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Cowboys News: Dallas expected to move on from Jason Witten, but Sean Lee may return

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Plus, some comments from new head coach Mike McCarthy.

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Dallas Cowboys Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Cowboys Rumors: Sean Lee Expected to Return; Jason Witten Not Likely to Re-Sign - Mike Chiari, Bleacher Report

The latest rumors on Sean Lee’s and Jason Witten’s statuses in 2020.

Witten is one of the greatest tight ends of all time and a surefire Hall of Famer, but the 37-year-old veteran is essentially just a station-to-station guy who can keep the chains moving with his great hands at this point.

While Witten set a career low last season with 8.4 yards per catch, he was fairly productive as a safety valve for quarterback Dak Prescott, recording 63 receptions for 529 yards and four touchdowns. Witten has impressively missed just one game—during his rookie year—throughout his 16-year career.

The 11-time Pro Bowler and two-time first-team All-Pro is fourth on the NFL's all-time receptions list with 1,215, and his 12,977 career receiving yards are 19th in league history, second to only Tony Gonzalez among tight ends.

Witten can still be a useful player, especially in short-yardage situations and in the red zone, but letting him walk would allow tight ends Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz to play bigger roles next season.

ICYMI Report: Cowboys and Dak Prescott’s agent met on Wednesday to talk about his contract - RJ Ocha, Blogging The Boys

Dak Prescott reportedly met with the Cowboys on Wednesday afternoon to talk contract.

It was reported earlier this week that the Dallas Cowboys and Dak Prescott’s representation had not met to discuss a contract extension for the quarterback since September. It is almost March. The fact that Dallas and Team Prescott had not met over that stretch of time wouldn’t have been concerning if the season had just ended. It’s common for these talks to be put on hold when the season has begun so that everyone can focus, but given that we are just about two months into the offseason, it was a little surprising that no communication had occurred.

It seems the silence has been broken which is - from a measurable standpoint - legitimate progress. This is good to see. Prescott’s team and the Cowboys spoke on Wednesday according to the Dallas Morning News.

Film room: 3 ‘pet cats’ in the 2020 NFL draft who fill needs for the Cowboys, including one mountain of a man - John Owning, Dallas Morning News

Three non first-round players who could help Dallas in a big way.

Dantzler isn’t afraid to stick his nose into the fray against the run, which is a great indication that he should be fine with the physicality of the NFL once he adds the necessary bulk. The lack of bulk does make it tough for him to get off blocks or hold his ground.

While Dantzler doesn’t look like an elite athlete, he’s not lacking in that area, showing impressive change-of-direction ability, balance, acceleration and deep speed.

He is extremely effective in press coverage, using his length and patient feet to disrupt a receiver’s route at the line of scrimmage while putting himself in position to remain in-phase with the receiver for the rest of the route. Dantzler is also effective in off coverage, doing an excellent job of reading the receiver’s low hip to inform himself on the route the receiver is going to run.

Why Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy’s comments about QB Dak Prescott are revealing - Kevin Sherrington, Dallas Morning News

Mike McCarthy made it very clear where he stood on the Dak Prescott situation on Wednesday.

“Defenses get you to the championship,” said one of nine active NFL coaches with Super Bowl rings. “Quarterbacks win championships. “And I definitely feel Dak is that quarterback.”

Any more questions?

Only the terms of service for Dak, who will be the Cowboys’ quarterback this fall, one way or another. Whether by franchise tag or nine-figure contract, he’ll be running the offense, just as he has since his rookie season. McCarthy called any question about Dak’s status going forward simply a “business matter.” We’ll take him at his word.

Of course, Stephen Jones has pretty much said the same thing all along. He also says he hasn’t talked to Dak’s representatives since September. But that’s just standard posturing by management. Over the last 30-plus years, we’ve grown accustomed to how the Joneses do business. McCarthy’s still fresh, and his take Wednesday was revealing.

Should Dallas Cowboys Target Free Agent TE Austin Hooper? - John Williams, Inside The Star

Could the former Falcons tight end be a target in free agency?

Hooper, a fourth year player who has played in a possible 59 out of 64 games and started just 28 of them (17 over the last two seasons) broke out over the last couple of years and had a career year in 2019 despite playing just 13 games.

In fewer games in 2019, Hooper surpassed the previous career highs that he set in 2018 and was on a pace to catch 92 passes on 119 targets (77.3%) and 7 touchdowns. He was fifth in the NFL among tight ends in receptions and sixth in yards. Though he only played 13 games, he still finished sixth in the NFL in first down receptions at the position while only having two drops attributed to his stat sheet.

Not only is he a player that can line up as the in-line tight end, but he can play in the slot too. In 2019 45.7% of his targets came when he lined up in the slot. If there’s a downside to his game, it’s that he wasn’t targeted much down the field. That could be due to usage or related to his ability. Per Pro Football Focus, only one tight end with more than 50 targets on the season saw fewer targets more than 20 yards down the field; Jason Witten.

Five Cowboys players who might be finished in Dallas - Steven Mullenax, The Landry Hat

Which of these five players do you think is the most likely to return to Dallas?

The unheralded member of the now legendary Cowboys 2016 draft class, defensive tackle Maliek Collins is likely to become another causality of the team’s inability to pay everyone this offseason.

The 24-year old Collins appeared to be on the brink of a breakout season in Dallas after a strong showing in training camp in 2019. And the fact he was in the final year of his rookie contract made it the perfect time for him to fulfill the potential he flashed in his first season when he posted a career-high 5.0 sacks, the second-highest total on the team that year.

Unfortunately, Collins all but disappeared during the regular season again. And his inconsistent contributions have been an ongoing issue that likely means he’s played his last game in Dallas.

Collins put up decent numbers last season, recording 20 total tackles and 4.0 sacks as a 16-game starter. The latter being his highest sack total since his rookie year. But will that be enough to justify re-signing him?

Why McCarthy Sees Dak As Super Bowl-Caliber QB - Rob Phillips, dallascowboys.com

Mike McCarthy had some strong praise for his new quarterback.

McCarthy knows a Super Bowl-caliber quarterback when he sees one. He coached Aaron Rodgers for 13 seasons in Green Bay. Together, they reached four NFC title games and won Super Bowl XLV inside AT&T Stadium during the 2010 season.

In that game, Rodgers delivered an MVP performance with 304 passing yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions to beat the Steelers 31-25.

To McCarthy's point, the quarterback was the catalyst on the game's biggest stage.

In Dallas, McCarthy plans to build an offense that accentuates Prescott's strengths. Prescott had a career season in 2019, throwing for 4,902 yards and 30 touchdowns. Kellen Moore is back as Cowboys offensive coordinator, and last year's tight ends coach Doug Nussmeier has transitioned to quarterbacks coach.

There is continuity in place for the 26-year-old starter, and McCarthy's experience can only help Prescott's development.

BTB Podcast

Mike McCarthy spoke as the acting Dallas Cowboys head coach for the first time on Wednesday. Hear our thoughts on what he had to say on the latest episode of The Ocho.

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