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Cowboys news: Talks are about to heat up with Amari Cooper

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Plus, realization sets in that Byron Jones’ days in Dallas are likely coming to an end.

Dallas Cowboys v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Cowboys ready to intensify Amari Cooper contract talks amid CBA setback - Michael Gehlken, Dallas Morning News

As we approach the tag deadlines, things are starting to heat up with the Amari Cooper contract situation.

Prescott is a lock to receive the franchise tag by the March 12 tag deadline if no extension is reached by then. Since the transition tag is likely off the table for Cooper, the Cowboys won’t be able to match a team’s offer to sign Cooper in free agency. That matching option is what the transition tag affords.

It’s a curve ball Jerry Jones was hoping he wouldn’t have to hit, but as he indicates, they just have to step up to the plate and be ready.

“It removes a very strategic thing for us,” Jones said, “and that is we only have one [tag] — we lose the transition. Strategically, that was really thought of a lot because with our negotiations with Dak and our negotiations with Cooper. … It’s what it is. We just have to figure out a way to do it.

NFLPA not sure when CBA ballots will go out to players - Josh, Alper, ProFootballTalk

The waiting game continues...

As the week comes to an end, it remains unclear when the ballots will go out to players to vote on accepting the deal. Jim Trotter of NFL Media reported that it looked like that would happen on Monday, but NFLPA assistant executive director of external affairs George Atallah said that was not the case.

What does this holdup mean?

The wait for this week’s meeting led the NFL and NFLPA to push back the start of the window to use the franchise tag two days. It’s not clear if there will be any other adjustments to the offseason calendar due to the wait for the players to cast their votes.

Raiders Join Byron Sweepstakes as Cowboys Get ‘Intense’ With Amari and Quinn - Mike Fisher, Sports Illustrated

With new money soon coming to Cooper, Jones remains the odd man out which could put him in the sliver and black.

Part of the Cowboys’ thinking on the departure of Jones is that he’ll be the top-paid cornerback in 2020 NFL free agency, and that they “like’’ him at a level below that. And now along come the Las Vegas Raiders, with $50 million in cap room and a possible desire to prioritize the pursuit of Jones, a Byron Sweepstakes that figures to also include the Denver Broncos and the Philadelphia Eagles.

After free agency opens March 18, it’s simply very unlikely that Jones falls through the cracks.

Letting Byron Jones Walk is A Bad Move - David Latham, Last Word on Pro Football

With the writing on the wall that Byron Jones isn’t likely to return, this idea isn’t sitting well with some people.

Dallas Cowboys Shouldn’t Let Byron Jones Walk Good Talent at Premier Position Byron Jones isn’t quite as good as Stephon Gilmore or Tre’Davious White, but he’s in that next tier of elite corners. Cornerback is one of the hardest positions to play, and it’s also one of the most important. While quarterbacks are easily the most important position in football, cornerbacks probably comes in second.

Recent data studies performed by Pro Football Focus have led to the conclusion that pass coverage is more important to defensive success than pass rush. This doesn’t mean that pass rush is useless, just that teams should put more focus on building coverage units than ferocious fronts. Since wide receiver targets are typically the most valuable, the means cornerbacks are the most important position in the most important unit for a defense.

Dallas Cowboys: 3 free agent replacements for Byron Jones - Steven Mullenax, The Landry Hat

Replacing Jones won’t be easy, but what are some options? I have to warn you, this might be a little scary.

Eli Apple/P.J. Williams, CB

I’m including both Eli Apple and P.J. Williams here for one reason. Both played for the New Orleans Saints last season. And that’s where new Cowboys’ defensive coordinator Mike Nolan coached for the past three years. It figures that Nolan could look to add stability to the secondary with players he’s familiar with. Neither Apple or Williams are ideal free agent candidates as both have struggled throughout their entire careers. But with Awuzie and Lewis already in Dallas, there’s little pressure to have to play a consistent role. The hope would be for a career-resurgence on a one-year, prove-it deal for one of them.

Updates: Crawford Likely Back; But What Price? - Staff, Dallas Cowboys

One guy people haven’t been talking about lately is defensive tackle, Tyrone Crawford. Some think he’ll end up being a cap casualty, but the Cowboys owner might have other plans.

“We have every reason to believe he is going to be productive,” Jones said. “I know he has been outstanding in rehab as we sit right here. I don’t want to equivocate but the answer is yes (to returning in 2020.)

However, Crawford is scheduled to count $9.1 million on the cap, including $8 million in salary. Jones was asked if Crawford might need to take a salary reduction to stay.

”I don’t have an answer to that. The answer to being on the team … yes,” Jones said. “What we do as we work through putting the whole thing together we more than likely are going to be asking for several restructures to the get the most out of what we have available.”

Cowboys Eye: Winners and Losers from Day 1 of 2020 Combine drills - Tony Thompson, Cowboys Wire

An eye on the happenings at the Combine with a winner/loser list for Day 1, including one guy who could be a first-round target for the Cowboys.

Winners

Henry Ruggs III – WR, Alabama

The Alabama product blew the doors off of everyone in Indianapolis by running a 4.27 second 40-yard-dash. He also turned in the second highest vertical leap and the fourth best broad jump among wide receivers in the class. An injury to his right quad kept him out of the remainder of the night, but he certainly flashed the athleticism.

Winners & Losers from Day 2 of 2020 Combine Drills - Dave Sturchio, Cowboys Wire

While the Cowboys don’t have a big need at tackle, there were some impressive showings on Friday by some of the top collegiate big men.

Winners

Tristan Wirfs – OL, Iowa

The testing for the 6-foot-5, 320-pound offensive lineman really had scouts impressed. He set a record for his position as he pulled off a 36.5-inch vertical. He flashed his athleticism on the field moving effortlessly from side to side and back and forth being lead by the coaches. A flawless combine to say the least.

A 36.5-inch vertical? Wow. As a frame of reference, the late Kobe Bryant had a vertical of 38 inches, but he was not 320 pounds.

3 Rookie Kickers Cowboys Should Target in 2020 - Mauricio Rodriguez, Inside the Star

Kickers matter too, right? Let’s close out today’s news links with an extra point about guys who are really good at extra points.

Dominik Eberle, Utah State:

Eberle was an honorable mention on Pro Football Focus’ All-American team and won the Lou Groza Award in 2017. He kicked 167 extra points and made all of them. Eberle became the sixth player in NCAA history to kick three 50-yard plus field goals in a single game.