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Cowboys news: Looking for a few bounce-back seasons, including from Jaylon Smith

Your latest Cowboys news and notes.

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Washington Redskins v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

3 Dallas Cowboys expected to rebound big in 2020 - Reid Hanson, SportDFW

There are different Cowboys on the roster that could use a bounce-back season. Here are three choices to rebound.

Why Jaylon Smith will rebound

Besides improving significantly as the season wore on, Jaylon also seemed to gamble less and diagnose plays more consistently. His regained focus was apparent and he was able to overcome some of his change-of-direction limitations.

Speaking of his change-of-direction limitations, Jaylon is probably never going to regain his pre-injury ability. As such, playing MIKE is always going to be recipe for disaster. Luckily for him the Dallas Cowboys are planning to move him to a role where his limitations will be hidden and his strengths are featured.

As a splash play machine, Jaylon is at his best running downhill and attacking. If the reports are correct, Smith will be making a move to OLB in 2020 where he’ll be able to do just that – attack.

Whether that’s at WILL or SAM remains to be seen, but both situations will put him in position make plays in the backfield and with an increased team-wide blitz-rate, Smith figures to benefit greatly from the position change.

Dear Cowboys: It’s Time to Pay Dak Prescott - Kyle Crabbs, The Draft Network

One opinion says there is no reason for the Cowboys to not get a deal done with Dak because it is time for Dallas to pay its franchise star.

After claiming the 2016 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award from the Associated Press and leading the Cowboys to a 13-3 record, Prescott’s game dipped in 2017 as the team offered him more influence before surging over the last two seasons—in total Prescott has started every game at quarterback for the Cowboys over the last four seasons and sports a 40-24 record with 14 career game-winning drives (none in 2019 as the Cowboys floundered to a 1-6 record in one-score games). His peak play this past season logged him just short of 5,000 total passing yards and he set career highs in yardage (4,902), passing touchdowns (30), yards per attempt (8.2), and sack percentage (3.7%).

The evolution of Prescott isn’t dissimilar to the evolution of several other quarterbacks now in the tail end of their career—Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger both started out as more conservative game-manager types of players in the early years of their respective careers, too. There’s little reason to doubt Prescott, as his play has steadily improved, can’t be a constant fixture near the top of the passing charts as he ages as well.

It took Brady five seasons as the starter before he passed for 4,000 yards for the first time. Roethlisberger needed six seasons to hit that mark. Prescott nearly went for 5,000 in year four.

And all the while, the Cowboys have handed out big money contracts like candy over the past 16 months; securing mega-contracts with DE Demarcus Lawrence (five years, $105 million), LB Jaylon Smith (five years, $64 million), OT La’el Collins (five years, $50 million), RB Ezekiel Elliott (six years, $90 million), and WR Amari Cooper (five years, $100 million).

Tucker: Why is Dak Prescott giving up the only leverage he really has? - Ross Tucker, The Athletic

Ross Tucker, meanwhile, thinks Dak may have given up some of his leverage by signing his franchise tender.

The guy who showed up for everything last offseason even though he was going into the last year of his contract and had made a grand total of $2.7 million in his first three seasons, two of which included trips to the divisional round of the playoffs? The same guy who set career highs across the board last year including 30 touchdown passes and close to 5K passing yards? The guy who has never missed a game, lining up under center with that iconic star on the side of his helmet for 67 straight games.

I think it’s fair to say Prescott has given more than his fair share of “good faith gestures” to the Cowboys at this point.

Besides, it’s been shown time and again that this is not how you get paid in Dallas. While Dak was showing up for everything on a contract paying him peanuts, his teammate Zeke Elliott sat out training camp last year even though he had made over $20M his first three years as the No. 4 overall pick in the draft and had two years left on his rookie contract.

It worked, as Zeke got a deal that made him the highest-paid running back in the NFL. Wide receiver Amari Cooper did not get his $100M deal that pays him $20M annually until he hit free agency in March. Point is, it’s pretty clear the Cowboys won’t pay a player top dollar unless and until they feel like they absolutely have to. That’s what their track record indicates.

