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Cowboys news: Dallas ranked 25th in a power ranking, it must be a joke!

And why was Dan Bailey cut?

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Dallas Cowboys Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

NFL Preseason Power Rankings - Robert Mays, The Ringer
The folks at the Ringer aren't too impressed with the Cowboys' prospects, ranking them 25th overall in their first power ranking.

Worst-Case Scenario: Frederick’s value to this offense can’t be overstated. The Cowboys lean heavily on zone-blocking concepts that require Frederick to handle nose tackles on his own, freeing both guards to attack linebackers and creating space for Elliott at the second level. The running game starts with Frederick—he’s the linchpin to this unit, and without him, the offense rests on a shaky foundation. Plus, there are health questions about the rest of the line, too: Martin has been nursing a knee injury all preseason, and although Smith has looked like his old self through training camp, his lingering back issues are a concern for anyone tipping the scale at 320 pounds. If Smith misses time or experiences bouts of ineffectiveness, the Cowboys’ greatest strength could be wiped out.

And anything short of ground-game dominance could create serious problems for the rest of this offense. The positive slant to replacing Bryant with a larger cast of receivers is that Prescott may feel less of a need to force throws into small windows on the outside. But this is still a receiving corps without any proven, high-end talent. The Cowboys have no pass catchers, at any position, who are reliable creators or threats to haul in contested balls. Witten may have been eligible for AARP benefits by the time he finished his career, but Geoff Swaim isn’t exactly a tantalizing replacement.

NFL playoff picture ... from the future! How it'll look in Week 17 - Gregg Rosenthal,
Rosenthal gets in his time machine (wish I had one of those) to assess the various playoff scenarios for each team entering week seventeen. According to the future, the Cowboys will still be in contention to win the NFC East.

The Cowboys can still win the NFC East with a victory against Kyle Lauletta's Giants and a loss by the Eagles. There's also a delicious scenario -- based on what happens earlier in the day -- that the Redskins could be playing for a win-and-in wild-card scenario. Alex Smith will need a lot of results to go his way for a triumphant ride to the playoffs in Washington.

Raiders claim Brian Price, spoiling Cowboys’ plan to re-sign him – Charean Wiliams, ProFootballTalk
The Raiders spoiled the Cowboys' plans, leaving the team's defensive tackle plans in flux.

The Cowboys had hoped to bring back defensive lineman Brian Price, who they waived Sunday, but the Raiders spoiled their plan.

Oakland claimed Price off waivers, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports. The Raiders waived defensive tackle Treyvon Hester, a seventh-round pick in 2017, in a corresponding move.

The Cowboys had planned to move defensive lineman Datone Jones to injured reserve, replacing him with Price.

The “Big Step” That Got Rico Gathers On The Roster - Rob Phillips,
Phillips fills us in on some of the front office thinking regarding the decision to keep the enigmatic tight end on the 53-man roster.

Ultimately, Garrett said the incident wasn’t enough to keep Gathers off the roster. The team had seen too much progress from the developmental tight end since drafting him in the seventh round in 2016 out of Baylor, where he starred in basketball, not football.

“He’s grown and developed as a tight end,” Garrett said. “He’s doing more of the things that a tight end needs to do better. Some of the things are coming more naturally to him. He’s getting better at some of the things he hasn’t had that much experience. He had a good training camp and a good preseason.

“One of the things that was impressive things about him was, even though he was learning, you could tell he was thinking and he made aggressive mistakes. He played fast. His inexperience didn’t cause him to slow down. I think that’s a big step for a player. He got better and better and better.”

Cowboys’ plan all along was to keep WR Deonte Thompson, but they had to be calculated about it - Brandon George, SportsDay
George explains how the Cowboys’ used NFL waiver rules to get the players they wanted at the wide receiver position.

The Cowboys initially released Thompson on Saturday as part of their final cuts and kept injured second-year receiver Noah Brown, who missed the preseason with a strained hamstring. On Monday, the Cowboys placed Brown on the injured reserve list and re-signed Thompson.

