Look who is back. The Cowboys have added a familiar face to the practice squad.
Veteran defensive back Brandon Carr is among 15 players who have signed to the Cowboys’ practice squad.
Carr, a 12-year veteran who previously played five years in Dallas (2012-16), had a scheduled free-agent visit with the Cowboys on Friday and can help at cornerback or safety. According to the revised NFL practice squad rules, six of 16 practice squad players can have any experience level in the league, with no limit on accrued seasons.
This year’s rules have changed as part of an adjustment to the league’s collective bargaining agreement. The size has increased from 10 to 16 players. Each week during the season, the team can select four players who can’t be signed to another team’s 53-man roster. Also, two practice squad players per week can be promoted to the active roster and then move back to the practice squad the following week without going through the waivers process. It’s a maximum of two promotions before the waiver rules go into effect.
The Cowboys were busy on Sunday.
The wake of the wave of waives has now subsided, and the Dallas Cowboys are going to have to release a player from their newly formed 53-man roster. There’s a reason why we title it “initial” instead of “final” because the regular season roster remains a fluid collection that changes based on a myriad of factors.
Players who were waived or released yesterday are available to be signed or claimed by any of the other 32 teams, and the Cowboys made a move to secure someone discarded by another team, and also lost one player they may have been planning to bring back to their practice squad. 2019 fifth-round pick DE Joe Jackson was claimed by the Cleveland Browns, and the Cowboys brought in former Packers receiver Malik Turner.
Turner had been with the Packers less than a month, signed in mid-August. He had previously tried out for Cowboys HC Mike McCarthy during Green Bay’s 2018 rookie minicamp but didn’t latch on. He eventually landed in Seattle where he had 15 catches for 245 yards in 2019. His primary role though will be as a special teamer. He played 184 ST snaps in 2019, appearing on kick coverage and both return units.
There are still some players available that could interest the Cowboys, including a familiar name...
S Earl Thomas
The Baltimore Ravens are so loaded with talent that they arguably had the luxury of being able to release potential Hall of Fame safety Earl Thomas amid concerns unrelated to his football abilities. But somebody more desperate will eventually decide that the three-time first-team All-Pro is worth the risk.
Thomas is 31 and beyond his prime, but safeties often age well and he still made the Pro Bowl with two picks, two sacks, four passes defensed, six quarterback hits and 49 tackles in 15 starts last season.
And while injuries held him back in his last few seasons with the Seattle Seahawks, he made five consecutive Pro Bowls without missing a start between 2011 and 2015.
Somebody will value his supreme skill set along with his Super Bowl experience and look past the fact that the Ravens decided it wasn’t worth the apparent headache.
ESPN discusses what Deshaun Watson’s new deal means for Dak Prescott and the Cowboys.
Jeremy Fowler explains why Dak Prescott’s future with the Cowboys is in question after Deshaun Watson’s contract extension with the Texans.
Deshaun Watson Extension Puts Pressure on Cowboys in Dak Prescott Talks - Chris Roling, Bleacher Report
There is no doubt that the Cowboys will be under even more scrutiny for not getting a deal done with their franchise signal-caller.
And that leaves Prescott twisting in the wind a bit. It’s no secret the prominent standoff item between the Cowboys and their franchise passer was the length of the extension itself. In March, the Dallas Morning News’ Calvin Watkins reported the team offered $33 million per year. But Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk later pointed out Prescott wants a four-year extension, not five.
Prescott will play 2020 on the franchise tag, only checking in at $31.4 million, ninth in average salary among quarterbacks. That’s behind Philadelphia Eagles passer Carson Wentz, who has noted attendance issues, as well as Jared Goff of the Los Angeles Rams.
The Watson extension throws a ton of pressure on the Cowboys to bend on the years front, never mind the money. And the fact Prescott could massively cash in on a second tag if the front office won’t play ball doesn’t help things from the organization’s perspective.
Which Cowboys could reach their first Pro Bowl in 2020?
