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Cowboys News: Dallas still in talks with Dontari Poe and other free agent news

Plus, Randy Gregory is getting ready to return.

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Carolina Panthers v Houston Texans Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

Cowboys still “working through some things” with Poe - @calvinwatkins

On Monday it was reported that the Cowboys were in talks with Dontari Poe and that it was essentially a done deal. However, with no announcement coming by Tuesday morning, it seems that the two sides are still figuring things out.

Source: Cowboys DE Randy Gregory files for reinstatement - Todd Archer, ESPN

Randy Gregory is still technically under an indefinite suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, but with those rules being drastically changed under the new collective bargaining agreement, an opportunity seems to have opened up for the talented defensive end.

Under terms of the new collective bargaining agreement, players can no longer be suspended for a positive test for marijuana, but because he was penalized under the old system he would still need to be welcomed back by commissioner Roger Goodell. A player can continue to be suspended for missing tests or not taking part in a care plan.

The source said Gregory is doing well, which is why the reinstatement process was started. Gregory, 27, last played in 2018, when he recorded 6.5 sacks in 14 games. He missed 30 of 32 regular-season games in 2016 and ‘17 because of suspensions. He has played in only 28 games in his career.

Last year, the Cowboys had their bid to sign Gregory to a contract extension denied by the league after it ruled players under suspension cannot be given new deals. Gregory remains under contract with the Cowboys since his contract has tolled. However, it is expected the team would sign him to a short-term extension.

Breaking down salary cap impact of Frederick’s retirement from Cowboys - KD Drummond, Cowboys Wire

Travis Frederick stunned the football world by announcing his retirement on Monday. Not long after the shock (somewhat) wore off, people started asking about the salary cap implications of it. The situation is a bit complex, and it depends on what Frederick decides to do.

However the restructure bonuses Frederick received in 2017 and 2018 were spread evenly across five seasons each. The first restructure added $2.585 million per year through 2021 and the second restructure added $1.74 million per year through 2022.

That money, $6.065 million in total, will accelarate to this year’s cap if the papers are submitted to the league in the near future. That cancels out the majority of the savings from his 2020 base salary going away.

However, there is a loop hole. If Frederick waits until after June 1 to file his papers, that $6.065 million won’t hit the 2020 cap. Instead, the dead money will go onto the 2021 ledger, where it will take up a smaller percentage of that year’s cap (because of a higher ceiling).

That would mean the Cowboys have an extra $7 million of cap space to work with this offseason.

Bucky Brooks: How Clinton-Dix Fits For Cowboys - Bucky Brooks,

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix has unquestionably been a very productive safety, notching 16 interceptions throughout his career, but how exactly will he fit into this Cowboys defense?

Clinton-Dix is a versatile safety with outstanding instincts, communication skills, and a high football IQ. The one-time Pro Bowler has 16 career picks and shows adequate range and ball skills as a deep defender. As a pass defender, Clinton-Dix’s athleticism, awareness, and versatility stands out in man and zone coverage. The veteran is capable of roaming the deep middle as a post defender or dropping into the box to occupy zones as a curl/flat defender. Clinton-Dix will play his assignments correctly and make the plays that he is supposed to make on the ball but he isn’t high-level ball hawk or turnover producer.

In man coverage, Clinton-Dix excels defending tight ends in the slot. He is at his best playing bump-and-run against tight ends but also displays the quickness and cover skills to effectively shadow from off.

Against the run, Clinton-Dix is a hesitant force player in the hole. He will step up to meet ball carriers but he isn’t a striker or forceful tackler at the point of attack. Although he will wrap up and get runners to the ground, Clinton-Dix isn’t a punishing hitter or consistent finisher. The veteran also struggles at times making open-field tackles. He takes good angles but has a tough time getting shifty ball carriers and receivers to the ground.

2020 free agency grades for NFC East: Eagles and Cowboys lead pack, Giants making strides but Redskins aren’t - Patrik Walker, CBS Sports

It never means too much for a team to “win” the offseason, but there is still some value to judging how teams do in terms of building their roster during free agency. And as of right now, it seems that the Cowboys and Eagles are vying for best free agency grades in their division.

There have been some losses taken by the Cowboys in free agency, but they didn’t give their fans much time to moan and whine about it. Sure, the loss of Robert Quinn — who led the team with 11.5 sacks in 2019 — stings mightily, but the expected return of Randy Gregory combines with signing four-time All-Pro defensive tackle Gerald McCoy to rapidly stitch that wound.

They also landed a needed upgrade to their safety unit by reuniting Ha Ha Clinton-Dix with Mike McCarthy, one that comes on the heels of losing Jeff Heath to the Las Vegas Raiders. Along with Heath went Maliek Collins, but McCoy upgrades the defensive interior over what a talented Collins brought to the table.

That gaping hole at CB1, and the lack of a signing to fill it in Wave 1, simply can’t be ignored. Getting Blake Jarwin on a four-year, $24.25 million deal (more than $1 million below his market value, per Spotrac) to be the definitive successor for Jason Witten is an absolute steal, however, so up goes the Cowboys initial grade.

Things are changing within the Dallas Cowboys walls - Tyrone Starr, The Landry Hat

It’s been a far too common storyline in Dallas the last few years that the safety and defensive tackle positions just aren’t valued that much by the front office and coaching staff. But with an almost entirely new staff in place, that’s changed quickly.

Poe and McCoy instantly upgrade what has been an underwhelming interior defensive line but Dallas is not solely focusing on just this position. The Cowboys also recently let Jeff Heath also move on to Sin City and replaced him on the roster with former Packers and Bears safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.

Clinton-Dix, heading into his seventh season, is better than average. He’s probably not going to make any Pro Bowl’s but he’s a huge upgrade over Heath. Clinton-Dix has 16 career interceptions with three or more in three of the last four years. Heath has just eight total while playing one more season and has just one season with three or more picks.

Regardless, they are aware that these positions require more attention and talent than past players have provided. This can only translate well on the field, which should help the defense catch up to the offense in Big D.

Can Dallas Cowboys recover from free agency losses? How Mike McCarthy could handle attrition - Jori Epstein, USA Today

The Cowboys have made some shrewd and smart moves in free agency already, but it doesn’t completely mitigate the losses they’ve suffered, most notably at edge rusher and cornerback. What is Mike McCarthy’s plan to overcome it all?

McCarthy hasn’t given extensive clarity on plans for a new defensive scheme, noting he anticipates a four-man defensive front but defenders playing in nickel and dime sub-packages 80 to 85 percent of the time. He’ll leave much of that to Nolan and Tomsula, both former NFL head coaches, while he works with offensive coordinator Kellen Moore to implement new wrinkles into a scheme that led the league last year in yards (431.5 per game) but failed to rally from a single halftime deficit.

But as the Cowboys work to recover from their free-agency defensive losses, McCarthy no doubt will stay dialed in to his personnel department’s moves. Dallas likely will gravitate toward any available players who would help ensure the team need not draft too desperately at any position—before they then possibly address the secondary and defensive line in early rounds of the 2020 draft. A corner to fill Jones’ shoes will be key. Right defensive end and slot receiver remain holes. The team could regain defensive end Randy Gregory, indefinitely suspended for violating the previous CBA’s substance-abuse policy. Either way, they’ll need more depth.

McCarthy is encouraging his personnel department to be openminded.

“The way (former defensive coordinator) Rod (Marinelli) formatted each position on where certain guys fit, it’s going to be different here,” McCarthy said Feb. 26. “When you’re throwing away good players because they don’t fit your system, you got to take a hard look at your system.

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