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Cowboys news: Byron Jones expected to hit free agency; Randy Gregory reportedly files for reinstatement

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Plus, it looks like Dak will be getting the exclusive tag and Tony Romo got paid.

Dallas Cowboys v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Cowboys, CB Byron Jones share understanding on remote outlook of reunion - Michael Gehlken, SportsDay

As expected, the Cowboys are expected to let Byron Jones hit free agency. Gehlken had the report that the parties “share understanding” of the situation.

The Cowboys met Friday with cornerback Byron Jones’ representation to touch base about his Dallas future.

It went how both sides anticipated.

During a meeting that was characterized as amicable, there seemed to be a shared, underlying understanding that Jones will hit free agency, a source said. Jones can begin negotiating contracts with other teams on March 16 and formally sign a deal elsewhere as soon as March 18 upon becoming a free agent.

Gehlken noted that Jones and the Cowboys are likely to keep in “occasional” contact.

The Cowboys and Byron Jones are expected to keep in occasional contact as his market further comes to fruition, but the club’s attention already has shifted into its external options, both in free agency and a deep draft class.

Time is right for Eagles to pursue Cowboys cornerback Byron Jones - Tim McManus, ESPN

Byron on the Eagles? That would be gross.

All signs point to the Philadelphia Eagles going hard after a top-end cornerback when the new NFL league year opens March 18, putting the likes of Dallas Cowboys starter Byron Jones in play.

McManus explains the reasoning:

A return to this philosophy comes at a time when fixing the cornerback position is atop the priority list. Yielding big plays was the defense’s Achilles’ heel last season. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz’s unit allowed 15 pass plays of 40-plus yards in 2019, tied for second most in the NFL. Both starting outside cornerbacks from last season, Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby, are pending free agents.

Enter Jones (6-foot, 205 pounds), who is widely considered this year’s No. 1 free-agent cornerback and might just avoid being tagged by Dallas with quarterback Dak Prescott and wide receiver Amari Cooper also at the end of their contracts.

Jones, 27, has two career interceptions but has developed into a top-end cover corner. Pro Football Focus has him rated as a top-five outside cornerback over the past two seasons. He yielded 0.39 yards per coverage snap in press-man in 2019, the second-lowest rate at that position.

Cowboys would put exclusive franchise tag on Prescott - Jeremy Bergman, NFL

The Cowboys cannot pay everybody, hence why Jones is hitting the market. Dallas also wants to put the exclusive tag on Dak.

The Cowboys intend to place the exclusive franchise tag on Prescott if the sides cannot reach a long-term deal by March 12, the end of the tag window, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Friday.

While Dallas had always planned to place the franchise tag on Prescott, the exclusive tag would sweeten the pot for the QB.

Whereas the non-exclusive franchise tag, the more commonly used tender, is worth no less than the average of the top five salaries at the player’s position over the last five years, the exclusive tag is worth the average of the top five salaries for the current year. That player also cannot negotiate with other teams.

The exclusive tag for quarterbacks this season is estimated to be around $33 million, Rapoport reported, about $6 million more than the non-exclusive tag.

Dallas Cowboys Won’t Let Dak Prescott Hit Free Agency - Anthony Riccobono, International Business Times

One way or another, it is clear that Dak will remain in Dallas.

For weeks, it’s appeared likely that Dallas would use the franchise tag on Prescott. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has confirmed that the team won’t let the signal caller become a free agent.

“One of the great things about Dak is his commitment to building a team. I don’t have an issue there. That’s just the reality of the thing. I am not in any way going to not have his rights, for one minute,” Jones told reporters Thursday, noting that Prescott will be tagged if he doesn’t sign a new contract.

The franchise tag would give Prescott and Dallas a few more months to agree on a deal. The quarterback might be eyeing a contract that pays him at least $35 million per season, which is the highest average yearly salary in the NFL.

The franchise tag would pay Prescott a guaranteed $26.9 million salary next season.

Randy Gregory hopes to play in 2020 - Charean Williams, PFT

Could Randy Gregory be back this season?

Although a report surfaced earlier Friday that Gregory recently had filed for reinstatement, he told Jane Slater of NFL Network that he has not turned in his papers.

“I’m hopeful of a return to football in 2020, but papers haven’t been filed yet,” Gregory told Slater.

Gregory, 27, will have to get the approval to return from Commissioner Roger Goodell.

...

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones repeatedly has expressed his support for Gregory, and that’s unlikely to have changed in the past year.

Jerry Jones Praises Robert Quinn, ‘Hopeful’ he Returns - Matthew Lenix, Inside The Star

In other pass rusher news, Jerry Jones is “hopeful” that Robert Quinn is back in 2020.

The Dallas Cowboys will be busy making decisions on 31 free agents when the new league year begins on March 18th. Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, and Byron Jones are leading the headlines in terms of importance, and rightfully so. However, another player set to hit the open market got some high praise from the man that cuts the check in Big D.

Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones spent nearly 90 minutes on Thursday speaking to reporters at the NFL Combine and called Defensive End Robert Quinn “one of the top people — people, players and people —, that I’ve ever been associated with. He’s the real deal. … He really helped us last year. So I’m hopeful that we can do something to keep him,” Jones said, via Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News.

Dallas Cowboys: Albert Okwuegbunam, come on down - Randy Gurzi, With the First Pick

The combine began earlier this week, and one tight end that ran well in Indy is former Mizzou product Albert Okwuegbunam. He is somebody that the Cowboys should keep an eye on.

One guy who could really help them would be Missouri tight end Albert Okwuegbunam. Despite what Jones says, Dallas absolutely has to move on from Witten and someone such as Okwuegbunam would give them a much-needed infusion of youth. He would also be much more explosive than what Witten has become — which became even more evident by him ripping off a 4.49 in the 40-yard dash.

Yes, 4.49 seconds at 258-pounds. Considering Witten probably couldn’t run the 40-yard dash in five seconds at this point in time, Okwuegbunam would be a drastic change for the Boys.

But more importantly, it would signal that they’re finally looking forward. One of the biggest issues Jones has had during his tenure as owner of the Cowboys is his desire to pay players for what they used to do.

Mike McCarthy wants to draft the best player available - Steven Mullenax, The Landry Hat

One thing that McCarthy has said that should make Cowboys fans excited is his stance on Best Player Available.

During his yearly bus interview with the media at the NFL Scouting Combine on Thursday, Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones was asked about the team’s biggest roster needs this offseason. Here’s what Jones said about McCarthy’s impact on the Cowboys’ draft mentality headed in 2020 via the Dallas Cowboys official YouTube page.

“What I will tell you in the draft is the best player that’s sitting there. The very best player. One thing that Mike [McCarthy] has basically emphasized with everybody is ‘I can change what I’m doing to the skills of the player’ … so he says get me the good player and I’ll put him to work in what he does best.”

Drafting for the best player available will be a stark change for the Cowboys. They’ve missed out on several talented players due to their previous preference often to draft for need or scheme fit over pure talent.

NFL analyst Tony Romo agrees to $17M per year to stay at CBS - Andrew Marchand, NY Post

Tony Romo just got PAID.

Tony Romo has agreed to the largest sports analyst contract in TV history, a deal to remain at CBS which will prevent him from reaching the free-agent market, where ESPN was poised to aggressively bid for him, The Post has learned.

The contract will pay Romo around $17 million per season, which is more than the previous NFL high of $8 million per year John Madden received more than two decades ago. Even when adjusted for inflation — which would make Madden’s number $14 million — Romo still is the highest paid ever.

The deal is a long-term contract, with sources saying it is for significantly more than five years. This means the total value for Romo’s contract will surpass $100 million.