When Aldon Smith was reinstated last week, it not only created more optimism for his comeback in football, but sparked questions about when Randy Gregory might receive a similar decision.
David: We know that Randy has filed for reinstatement, and we know the NFL’s process is murky at best. Beyond that, it’s a bit hard to say. Aldon Smith’s reinstatement last week, as well as the rules of the newly-adopted CBA, should give some cause for optimism. But again, the NFL’s track record makes me wary. I’m going to need to see Randy get reinstated before I believe it’ll happen. Wherever he is in the process, I hope he’s continuing to do well as a person and not just as a potential football player.
Rob: As Stephen Jones said when asked about Gregory last month, this isn’t the Cowboys’ timing. Obviously the team will be hopeful, as they were with Smith, but they really won’t know anything until Commissioner Goodell makes a decision. They can’t have any contact with Gregory during suspension, so they’re not involved in his reinstatement application.
Troy Aikman: Dak Prescott ‘will get paid’ in 2020, Cowboys will sign him to long-term deal before NFL deadline - Patrik Walker, CBS Sports
Dak Prescott still doesn’t have a long-term contract extension as he and the Cowboys brass reportedly bicker over the length of the deal. But former Cowboys legend Troy Aikman believes Prescott will get a huge pay raise no matter what.
“I love Dak Prescott,” Aikman said. “I love everything about him. What [you’re] talking about with regard to me [being a winner], I feel the same way about Dak. I think he’s a very unselfish player.
“I wouldn’t say that about everybody. He only wants to win. He truly doesn’t care about his stats — just wants to win. He’s a leader [and] his teammates love him.”
And as far as the lingering contract talks are concerned, the Cowboys have until July 15 to sign Prescott to a long-term deal or he’ll be forced to play under the franchise tag that will pay him $31.5 million. As it stands, he’s yet to sign his tender as he holds out hope of instead putting his John Hancock on a new contract, but while the talks are at an impasse heading into June, it’s far from a cavernous one — all things considered — with the club holding out hope they can coax Prescott into a five-year deal as opposed to one that frees him up again after only four.
Aldon Smith’s surprise signing with the Cowboys has sparked a rapid increase in hype for the player’s potential comeback. Reviews of Smith’s workouts have only increased that hype.
“I say this with all honesty,” said Leonard Davis, the former Cowboys Pro Bowl guard who was Smith’s teammate with the Niners in 2012, “he was a legitimate DeMarcus Ware-type player. He’s tall. He’s long. He’s very athletic. And he plays with leverage. He’s got good instincts, too. The dude can rush the passer.
“He not only can rush the passer, but he could play the run, as well. He wasn’t afraid to play the run. Some guys, all they care about is the sacks, but that wasn’t him.”
“When he put his hands on me, it felt like Kyle Long,” Glazer said, referring to the former Chicago Bears offensive lineman. “Kyle’s probably the strongest dude that’s put his hands on me. Myles Garrett is up there with the strength and speed, but [Smith] feels like Long, which sucks [when getting tackled].”
With Jason Witten joining the Raiders, Dallas handed out a big contract extension to Blake Jarwin to signal his ascension to the starting role. Jarwin will now be tasked with replacing a future Hall of Famer, but he seems ready for the challenge.
“I’m excited for the task,” Jarwin recently told the team’s official website. “I’m grateful that they believe in me to be the future of the tight end position. It’s my job to never be content with that. To just say ‘I got a great deal now and I can coast.’ That’s never been my approach and that won’t be approach in the future. Now I have to push myself even harder and prove that I deserve what they gave me.”
Jarwin sits as the clear starter. The Cowboys also signed Blake Bell, a blocking tight end. Dalton Shultz enters his third season after catching just one pass last year. Cole Hikutini and undrafted free agents Sean McKeon and Charlie Taumoepeau round out the corps.
In an offense that should be potent in Mike McCarthy’s first season, Jarwin has the chance to play a major role. While he’s shown flashes of dynamic pass-catching ability in the past, the tight end hasn’t been consistent enough to be an every-game threat. He hopes learning from Witten for another year will help the potential breakout year.
Just a year ago, the Cowboys boasted the best young linebacker duo of Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch, alongside respected veteran Sean Lee. But after a down 2019 season, the trio of linebackers is primed for a big year in a new defense.
Lastly, there’s Jaylon Smith. Even though statistically he had his best season with 142 tackles in 2019, he wasn’t the same as the year before when it came to reaction time, making tackles, and coverage. Smith is at his best when he can read and react in space and attack the line of scrimmage as a blitzer. Mike Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News reported last month that Smith could possibly switch spots and move to outside linebacker.
Mike Nolan, the Cowboys new defensive coordinator, will still run a base 4-3 but will have some 3-4 principles and use multiple looks upfront to keep teams off-balance. This will include a designated pass rusher role which is ideal for Smith, and he’s more than willing to embrace it.
“Really just some added tools for myself, man,” Smith said. “Being able to showcase my versatility, you know being able to run sideline-to-sideline, being able to rush the passer. I’m just looking forward to being able to showcase all of my talents. These guys are putting everyone in the right position, so all I can be is thankful.”
CeeDee Lamb might be regarded as one of the biggest draft steals this year, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have things to improve on. And even though Lamb has yet to play a game in the NFL, he’s already learned a few things in Dallas.
And there’s another number that Lamb hasn’t forgotten. Considered by many as a Top 10 pick, Lamb fell to No. 17, right into the Cowboys’ lap.
While there might have been initial frustration, Lamb sounds rather comfortable with how things worked out.
“Money is money. It’s what makes the world goes around,” Lamb said. “But to be in the best position to be successful … I feel like the Cowboys was the best place for me and my future. Playing for America’s Team. This could be the most dominant offense the next couple of years. We’re just trying to build on that and still be in a position to win the Super Bowl. Adding more horsepower, adding more players, we can definitely make a run for it.”
The Cowboys’ offensive line has long been one of their best position groups, and their recent signing of Cameron Erving might be a highly underrated signing that continues the dominance of their trenches.
That kind of versatility could very well be the key to success for the Cowboys in 2020. All-Pro center Travis Frederick surprisingly retired this offseason. And although Dallas has plenty of candidates to replace him, the quality of play we’ll see out of both the center and left guard positions is certainly suspect going into 2020.
Throw in mounting injury concerns surrounding All-Pro left tackle Tyron Smith, who hasn’t played a full 16-game regular season in Dallas since 2015, and there are reasons to have an uneasiness about three of the Cowboys’ starting five offensive line positions heading into the new season.
A player with Cameron Erving’s positional-flex and experience should be a valuable plug-n-play piece at multiple spots for the Dallas Cowboys throughout the grueling year. The veteran might be able to provide some much-needed security at critical moments that could very well turn the tide of the season.
There is a lot going on these days with the Dallas Cowboys. We discussed it all with NFL Network’s Jane Slater on the latest episode of The 75O.
Make sure that you never miss an episode from Blogging The Boys by subscribing to the Blogging The Boys podcast feed!
Also make sure to subscribe to the official YouTube Channel from Blogging The Boys. We’ve got big plans coming there throughout the offseason and you don’t want to miss a thing!