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Cowboys news: With Super Bowl over, Dak Prescott’s contract looms large

The news you may have missed from Tuesday

New York Giants v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Cowboys must sign Dak Prescott now or risk watching him succeed in another uniform - David Moore, Dallas Morning News

With the Super Bowl all wrapped up, the NFL offseason is officially upon us. That means the clock is ticking on the Cowboys to get Dak Prescott re-signed to a deal, or risk losing him to another team in free agency.

Aikman was surprised when the two sides didn’t reach an agreement before last season. He considered it a mistake along with White.

“I think the Cowboys made a big mistake by not signing him sooner to a long term deal,’’ White said. “He’s proven himself in my book. He checks all the boxes. He’s a born leader. That’s the No. 1 thing, that’s the one thing you can’t really teach a quarterback, is how to lead. The guys in the locker room follow him.’’

A second franchise tag? That puts the relationship in serious jeopardy.

“I’d be really surprised if he’s playing under the franchise tag again this year,’’ Aikman said. “My guess is if he is, that will be the last we see of Dak Prescott. “I just can’t imagine that he’s going to feel really good giving an open negotiation to the Cowboys if he’s played two years under the franchise tag.’’

Cowboys’ biggest free agency needs: Who’s out there? Who could be out in Dallas? - Jon Machota, The Athletic

Dak Prescott is obviously the biggest free agent fish for the Cowboys as the offseason approaches, but it seems to be a foregone conclusion he’ll return. But there are plenty of other areas of concern for Dallas, including the guys who protect

5. Offensive tackle. Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones has said multiple times over the last few months that starting left tackle Tyron Smith and starting right tackle La’el Collins are expected to be 100 percent and ready to return for the 2021 season. Smith missed 14 games last year because of a neck injury he eventually had surgically repaired. Collins missed the entire season with a hip injury that he also had surgically repaired. Those are two very important pieces along the offensive line. If there is any doubt about both being fully healthy for 2021, the Cowboys need to start looking for help. They can’t afford to go another season with Brandon Knight and Terence Steele as their starting offensive tackles.

Key names to target: Russell Okung, Alejandro Villanueva, Cameron Fleming. Okung and Villanueva are likely out of Dallas’ price range unless Smith’s injuries force him into retirement. That’s not expected to happen, but that’s one scenario where the Cowboys could be looking to spend a little more than usual in free agency. Fleming was the team’s swing tackle before joining Jason Garrett last season in New York.

Progress Report: Wilson Vital To Defense’s Identity - Rob Phillips, DallasCowboys.com

One of the few bright spots of the Cowboys 2020 defense was second-year safety Donovan Wilson breaking out as a starter. He seems primed for an expanded role next year, but what can Wilson improve on going forward?

The Good: The Cowboys were ecstatic with Wilson’s second season. The 2019 sixth-round pick primarily was a special teams contributor as a rookie, playing only 16 defensive snaps in 11 games. In 2020, he emerged as a productive starter on a defense in need of consistent playmakers. Promoted to the starting strong safety spot in Week 5 against the Giants, Wilson finished the season with the best overall defensive grade among all Cowboys defensive backs (72.0), according to Pro Football Focus. He had PFF’s third-best defensive grade among players in the regular rotation, behind only DeMarcus Lawrence (88.6) and Randy Gregory (80.5). Despite only 10 starts, Wilson ranked fourth on defense in tackles (68) and pass breakups (4), tied for third in sacks (3.5), tied for second in interceptions (2) and forced fumbles (3) and tied for first in fumble recoveries (2). Most importantly, he brought a hard-hitting edge to the defense. With that tone set, the group played better down the stretch, forcing 12 turnovers in the final four games.

The Bad: Wilson’s physical style of play near the line of scrimmage and in coverage is an important ingredient for the defense moving forward. If there’s something to nitpick about his 2020 season, it’s channeling that toughness and avoiding penalties. Wilson’s three penalties this past season were for unnecessary roughness (twice) and lowering the head to initiate contact. To be clear, the 25-year-old safety is absolutely not a dirty player. He just can’t let his aggressiveness get the best of him. One other note: better communication on the back end will be key for the entire Cowboys secondary. The defense actually allowed fewer explosive pass plays (20 yards or more) than in 2019, but they gave up at least one gain of 40-plus yards in eight games.

ESPN re-drafted the 2020 rookie class and unsurprisingly the Cowboys missed out on CeeDee Lamb - Dallas Morning News Staff

The Cowboys must be thoroughly satisfied with their rookie class, notably CeeDee Lamb and Trevon Diggs, after how well they performed in an otherwise forgettable year. So it’s no surprise that, in a do-over of the draft, the Cowboys are unable to get both players again.

If they could do it all over again, the Cowboys would probably do everything the exact same way. Unfortunately, the rest of the league now knows how special Lamb can be in the NFL and the chances of him falling to No. 17 were already slim enough before.

