The Cowboys have earned the highest grade so far according to ESPN staff writer, Bill Barnwell.
Patriots grade: C
Cowboys grade: A
For the Cowboys, though, this is absolutely a risk worth taking. They’re only on the hook for about $1.8 million in base salary over the remainder of 2019, with $8.25 million in unguaranteed compensation left on his deal in 2020. Dallas ranks 22nd in pressure rate through seven weeks, so adding Bennett offers the defense a much-needed boost behind DeMarcus Lawrence and Robert Quinn.
With Tyrone Crawford now on injured reserve, I suspect you’ll see coordinator Rod Marinelli use Bennett on the interior on passing downs to get Dallas’ three best pass-rushers on the field at the same time. The Cowboys might also grow tired of Bennett, but the possible reward here greatly outweighs the modest risk.
The Mothership’s resident scout provides us with a nice report about what we can expect from the team’s newest defensive acquisition.
Played all over the defensive line for the Patriots. They likely traded for him this past spring due to that flexibility. The Patriots look for players who can function week to week playing multiple positions.
Should line up as a nickel tackle for the Cowboys with the ability to rush from defensive end. Would give them a combination of DeMarcus Lawrence, Maliek Collins, Robert Quinn and Bennett on those sub-package downs.
I was surprised at how strong he plays for his age (33 years old). When he extends his hands, he can control blockers. There were several snaps in the Miami/Washington games where he just flat overpowered the blockers at the point of attack.
Like all good pass rushers, Bennett can take that long step to gain ground on a blocker. We often see that with Lawrence. When they can get to the corner, it makes it hard on the blocker. Don’t see a lack of quickness here. Still can win when on the move.
Uses his hands like Lawrence to combat the blocker in order to break him down. This works well against guards that struggle with a rusher who plays with quickness and technique.
Bennett has a feel for how to work the gaps to defend the run. If he does have an issue, there were times where he got caught on a block while he was attempting to work on the move. The Redskins had a long run due to the fact he got turned on the play.
Here’s why Cowboys traded future late-round pick to Patriots for 3-time Pro Bowl DE Michael Bennett - Jon Machota, The Athletic
Another explanation for why the team made a move for Michael Bennett.
Dallas’ biggest need heading into next Tuesday’s NFL’s trade deadline is run-stoppers. The addition of Bennett doesn’t necessarily upgrade the Cowboys in that area. This move is more about replacing Tyrone Crawford, who had hip surgery last week and was recently placed on injured reserve. Like Crawford, Bennett is expected to work in the defensive end rotation in Dallas’ 4-3 scheme, a better fit for him than the 3-4 defense he played in with the Patriots.
Bennett will likely get opportunities behind DeMarcus Lawrence and Robert Quinn to rush as an end on first and second downs and then move inside to tackle, like Crawford did, on third downs.
Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli prefers getting the majority of the pass rush from his front four. On passing downs, the Cowboys can now go with Lawrence and Quinn on the outside and Bennett and Maliek Collins inside. This could also mean less blitzes from middle linebacker Jaylon Smith, who has rushed quite a bit this season.
Jerry Jones explains why the front office believes Michael Bennett wasn't a good fit or used well by the Patriots and that just the opposite will be true for the defensive end in Dallas.
"The scheme that they had him working in up in New England had a lot to do with us being able to trade for him," Jones said on 105.3 The Fan. "Probably didn't utilize what he can bring as much as we will be able to utilize it. Secondly, he likes to play. He wants on that field. And you say, 'Well, duh. Doesn't everybody?' When he's not on the field, he's not as happy as when he can get out there and try to make plays."
"Well, he gives us outstanding position flex in the term of adding some pass rush or some pressure whether it be outside at defensive end or inside at what we call our three-technique, the opposite from the nose guard," Jones said. "He's just an established inside guy."
"The thing about Michael is he's got a great motor," Jones said. "Boy, he plays with a lot of passion and enthusiasm. It can be said that he's not the same guy once he straps on that helmet as he is when he's away from his helmet. He's really a great personality, a great guy. But, boy, when he gets in that football pads he's after it, now. That's exciting.
"Anyway, this all fits for us."
In order for the seventh-round pick the Cowboys gave to New England for Michael Bennett to turn into a sixth-rounder in 2021, the defensive end will have to be on Dallas’ 53-man roster for four games the rest of this season, according to sources. https://t.co/ANVEREYeEc— Todd Archer (@toddarcher) October 25, 2019
How Patriots can net a sixth-round pick from Michael Bennett trade, per report - Darren Hartwell, NBC Sports Boston
The Patriots may actually rooting for Bennett to succeed in Dallas as the pick could turn into a six-rounder based on these conditions...
