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Cowboys News: Instead of drafting an interior lineman, free agency might be the way to go

Plus, more news on the Cowboys free agent group.

NFL: Super Bowl LIV-San Francisco 49ers vs Kansas City Chiefs Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Film room: 2 needs the Cowboys should address in free agency over the draft, including an impact nose tackle - John Owning, DMN

Instead of spending a top draft pick on an interior lineman, one suggestion is that it would be easier to fill that position through free agency.

On the expensive end of the spectrum, D.J. Reader and Javon Hargrave would be perfect additions to help shore up Dallas’ interior defensive line. Both are impact players against the run who also provide value as pass rushers, as Hargrave finished 10th among interior defenders in total pressures (49) while Reader finished 21st (35).

Signing Reader or Hargrave would be a boon not only to the interior defensive line, but to the defense as a whole. The Cowboys don’t need to break the bank to improve and fill the need at nose tackle — it’s one of the positions where you can find starting-caliber talent at a relatively cheap rate.

Danny Shelton and Mike Pennel are great examples of veterans who will be relatively cheap in free agency but still could provide valuable play. Both are wide-bodied nose tackles (330-plus pounds) who do an excellent job against the run but provide little-to-no value as a pass rushers. As we saw last season, the Cowboys desperately need nose tackles who can do exactly that.

Outside of Shelton and Pennel, there is a host of other options that can be had, including Ndamukong Suh, Michael Pierce, Timmy Jernigan, A’Shawn Robinson and Andrew Billings.

With so many options that can be had without breaking the bank, nose tackle is the easiest need the Cowboys can fill in free agency.

Mick Shots: This Coming Right From Witt’s Mouth - Mickey Spagnola, The Mothership

The Jason Witten saga should conclude soon after the combine finishes.

Learned four things for certain out here Tuesday night prior to the Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year Award banquet.

First, Jason Witten unequivocally still wants to play football in 2020.

Second, Witten still wants to play for the Dallas Cowboys, no matter a new coaching staff, yearning for the chance to extend his franchise record to 17 seasons.

Third, if not with the Cowboys, Witten seems resigned to playing for another team if that’s what it takes to play in 2020.

Fourth, Witten does want to coach at some point, but just not in 2020 if indeed playing is an option.

OK, lied. Here is a fifth. Witten, an unrestricted free agent come March 18, says he hopes to have a clear resolution with his Cowboys situation shortly after the NFL Scouting Combine, Feb. 25-March 2.

Emmitt Smith explains why Dak Prescott should give the Cowboys a sizable discount in contract negotiations - John Breech,

Hall-of-Famer Emmitt Smith believes Dak Prescott should take a pay cut...

"For somebody to say you can only take so much because of the salary cap or you can only do this or that, I don't know how fair that is to say," Prescott said. "Because with gambling, with everything going into this league, everything is going to continue to keep going up."

With that mindset, it's easy to see why the Cowboys and Prescott are still at an impasse. Prescott has already reportedly turned down an offer that would have paid him $33 million per year, which would have left him behind Jared Goff in average annual salary, so there was no reason for him to take the deal.

At this point, the smartest thing Prescott can do is wait for Patrick Mahomes' new deal to get ironed out. If Mahomes ends up resetting the QB market with a deal that pays out at least $40 million per year, then Prescott will be able to make the case that he deserves $35 million to $37 million per year, and if the Cowboys aren't willing to pay that, then someone else will.

Cowboys' decisions on offense: Keeping Randall Cobb makes sense - Todd Archer, ESPN

What free agents should Dallas focus on keeping the most?

Randall Cobb, WR 2019 stats: 55 receptions, 828 yards, three touchdowns

Why keep: The arrival of McCarthy, his former coach in Green Bay, helps his odds of returning. Having a player who understands what a new coach expects is extremely beneficial. And Cobb played well in 2019, although he had some drops. He was able to stay healthy, too, missing just one game. Price might become an issue, but the Cowboys are a better offense in 2020 if he is around.

Amari Cooper, WR 2019 stats: 79 receptions, 1,189 yards, eight touchdowns

Why keep: The No. 2 goal of the offseason is to keep Cooper on a long-term deal. But what if they don't before free agency begins? The transition tag could be a possibility if there is not an extension of the collective bargaining agreement. Cooper's production tailed off toward the end of the season, but he changed the Cowboys' passing game since arriving in a trade from Oakland. Maybe he doesn't hit the highest end of the receiver market like we assumed, but he will at least be around for 2020.

Byron Jones Likely to Price Himself out of Dallas, Will Make CB Bigger Priority in the Draft -Matthew Lenix, Inside The Star

More news on Byron Jones who more than likely has played his last game as a Dallas Cowboy.

Jones will indeed have plenty of suitors for his services next month and rightfully so. He’s only 27 years old and has been relatively healthy throughout his career besides having surgery to fix a hip issue prior to last season. In a league that’s geared more towards outrageous offensive statistics, having a top-notch corner can’t be undervalued.

In addition to Jones, Anthony Brown is also set to be an unrestricted free agent. Brown has started 34 games for the Cowboys since 2016 as the team’s nickel or slot corner. His 2019 season came to an end in November when he tore his triceps muscle, which led to more opportunities for Jourdan Lewis. It is possible, if Jones leaves, that Brown might return to Dallas on a short deal given he’ll have the chance to really show his worth and set up a bigger payday in 2021.

If both Jones and Brown leave, however, cornerback will be a top priority in April’s NFL Draft. Ohio State’s Jeff Okudah, Alabama’s Trevon Diggs, Florida’s CJ Henderson, and LSU’s Kristian Fulton are players to keep an eye on in round one if the Cowboys go corner with their first pick.

QB Overview: How Quickly Can Dak Be Signed? - David Helman,

How much will Dak Prescott’s contract situation impact the Cowboys potentially bringing in a new backup?

Make all the snarky comments you want, but Dak Prescott will be the Cowboys' starter in 2020, one way or another.

What we don't know is who will be with him and Doug Nussmeier in the quarterback room. Cooper Rush is a restricted free agent, so it should be fairly easy to bring him back. But does this new coaching staff want to? Rush was found and developed by the previous regime. Given his background working with quarterbacks, it's possible Mike McCarthy wants to bring in his own guy.

The Cowboys have avoided older quarterbacks in recent years, but perhaps that's another thing that changes under McCarthy. There are plenty of experienced backup options on the free agent market, from Chase Daniel to Chad Henne to Colt McCoy to A.J. McCarron. Or perhaps the front office wants to draft another developmental rookie, the way they did with Mike White two years ago. It's a good bet Prescott will be on the roster. Right now, we have no idea what the rest of the depth chart will look like.

BTB Podcast

There is a lot happening in the world of Dallas Cowboys discussion this week. Check out Thursday’s episode of The Ocho as we dive in on what Emmitt Smith had to say about Dak Prescott, Gil Brandt’s ranking of Cowboys quarterbacks, and potential changes to the NFL’s playoff format.

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