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Cowboys news: DeMarcus Lawrence still the elephant in all the rooms

Plus the rest of the news as the offseason barrels along.

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NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Dallas Cowboys Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Cowboys, DeMarcus Lawrence average annual salary demands have $2M+ gap - K.D. Drummond, Cowboys Wire
The standoff continues.

The Dallas Cowboys and defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence continue to be at odds over what each side think Lawrence’s services should cost for the 2019 season and beyond. Already slapped with a second consecutive franchise tag for $20.6 million, Lawrence has vowed not to take part in team activities until a long-term deal is done. He’s also made it known he’s delaying shoulder surgery, which comes with a 3-4 month recovery window, until he places a signature on a multi-year deal.

Lawrence played good soldier in 2018, playing under the franchise tag with no disruption and taking part in all of the team’s offseason activities. After proving his worth, he wants the guaranteed money that comes with a big deal.

Cowboys offer DeMarcus Lawrence average salary of $20 million, but his sights are set higher – Calvin Watkins, The Athletic
Numbers are starting to emerge in the negotiation.

“Right now, the best way to describe it is we’re at an impasse,” Jones said Tuesday afternoon from the NFL owners meetings. “We’re apart. But certainly optimistic. No one thinks more of DeMarcus Lawrence than we do. He represents what we want on our football team, in terms of the way he plays the game. He certainly plays it at a high level. We’ll continue to chop wood.”

The gap between the sides continues to widen. According to multiple sources, Lawrence’s demands increased in the last few weeks. He went from asking for an average salary of $20 million per season to $22.5 million. Last month, the Cowboys were unwilling to give Lawrence a $20 million average, but have since increased their offer to that point. Sources indicate the Cowboys are willing to give Lawrence a six-year contract that would make him the highest-paid 4-3 defensive end in the NFL with an average salary of $20 million. Lawrence, according to sources, is seeking more.

Meanwhile, there is apparently a reason why Lawrence and his agent upped their demands.

DeMarcus Lawrence Has the Leverage in Cowboys Contract Talks ✭ Jess Haynie, Inside the Star
There is a reason a war of leaks has broken out about the contract negotiations.

Unfortunately for the Cowboys, their bargaining position is far from solid. Between the overall DE market, Dallas' own roster, and their lack of high draft picks, they are almost dependent on DeMarcus' return to maintain a championship-caliber defense next year.

The consensus top-four defensive ends in free agency this year were Lawrence, Jadeveon Clowney (Texans), Trey Flowers (Patriots), and Frank Clark (Seahawks). Three of them, Lawrence, Clowney, and Clark, were franchised by their previous teams. Flowers signed a five-year, $90 million deal to join the Detroit Lions.

The Flowers deal, averaging $18 million per year, didn't even set the floor for conversations with these other players. They're all looking at the $23.5 million that Chicago's Khalil Mack averages as a much closer measure for the money they deserve.

Amid uncertainty, Cowboys say defensive line remains No. 1 need - Mike Fisher, 247 Sports
Another way of showing just how crucial it is to get the Lawrence situation right.

And now we're talking. Irving is not a football player. Lawrence is not signed. Gregory is not cleared. Little wonder, then, that in a moment of frankness, Cowboys COO Stephen Jones offers a hint as to what his roster desire is.

"I would still categorize (defensive line) as our No. 1 need,'' Jones said.

Tackles Kerry Hyder and Christian Covington have been signed in free agency. Maliek Collins, Tyrone Crawford, Antwaun Woods, Taco Charlton, Dorance Armstrong ... there are helpful players in this position group. But the trade pursuit of Miami defensive end Quinn is real. The examination of Ansah should be. This NFL Draft, in which the Cowboys don't have a first-round pick (due to the Amari Cooper swap), is "deeper than it's been in many years,'' Jones said, offering another hint.

Do Cowboys View Robert Quinn As A DeMarcus Lawrence Replacement? ✭ Kevin Brady, Inside the Star
A cautionary tale for those who think getting a trade done for Robert Quinn would allow Dallas to move on from Lawrence.

It's become fair to ask if the Cowboys actually view Robert Quinn as a DeMarcus Lawrence replacement, rather than a compliment to the elite pass rusher.

