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Cowboys News: CeeDee’s hefty goal, the salary cap and players fighting to make the roster

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Kick off your Tuesday with some Dallas Cowboys News!

NFL: Combine Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Cowboys’ CeeDee Lamb has one goal for NFL career: ‘Be a Hall of Famer’ - Jeff Kerr, CBS Sports

You have to love what Lamb is saying here.

The Cowboys handed Lamb the coveted No. 88 jersey, made famous by Drew Pearson and handed down to Michael Irvin, who went on to have a Hall of Fame career himself. If Lamb can win three Super Bowls, record 11,904 yards and 65 touchdowns in 12 seasons (Irvin’s stats), he’ll surely take those accolades.

“That is a legendary number for the legendary America’s team,” Lamb said. “For me to go out there and represent the great legends that have worn that number is a huge presentable moment. I can’t wait to live it out for the first time. I want to continue the legacy of 88. The 88 club is something big in Dallas. I want to live up to it.”

After Irvin donned the No. 88, the next Pro Bowl receiver to wear the jersey was Dez Bryant, who wore it all eight seasons he was in Dallas. Bryant had three 1,000-yard seasons in a career where he recorded 7,459 yards and 73 touchdowns.

The No. 88 is a tradition carried on in Dallas that results in excellence, one Irvin himself believes Lamb is ready for.

Stashed away in Year 1, Cowboys DE Jelks could emerge in 2020 - Zeke Barrera, K.D. Drummond, Cowboys Wire

Jelks is another player that could have a big role this year.

The previous Dallas regime was reportedly much higher on Jelks than his seventh-round draft slot, and it’s not hard to see why. Said Jason Garrett of Jelks:

“(He was) rated very high on our board, and we’re getting to the end of our draft, and he’s still sitting there like a blinking red light. There is so much to like about this guy: He’s big, long, athletic, plays with a relentless spirit, great motor, great energy, around the ball a lot. He plays the right way, has a lot of the traits we’re looking for in our defensive linemen.”

Of course, the brand-new staff cuts both ways. He wasn’t drafted by this regime, though he may be more attractive to them and the scheme they plan on running. Defensive coordinator Mike Nolan seems to prefer bulkier body types, but Jelks has the size and versatility to be a move piece, and potentially get snaps as the designated pass rusher in a multiple-front defense.

Cowboys’ WR Devin Smith Could Provide Sneaky Value in 2020, Brian Martin, Inside The Star

Speed is always wanted and Smith still has a lot of it.

Devin Smith is a former second-round pick (37th overall) by the New York Jets, the seventh WR drafted in 2015. He’s an intriguing candidate who provides a unique skill set Cooper, Gallup, and Lamb don’t possess. His uncanny ability to threaten a defense vertically would add an entirely different dimension to the Cowboys already potent passing game. If he makes the team that is.

In no way is Devin Smith a roster lock right now. He’s going to have to battle it out with some younger and arguably just as talented WRs in order to stick around in 2020. Sadly, his age (28) and past injury history (two ACL tears to his right knee) could work against him. However, Mike McCarthy and his coaching staff could overlook those blemishes due to the value he could provide as a deep threat.

It may shock you to learn, but Smith averaged 22.6 yards per reception with the Dallas Cowboys last season in 2019. For his career, he’s averaged 18.5, which is better than both Amari Cooper (14.3) and Michael Gallup (16.1) career averages. That’s pretty impressive if you ask me, but it’s on a small sample size due to the fact he only has 15 receptions for 248 yards and two touchdowns in his career.

Dallas Cowboys: Should the offense still run through Ezekiel Elliott? - Matthew Liebl, The Landry Hat

A strong running game helps an offense move the ball but Dak’s play could change that.

According to NFL.com’s Next Gen Stats, Elliott ranked seventh in efficiency (3.49), meaning he was a pretty effective North/South runner. But he also faced eight or more defenders in the box just 19.27 percent of the time, which can also be attributed to the improved passing game and threat through the air.

Jason Garrett is gone now and in steps Mike McCarthy, the quarterback guru who helped lead the Green Bay Packers to a win in Super Bowl XLV over the Pittsburgh Steelers. McCarthy is often viewed as being pass-happy and that was seemingly emphasized with the team’s decision to draft wide receiver CeeDee Lamb in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft. The question shouldn’t be will the Cowboys become a more pass-heavy team under McCarthy; the question is, should they?

I suppose that depends on the lens in which you view the offense. Does it rely on Ezekiel Elliott to help set up the passing game or Dak Prescott to open up the running lanes? The easiest answer seems to be that they complement each other and if both are clicking, then there is no stopping this team.

