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Cowboys news: Which Cowboys player makes NFL.com’s top five list and deserves a fully guaranteed contract?

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6th Annual NFL Honors - Show Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

It’s Oscar time and over at the Mothership, the team has treated us with different categories all week. In their final installment, they provide four “best sound” nominees.

And the winner is....(well, at least where I would cast my vote):

“In the playoffs, we eat with two spoons, baby!” - Ezekiel Elliott

Who doesn’t love to see Zeke eat? Speaking of Mr. Elliott, he’s been the topic of conversation lately as people try to decide if the Cowboys should pay him a lot of money when it’s time to sign him to a second contract.

Fully guaranteed contracts in the NFL? Five players I’d lock up - Bucky Brooks, NFL.com

NFL.com analyst Bucky Brooks identifies his top five players in the league and why the Cowboys shouldn’t mess around when it comes to locking up one of their rising stars.

Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys: The two-time NFL rushing champion is the best running back in football. While some devalue the position, based on injury risk, there’s no denying No. 21’s impact on the Cowboys’ offense as a 30-touch wizard with a blue-collar running style and an underrated set of receiving skills.

Next Gen Stats: Hidden numbers that defined Super Bowl LIII - Nick Shook, NFL.com

The decision to retain Zeke is one that is debated around the water cooler quite a bit because teams like the New England Patriots never shell out big money for a featured back. And they seem to run the ball just fine.

Patriots’ ground-game dominance

New England morphed into a run-first offense in the postseason, capped by a huge difference in production in Super Bowl LIII. The Patriots averaged 4.1 yards gained after a defender closed within a yard of the ball carrier and ripped off 10-plus yards per carry on 14.8 percent of attempts. Patriots runners were stuffed on just 7.4 percent of attempts. These numbers helped produce a combined rushing line of 27 carries for 141 yards in the victory.

In case you missed it...

The Zeke conundrum: He is great, but may be wrong for the Cowboys - Tom Ryle, Blogging The Boys

Not everyone feels that Elliott should get a second contract. Our own Tom Ryle provides his perspective on this topic.

So consider this hypothesis: Having a fourth overall pick as your running back and feeding him the ball may actually be holding Dallas back. Now the team has newly minted offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, and all the talk is about getting the most out of Prescott and the passing game. Maybe they need to back off from using Zeke so much. It is frequently argued that more running leads to less success in pro football, and there is a lot of data to support that idea, such as this article from FiveThirtyEight. Meanwhile, Elliott has had one of the heaviest workloads of any running back in the league, which is one of the reasons he thinks he should get more money now.

The biggest surprises of the 2018 NFL season - Michael Renner, Pro Football Focus

There were many things people didn’t see coming last year and the emergence of Jaylon Smith makes PFF’s list of most surprising performers of the 2018 season.

LB Jaylon Smith, Dallas Cowboys

There were doctors that flat out stated he shouldn’t be on a football field after the nerve damage that he suffered in his knee. At times in 2017, that very much looked like the case. His injury almost completely robbed his ability to start and stop in the Fiesta Bowl before the draft. However, 2018 was a completely different story. Smith once again looked like the player he was at Notre Dame that received top-five hype before the injury. He finished as the fifth-highest graded off-ball linebacker in all of football, excelling in all three phases of the position.

5 free agents Cowboys could target at DB: Earl Thomas isn’t the only playmaking safety available - Tyler Dragon, SportsDay

Earl Thomas isn’t the only free agent defensive back the Cowboys might pursue this offseason. Tyler Dragon provides more candidates, including poaching from a divisional rival.

Landon Collins, Giants (6-0, 222)

If the Cowboys miss out on Earl Thomas, Collins wouldn’t be a bad consolation prize. Collins, a strong safety, plays different style than Thomas, a free safety. Thomas is a playmaking ball hawk with great coverage skills. Collins is a physical safety who plays with force and is better against the run than in coverage. The Alabama product is probably a better fit schematically for the Cowboys. But there are rumblings that the Giants are considering placing the franchise tag on the three-time Pro Bowler.

Who is a better fit for the Cowboys: Landon Collins or Earl Thomas? - Staff, SportsDay

Bryan Broaddus joined 105.3 The Fan to discuss the Cowboys, including which big name free agent safety would he prefer the Cowboys go after.

Should the Cowboys pursue Landon Collins or Earl Thomas?

Broaddus:Landon Collins would make a whole heck of a lot of sense and it usually happens where these types of players don’t ever make it to free agency. Eric Berry was one of my favorite players for a very long time and every time I’ve ever wanted Eric Berry, he signs a deal or he gets tagged or something like that.

”With Landon Collins, yeah, it’d be nice to have Landon Collins, but you’ve got to remember the way that this organization here operates, and I mean in Dallas, not the Rams, the way the Cowboys operate is Stephen Jones likes to draft and he likes to sign his own...

“I remember for years, we used to just blow so much money on bad players for free agency, bad contracts and stuff like that. Not to say that Landon Collins would be a bad contract, but their draft-and-sign method has worked out pretty well. ”It would be nice to have Landon Collins, he’s a younger player, you’d have to make more of a financial commitment, you’d have to make a longer commitment to him.

“With Earl [Thomas], it would probably a guaranteed thing, probably a couple of years and then it’ll allow you to develop some of your guys, develop your secondary a little more. They’re going to have some big decisions that they’re going to have to make after this next season. They’ve got guys that’ll be up quarterback-wise and things like that.