The reason the Cowboys kept Brown initially on the 53-man roster instead of Thompson came down to waivers. If the Cowboys would have released Brown, he would have been exposed to waivers and any team could have claimed him. Thompson is a vested veteran and doesn’t go through the waivers process, therefore he was free to sign with any team.

However, the Cowboys talked to Thompson before the release and told him they planned to re-sign him so he didn’t look for another team, knowing it would come soon with Brown being moved to injured reserve.

The NFL Is No League For Old Men - Michael Salfino, FiveThirtyEight
The 2018 edition of the Dallas Cowboys have only two players over the age of 30. This isn't an isolated incident as Salfino shows how teams across the league are choosing cheaper, younger players at increasing rates.

Roster construction appears to be a big factor. Last year, the eight division winners spent an average of 52.1 percent of their total salary cap on their top 10 players.2 That left only about half the available money for 80 percent of those teams’ rosters. This would mean that a lot of minimum contracts are being used to fill in the gaps — and because minimum salaries increase according to service time, only the elite 30-somethings may be surviving.

This isn’t necessarily the wrong strategy. Once they hit 30, average players are either in the midst of or rapidly approaching the downside of their careers. Data shows that players at all positions generally see performance declines by age 30, with players’ peak ages ranging from 24 for running backs to 28 for most offensive linemen and quarterbacks. The subsequent declines are gradual from year to year, but the result is pronounced for all positions. So teams seem to be prioritizing younger players who are hitting their peak or ascending at the expense of veterans.

Jason Garrett embraces youth with 2018 roster - Clarence E. Hill Jr., Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Hill fills us in on the quandary facing Jason Garrett, who likes to make moves for the long-term future of the team but this off-season brings questions about Garrett’s immediate future.

More to the point, few players if any have made the Cowboys roster since 2011 that Garrett did not want. And likewise, few players if any were released that he didn’t give tacit approval to the move — save for free agent and pure financial decisions.

If truth be told, Jones not only had a history of holding on to guys too long but also allowing his feelings for a player and their history with a team cloud his judgment.

Under Garrett, the Cowboys have made tough personnel decisions for the best interest of the team, absent emotion.

“Line one is always what’s in the best interest of the entire Dallas Cowboys football team,” Garrett said. “The motivation is we’re doing what’s best for the entire Dallas Cowboys football team and that will always be the No. 1 factor in making these kinds of decisions.”

What Garrett is also saying is these decisions are made in the best interest of the Cowboys to put a winner on the field now and in the future.

That’s why Garrett’s tenure is now truly at a crossroads following the most recent moves.

Why Brett Maher At Kicker? Jason Garrett Explains - Rob Phillips, Dallas
Phillips provides quotes from the head coach regarding the team’s stunning decision to release Dan Bailey. Fans of robocoach-speak will be excited.

When the Cowboys take the field for Sunday’s opener at Carolina, Maher is their kicker.

“I think a combination of approach, very professional in his approach right from the start,” Garrett said when asked about Maher’s strengths. “Comes in, gets his work done, really good practice habits, kicked the ball really well, every day, virtually every time he kicked it all throughout training camp. Certainly he has an ability to help us in a lot of different ways. Very good kickoff guy, he punted throughout training camp, handled all that work really well.

“He’s a very talented guy. He’s got a strong leg. We saw that with the 57-yarder the other day in the (preseason) game (at Houston). So he has all the physical traits you’d want.”

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett explains the team's 'hard decision' to cut kicker Dan Bailey - David Moore, SportsDay
Moore gives us his insights on Garrett's comments regarding the Dan Bailey decision.

"I think the biggest thing you would look at is he's had some injuries over the last couple of years," Garrett said. "He had a back two years ago, had the groin last year. Obviously, he didn't kick his best down the stretch last year, a lot of different reasons for that.

"But again, when we put the whole thing together and decided what was the best for our football team, this is the decision we felt we had to make. It was a hard decision. There is no question about that. We went back and forth on it, we discussed it a great deal.

"One of the things that gave us confidence was how well Brett Maher has kicked both in practice and in games. We feel like he has an opportunity to help our football team in that role."

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