Former NFL scout Daniel Jeremiah ranks his top 25 rookies at the season’s midway point, and a couple Cowboys make this list.
Lamb can play inside and outside. He’s shown tremendous concentration and toughness to work in traffic.
Diggs has given up some plays, but his ball skills have been tremendous. Unfortunately, he suffered an injury in Week 9 and might miss the rest of the season.
Only one Cowboys draft pick made PFF’s All-Rookie Team, and it’s probably not the guy you’d think it would be.
C TYLER BIADASZ, DALLAS COWBOYS
There have only been two starting centers in this rookie class, and Biadasz has been the better of the two. However, that’s not saying much, as he’s only earned a 53.3 overall grade and allowed multiple pressures in three of his six starts.
The emergence of Lamb shakes up the Cowboys wide receiver group. Former BTB alum K.D. Drummond takes a detailed look at the Cooper situation and explains why the team should considering dealing him.
Cooper’s Contract Structured the Right Way
The Cowboys took care of business when they inked Cooper to a five-year extension worth $100 million this offseason. It was the exact amount I forecasted it would take to sign him. Better than the numbers being right on point with his value, was that the Cowboys made the deal in a way that they aren’t married to Cooper in the same way they have been to other star players.
Dallas knew there would be a decision coming after 2021 whether or not they wanted to re-sign Michael Gallup. Cooper’s deal has an easy out clause after 2021 because they barely gave him any signing bonus.
Cooper got $10 million in base salary in Year 1, and a $10 million signing bonus. That cap hit from that bonus is spread out evenly over five years. His cap hit in 2020 was just $12 million even though he made $20 million.
He’s scheduled to make $20 million in salary each of the next four years, so he’ll have a $22 million cap hit each year.
If Dallas were to trade him, they’d get rid of the $20 million base salary, keep the $2 million prorated bonus for 2021, and then they’d have to eat $6 million more in bonus allocation ($2 million each from 2022, 2023, and 2024), for a total of $8 million in dead money.
Taking that $8 million from the $22 million expected hit, that’s $14 million shaved off.
Here are a couple other names to throw in this offseason, including a guy we still haven’t been able to see in a lead role.
Blake Jarwin, Tight End
The fact of the matter is, the Dallas Cowboys already had a good tight end in Dalton Schultz and they wouldn’t have figured that out if Jarwin hadn’t gotten injured. (Or maybe they would have I don’t know, roster management hasn’t always been great at the TE position for this team) When Blake Jarwin does inevitably return from injury I expect him to slide back into the offense as an H-back or even as a flanker TE as Schultz can line up predominantly as the Y-tight end for the team.
However, what if you traded Jarwin away and just brought back Blake Bell instead. Trading away Jarwin saves the team over $4 million each of the next two years and likely nets the team a late day 2 or early day 3 pick. The contract is good and Jarwin’s potential is still high after a season-ending injury. The inline blocking isn’t there but what team can’t use his receiving ability? (Look at me, what a hypocrite!) He could also end up on a team that will target him more!
It begs the question right? Schultz has proven to have reliable hands and has been huge for the team in the middle of the field, an area the Cowboys expected Jarwin to have an impact. While Jarwin is good, if not very good, at getting yards after the catch, Schultz is still more than good enough. Both guys are tall athletic receivers while one is a substantially better blocker than the other.
The performance of Schultz has been one of the bright spots this season.
Schultz has tallied 383 yards and two touchdowns on 35 catches this season, ranking him fifth in total yards among all tight ends. He’s also 6th among tight ends in receptions, is averaging 10.9 yards per catch, and 7 yards per target. Not bad at all for what is a fourth or fifth passing option in this Cowboys offense.
When Dak Prescott was healthy, Schultz put up a couple monster games, getting loose in the middle of the field and off play action while the defense worried about the plethora of weapons around him.
Should Dalton Schultz be the unquestioned TE1 heading into 2021? No, he should not. After all Blake Jarwin should be back and ready to go. But what the team has learned during this rough season is that Schultz is good enough to work in two tight end sets, and to give Blake Jarwin breathers when needed.
The Athletic’s Jon Machota and Saad Yousuf address some of the team’s most pressing questions.
2. What specific area of the team needs the most help this offseason?
Machota: Defensive backfield. Trevon Diggs and Anthony Brown are both returning, and that’s good news for the cornerback spot. But more help is needed. Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis are both about to become free agents. If the Cowboys continue on their current path and land a top-five pick, cornerback will certainly be in play with their first selection. Safety continues to be an issue. Xavier Woods has started every game. He’s a free agent at the end of the season. Donovan Wilson has started five games. He’s expected to be in the mix next season. We already know it’s unlikely that they will spend significantly on the position in the draft or free agency, but some kind of noticeable upgrade needs to be made.
Yousuf: It has to be the secondary. There are certainly concerns along the offensive and defensive lines, as well as one linebacker spot, but the secondary needs to be looked at very closely. Diggs is here to stay, and I think Anthony Brown has some sort of a role on this defense as well. Beyond that? No job is safe. Chidobe Awuzie’s performance as he returns from injury will be significant.
Former Cowboys players from years past weigh in on what it’s like to go through such a dreadful season, and how they should be approaching things down the stretch.
Washington Football Team defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio was a starting linebacker on that Cowboys team with one win that season. After giving up at least 27 points in each of the first seven games, the Dallas defense allowed more than 20 points in a game three times in the final nine contests.
“It was tough to hear the banter, but really we had a run defensively in the second half of that season, I think we were at or near the top with what we did the last half of the year,” Del Rio said. “We were building something with an eye toward the future.
“The core of that team won three of four Super Bowls a couple years later. ... To me, even when it’s a bad record, it’s professional football; people prepare hard, they play hard; there is talent. The one victory we had that year was against the Redskins. The bottom line is we beat a good team, and we built a good team while there. Sometimes there are slow years, but the professionalism and work ethic and toughness and grit and willingness to go, none of that was missing. We weren’t very good yet, but we became good.”
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