Sitting out any or all of camp, or at least the threat of it, was the best leverage Dak had, especially as they go into yet another campaign with high expectations and a new head coach in Mike McCarthy. Unlike Zeke a year ago, the Cowboys wouldn’t even be able to fine Dak if he skipped parts of camp because he’s not under contract.

5 things to look for from the Cowboys as the NFL enters its dead period: Will Jerry Jones talk? - Calvin Watkins, DMN

We are still waiting to see whether not Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys can reach a long-term deal on July 15. Watkins includes that among the five things to look at during the NFL dead period.

Under normal conditions, Prescott’s contract status would be the No. 1 item of concern for Cowboys fans. COVID-19 alters that thinking.

Prescott is a priority for the Cowboys, and he signed his exclusive franchise tag the day after Father’s Day, guaranteeing him $31.4 million in 2020. Prescott’s agent and team officials have until July 15 to reach a long-term deal, or else he’ll play under the tag.

The biggest sticking point is length of contract. Prescott seeks a four-year deal, while the Cowboys’ offer is for five years. That one year could make a difference in how much Prescott makes per year and how his money is structured over the life of the contract.

The Cowboys have gotten deals done in the past when pressed against deadlines; a prime example is Elliott in 2019. He signed a contract extension five days before the regular season after a holdout. The Cowboys could also stop contract talks with Prescott if the 2020 season doesn’t happen and restart talks next year.

NFL Rumors: Jadeveon Clowney ‘Wouldn’t Mind’ Signing Cowboys or Saints Contract - Joseph Zucker, Bleacher Report

How realistic is Clowney to Dallas? The former South Carolina Gamecocks defender says he “wouldn’t mind” playing in Dallas.

As he continues to remain unsigned, three-time Pro Bowler Jadeveon Clowney has two teams atop his list of preferred landing spots.

According to Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline (via Lindsey Wisniewski of NBC Sports Northwest), Clowney “wouldn’t mind ending up” with the Dallas Cowboys or New Orleans Saints.

Pauline added that the star edge-rusher might be content to take a short-term deal with a franchise aiming for a Super Bowl in 2020. “If he can get a decent one-year deal from a team that was in the playoffs, a team that he could help take to the next level…I’m told he would be very happy to do that.”

Dallas Cowboys defensive line is the wild card to 2020 season - Tyrone Starr, The Landry Hat

While there is a ton of talent on the Cowboys roster, the defensive line could determine how successful the upcoming season is.

The Dallas Cowboys season could ride on the success (or failure) of the eight guys listed above. The front office has literally turned over every rock possible in an attempt to improve this unit. Whether it works or not depends largely on what a lot of these veteran guys have left in their tanks.

Speaking of tanks, “Tank” Lawrence is the undisputed leader of this group. Even in a down year sacks-wise, he still played at an above-average level in 2019. He’s also the only guy besides Armstrong from the list above that played a single snap as a Dallas Cowboy last year.

McCoy and Poe represent a massive upgrade from anything this team has seen on its interior defense for as long as I can remember. The two have combined for 80 career sacks with nine combined in 2019.

Crawford did not play last year due to injuries. Gregory has not played since 2018, while Smith has not played since 2015. I think it would be fair to severely temper any expectations from any of these three and just be pleasantly surprised at whatever they do provide. Unfortunately, with just Armstrong and rookie Bradlee Anae behind them, depth on the edge may be more about numbers than actual productivity.

Can RB Darius Anderson Sneak Onto Cowboys 2020 Roster? - Jess Haynie, Inside The Star

If you are looking for an early pet cat, keep an eye on TCU’s Darius Anderson.

The competition for that third RB spot is going to be tough as well. Jordan Chunn is the current front-runner after two seasons on Dallas’ practice squad. There’s also fellow rookie Rico Dowdle, who our own Brian Martin thinks is the best candidate to make the team from among the undrafted free agents.

What really matters for all of these players is how they perform over the next few months. Combine performances and college stats won’t matter much if they can’t pick up the Cowboys’ offense, or if they don’t perform well on special teams.

Darius Anderson has some good skills to offer. He’ll have to overcome some physical deficiencies, and some other solid prospects, if he wants to stick around in Dallas in 2020.

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