While the Cowboys didn’t make a splash this week, many teams have. Nick Eatman looks at 10 big moves that could have an effect on the Cowboys.
8. D-Jax to Philly – Once again, the Cowboys find themselves having to play against the speedy receiver. Jackson has faced Dallas 17 times and he’s produced more receiving yards (1,147) against the Cowboys than any other team in the league. The Eagles got hot at the end of the season and adding a speed threat such as Jackson should only solidify their offensive attack in 2019.
And some moves won’t impact them on the field, but rather financially.
5. D-Law Watching Dee Ford? – The Cowboys could be getting themselves into a contract dispute with DeMarcus Lawrence, who was given the franchise tag of $20.5 million. And he’ll be taking notice of all the defensive end contracts that are getting done. After the Chiefs traded Dee Ford to San Francisco, the 49ers gave him a contract that will pay him over $17 million per season and around $45 million guaranteed. Deals like this are used in the negotiations for both sides. Ford has 25 sacks the last three years while Lawrence has 26. So if the D-Law camp is asking for way higher than $20 million per season, a contract like Ford’s could help the Cowboys lower the price.
NFC East free agency grades: How does Cowboys’ conservative approach rank compared to their busy division rivals? - Tyler Dragon, SportsDay
How did the Cowboys grade out after the first week of free agency compared to their NFC foes?
Coming into the offseason, the Cowboys’ main objective was to re-sign their own. The team is in the midst of that. The Cowboys franchise-tagged Pro Bowl defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence for the second straight year. Dallas and Lawrence intend to keep negotiating a long-term deal as July 15, the NFL deadline for teams to sign their designated franchise players to long-term contracts, creeps closer.
Fullback Jamize Olawale, offensive tackle Cameron Fleming and wide receiver Tavon Austin are three other notable re-signings to date. Austin should get more opportunity in the slot after the amicable Cole Beasley and Cowboys split.
With the first wave of free agency over, expect the Cowboys to continue negotiating with Lawrence and other impending free agents such as quarterback Dak Prescott, wide receiver Amari Cooper, cornerback Byron Jones and running back Ezekiel Elliott (Dallas can pick up Elliott’s fifth-year option next season, buying the team another year). In addition to bargain shopping for new talent.
The first week of free agency for the Cowboys was predictably ho-hum.
In his contract’s final year, should Jason Garrett be upset at Cowboys’ cost-cutting offseason spending? - Tim Cowlishaw, SportsDay
Desperate times calls for desperate measures, right? Wrong.
How upset do you think Jason Garrett is at Dallas not pulling the trigger on big free agents as he heads into his final year?
Cowlishaw: I don’t think Garrett even looks at things that way. I think he is firmly on board with this approach. There’s no reason to think Garrett believed the Cowboys would be big players in free agency. That hasn’t been the case for a decade.
Why the Cowboys’ current approach to free agency is actually crucial to their team-building philosophy - David Moore, SportsDay
There are a lot of groans when it comes to the lack of activity the Cowboys have had in free agency, but is it justified?
It’s fair to criticize the Cowboys’ approach to free agency. But you must also recognize this team has advanced to the divisional round twice in the last three years and has one of the better rosters on both sides of the ball in the NFL. The team’s approach to free agency is a crucial part of the philosophy that has built this roster. Free agents are signed to plug in on a short-term basis or as insurance. They are acquired for depth or to address gaping holes so the club can take a pure approach to the draft and not be unduly influenced by need.
Rail all you want about what the Cowboys haven’t done in free agency in recent years. But you must also admit this team has done a better job in the draft. The two are connected. Defensive ends Jeremy Mincey and Benson Mayowa filled a role for a couple of years while a DeMarcus Lawrence develops. Running backs Darren McFadden and Alfred Morris were acquired as a bridge between the departure of DeMarco Murray and the arrival of Ezekiel Elliott.
In case you missed it...
Our own Tom Ryle explains that although it can seem frustrating at times, what the Cowboys are doing actually makes a lot of sense.
Confusing things is the question of whether re-signing your own free agents is the same as bringing in an outside player. The Cowboys, along with several other teams, have franchise tagged one of their top talents. Prior to getting the tag, DeMarcus Lawrence was the top free agent for the year - at any position. He is going to be expensive, and four of the six tags this year went to EDGE rushers. That just makes the price tag more expensive, as those four teams are caught between not wanting to set the market and trying to get a deal done before someone else pushes the price up by paying their player.
According to Spotrac, the Cowboys currently sit 28th out of 31 teams in spending. (An interesting but somehow totally unsurprising note is that the New England Patriots are the only team in the league that has apparently not released any figures on the free agent deals it has completed.) Once the Cowboys pay Lawrence, though, they should be somewhere in the top 10.
Arguments will continue about whether signing your own is enough or if teams have to bring in top-level talent from outside to really compete. That is just one of many factors that affect how successful free agency is for any NFL team. What we really need are some rules for how to do free agency right. By purest coincidence, having absolutely nothing to do with the genesis of this piece, a list of just such guidelines popped up on Twitter lately.
