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Cowboys news: Just how big of a role will Donovan Wilson have on the defense in 2021?

The news you may have missed from Tuesday

Dallas Cowboys v New York Giants Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

What’s Next For Safety: Building Around D. Wilson? - Nick Eatman, DallasCowboys.com

There weren’t many players on the Dallas defense who had a good year in 2020, and that’s part of the reason Dan Quinn is the new Cowboys defensive coordinator. But Donovan Wilson had a stellar season, and it could make him the centerpiece of Quinn’s defense going forward.

He began the 2020 season as a borderline-roster hopeful that was looking to impress this new coaching staff and perhaps find a role on special teams to stay on the 53-man roster. Then, Wilson took advantage of added playing time because of an injury to Darian Thompson, and before you know it, Wilson was a regular starter in the secondary.

And better than that, Wilson took it a step further, becoming arguably the best playmaker on the defense. In a game against the Vikings in late November, Wilson set the tone early with a sack and forced fumble on the Cowboys’ first defensive series. Later in the half, he blasted running back Dalvin Cook, forcing a fumble and a recovery that led to a field goal in an eventual victory.

Wilson finished the season with two interceptions and three sacks. Adding in his 71 tackles, Wilson became just the third safety in Cowboys history – joining Bill Bates and Darren Woodson – to record three sacks, two interceptions and over 70 tackles in a season.

It was enough for ProFootballFocus to rank Wilson as the 18th best safety overall in 2020. And to think, Wilson only started 10 games and even missed two games later in the [season].

The Cowboys were lucky to find Dak Prescott, and it’s one of the big reasons why they need to keep him - Jean-Jacques Taylor, Dallas Morning News

The biggest storyline for the Cowboys this offseason will undoubtedly be what they do with Dak Prescott, although it seems as if there’s really only one resolution to this saga: do whatever you have to do to keep the star quarterback in Dallas.

The Cowboys went five years and eight starting quarterbacks from the time Troy Aikman retired after the 2000 season until they lucked into Romo, an undrafted free agent who finally received an opportunity to play when Drew Bledsoe threw one too many interceptions during the 2006 season.

Romo started the next nine seasons and Prescott has started the last four. That’s incredible stability compared to most NFL teams. There’s no guarantee Dallas will find Prescott’s replacement in a year — or 20 years.

For those of you who think all the Cowboys have to do is draft a quarterback in the first round and keep it moving, understand that any quarterback the Cowboys draft they’ll pray that dude is as a good as Prescott is right now. The easiest thing for Dallas to do is get creative and sign Prescott because who knows when they’ll luck into another quarterback as good as No. 4.

How a six-year deal could be a compromise for Cowboys, Dak Prescott - Todd Archer, ESPN

The reason the Cowboys didn’t get Dak Prescott locked up to a long-term contract last year was the dispute between a four-year and five-year deal, and that seems to be the same problem now. But what if there was some sort of compromise? Todd Archer explores that possibility.

The proposed compromise would be a six-year deal that voids to four years.

Both sides can then claim a win. The Cowboys can get their salary-cap flexibility in the first two seasons of the deal when teams will be paying somewhat of a price because of the coronavirus pandemic (the NFL’s salary cap is projected to be down, at roughly $180 million for the next year), and Prescott can be back on the market in 2025.

A perfect solution? Probably not, but there has to be some compromise in a situation that has played out going on its third offseason.

Cowboys-Steelers Again Slated To Play HOF Game - Nick Eatman, DallasCowboys.com

Before the preseason was canceled last year, the Cowboys were set to play the Steelers in the Hall of Fame game. While it’s still no guarantee that the preseason will happen this year, the NFL is still set on those two teams for the first preseason game this time around.

The Cowboys and Steelers were supposed to kick off the 2020 season in the annual Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio. Unlike the rest of the preseason games across the entire NFL, that HOF matchup was actually rescheduled to 2021. Once again, the NFL is hoping the Cowboys and Steelers will be able to kick off the season with an exhibition game to be played Tom Benson Stadium in Canton.

Because the HOF enshrinement ceremony was cancelled last year, both the classes of 2020 and 2021 will be announced. That will include a pair of Cowboys legends in Cliff Harris and Drew Pearson. Also, Jimmy Johnson was part of the 2020 class as well.

The NFL has yet to announce its preseason schedule or opponents for the upcoming season.

Jaylon Smith? Von Miller? Projecting salary cap cuts from across the NFL - The Athletic NFL Staff

It happens every year: a team cuts a player in order to save cap space, and it’s expected to happen at a higher rate this year with the expected financial constraints. And one of the cap casualties being predicted centers on Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith.

Smith has led the Cowboys in tackles the past two seasons and made the Pro Bowl in 2019, so this might seem strange to include his name. But a large portion of those tackles have come after big plays. This past season, Smith struggled getting off blocks in the running game and defending in the passing game. If new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn believes he can get Smith back to playing like he did in 2018, there’s no reason to make a move.

But if Quinn wants to go in another direction at linebacker, Smith could be the post-June 1 cut, saving the Cowboys $7.2 million against the cap in 2021, according to Over The Cap. However, that move would also leave Dallas with $6.8 million in dead money in 2022. Smith is currently projected to be the Cowboys’ seventh-largest cap hit for 2021 at $9.8 million. He still has five years left on the six-year $68.4 million deal he signed in August 2019.

WHICH PLAYER COULD BE THIS YEAR’S VERSION OF STEFON DIGGS TRADE? - Brentley Weissman, The Draft Network

Last offseason, Stefon Diggs earned headlines for his blockbuster trade from Minnesota to Buffalo, and the year before him it was Odell Beckham Jr. So who could find themselves in such a situation this year? Michael Gallup’s name has unsurprisingly come up in conversation.

Gallup is a player who is on the verge of blowing up if given the opportunity to do so. Coming into the league as a third-round pick back in 2018, Gallup has taken a step in his progression every year in his career. Gallup finds himself in trade conversations not because he is a bad player, but because his value will be significantly higher on another team than it is on the Cowboys.

Gallup is set to become an unrestricted free agent after next season in 2022, and it is a virtual lock that the Cowboys will not sign him to a long-term deal with CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper on the roster. It makes a lot of sense for the Cowboys to trade him now, before letting him walk for nothing. Gallup may not be a No. 1 receiver on his new team, but he is easily one of the best No. 2 receivers in the NFL. Receiver-needy teams should absolutely call the Cowboys.

Amari Cooper makes kid’s day with game of catch - TMZ

Amari Cooper has quickly become a fan favorite in Dallas, both for his dominant play on the field and his almost comically stoic demeanor off of it, but on Tuesday he gained even more appreciation for his kind-hearted interaction with a few young fans.

The 26-year-old WR was looking at some investment properties recently when he noticed some kids in the neighborhood were playing some ball in the street.

According to a witness, Cooper had said out loud after seeing the front-yard games, “This is the future right there.” So, Cooper’s friend went over to one of the boys and asked if he watched the Dallas Cowboys.

When the boy said yes, she asked if he wanted to meet Amari — and, of course, the kid said yes! What happened next was super sweet ... Cooper, despite still limping after having ankle surgery in early January, decided to play some catch with the kids!!

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