Dan Quinn to the Cowboys: What change at defensive coordinator means for Dallas’ scheme, staff, draft and more - Patrik Walker, CBS Sports
While the news broke on Monday, Dan Quinn was officially announced as the Cowboys’ new defensive coordinator on Tuesday. Quinn is expected to bring a lot of change to a defense that desperately needs it after a long season.
This is where things could get even more interesting than they already are in Dallas because, as noted, the Cowboys interviewed Whitt for the DC vacancy and Whitt was Quinn’s defensive backs coach for the Falcons in 2020. That said, it’s likely the two will discuss the possibility of reuniting in Dallas, and while it’s unlikely Whitt makes a lateral move to a team who passed on him for the bigger role, it’s far from impossible.
Another option would be to give Kris Richard a call, the hope being they can smooth ruffled feathers by admitting they made a mistake in letting him go during the 2020 regime change. Richard served as the Cowboys passing game coordinator and defensive playcaller in 2019 but, before that, he was a protégé of Quinn’s in Seattle — ultimately taking the mantle as leader of the Legion of Boom when Quinn took the role as head coach for the Falcons in 2015.
The two not only know each other exceeding well, but they coach the same scheme (considering Quinn helped impart his onto Richard, who then added his own refinements), which would make for a much more impactful reunion that potentially that of Quinn and Whitt. This isn’t to say Whitt would be a bad call, but simply to reinforce the difference in the level of success and time spent together between all in the past. Richard is currently in discussions with the Las Vegas Raiders (read: Rod Marinelli), but it’s worth the Cowboys swallowing their pride to ask him for a do-over.
Dan Quinn’s future in Dallas hinges on the Cowboys reversing a decade-long trend in the NFL draft - Kevin Sherrington, Dallas Morning News
Dan Quinn is going to be asked to engineer a massive turnaround on defense, but it won’t be easy. The Cowboys are facing an offseason in which they need to add a lot of talent on that side of the ball, but their track record in that respect isn’t promising.
What it all means is that the Cowboys must stock up on defense in the draft. Diggs and Gallimore were a nice start last year, as was the development of Wilson, a sixth-rounder in ’19. The good news for the Cowboys is that the draft is top-heavy with offensive talent. Chances are good that the best defensive players available would fall into their lap with the 10th pick. Could be Alabama’s Patrick Sartain II, or Caleb Farley of Virginia Tech. Either would be a walk-in starter at cornerback.
The Cowboys will have to make some financial decisions, too. Dak Prescott’s new deal will eat up a large portion of the cap, meaning they won’t have a lot of money to spend on free agents, including their own. They might even consider something like making Jaylon Smith a June 1 cut.
Dan Quinn’s name is recognizable mostly for his recent stint as the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons, but the new Cowboys defensive coordinator has a long and varied history throughout his coaching career that led him to this moment.
He’s worked in different defensive schemes. Quinn is generally regarded as a 4-3 coach throughout his career, including his time working for Pete Carroll in Seattle. The Cowboys have used variations of that approach in the past under former defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli and former passing game coordinator Kris Richard, also an ex-Seahawks assistant. But Quinn has also coached in a variety of systems. The Jets ran a 3-4 during his time in New York. The Dolphins had a mix of 4-3 and 3-4 under Nick Saban back then. Even at Florida, when Quinn went back to college as defensive coordinator from 2011-12, the Gators used a combination of three- and four-man fronts.
He’s yet another assistant on Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy’s staff who has previous NFL head coaching experience. (Special teams coordinator John Fassel and offensive line coach Joe Philbin do, too.) Quinn posted a 46-44 record in five and a half seasons with Atlanta from 2015-20. The Falcons and Quinn parted ways after an 0-5 start this season, including a 40-39 loss to the Cowboys in Week 2. But Quinn took Atlanta to the Super Bowl in 2016, losing a thriller to the Patriots, and became just the second coach in Falcons history to lead them to the playoffs in consecutive seasons. McCarthy clearly likes having an experienced staff, and Quinn’s hire as DC continues that trend in Dallas.
The Cowboys just finished up a 6-10 season and are seeing some changes to their coaching staff as a result. Surely those changes will extend to the roster as well, but which impending free agents are most likely to return?
