By placing the franchise tag of approximately $33 million next month, the Dallas Cowboys can block any other NFL teams from making a run at soon-to-be-free-agent quarterback Dak Prescott, ensuring he’ll be their starting quarterback in 2020, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has said in recent weeks that is his plan if Dallas and Prescott can’t come to terms on a long-term extension.
Head coach Mike McCarthy offered some positive thoughts regarding the Cowboys quarterback. Getting a deal done so that the two can get to work is in the best interest for all parties involved.
During his introductory press conference earlier in January, McCarthy offered up his initial thoughts on Prescott and what it’ll be like working with him.
”I’ve always been impressed with him,” McCarthy said. “You’re going to able to run the whole offense and then some. I think he has an incredible foundation to build off of. And our offensive system will be built around making the quarterback successful. That’s the way I’ve learned it. That’s the way I believe you play offense. We have a great one here to work with.”
Cowboys corner Byron Jones is about to get away. Why does nobody seem concerned? - Bob Sturm, The Athletic
Dak is not the only top-level free agent that Dallas has to make a decision on, as we all know. Byron Jones is another key guy, and it looks like he will hit the market. Sturm asks why doesn’t anybody seem concerned?
Jones is a complicated study, to say the least. In fact, you would not need to dig too deeply in my own writing to find me drawing a line on the value of Byron Jones and generally suggesting he is a very good cornerback, but certainly not the type you would be willing to make the highest-paid corner in the NFL. Could I see Byron as a very well-compensated corner? Yes. Does he deserve a top-10 contract? Sure. But, heading to the top of the list requires a few things and one of them, of course, is getting to free agency. That act alone has made many a rich man in this league, and when the bottom feeders with endless amounts of cap room try to show their fan base that they are competing hard, that is when top-10 guys get paid as if they are the best at their position. Exhibit A on this list would be the Jets in the spring of 2018 splashing five years and $72.5 million on Trumaine Johnson to steal him from the Rams. There had never been a moment where anyone thought Trumaine Johnson was the best corner in football. Well, that didn’t matter: The Jets had room and they were willing to spend it on Johnson, and so he quickly became the best-compensated corner in the NFL. Zero All-Pro teams and zero Pro Bowls later, Johnson was at the top of the salary scale. In other words, if you don’t want to overpay, you cannot let your guys get to free agency.
This isn’t an evaluation of the Jets’ silly decision and the 23 months of regret since then. Rather, it is a discussion about whether the Cowboys and their fans will live to regret the year they were so distracted with the daily Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper discussions that they actually left the door unlatched as their best corner since peak Terence Newman snuck out into the wild.
There are so many things to consider. Let’s try to work through most of them.
Byron Jones is expected to hit free agency and there are multiple dots connecting him to the Eagles - Brandon Gowton, Bleeding Green Nation
This would not be ideal for the Cowboys.
It’s hard to put the Eagles’ track record out of mind when it comes to the idea of signing Jones. We know the team hasn’t done well with signing former NFC East players, including ex Cowboys. We also know that the organization has struck out on big name free agent corners like Nnamdi Asomugha and Byron Maxwell. The Eagles very well might be better served to not invest major resources into their defense and find a more affordable option at corner.
With that said, I’ve been a fan of Jones for some time now. I liked him for the Eagles’ first-round pick at No. 20 overall in the 2015 NFL Draft. He’s also stood out to me in a good way whenever I’ve watched the Cowboys. This is to say: he passes the all-important eye test.
Given the Eagles’ inability to draft and develop a lasting solution at corner for too long now, paying Jones could be the way to go to fix that position. If the pre-free agency buzz is any indication, Jones might just end up in Philly.
Is prioritizing Cooper over Jones a mistake?
With a surplus of wideouts and only one cornerback that has the makings of an All-Pro, why don’t the Dallas Cowboys try and resign Byron Jones instead of Amari Cooper?
The Cowboys should have one of the top receivers available to select with the 17th pick while there is no chance, barring an off-field issue, that Okudah makes it to 17.