It’s no secret that Prescott is most dangerous when he can fool defenders with the play action. That’s only possible if you have the threat of a dangerous running game. On the flip side, to avoid defenses stacking the box, you need to have an effective passing game and win the one-on-one match-ups.

A possible NFL salary cap reduction and what it means for the Dallas Cowboys - Danny Phantom, Blogging The Boys

The salary cap situation is in flux right now thanks to the Coronavirus.

While the pandemic could bring about some delays, there’s another element of this crisis that could hurt the Cowboys - money. It should surprise no one that Jerry Jones’ team is the most profitable team in the league. Their $950 million in revenue last season is more than 50% higher than what the next highest team, the New England Patriots, earned last season.

It is estimated that $621 million of that comes from money made from fan attendance. This includes not only ticket sales, but parking, concessions, and local sponsorship money. Teams also get a cut of the merchandise profits; however, the Cowboys have their own licensing deals (Jerry = marketing stud). Ultimately, fewer fans showing up at games will mean fewer jerseys and paraphernalia bought at AT&T Stadium. Even though the Cowboys earn the most money, they also stand the most to lose with the absence of fans filling the stadiums.

The lack of revenue also means that the salary cap number used to budget player’s salaries is in jeopardy. Rumors are circulating that we could end up seeing a possible reduction of $40 million in cap space for the 2021 season. And while the Cowboys as an organization will lose substantially more money than other teams, the effect to the cap will be equal across the board. All teams will operate with that same disadvantage.

Alarming stat downplays Dak Prescott’s passing ability - Brad Crawford, 24/7 Sports

This just shows how much the drops last season hurt Prescott and the Cowboys.

Prescott finished with a career-high 4,902 passing yards, nearly breaking the all-time single-season franchise record and has used that production as a primary strength during the negotiation process this offseason. Cowboys wideout Michael Gallup ranked second in the league with 11 drops on 113 targets while Randall Cobb in the slot tied for sixth with eight drops on 83 targets.

These numbers prove Prescott would in fact be considered among the league’s elite under center if his supporting cast did a better job of holding up their end of the bargain. Prescott, who has said repeatedly he intends on staying with the organization, reportedly turned down a 5-year, $175 million offer this spring. Guaranteed money and number of years lead his bargaining needs.

The Cowboys used the franchise tag on Prescott in March, agreeing to pay him $31.4 million in 2020 — the final year of his rookie deal. Dallas dropped the ball by not finalizing a long-term extension sooner, one NFL analyst says.

Mailbag: Kellen Moore 2.0 Calling Plays? - David Helman, Rob Phillips

How different will the Cowboys offense be with McCarthy and Kellen Moore calling the plays?

With Kellen Moore going into his second year as the OC/play caller, what changes do you see happening in year 2 under a new head coach? Do you believe he can “take the next step?”— TYLER BAEM / SAN ANTONIO, TX

David: I mentioned this on one of our podcasts last week. I don’t think massive changes are needed, but I hope Kellen helps this offense avoid predictability. The Cowboys ran the ball far too often on first down last year, and they seemed to forget that play action is an incredibly effective way to expose defenses. If they could implement those two minor tweaks, I think it’d make a world of difference.

Rob: Overall Moore had a solid first year as the OC. The red zone might be the biggest area for improvement. The offense was much better in 2019 than 2018, when they ranked near-last in the league. But typically they weren’t as consistent cashing in during the games they lost. I’m with Dave on the play-action and screen game. I think McCarthy’s influence could add another layer of creativity with the way he has used wide receivers in the past. I also wonder if the ball will go down the field quite as much if there’s more of a West Coast imprint.

DeMarcus Lawrence provides questionable explanation for what doomed the Cowboys in 2019 - Sam Dunn, Fansided

They seemed to be cracks in the armor last season for the Cowboys that all could see.

“I think it all comes down to knowing who you are and focusing on what’s in front of you. We had so many obstacles come our way and it kind of divided us as a team,” Lawrence said.

Finishing behind the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC East is an unacceptable development in the Metroplex, and the Cowboys surely eliminated one distraction when the ever-on-the-hot-seat Jason Garrett was finally, mercifully let go after the season. Jerry Jones and Co. really just traded one divisive factor for another, however, as the standoff over a potential contract extension for Dak Prescott remains a frustrating issue with no clear end in sight.

If behind-the-scenes obstacles really were what held Lawrence back and limited him to less than half of his sack output compared to 2018, there’s no reason to believe things are automatically going to be better this time around.

Tank wasn’t the only player in Dallas who turned in an uneven performance in 2019, and he’s not the only one who needs to step up and take ownership of the team’s fate under new head coach Mike McCarthy.

BTB Podcast

What Cowboys player in his prime would you add to the current team? We discuss with Barstool Sports’ Trysta Krick on the latest episode of Girls Talkin ‘Boys.

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