Film room: 3 players the Cowboys would be wise to re-sign before free agency begins - John Owning, Dallas Morning News
Besides Dak Prescott, there are a couple of under-the-radar guys the Cowboys should re-sign, including TE Blake Bell.
Blake Jarwin’s absence not only meant more opportunities for Dalton Schultz, but it also meant more playing time for Blake Bell, who proved to be a valuable role player on the Cowboys’ offense.
While Bell is never going to stuff the stat sheet, he’s a big-bodied and effective check-down option with reliable hands whose physical running style can generate moderate yards-after-the-catch (YAC). Though he isn’t targeted often, when Bell is, he typically gets the job done, as seven of his 11 catches in 2020 went for first downs.
In pass protection, Bell was almost like a sixth offensive lineman, as he proved capable of handling blitzing linebackers one-on-one in addition to providing valuable help to Dallas’ injury-replacement tackles in 2020. Bell wasn’t credited with a single hurry on 43 pass-blocking snaps in 2020.
In the run game, Bell also added value, as he was effective on combination blocks while showing an ability to hit his targets at the second level. He was so effective that Dallas often felt comfortable leaving him isolated against talented edge defenders on the backside of zone runs. Sure, he took some lumps in those situations, as every TE does, but he had more than his fair share of wins as well, which is uncommon for TEs in today’s passing world (unless you’re George Kittle or Marcedes Lewis).
The Cowboys rarely have a top 10 pick, would they dare spend it on a QB?
Addressing In The Draft? This upcoming year will mark the 33rd draft class during Jerry Jones' tenure as the Cowboys' owner and general manager. In those 33 years, this will mark the ninth time they have held a top 10 pick in the NFL draft. The point being: it's not every year the Dallas Cowboys hold a top 10 draft pick.
This is an especially interesting year to have one, as the team's quarterback position is as uncertain as it's been in quite some time. Of course, they can keep Prescott under contract for at least another year by virtue of the franchise tag – but what about the long-term future? If, for some reason, the Cowboys want to look at a reset, the opportunity is certainly there. This draft class features quite a few star quarterback prospects, from Clemson's Trevor Lawrence and Ohio State's Justin Fields, to BYU's Zach Wilson and North Dakota State's Trey Lance. If the Cowboys want to draft a talented young quarterback, they may not have a better chance than with this top 10 pick.
While the overwhelming belief is that Dak returns, some aren’t so sure.
Prescott now has even more leverage. He's coming off a serious ankle injury but was the league's most prolific passer before getting hurt, and NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported this month the 27-year-old has been making great progress in his recovery. Meanwhile, another tag would cost the Cowboys $37.7 million. That could be a financial death sentence for a team projected by Spotrac to enter the offseason with just $17.8 million in salary-cap space without accounting for Prescott and fellow in-house free agents Chidobe Awuzie, Tyrone Crawford, Jourdan Lewis, Aldon Smith and Xavier Woods.
The Cowboys had a bottom-10 defense in terms of DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average) at Football Outsiders in 2020. To get back into the Super Bowl picture with Prescott, they'll likely need to improve on that side of the ball while having better injury luck on offense. But if Prescott counts $37.7 against the cap, that would practically be impossible.
They could alternatively make sacrifices on offense, but that would only hinder Prescott's supporting cast. Besides, there's almost no relief associated with getting out of lucrative contracts possessed by Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott, Tyron Smith, Zack Martin and La'el Collins. Dallas is married to that core, and management will likely have to rework several of those deals to make room for Prescott and/or several of those key in-house free agents.
Examining how the defense looks with no outside additions.
Current 2021 Defensive Ends: DeMarcus Lawrence, Randy Gregory, Bradlee Anae Dorance Armstrong, Ladarius Hamilton While not overflowing with talent, DE is probably where the Cowboys are currently strongest for 2021. That’s thanks to a duo in Tank Lawrence and Randy Gregory that should be better than ever next season. Armstrong has been an okay depth player but rarely making any splash plays, Fans are still anxious to see Anae, a 5th-round pick in 2020, get more playing time.
While not technically under contract yet, 2020 UDFA Ron’Dell Carter is almost a lock to be brought back as an Exclusive Rights Free Agent. I’ve throw Ladarius Hamilton on here for now as the only DE left with a deal, but that spot belongs to Carter once the Cowboys make it official. The Cowboys will want at least one more quality backup here. Losing Aldon Smith and Tyrone Crawford this offseason will hurt and they still need insurance against any relapses in Gregory’s off-field activities. Bringing Smith back, as the team is reportedly desiring to do, will go a long way to shoring up the position.
If nothing else, expect a mid-round draft pick to go to another rotation piece and competitor for a future starting role. Dallas only has Gregory and Armstrong for one more season on their current deals so will want to put some more options in the pipeline for the future.
NFL draft 2021 top-10 pick scenarios - How each team would approach draft-night what-ifs - NFL Nation, ESPN
Who would you lean towards picking if no defenders have been picked before pick 10?
10. Dallas Cowboys What would the Cowboys do here if ... no defenders had been picked yet and they could get any on the board? It's a simple answer, but they'd take the best available defender. Who that is this far out isn't yet clear. Cornerback is a big need, so Patrick Surtain II and Caleb Farley would be great options, especially with Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis set to become free agents. The Cowboys feel like they hit on another Alabama corner in last year's draft, Trevon Diggs, and Surtain has the makeup and feel for the game they crave. And Farley has size, speed and playmaking ability.
The bad news for the Cowboys is there does not appear to be a dominant edge rusher or defensive tackle worth taking at No. 10, and it might be too early for a team like Dallas to go with an off-the-ball linebacker like Micah Parsons, even with questions about Jaylon Smith's future. -- Todd Archer
Report: Jason Witten plans to retire, sign one-day contract with Cowboys - Staff, Dallas Morning News
The future Hall of Famer will retire a Dallas Cowboy.
For the second time in his career, Jason Witten reportedly plans to retire. According to ESPN’s Todd Archer, Witten plans to sign a one-day contract with the Dallas Cowboys to finish out his NFL career after his current deal with the Las Vegas Raiders expires.
Witten retired as a Cowboy after the 2017 season, but returned to the game after a season in the booth for ESPN commentating on Monday Night Football. He played his 16th season in Dallas in 2019 before signing a one-year deal with Las Vegas in 2020.
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