This won’t have a big impact on contract negotiations for the Cowboys.
Last week, as first reported here, CAA and France - Prescott’s agent - “mutually agreed to part ways.” Some in Cowboys Nation in particular wonder if the breakup is the result of France’s inability to team with the Cowboys to negotiate a new contract for Prescott.
However, one source tells us that the breakup is simply the result of France’s contract with CAA expiring, and with the two sides failing to come up with their own new agreement. Furthermore, a second source tells us there is at this time no indication that Prescott is leaving France (though many NFL player/agent relationships tend to be “fluid.”)
Additionally, a Cowboys staffer tells us the club remains under the assumption that France - one of the NFL’s most prominent and powerful agents - continues to be listed as Prescott’s representative.
For all we know, France and Prescott were on the same page when it came to declining Dallas’ five-year offer worth about $35 million APY to instead play the 2020 NFL season on the franchise tag of $31.409 million. And while Dak did once change representation before (dumping Jeff Guerriero in 2018 in favor of France), until further notice, the principals in next season’s negotiations remain the same - just minus CAA.
The switch more than likely means more blitzing from Jaylon.
With the team moving LVE to the MIKE position, will that give Jaylon Smith a better opportunity to be used as a pass rusher in the 3-4 defensive alignments?– KARL HOUCK / ROCKWALL, TX
Rob: I don’t think it’s so much about the 3-4 exclusively as potentially finding ways to showcase Smith’s pass rushing skills in a variety of looks. I understand the question, because one advantage of the 3-4 is the offense doesn’t know where the fourth rusher is coming from. We’ll see how much of that alignment they actually play. Mike McCarthy has said they’re a 4-3 defense at their core. But moving Smith to WILL, even if it’s not a major transition from MIKE, suggests they’ve got plans to capitalize on Smith’s versatility.
David: It’s hard to say without watching them line up, but I really hope this is part of the intent. And obviously we don’t expect the Cowboys to play a ton of 3-4, but I’m just hopeful Mike Nolan plans to use Jaylon as a blitzer and a pass rusher more often. He has clear value doing so. Moving him out to WILL should allow him to do some of that, and it should keep him out of the middle of the field – which was a trouble spot for him at times. I’m excited about the move.
Hopefully they add more of Dak using his legs this season.
The former Green Bay Packers head coach remarked that “the biggest adjustment for Prescott has been the language, which has been an adjustment for all of us,” seems to imply that the Cowboys could employ a similar scheme to the one they used in 2019.
“I think Dak has done a great job with the time away, really the whole group, with the addition of Andy Dalton,” McCarthy said during this week’s Cowboys media video conference. “I really like the quarterback room and diversity we’ve got there with Dak, Andy and the two young guys. Most importantly, we’ve got three former quarterbacks coaching that group. I think the biggest adjustment for Dak has been the language, which has been an adjustment for all of us.
“But he’s looked very good in the throwing segments of the strength and conditioning phase that we’re we in now and I’m very impressed.”
For Dallas fans, that may not be a bad thing. Despite finishing 8-8 and missing the playoffs last season, the Cowboys ranked first in total offense and sixth in points scored in 2019 with many fans placing blame on former head coach Jason Garrett for the team’s mediocre finish.
Playing under the franchise tag in 2020, Prescott’s grasp of the new offense, including learning the language by the start of the season, could be crucial in his pursuit of a long-term extension.
Cowboys tabbed as one of the teams most likely to improve their record in 2020 - Dave Halprin, Blogging The Boys
With all the moves they’ve made and the draft they had, the Cowboys better be improved!
Each year, Bill Barnwell breaks down which teams are likely to improve in the upcoming season and which ones are likely to regress. While stats and personnel obviously play a role in this, Barnwell has found that the team’s record in close games from the previous season is not a bad indicator of how they will do the following year.
For the Cowboys, that is good news in 2020. A quick look at last year shows the Cowboys under-performed in close games. Big time.
2019 point differential: plus-113
Pythagorean expectation: 10.7 wins
Record in games decided by seven points or fewer: 0-5
FPI projected strength of schedule: 12th easiest
As noted, the Cowboys point differential lines up with many other stats that show they should have been a top contender last year. The Pythagorean formula calculated they should have had 10.7 wins. But look at those close games. 0-5. That’s how you end up going 8-8.