Last offseason, the Cowboys signed veteran wide receiver Allen Hurns to bolster their wide out group. Many, like myself, praised the move at first because I believed he was a better number 2 or 3 option than anyone Dallas had on the roster at the time.

Instead, they cut Dez Bryant and went into the regular season with Hurns as their number 1 outside receiver. The results were not good, and Dallas ended up trading their first round pick for Amari Cooper in an effort to sure-up the top end of their receiving corps.

Report: Cowboys have concerns on longterm health of Robert Quinn - Partik "No C" Walker, 247 Sports
A new facet has emerged in the Cowboys pursuit of a trade for DE Robert Quinn.

Their desire for him is far from being news, but what has been reported recently certainly is.

According to Calvin Watkins of The Athletic, although Quinn passed the Cowboys' physical, they gave him a "3-Grade".

In other words, while they have no concerns on his health for now, they are concerned about it in the long-term.

There was other news, of course.

Dallas Cowboys: Film room: Grading three Cowboys pre-draft visitors, including a perfect fit at strong safety | John Owning, SportsDay
The official pre-draft visits have begun for the Cowboys. History tells us that at least one of the eventual draft picks will come from that group - if they are there in the right position. Here is one who would be very, very good - no matter the recent signing of George Iloka.

If Taylor Rapp is available when the Cowboys go on the clock with the 58th overall pick, Jerry Jones should immediately send in their draft card with the Washington safety's name on it -- he's that good.

Unfortunately, the 6-foot, 208-pound Rapp isn't likely to last until the late second round because he possesses the skill set and play-making ability to be selected in the top 40 selections.

Cowboys maintain interest in Texas A&M DL Kingsley Keke |
Cowboys defensive assistant Andre Grurode was at the A&M pro day, and was giving DL Kingsley Keke a lot of attention - which is not new for Dallas.

Keke, who had a formal meeting with the Cowboys at the NFL combine earlier in March, continues to catch the interest of a club that won't begin to pick in the 2019 NFL draft until the second round. Keke says he has a visit scheduled with the team.

Where the club sees Keke fitting into their defensive line rotation is as a 3-technique defensive tackle, a role that the 6-3, 288-pound defensive lineman would relish.

Dallas Cowboys: Save the hand-wringing for later! NFL's radical change to the use of replay officiating only makes sense | Tim Colishaw, SportsDay
It wasn't just Jason Garrett's impressive speech that contributed to the decision by the NFL to make pass interference calls reviewable. The team's own experience with bad officiating played a role, too.

When the Cowboys were victimized by a replay ruling in the 2014 playoffs -- the infamous Dez Bryant "catch" in Green Bay -- there was nothing the club could do in seeking retribution, even with executive vice president Stephen Jones sitting on the competition committee. To this day, the league's catch rule, while improved, remains fuzzy and subject to a wide range of interpretation.

When the Saints were victimized by a non-call in last season's NFC Championship Game, they received help in a matter of two months. It arrived Tuesday in the form of a radical change in the NFL's use of replay officiating and it reportedly came courtesy of an impassioned speech from Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett.

In fact, Saints head coach Sean Payton said he applauded Garrett afterward, although it doesn't change the fact that Los Angeles and not New Orleans went to the Super Bowl. For the 2019 season, coaches will be able to challenge pass interference calls -- something I have advocated for years although somehow the league missed my desperate cries -- and this will include non-calls like the play where the football world believes the Saints were cheated.

Why the NFL’s new pass interference rule is a win for everyone - Geoff Schwartz,
There may be differing opinions on the new rules allowing pass interference calls (both made and missed) to be challenged, but this article is all for the idea.

This is an absolute home run for the league and its image of being slow to adapt to change.

Instead of opening up replay to review all types of penalties and judgment plays — which I’m strongly against for multiple reasons — it choose to narrowly focus on pass interference, which can have large swings of momentum in games.

I’m more pro-officials than most, because I realize they have a tough job and more often than not, they get the call right. But I also understand the game is being played so fast that it’s possible officials miss or incorrectly flag a pass interference call. Now, some of these can be fixed.