The Dallas Cowboys aren’t exactly known for developing Pro Bowl safeties. Part of that is the scheme they’ve played and part is their refusal to invest in the position, either through free agency or the draft. But with that said, this may be the year things change.
Xavier Woods is far and away Dallas top safety on the roster. He’s going to be the man in any and every high-leverage situation this season and will be given every opportunity to shine. With free agency and a major payday awaiting him in 2021, Woods will be extra motivated to give his all this year.
The good news for Woods is the Dallas Cowboys are no longer as transparent as they once were. The single high role he played most of last season will no longer be his base scheme so he should have chances to shine in multiple roles and responsibilities around the field. Woods has also been fairly proficient in man coverage so it’s possible he’ll draw some man responsibilities this season.
The Dallas Cowboys pass-rush has the potential to be utterly dominant which should only add to Woods’ ability to make plays. With DeMarcus Lawrence, Aldon Smith, Everson Griffen, and even Randy Gregory hurrying the passer, mistakes are going to be made and Woods should be in position to capitalize on said mistakes.
Furthermore, Dallas is expected to be playing with a lead more often than not and that means opponents will be airing it out to keep pace. The opportunities will be there, all Woods has to do is seize those opportunities.
A look into which position groups are the most improved following the roster cuts over the weekend.
Duh. They added Dontari Poe, Aldon Smith, Everson Griffen, Neville Gallimore, and Bradlee Anae, plus Trysten Hill was much improved in camp while Tyrone Crawford appears fully healthy. That’s a lot of upgrading, with the pass rush in particular looking like it is going to be among the league’s elite. Now, they also can look forward to Randy Gregory coming in for the week 7 game against the Washington Football Team. Oh, my.
And they didn’t just go grocery shopping to cook up a banquet. The team hired a new chef to prepare what is hoped to be a sack feast, with a nice side of run stuffing. Jim Tomsula has brought a new philosophy. No more playing the run on the way to the passer. Poe in particular should help solidify the middle of the line, while the lateral pursuit of DeMarcus Lawrence, Smith, Griffen, and even Hill should help make sure the defense doesn’t get gashed the way it was far too often last year. And when the quarterback drops back to pass, he will face ferocious pressure from inside and the edge. Even without the expected increased, and more intelligent, use of blitzes, the “basic” pass rush looks absolutely delicious.
There is also evidence that the ingredients are going to be blended in fresh and tantalizing ways, with Lawrence, Smith, Griffen, and Crawford all able to move inside to put as many QB hunters on the field as possible. The line, especially in the middle, was a real problem a year ago. Now, we can expect some real chef’s kisses.
The season is less than one week away, so let’s look at some breakout candidates!
4. Darian Thompson, Safety
The Dallas Cowboys recently cut Ha Ha Clinton-Dix which was a bit of a surprise. The former Alabama safety was a first-round pick of the Green Bay Packers back with Mike McCarthy was the head coach in 2014. He was brought to Dallas this offseason as they were trying to finally upgrade the position. However, Clinton-Dix was beaten out during training camp by former Boise State star Darian Thompson, who looks to be the starter opposite Xavier Woods this year.
Thompson came into the NFL the good bit of fanfare as he was the 71st overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft — taken by the New York Giants. He played for the Giants for the first two seasons of his career and was a starter for them for the entire 2017 season.
That year, he had 75 tackles and an interception, and look poised to be a fixture in their defense for years to come. However, he was released out of the 2018 season and was then added to the Arizona Cardinals practice squad. Dallas then added him off of the practice squad, but he didn’t do much during 2018 at all. But in 2019, that changed as he had 45 tackles for Dallas was starting four games and playing in a total of 15.
He’s now poised to be the number one strong safety, and the fact that they’re willing to release Clinton-Dix despite guaranteeing him more than $2 million is proof that they think very highly of Thompson and his abilities. He might not be the big-name fans were hoping for but he could be a steadying force for them and a surprising breakout player.
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