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Cowboys news: Three safety targets for the Cowboys in the 2021 NFL Draft

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2021 Reese’s Senior Bowl Practice Photo by Senior Bowl/Collegiate Images/Getty Images

Film room: 3 potential safety targets for the Dallas Cowboys in the 2021 NFL draft - John Owning, Dallas Morning News

Fans are hoping the Cowboys will finally spend a premium draft pick on a safety.

Most safeties struggled during one-on-ones against receivers at the Senior Bowl, but Grant looked right at home, showing cornerback-like change of direction and man coverage ability from the slot. This versatility would give Quinn a lot of options each week in how to defend certain players and offenses. And although I fear for his health on about half of his tackle attempts because he launches into ballcarriers, Grant does add value as a run defender. He’s not afraid to attack blockers or make one-on-one tackles against physical ballcarriers. Grant will never be accused of making a business decision in the NFL.

That said, there’s a reason Grant could be available early in the second round. He’s one of the older prospects in this draft, at 23, and will turn 24 during his rookie season. For context: CeeDee Lamb is still 21. In addition to his lack of size, the way Grant tackles could make him an injury liability in the NFL, where the collisions will be bigger and more punishing on the body.

If Grant somehow falls to the 44th pick, the Cowboys shouldn’t think twice about picking this supreme safety. But because of his dominant showing at the Senior Bowl, Dallas may have to trade up to secure Grant’s services (a real possibility).

2021 NFL Free Agency: Updated landing spots for PFF’s top 50 free agents - Anthony Treash, PFF.com

The top free agent of 2021 is predicted to land in Dallas.

1. QB DAK PRESCOTT. Prediction: Dallas Cowboys — four years, $158 million ($115 million guaranteed) The long-lasting debate of “should the Cowboys pay Dak” is likely (and thankfully) going to come to an end in the coming weeks. Prescott deserves to receive a decent-sized long-term deal from Dallas, even if he is coming off a gruesome ankle injury.

Prescott shined with first-time playcaller Kellen Moore back in 2019, producing a top-10 PFF grade at the position while ranking as the third-most valuable quarterback in the NFL per PFF wins above replacement (WAR). He followed that up with a fiery start in 2020 before going down with that season-ending injury in Week 5, too, ranking seventh among quarterbacks in PFF grade through the first five weeks of the season (85.2) and leading the league in deep passing yards with 507.

He has proved to be more than capable of performing at a high level in any given year, and that’s not something a lot of NFL teams can say they have at quarterback.

Cowboys need to get Dak Prescott signed before franchise-tag deadline - Mike Florio, ProFootballTalk

It certainly would be ideal to get a Dak deal done before the March 9th deadline.

It makes far more sense for the Cowboys to get Prescott signed to a long-term contract, with a much lower 2021 cap charge, before the the deadline for applying the franchise tag arrives. Last year, the talks bogged down over the length of the contract; Prescott wanted four years, the Cowboys wanted five. This year, Prescott should hold even more firm on a a four-year deal. Length will be the easy part. Value becomes more difficult, given that Patrick Mahomes has a new-money average of $45 million and that Deshaun Watson gets $39 million.

There’s another important factor at play here: Contract value at signing. Watson’s contract has an average value at signing of $29.11 million. Mahomes’ deal has an average value at signing of $39.8 million. Of course, Mahomes’ signed a 12-year deal. Watson signed a four-year extension. Prescott, if he signs a four-year deal, will be back at the table after the 2024 season.

So what will it take? Four-years, $130 million would result in an average of $32.5 million. With, for example, a $60 million signing bonus and a $5 million salary for 2021, Prescott would have a cap number of $20 million. Additional guarantees would be needed, and there would be cash-flow details to negotiate.

Progress Report: Williams Turned Into O-Line Veteran - Jonny Auping, DallasCowboys.com

The 23-year-old turned into the veteran of the offensive line in 2020.

The Good: There's a saying that "the best ability is availability." If that's true, then Connor Williams was one of the most valuable players on the Cowboys in 2020. Of the 1,145 offensive snaps that the Cowboys took last season, Williams was on the field for 1,144 of them. Not much can be said about his season that would be more impressive than that statistic. Williams took a huge leap from the youngest, least accomplished member of the offensive line to being forced into a veteran presence when the offensive line was decimated by injuries to players like Tyron Smith, La'el Collins, and Zack Martin. Starting every game of the season was a noteworthy accomplishment coming off of ACL surgery the year prior, and he seemed to return with more strength than he'd shown in his career previously.

The Bad: Williams can't be blamed for the injuries of his cohorts, but ultimately, the offensive line was far from a strength for the team last season. All four starting quarterbacks the Cowboys deployed dealt with very little time in the pocket and Ezekiel Elliott was regularly being touched almost immediately upon receiving the ball. The run game was supposed to be something the Cowboys could establish regardless of their quarterback situation. Unfortunately, Williams was pushed backwards by some of the better defensive tackles he faced last year. He might not have been a weak link in the offensive line, but he didn't shine as its pillar either.

Cowboys' Top Players to Consider for Franchise Tag, RFA Contract Tenders - Alex Ballentine, Bleacher Report

Dak is the obvious candidate for the tag, but what other controllable free agents should Dallas retain?

Restricted Free Agent Tender: DT Antwaun Woods. It's no secret that the Cowboys run defense was miserable under Mike Nolan. New defensive coordinator Dan Quinn is going to have to find a way to stop the run and won't have much cap flexibility to do it.

One of the areas in which the Cowboys struggled was on the interior of the defensive line. Neville Gallimore played like a rookie and will likely be given a chance to show improvement in his second season but Trysten Hill didn't show many signs he could take on a larger role next season. They traded for Eli Ankou at the trade deadline from the Houston Texans, but he wasn't much of a factor either in the defensive tackle rotation.

Woods is coming off his worst season to date. He posted his worst season by Sports Info Solutions' points saved metric. The soon-to-be 29-year-old is a relatively high-floor, low-ceiling signing. The Cowboys know what they are getting from him with the possibility of a bounce-back season after a disappointing showing in 2020. Is that worth the projected $2.1 million right to first refusal tender? Probably not. But it still seems likely the Cowboys will try to bring him back provided there isn't really a market out there for him. At this point, he's a veteran who is familiar with the organization and can provide depth.

Did QB Garrett Gilbert Earn The Cowboys' Backup Job? - Kevin Brady, Inside The Star

Should the Cowboys trust Gilbert and bring him back as the backup quarterback?

Gilbert, who bounced around the league before falling out of it entirely, signed a two year deal with the Cowboys in October of last year. He only appeared in one game in 2020, but the performance was…decent enough to earn him consideration as the backup going forward.

Garrett Gilbert’s lone start came against the Pittsburgh Steelers, who were unbeaten at the time. Dallas didn’t beat Pittsburgh, but they played way more competitively than anyone expected them to prior to kickoff. Gilbert finished the game 21 of 38 for 243 yards and a touchdown. Not great stats by any means, but he was competent the entire game. And that was way more than Dallas had gotten from Ben DiNucci and Andy Dalton in previous weeks.

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