ESPN’s Todd Archer added further clarification Friday: If Bennett is on Dallas’ 53-man roster for at least four games the rest of the way, the Patriots will receive the Cowboys’ 2021 sixth-round pick. Dallas has nine games remaining on its schedule, so it’s reasonable to expect Bennett will at least be on the roster for at least half of those.
Then again, the 33-year-old didn’t work out in New England, and if the Cowboys can’t find a fit for Bennett, they can cut him loose or move him off the active roster knowing they’ll only owe the Patriots a seventh-rounder. Oh, and one of Dallas’ remaining nine games is in New England (Week 12), so we’ll either see a Bennett revenge game or a strike against the Patriots landing that sixth-round pick.
Evaluating the Cowboys’ past 5 trades: Amari Cooper is the obvious highlight, but how has Dallas fared elsewhere? - Calvin Watkins, Dallas Morning News
In the wake of the Bennett deal, an examination of some of the team’s recent trades, with grades.
After a loss in Washington, the Cowboys elected to give up a 2019 first-round pick to the Raiders to get Amari Cooper. His impact was immediate and he was one of the reasons the Cowboys went from a 3-5 start to winning the NFC East. A year after the trade, the numbers speak loudly when it comes to what Cooper means. After 16 games, he has 91 catches for 1,346 yards with 11 touchdowns.
His route running and catch ability are marvels to watch this season. So what did the Raiders do with that draft pick? They drafted a safety, Johnathan Abram from Mississippi State, with the 27th overall pick. Would the Cowboys have drafted Abram? Maybe. They had a chance to draft a safety in the second round but instead grabbed defensive tackle Trysten Hill, continuing their fan base’s frustration when it comes to finding a play-making safety. As for the Cooper deal, his production more than makes up for that.
The only uncertainty is the future, as he becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2020. The Cowboys have held contract talks with his agents but haven’t reached a deal. Jones has said he expects Cooper to remain with the Cowboys long-term.
Are the Cowboys done wheeling and dealing?
Michael Bennett was a step in the right direction, but the front office should try to get a true defensive tackle (like Cincinnati Bengals’ Geno Atkins, perhaps) to help an under-performing unit in Dallas. Maybe even target a safety, which has been a need for the Cowboys for months, even though they declined to draft one early in the 2019 NFL Draft. I don’t believe Jeff Heath has proven much since this season began, and I’m convinced that the front office is regretting taking Trysten Hill over numerous safeties that were still on the board.
The Cowboys made some late off-season re-signings this year, but it wasn’t the players people were expecting. Owner Jerry Jones explains why he thinks they’ll be able to afford to keep all their star players.
The Cowboys are betting on the cap to rise. Not free agents until March 2020, Smith and Collins didn’t necessarily need to be locked up this year. They were. Smith avoided restricted free agency and signed a six-year, $68.4 million extension. Collins received a five-year, $50 million deal. Each contract provides the respective player long-term security. But if Jones is right about the players and the cap, these deals could be a relative bargain in the future. Jones stressed the importance of this first part. The success of these deals begins with each player’s production
Stephen Jones on Dak Prescott negotiations: Ultimately, we’ll figure this out – Charean Williams, ProFootballTalk
Stephen Jones doesn’t seem bothered by the fact they haven’t locked up Prescott to a long-term deal yet.
“In my mind, he’s flawless,” Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said Friday afternoon on 105.3 The Fan. “So the only thing we need him to do is work with us a little bit, and I understand because it’s his money and easy for someone else to say. But the only reason we’re having a negotiation is to talk him into all the reasons as to why it’s good to have a supporting cast around him. Other than that, it would be really easy to write the check. It’s not saving Jerry [Jones] and I any money. What we’re trying to do is keep this young football team together. We think it’s a really good one, and we think it’s only going to get better because it is young. Other than that, this negotiation would have been over with months ago. But I think he understands where we’re coming from. We understand where he’s coming from, and ultimately, we’ll figure this out.”
While adding Bennett will help, the biggest boost along the defensive line may come from a big second half from their homegrown All-Pro.
Don’t Be Surprised If: Sack Number Improves for DeMarcus Lawrence
I really liked what I saw from DeMarcus Lawrence last week against Lane Johnson. Where I thought that Lawrence improved the most against Johnson was winning off that first step. He did a nice job of getting off the ball and covering a lot of ground in order to get to Johnson’s corner. Once he can get in that shoulder, he’s one of the best finishers in the league. He also did a nice job of moving Johnson around keeping him guessing with how he was going to attack him. The more Lawrence is able to move a blocker around and work his hands, the better pressure he provides. Lawrence has faced his share of double-team blocks this season, but if you see him starting to win on that first step and breaking blockers down with his hands, you’re going to see more sacks.
It’s no secret that DeMarcus Lawrence isn’t a fan of NFL quarterbacks. He chats about it with Dan Patrick in a way that only Tank can do.
Here’s how Cowboys fans are feeling at Week 8.