I am of the mindset that the Dallas Cowboys will find a way and retain all three of them but if they don’t, replacing Amari Cooper with a draft pick would be more cost-effective than replacing Byron Jones.
Could Chidobe Awuzie & Jourdan Lewis be Cowboys Starting CBs in 2020? - Jess Haynie, Inside The Star
If Jones does walk, what will the Cowboys secondary look like in 2020?
There’s a reason we must consider this potential dilemma. If the Cowboys let Byron Jones walk it’s because they don’t have money to burn, and that same limitation could prevent them from signing a comparable replacement.
Counting on the draft to replace Byron would also be complicated. Would a rookie taken at the 17th pick be guaranteed to start immediately? And worse, what if he’s another Taco Charlton or Morris Claiborne?
The Cowboys could try to fill Jones’ spot but still wind up needing Awuzie and Lewis to start Week One.
Counting on Lewis and Awuzie to be your top-2 corners is a “big leap of faith.”
Now this is a big leap of faith, and one the Cowboys probably aren’t ready to make. Trusting Awuzie and Lewis to start in 2020 would mean counting on both to raise their games, and that may be asking too much in their fourth seasons.
But depending on how cap dollars and draft picks fall then Dallas may not have a better option. If 2020 does end up being the Chido and Jourdan show at cornerback, then we have to hope that the new defensive coaches can get more out of them than Kris Richard did.
Film room: 5 possible Cowboys draft targets who impressed at the NFL combine, including one WR who stole the show - John Owning, SportsDay
To points above, this year’s draft class is loaded at receiver. Owning writes on five potential draft targets for the Cowboys, three of which are wideouts that impressed in Indy.
Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor
While all eyes were on Henry Ruggs’ attempt to break John Ross’ record 4.22 in the 40-yard dash, Baylor WR Denzel Mims, who the Cowboys informally met with at the combine, really stole the show among the group of receivers.
Mims’ outstanding week started with his impressive frame and physique during the weigh-ins. Measuring in at 6-foot-3 and 207 pounds with 33-7/8 inch arms and 9-3/8 inch hands, Mims has the size to thrive as an outside receiver in the NFL.
Nevertheless, the show really started when Mims stepped on the field Thursday night at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mims put together a truly epic performance. At 207 pounds, Mims ran an official 4.38 40-yard dash, which ranks in the 90th percentile among receivers, per MockDraftable.
That figure is even better once you adjust Mims’ time for his weight using a speed score, which incorporates a back’s official time in the 40-yard dash with his weight to produce a measure of his speed given his size, per Football Outsiders. A receiver’s speed score has been shown to be one of the more predictive measurements of how a receiver will fare in the NFL, per Rotoworld. Mims’ 115.6 speed score ranked in the 96th percentile among WRs, per Player Profiler.
Loaded at receiver! LSU’s Justin Jefferson is another that stood out (besides the obvious three) that could go in round one.
WR Justin Jefferson, LSU
Justin Jefferson produced a breakout junior campaign on a title-winning squad at LSU this past season, registering 111 receptions, 1,540 yards and 18 touchdowns. Still, he went into Thursday’s workout circuit with minor questions about his speed. He quickly put those concerns to rest with an impressive 4.43-second 40-yard time.
As NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah started to talk about speed as a hole in Jefferson’s game, the 6’1”, 202-pound wide receiver blazed the track.
”That is huge,” Jeremiah said. “That’s the most important time that we’ve seen today. He’s a great player on tape and now you’ve got some big-time legitimate speed on record to back it up.”
Jefferson may have teetered between late-first-round and earl-second-round territory. After the combine, teams may take another look at LSU’s game tapes, focusing on the wide receiver’s quickness and agility before setting a spot for him on the draft board.
Consistent with his collegiate tape, Jefferson flashed solid pass-catching skills while in motion during the gauntlet drill. He strictly used his hands—without straying away from the ball—to reel in passes.
Jefferson caught passes from Joe Burrow, the presumptive No. 1 overall pick, this past term, but he possesses traits (quickness and sure hands) that should translate to the pros with any QB.
If Byron Jones leaves then things are going to be different. We discuss on the latest episode of The Ocho.
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