Notice how I use the word “some.” Social media will have you believing every single pass interference, called or not, will be subject to challenge. No it won’t. Remember, for 56 minutes of the game, coaches will only have two challenge opportunities. Being able to challenge pass interference calls is another strategic challenge, no pun intended, for coaches. Do you not challenge a turnover or a spot to save the challenge for a potential pass interference? I’m all for coaches having this new responsibility.

Cowboys Icon Michael Irvin Might Have Throat Cancer; Time For Him To Be 'Superman' | Mike Fisher, 105.3 The Fan
To us, NFL stars are larger than life, men who do things we can only dream of. But the disheartening news about Cowboys legend Michael Irvin reminds us that, at the end of the day, they are just humans who eventually fall prey to all the frailties and fears the rest of us share.

Dallas Cowboys legend Michael Irvin is always saddened but proud to tell the story of the passing of his father, Walter Irvin, when the dad was just 51 and the son was just 17.

"He was working up on those roofs six days a week, and he was working in the pulpit on the seventh day,'' Michael will say. "My dad was my Superman.''

And now it might be time for Michael Jerome Irvin to be Superman, too.Irvin announced on Instagram on Tuesday that he may be battling throat cancer -- the same ailment he says took his father. The Pro Football Hall of Fame receiver -- and one of the greatest leaders in the history of sports and one of sport's most charismatic personas, too -- said in the post he underwent testing earlier this week and that he is presently in Los Angeles at UCLA Medical Health undergoing further exams.

“This (demon) has chased and vexed me deep in my spirit all my life,” Irvin said in the post. “So saying 'I am afraid' this time is a big big understatement. I AM TERRIFIED!!”

Kellen Moore is going to be under an insane amount of pressure in 2019 - David Howman, Blogging The Boys
If you missed this, it has a point you really need to keep in mind all this year.

And now, at least on paper, the offense looks improved over last season. It’s unknown just how good Witten can be, but at the very least his leadership should aid the continued development of Jarwin and Schultz. Cobb is arguably an upgrade over Beasley. And Austin and Olawale are two versatile weapons who weren’t properly utilized last year. That’s before taking into account the trio of Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, and Cooper.

Of course, none of these upgrades matter without an upgrade at the play-calling level as well. That’s where Kellen Moore comes in. It was only a year ago when Moore first started coaching, at least officially. There are enough stories out there about how Moore has been destined to become a great coach to convince some fans that he’ll be a successful coordinator.

But the odds are stacked against him. Moore doesn’t enter his first coordinator job in an ideal situation despite the talent he has to work with. Expectations are sky high for him to win. As has been talked about ad nauseum, Jason Garrett is not under contract beyond the 2019 season. If the Cowboys don’t at least reach the divisional round of the playoffs again, Garrett could be out of a job. And the general consensus seems to be that the way to improve on the 2018 season is through fielding a more productive offense, and that’s the responsibility of Moore.

Howie Roseman working on extending Carson Wentz - Herbie Teope,
Over at our beloved rival (offered without comment, sarcastic or otherwise):

The Philadelphia Eagles made it clear they had their quarterback when the team allowed Nick Foles to walk during free agency.

And if there was any doubt from those outside of the Eagles' headquarters, executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman left no room for ambiguity that Carson Wentz was his guy.

More important, Roseman made it clear during a news conference with reporters at the Annual League Meeting in Phoenix that locking down Wentz for the long haul remains a priority.

"We have a quarterback that we want to pay, that we want to extend long term, too, and how we're going to build our team with that player, which is exciting for us," Roseman said, via the Eagles' official website. "We want to have a team led by a franchise-type quarterback. We know that we have that in Carson, and so now what are we going to do around him to make sure that we can continue to try to compete for championships?"

Let’s close with a bit of good news for the NFC East teams that don’t play home games in New Jersey.


Rico Gathers seems to be getting some work in. His future with the Dallas Cowboys looks uncertain at best right now, but it makes sense that he’d want to keep playing football.

BTB Q&A - Thursday, March 28th at 3pm ET

We did this last week and are going to try to make it a weekly thing. We’ll be shooting for Wednesday afternoons normally, but this week we’re going to have our BTB Q&A today (Thursday) at 3pm ET. Come, join the thread, ask your questions to RJ Ochoa, and have a good time.

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