Six rules for GMs to follow for a successful free agency (or at least to avoid a disastrous one). pic.twitter.com/Q8hZa3hAEQ— Sheil Kapadia (@SheilKapadia) March 12, 2019
The Cowboys defensive coordinator gets another large defensive tackle with great movement, but what can he expect from this latest acquisition?
For his size, Covington shoots gaps very well and is a threat from any spot to pressure the quarterback. What Covington lacks in athletic ability to set up rush moves, he makes up for with a strong first step and relentless motor. From the 1T position, where Covington can relieve projected Cowboys starter Antwaun Woods, Covington is disruptive up the field and tough to displace at the line of scrimmage. Even when forced to restart his rush, Covington knows how to keep a wide base and is very rarely washed out of a play entirely. Covington’s initial punch didn’t knock back blockers at the rate his production would warrant, making his numbers all the more impressive as he relied on sustained bull-rush efforts to get home. Even when blockers get into Covington’s thick frame, he has a plan to swipe them away and stay in the play. Also asked to line up inside at 3T and occasionally at defensive end for the Texans, Covington flows well as a down-the-line player. This is a player that catches offensive linemen by surprise with his suddenness at times, using it to his advantage to shed blocks and finish plays.
Best Players Available at Each Position After 1st Week of Free Agency - Marcus Mosher, Bleacher Report
Marcus Mosher takes a look at each position to find the best player available, including what’s left at the safety position.
Safety: Tre Boston
Unlike last year, the safety market was booming early in free agency. Players such as Landon Collins, Earl Thomas and Adrian Amos all got massive deals. However, there are some quality starters still left. One is Tre Boston, who took a one-year, prove-it deal last season. He started 13 games for the Arizona Cardinals last season, totaling 79 tackles and grabbing three interceptions. At 26, Boston is just starting to get into the prime of his career. If teams are looking for a true free safety, he is the best option on the market. If nothing else, he provides solid depth for a fraction of the price that other safeties received early in the offseason.
Mosher also proclaims each divisions winner in free agency so far.
As is typically the case, the NFC East has been busy.
The New York Giants traded away their best player (Odell Beckham Jr.) and lost their two best defenders (Landon Collins and Olivier Vernon). The Washington Redskins signed Collins to a deal worth $84 million, which forced them to move on from players such as Zach Brown and Jamison Crowder.
Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Eagles have enjoyed the division’s best offseason. They were able to trade Michael Bennett—a player they were likely to cut due to salary-cap restraints—to the New England Patriots and turned a 2020 seventh-rounder into a 2020 fifth-rounder. In typical Howie Roseman fashion, they also replaced him right away with Malik Jackson, another former Pro Bowler. Jackson figures to start next to Fletcher Cox, which gives the Eagles even more talent on the defensive line. Best of all, he was cut by the Jacksonville Jaguars, which means his signing won’t count against Philadelphia’s compensatory pick calculation. (Plus, it can expect to receive at least a third-round pick in 2020 for Nick Foles’ departure.) Philadelphia also needed to upgrade at wide receiver after Golden Tate hit the open market and joined the Giants. To replace him, Roseman grabbed DeSean Jackson by engaging in a late-round pick swap with the Tampa Bay Buccanneers. The Eagles continue to employ one of the best front offices in all of football, as shown by their enduring dominance during the free-agency period.
Keep in mind, the Eagles received plenty of “A” grades last season as well, but they didn’t pan out as well as some thought.
Dane Brugler’s Top-100 NFL prospects: Nick Bosa, Quinnen Williams are 1-2, then things get interesting - Dane Brugler, The Athletic
This might be a good time to remind people that each of the Cowboys first four draft picks last year were on Brugler’s top 100 board....so you’re going to want to check this out.
With the all-star circuit and combine in the rearview mirror, the most important steps of the predraft process are complete, allowing the draft board to take shape. The combine was an especially critical step and reviewing the tape (both positional and athletic drills) helped provide an intimate look at each prospect’s individual athletic profile.
Will the Cowboys draft a running back to help reduce the workload for Ezekiel Elliott? Some potential candidates to keep an eye on.
Myles Gaskin, Washington
What’s Good: Pass Blocking, Burst, Lateral Quickness
What Ain’t Good: Indecisiveness, Vision, Size
Gaskin measures exactly like Higdon standing at 5’9″ and 205 pounds, but that’s where the similarities end. Higdon’s weaknesses were his lateral quickness and his catching ability, these are two things Gaskin has in his arsenal of traits. Gaskin also has the burst scouts look for in running backs but he just isn’t as fast as his counter parts.
Gaskin showed the ability to take runs headed inside to the outside and break off for significant yardage. His lateral quickness and burst is some of the best in this class. Unfortunately, that’s where the athletic feats end for Gaskin. He didn’t run particularly well and he didn’t do particularly well in drill designed to test his agility.
Could he be a Cowboy?:
Sure. Gaskin would be a late Day 3 pick or even an UDFA. He had solid production at Washington where Chris Petersen used Gaskin as an every down back. Gaskin has the skill set the Cowboys love, but he doesn’t necessarily fit the athletic profile of a complement to Zeke. However, you shouldn’t count him out for that reason. Good players will always appear no matter how athletic or unathletic they are.