The good news? Barnwell has found that these things tend to regress to the mean. For instance, going into 2019 Barnwell had projected the Cowboys to do worse because in 2018 they did so well in close games.
Cowboys’ Leighton Vander Esch ‘not worried anymore’ about neck issue, confirms role change in 2020 - Patrik Walker, CBSSports.com
Cowboys fans are hoping that LVE can stay healthy all season.
His second season was precipitously different, however, and found him sidelined seven games with a neck injury suffered during an awkward collision during a tackle. He’s since undergone surgery to repair the injury and has long been fully recovered, and with Cowboys training camp now underway, he’s champing at the bit to get back to playing the type of ball that made him one of the best linebackers in the NFL in Year 1.
“I’ve been training for like three or four months hard,” he said in a Zoom call with media, via the team’s website. “I’ve got all my strength back. Everything’s going great there, and I feel amazing. I’m just excited to be on the field.”
Vander Esch has also made an equipment change to reduce the odds of such an injury from occurring in the future.
“I have a smaller roll inside my actual pads now too, to help with, I guess you could say ‘shock [from impact],’” he said. “But as far mobility and everything, I still have all my mobility, being able to look around with my helmet, no problems there. Just a small adjustment with the roll.”
The 24-year-old entered the NFL with a red flag in his pre-draft folder, having dealt with neck issue in the past, but the Cowboys repeatedly made it clear both in 2019 and earlier this offseason his latest injury was in no way tied to anything prior — or any sort of condition. For his part, Vander Esch is adamant in the same regard and, furthermore, is tired of hearing about how his career will supposedly be shortened by it. Much like in 2018 after he heard his name called by the Cowboys, he’s ready to again prove the team right and his detractors wrong.
Dallas Cowboys: Does just getting to playoffs constitute a successful season? - Kenneth Wilson, The Landry Hat
Everybody has an opinion on what would constitute a successful Cowboys season.
They were comfortable bending, as long as they didn’t break. Perhaps. Either way though, this year should be different.
It is these thoughts that lead to this question though, what constitutes a “successful season” this year for the Cowboys? While we will get to my opinion on that a bit later, ESPN’s Todd Archer has a very interesting set of thoughts on the topic. He believes that to simply make the playoffs is a success but it goes deeper than that, check it out.
“Simple — get to the playoffs. There have been previous Cowboys’ seasons that have had ‘Super Bowl or bust’ feelings to them, but considering coach Mike McCarthy did not have a traditional offseason to fully implement his program, the expectations should be dialed back … While some might have Super Bowl thoughts, just getting to the tournament is a more proper expectation.”
First off and to address something from earlier, you can’t exactly say what a successful season is now, based on how good the rest of the league will be or looks, but with the talent that the Cowboys have, it has to be better than just making the playoffs. While it might not be to win it all, it would at minimally have to be to win one postseason game, right?
Do the Cowboys really need to seek a trade at the RB position?
Jamize Olawale opted out of the season due to COVID-19, and the rest of the players are undrafted free agents. The Dallas Cowboys have had good luck with undrafted free agents in the past, but they’re far from a guarantee. Though the Cowboys may not need a fullback, if they decided to keep one, the only option right now is Sewo Olinilua.
As training camp goes along and teams eventually have to cut down to their final 53, there’s one name the Dallas Cowboys should consider making a trade for: Pittsburgh Steelers Running Back Jaylen Samuels.
Ed Bouchette, who covers the Steelers for The Athletic, recently did a mailbag where he discussed the running back depth chart. Bouchette suggested that Samuels may not make the Steelers final 53-man roster.
“That assumes they keep four. We know they’re keeping fullback Derek Watt and they have sometimes kept three halfbacks, sometimes four. If they keep four, it comes down to Jaylen Samuels vs. Kerrith Whyte. In my pre-camp roster prediction of 53, I chose Whyte because of his speed and what he did in a short time with them last season. However, you can make a case for Samuels as possibly serving as their third tight end, a position he played at NC State, albeit not in a traditional sense. I’ll stick with Whyte as No. 4.”
Ed Bouchette, The Athletic
If Samuels is on the roster bubble with the Steelers as Bouchette suggests, the Dallas Cowboys need to make a phone call.
It is very possible that this season features some changes to the schedule. We discuss one possibility on the latest episode of Girls Talkin ‘Boys.
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