaccurate throws and three of his touchdowns were. Only one quarterback had more than three touchdowns on inaccurate throws.

Nick Foles – Tier 4.

Did you know? 43.5 percent of Nick Foles’ passes came on a screen or after a play fake, no other quarterback eclipsed 39 percent and only two other quarterbacks eclipsed 34 percent.

Eli Manning – Tier 4.

Did you know? Eli Manning’s receivers had more failed receptions than anyone else’s in 2017, 48 on the season.