So in ESPN’s uncalled for re-draft, the Cowboys miss out on their rookie phenom, after he goes to Arizona with the No. 8 overall pick. Which means Dallas takes Diggs a round earlier than they actually did.

“The Cowboys took Diggs in the second round and believe he will be a cornerstone piece to their defense for years to come,” ESPN’s Todd Archer writes. “Mike McCarthy said Diggs has the best ball skills of any young cornerback he has coached. K’Lavon Chaisson would have been the Cowboys’ pick last spring had Lamb not fallen to them, but here they still fill a major need with a player they already know well.”

Can Cowboys Trust a Lawrence-Gregory Starting DE Duo in 2021? - Jess Haynie, Inside the Star

The Cowboys will need to add a lot of talent to the defensive side of the ball this offseason, but they should feel confident in the presence of DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory off the edge. But should Dallas still try to fortify the position?

The question is if the Cowboys can rely on Lawrence and Gregory as starters in 2021 or if they need to keep at least one more proven pass rusher in the mix. Behind them right now are only little or never-seen prospects and projects.

The other two veteran defensive ends, Aldon Smith and longtime Cowboy Tyrone Crawford, are both set to become free agents in March. Neither will likely be able to demand significant money on the open market, so perhaps Dallas will try to re-sign at least one of the them if the price is low enough.

Crawford doesn’t do much for the pass rushing rotation; his value is more in being able to play multiple DL positions. If you want someone who can help with pressuring the QB than Smith makes way more sense.

This is especially true if you believe that Aldon Smith, even at age 32 this September, could be even better in 2021 because of his low mileage. While he will never be the same dynamic player he was early in his career, Smith may have a solid 16-game season in him after shaking the rust off in 2020 and continuing to get back to NFL shape.

What the Cowboys can learn from TB-KC, Andy Reid’s miscues and other final Super Bowl thoughts - Tim Cowlishaw, Dallas Morning News

Nearly everyone was shocked by the Buccaneers blowing out the Chiefs in the Super Bowl, and a lot of it came down to Tampa Bay defensive coordinator Todd Bowles’ gameplan. Bowles, a former Cowboys coach, provided a perfect example of how to turn around a defense - something Dallas desperately needs to do.

3. The Chiefs start a pair of former Cowboys, Damien Wilson and Anthony Hitchens, at linebacker. But without question the most important ex-Cowboy presence in Super Bowl LV was on the other side of the field where Todd Bowles is Tampa Bay’s defensive coordinator. What a marvelous job of not only pressuring Mahomes but covering up the fact that his secondary is vulnerable as Aaron Rodgers’ 346 passing yards illustrated two weeks ago.

And no one ever accused Green Bay of owning better receiving targets than the Chiefs.

For all the talk about Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy missing out on another round of head coaching hires (and I’m not dismissing those discussions), giving Bowles a second chance after his one experience with the Jets should be high on a lot of teams’ lists for 2022.

Blake Jarwin vs Kyle Pitts: What would, should Cowboys do in 2021 draft? - KD Drummond, Cowboys Wire

The Cowboys were expecting to see Blake Jarwin break out as the full-time starter at tight end this year, but it was Dalton Schultz who did that instead. With Jarwin returning after a knee injury, the position seems stacked for Dallas. But should that stop them from taking Florida’s Kyle Pitts in the draft?

With Blake Jarwin signing a 3 year extension in the 2020 off season it looked like Dallas had their man for the future. But after a knee injury early in 2020 and stud Florida TE Kyle Pitts possibly available at 10, Cowboys Nation has its eyes set on the latter.

The Cowboys have had an interesting position group over the last several years, including the ascension of Dalton Schultz in wake of Jarwin’s season ending injury in Week 1. Would Dallas be able to juggle all of those weapons if they picked Pitts? Is Jarwin even ready to resume his role? It’s a look at the position as a whole heading into the offseason.

Mailbag: Could More Legends Follow Pearson To HOF? - Nick Eatman & David Helman, DallasCowboys.com

After narrowly missing out last year, Cowboys legend Drew Pearson was finally inducted into the Hall of Fame this year, a long overdue recognition for the receiver. It’s prompted the conversation of which Cowboys legend could be next.

Nick: I would think Everson Walls would have a shot one day, considering he was very close just a few years ago. He was actually at the Super Bowl and didn’t get that knock. So usually, when you’re that close, I think he’ll have a shot. I know people like to argue this, but I don’t think it would hurt to put him in the Ring of Honor. Plus, he’s so deserving in my opinion for many reasons. But we should have a Top 10 article on players that should be next in line for the Hall. Stay tuned for that.

David: Never say never. There’s no time limit on Hall of Fame enshrinement, so there’s no telling what happens in the future. But I will say that voting someone in after the fact is like pushing a snowball down a hill. You’ve got to get a lot of momentum to sway the right amount of people. Just look at how long it took Drew Pearson, for example. So it could certainly happen, but I don’t think I’d look for it in the immediate future.

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