Do the Cowboys need to add another cornerback this offseason? - Jon Machota, SportsDay

Beat writer Jon Machota answers a few questions about some offseason acquisitions, including whether or not the Cowboys should beef up the cornerback position.

Q: Should the Cowboys also consider adding another corner?

Machota: Sure. But not with anything more than a late-round pick on a guy they had higher on their board. The Cowboys feel good about what they have in Byron Jones, Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis and Anthony Brown. They have a solid group under contract for at least one more season. This is the final year under contract for Jones and Brown. Chido and Lewis each have two more years. They seem committed to getting a second contract done with Jones. But there’s no reason to make a notable investment at CB when there are much bigger needs at safety, defensive line, tight end, wide receiver, etc.

NFL Starters Who Could Have Their Jobs Stolen by Free-Agent Signings - Maurice Moton, Bleacher Report

Bleacher Report takes a look at the ripple effect of potential free agent signings, including how one starter’s job could be at risk if the team upgrades the safety position.

S Jeff Heath, Dallas Cowboys

Before the start of the 2018 term, the Dallas Cowboys inquired about Earl Thomas. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the front office made an offer for the three-time first-team All-Pro in September but came up empty-handed. It’s not a foregone conclusion that Thomas will sign with the Cowboys when he’s a free agent in March, but team brass should look for a ball-tracking safety to strengthen the secondary. Jeff Heath has been solid, and Xavier Woods showed improvement in his second season, logging nine pass breakups and two interceptions. The Cowboys fielded a decent pass defense that ranked 13th in yards allowed and surrendered 22 touchdowns (tied for eighth). Dallas only notched nine interceptions, though. Only Woods and rookie linebacker Leighton Vander Esch recorded multiple picks (two each). Byron Jones, Chidobe Awuzie and Anthony Brown form a solid trio at cornerback. The Cowboys can add a safety who has a knack for forcing turnovers and slot him next to Woods. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Tre Boston would fit the description if Thomas signs elsewhere. The addition would push Heath into a rotational role.

5-Round Friday Mock Draft: Cowboys secure trench, grab skill positions - K.D. Drummond, Cowboys Wire

Enjoy five rounds worth of Cowboys picks, including a talented interior defensive lineman who might slip to Dallas in the second round.

58: R2P27 3T GERALD WILLIS III, MIAMI

Height: 6-foot-3 Weight: 300 pounds

You’d think the Cowboys would want to stay away from uber-talented three-techniques with questionable pasts after David Irving, but nope, not here. Willis was a problem child, but there’s one huge difference. He realized this, took a year off from football while still in school and came back a completely changed man. From afar it seems easy, but it takes a lot for a person to realize their dreams are slipping away and to take such drastic measures to course correct. Willis should be applauded for it and his final year at The U seems to indicate he got everything together. In 12 games he had four sacks and 18 TFLs, along with 59 tackles and two pass deflections.

Cowboys $300,000,000 Off-Season - Jesse Jones, Pro Football Talk Line

The Cowboys have a lot of money to spend this offseason, but most of that will come from re-signing their own talent. What type of offseason moves are expected? Sports Talk Line examines many options, including how the team could strengthen up the defensive tackle position.

Gerald McCoy

Gerald McCoy signed a monster 6 yr/ 95 million dollar deal in 2014 due to make 13 mill this season and may become a cap casualty for a team that needs the cap space to fill a lot of holes. The 30 year old has had declining numbers the last few years but is still a very good, experienced, dependable player. In his last six seasons from least to most recent, he has tallied 8.5, 8.5, 7, 6, & 6 sacks. If the price is anywhere in the 7-8 mill range the Cowboys shouldn’t think twice about signing the vet to a deal, to sure up the defensive line that was so costly down the stretch.

Dallas Cowboys 2019 Offseason Preview: Offensive Tackle - Jess Haynie, Inside the Star

The lack of depth at tackle derailed the Cowboys season in 2017, but they were better equipped to handle adversity last season. What will the state of their tackle position look like this upcoming season? Inside the Star previews this position.

The simplest move would be to just re-sign Cam Fleming. He is an adequate player with plenty of experience, and could likely be retained for about the same salary as last year. But given Fleming’s age (26) and experience, which includes starting in playoff games and even a Super Bowl for the Patriots, he could attract teams looking for even more than just a backup. Thankfully, there a still a number of veterans out there if Dallas has to find a replacement.

One guy to consider, especially for just a one-year deal, is Ty Nsekhe from the Redskins. He’s a native of Arlington, TX and has started 14 games over the last three seasons, backing up the oft-injured Trent Williams. On the negative side, Nsekhe turns 34 next October. As a whole, this 2019 offseason doesn’t present any immediate dangers. The Cowboys will need to figure out their swing tackle situation by either re-signing Fleming, adding a different veteran, or drafting a replacement. But given the contract situations of Tyron Smith and La’el Collins in 2020, Dallas could make a move in the next few months to help prepare for a potential big change a year from now.

Dallas Cowboys offseason central: Get the latest news about free agency, NFL mock drafts, and more - Staff, SportsDay

From free agents that are likely to leave to possible replacement players, SportsDay has you covered. And make sure to mark your calendar for these important offseason dates...

Feb. 26-March 4: NFL scouting combine

March 13: New league year begins, free agency opens at 3:00 p.m. (CT)

April 25-27: NFL draft May 10-13: Clubs hold three-day post-draft rookie minicamps

July 15: Deadline for players with franchise tag to sign a multi-year deal.