David: It’s a great question, and fortunately for the Cowboys, the list isn’t as star-studded as it has been in years past. The big one is probably Aldon Smith, as I’d expect them to at least make a run at keeping him. I would also guess they try to make a run at Chido Awuzie or Jourdan Lewis — but that depends a lot on the price. It also wouldn’t surprise me if they try to keep Cam Erving as a swing tackle/depth signing.
Rob: I would guess more than you might think following a 6-10 season, but so much will depend on what the salary cap level is and what the Cowboys can do under that limit. The draft can’t address/fix everything. So, like Dave said, I would imagine they’re hopeful to bring back part of the secondary to help with the depth. Aldon Smith, Andy Dalton, Joe Looney, Joe Thomas, CJ Goodwin and Erving and more did a nice job in their role and would make sense to try to re-sign. But there always will be changes year to year.
Rashawn Slater to Cowboys? Reaction to Dane Brugler’s mock draft 2.0 - Jon Machota & Matt Fortuna, The Athletic
The Cowboys have the tenth overall pick in the draft, and everyone is assuming the pick will be used on a defensive player. However, Dane Brugler has Dallas selecting Northwestern offensive tackle Rashawn Slater in the first round. Why?
Dallas’ biggest needs are on defense, so many outside of the team headquarters would probably groan if this ended up being the pick. The Cowboys used three first-round picks on offensive linemen from 2011 to 2014. However, center Travis Frederick has already retired, left tackle Tyron Smith continues to struggle staying healthy and right guard Zack Martin missed a career-high six games this season because of injury. In other words, drafting an offensive lineman is not the worst idea.
It’s also been an area where the Cowboys have succeeded drafting in the first round. Smith is a seven-time Pro Bowler and All-Decade player. Frederick made five Pro Bowls. Martin is a six-time All-Pro.
If Slater ended up being the pick in April, the Cowboys could groom him to eventually be Smith’s replacement at left tackle. Smith has missed at least three games each of the last five seasons. He missed 14 games in 2020 after needing season-ending neck surgery. He is expected to be fully healthy to start the 2021 season, but having his successor ready to go is not a bad idea. At the very least, Slater could be the team’s swing tackle if both Smith and right tackle La’el Collins were able to stay healthy for a full season. Quarterback Dak Prescott is expected to eventually become the highest-paid player in franchise history, so it makes a lot of sense to continue investing in his protection.
The biggest offseason story is going to center around Dak Prescott, who played 2020 on the franchise tag and will once again try to negotiate a long-term contract with the Cowboys. Pro Football Focus on Tuesday predicted Prescott to sign a four-year extension worth a whopping $158 million.
If PFF is correct, then Prescott will have bet on himself — completing 2020 on his fully-guaranteed $31.4 million franchise tender before taking another swing at the negotiating table — and hugely won. The two-time Pro Bowler rejected several contract offers last year that reportedly would have paid him around $34 million annually with approximately $110 million guaranteed.
At $39.5 annually, Prescott would become the league’s second-highest-paid QB behind Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes ($45M APY), and just ahead of Houston’s Deshaun Watson ($39M). The same situation for the hypothetical guaranteed money.
Curiously, the $75 million guaranteed at signing would rank third behind Atlanta’s Matt Ryan ($94.5M) and Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers ($79.2M), usurping Watson ($73.717M).
Deal to sell majority stake in Legends Hospitality hangs a $1.3 billion value on the Cowboys-backed venture - Dom DiFurio, Dallas Morning News
Jerry Jones is most well-known as the owner and general manager of the Dallas Cowboys, but part of his ability to keep the team at the forefront of the NFL is his many other business ventures outside of football. On Tuesday, one such venture made a move, with potential positive ramifications for the Cowboys going forward.
Legends Hospitality Group LLC is nearing a deal to sell a majority stake in the hospitality company to the private equity group Sixth Street Partners that would value Legends at $1.3 billion including debt, according to media reports. Sixth Street Partners is in talks to buy New Mountain Capital’s stake in a deal that would see the Dallas Cowboys and New York Yankees remain “sizable owners” of the company, according to The Wall Street Journal, which cited “people familiar with the matter.”
According to Sportico’s reporting on the deal, Sixth Street would obtain a 51% stake in Legends; the Cowboys and Yankees would split the remaining 49%.
The stadium management and hospitality company started as a joint venture in 2008 to handle concessions at state-of-the-art stadiums being built for the teams owned by Jones and late Yankees owner George Steinbrenner. Legends now manages professional and college-level sporting and live event spaces, as well as special programming and sponsorships for major sports and entertainment brands.
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