Those looking for big news out of Dallas as the NFL’s free agency tampering period kicked off Monday were saddened as the Cowboys only action involved signing a tight end who’s best known for playing baseball.
McElroy, 26, first played football in 2017 at Southeastern Oklahoma. He never played high school football, instead playing baseball.
He played junior college baseball, then one year at the University of Texas before transferring to Division II Cameron University. The Atlanta Braves drafted him in the 19th round, and McElroy spent two years in the Braves’ system.
The Cowboys continued their way of being quiet on day one as they have for many years now. Division rivals, however, were quite busy. Landon Collins switched allegiance, moving from the Giants to a shiny new $45M guarantee from Washington.
The Giants valued Landon Collins as a very good player. The Redskins obviously see greatness in him, as they agreed to terms Monday on the richest NFL contract ever for a safety, ensuring Collins stays within the NFC East and gets to face his former team twice a season.
The franchise tag of $11.15 million the Giants could have applied to Collins certainly feels like a distant memory, considering how he cashed in entering his first go-round in NFL free agency. He will sign a six-year, $84 million contract, according to multiple reports, with a staggering $45 million in guaranteed money in the first three years. The average of $14 million is the highest ever for a safety, surpassing Eric Berry’s $13 million per year from the Chiefs.
Earl Thomas is still available. The Sturminator laid out the reasons why he’s still attractive, regardless of the price.
But I don’t buy that the Cowboys aren’t interested. Sorry, but they don’t always tell the truth and they occasionally convey mixed messages to the public for a reason. I also don’t buy Thomas is out on the Cowboys for a minute.
The price has to be right. But if Thomas is willing to take a reasonable deal — say, three years and $30 million? — I’d draw it up as soon as possible and put off a larger Dak Prescott or Zeke Elliott extension for another year to make it happen.
He is a game-changer and could be a key cog for a team whose defense is close to being elite. We don’t know if it will happen, but the pairing makes a lot of sense.
And already, that $15 million number may not be enough to woo Thomas, based upon what other, less accomplished safeties have procured.
The second big-name safety to come off the board in free agency, Mathieu cashed in just hours after the Washington Redskins handed Landon Collins a gargantuan six-year, $84 million contract. Collins’ $14M per-year average jacked up Mathieu’s price, Rapoport reported, and the Chiefs complied.
Mathieu’s arrival could signal the end of Eric Berry in Kansas City. The injury-prone fan favorite is owed $35.2 million in base salary over the next three years but has struggled to stay on the field of late. Berry has played just three regular-season games since the start of the 2017 season.
A younger, healthier, more reliable model, Mathieu has not missed a game in two seasons. Signed by Houston last year on a $7 million prove-it deal, Honey Badger did just that, recording two picks, a career-high three sacks and 89 total tackles for the Texans.
Wondering about the wide receiver market looks like and what that might mean for Cole Beasley?
If it feels like we’ve been talking about Beasley’s impending free agency forever, it’s because we pretty much have. The Cowboys’ slot receiver has not been shy about discussing the topic on his Twitter account going all the way back to October.
On Sunday afternoon, he had a timely reminder for everyone about what was awaiting him this week.
It’s been a long back-and-forth about what type of price the 5-8 receiver might command on the open market. Beasley caught 65 passes last year but seemed frustrated at times by his role – or lack thereof in the offense.
Meanwhile, reports around the league suggest that Beasley and other slot receivers like Adam Humphries and Jamison Crowder could be in line to earn $9 and $10 million salaries.
Beasley’s market might have jumped when the younger but less prolific Jamison Crowder, also a slot receiver, received $28 million over three years, with $17 million guaranteed. Assume Beasley gets something close to that.
Jamison Crowder has agreed to sign a deal with the New York Jets and intends to leave the Washington Redskins via free agency, according to the NFL Network and other reports. Teams and free agents could legally begin negotiating deals on Monday, but none will be official until the new league year starts Wednesday at 4 p.m.
The contract reportedly runs three years for $28.5 million with $17 million guaranteed. Crowder was a fourth-round pick of Washington’s in 2015 out of Duke, and he developed into a dynamic slot receiver known for his quickness and elusiveness. The Jets are focused on adding offensive weapons to help quarterback Sam Darnold, the No. 3 overall pick in 2018, and are still in the market for an upgrade at running back. Former Dolphins coach Adam Gase was hired to replace Todd Bowles as coach in January.
We won’t even mention the fact Devin Funchess was given a one year, $13 million contract by the Indianapolis Colts.
In totally expected news Nick Foles is now a Jaguar.
Foles landing in Jacksonville wasn’t shocking in the least. Their pairing was rumored and expected ever since the Jaguars hired his former quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo as their offensive coordinator in January. From there, the dots were connected, and the dominoes fell in the right order.
Philly exercised its team option on Foles in February, which the QB quickly voided for the sum of $2 million. Then, the Eagles chose not to franchise-tag Foles, forgoing the power to trade the QB to a preferred suitor and risking him signing with a division rival in New York and Washington.
Then, the starting QB market shrunk. The Broncos agreed to a trade with the Ravens for Joe Flacco and then agreed to ship Case Keenum to the Redskins. When the dust settled, the only team that made sense for Foles was the Jaguars.
None of the Cowboys’ big decisions were addressed Monday so John Owning’s GIF-fueled analysis still resonates.
The Cowboys rarely choose to make a splash in free agency, but Earl Thomas could be the exception. The Texas native is the league’s premier free safety, possessing a unique mix of athleticism, intelligence and play-making ability. During the Seattle Seahawks’ reign atop the NFC, Thomas was the leading force of the defense, patrolling the deep middle of the field with incredible fervor.
It should be noted that paying Thomas doesn’t come without risks. He will be 30 years old when training camp opens while carrying a troubling injury history, as he’s finished two of the last three seasons on injured reserved. Paying him carries the risk of value lost due to injury.
Also, signing Thomas means the Cowboys would either have to move Xavier Woods from his best position -- free safety -- or maintain Jeff Heath as the starting strong safety, the same player who led all safeties in missed tackles against the run.
Finally, with all this money racing around the NFL it’s worth pondering which NFL franchises get the most for their salary cap-limited investments? Not surprisingly it is the most successful team(s).
Nine of the top-10 teams made the playoffs. The Steelers — who might be the league’s biggest dumpster fire right now — were the one team that didn’t. Unfortunately, VAMP does not take team chemistry into account.
No team outside of the top half of the league made the postseason. The Jaguars and Vikings are interesting case studies. Both teams are loaded with star talent, but by spending so much cap space on those stars, they were unable to build up the rest of the roster. And that really became a problem when those highly-paid stars did not perform at a high level (or were dealing with injuries), which was the case in Jacksonville and Minnesota.
We know spending money efficiently is important. But how important is it? I ran a regression analysis to try to figure that out and found that there is a very strong relationship between spending efficiency and a team’s point differential.
Honestly, this is a really good breakdown that has many future applications; well worth your time. By the way, your Cowboys ranked pretty high overall.