It’s not just the draft and free agency as tools to improve a roster, the Cowboys can go the trade rotue.
The Dallas Cowboys' run defense was among the worst in the league last season, giving up five yards per carry to opposing rushers. Poor defensive tackle play was one of the main culprits. Neville Gallimore had typical rookie struggles, but Tyrone Crawford and Eli Ankou were bad with little hope they will improve next season.
Veteran help at the position will be crucial this offseason, and the 33-year-old Atkins is a prime candidate to be traded. The Bengals already dealt defensive end Carlos Dunlap to the Seahawks for a seventh-round pick at the trade deadline in 2020. Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated wrote in October last year that the Bengals were not making Atkins available at the time, but with the investment of D.J. Reader in free agency last season, and Atkins only playing 51 snaps over his final four games of the season, maybe they have changed their minds.
The eight-time Pro Bowl selection only played in eight games last season as he battled back from a shoulder injury. He’s been a high-level player when healthy, though, putting together up 47 tackles and 4.5 sacks in the previous season with the Bengals.
Joe Looney’s future is uncertain with the arrival of Tyler Biadasz.
In his four games as the starter, Biadasz was more than serviceable and seems like a player who will continue to develop and become an eventual starter. Is he ready now? That's the question the Cowboys must answer sooner than later – at least before the start of free agency on March 17. But Looney and Biadasz might not be the only candidates for this spot.
Let's not forget Connor McGovern has center experience in college and there has been even some rumblings about Connor Williams taking some snaps in the middle as well. Of course, the Cowboys might also have their eyes on the outside as well, either in free agency or the draft again. So this is a position that is very unclear here in early February.
The former second-round pick came on strong in 2020.
Best Of 2020: Week 17 vs. Philadelphia. Arguably the most dominant performance of any defensive player last season, Gregory had 1.5 sacks in a 37-17 win over the Eagles and became the first Cowboys player in four years to force three fumbles in one game. Contract Consideration: After Gregory's conditional reinstatement in September, the Cowboys gave him a one-year extension through the 2021 season. Gregory previously was set to be a restricted free agent this year.
What's Next: We don't know exactly how new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn plans to utilize players in his scheme, predominantly a 4-3 under over the years. But Gregory's explosiveness as an edge rusher makes him a great fit for Quinn's system. As Bucky Brooks noted in his recent "5 Bucks" column, Gregory has the skill set for the "LEO" spot on the defensive front – basically a designated pass rusher who can also play in space. (Lawrence could presumably handle that, too.) The Cowboys have a decision to make with Smith, who's set to be an unrestricted free agent in March. But Gregory could be in line for a rise in snaps next season even if Smith is re-signed, as the club has indicated they'd like to do.
Film room: 3 potential linebacker targets for the Dallas Cowboys in the 2021 NFL draft - John Owning, Dallas Morning News
Should the Cowboys spend a premium pick on a linebacker?
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Notre Dame Notre Dame’s Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (JOK) is listed as a linebacker, but in reality, he’s a hybrid defender who can align at all three levels of the defense and make an impact. Listed 6-2 and 215 pounds, JOK is one of the most explosive defenders in the entire draft — with rumored 10-foot-3 broad and 39-inch vertical jumps — which aids his ability to knife into the backfield and make plays. When he’s unblocked, JOK is a problem for the opposing offense, as he can run with any ball carrier and isn’t afraid to meet them head-on either.
While JOK often goes Super Saiyan when unblocked, he reverts to a mere mortal when forced to take on blocks, as his lack of size inhibits his ability to functionally stack-and-shed blocks at the point-of-attack. JOK also isn’t aided by the fact that his take-on technique is inconsistent at best, as he all too often absorbs contact rather initiating it.
Therefore, in the NFL, JOK is going to need to rely on great instincts and mental processing so that he can play on the edges of blocks or beat blockers to the spot because he’s not going to be successful, at least early on, if forced to take on blockers consistently. Unfortunately, JOK’s processing ability inside the box is difficult to evaluate because he spends so many snaps untethered to the box.
One year after his viral heartbreak, Cowboys legend Drew Pearson again awaits the Hall of Fame call - Kevin Sherrington, Dallas Morning News
The Cowboys legend hopes once again to get the call.
“The way I felt,” Pearson said Monday, “the whole world got to see.” Now, here we are, a little more than a year later with another Hall of Fame class in the offing, and once again Drew Pearson waits. His chances look better this time. He’s the lone player among senior finalists. Tom Flores is up as a coach. Both senior candidates have become national causes. Coors even put Flores in commercials and on cans, leaving Pearson to feign disappointment.
“I could have done malt liquor,” he said. “Even Boone’s Farm.” Pearson’s sense of humor is proof that if the snub hurt, it didn’t metastasize into bitterness. On Friday, he’ll be on a flight to Tampa. Come Saturday morning, he’ll get a call or he won’t. “No matter when it comes,” he said, “it’s still a great feeling. And hopefully I’ll be able to get that feeling when it happens.” Pause. “Hopefully.”
Potential Teams who Could be Interested in Acquiring QB Dak Prescott - Brian Martin, Inside The Star
If things go south, where could the Cowboys potentially deal Dak?
New England Patriots. The New England Patriots were a team who were really interested in acquiring Matthew Stafford, but unfortunately for them the former Lions QB was pretty adamant that’s the one place he didn’t want to go. It’s doubtful Dak Prescott would make such demands, making New England one of the front runners who could be interested in acquiring his services. They have more than enough salary-cap space ($58 million) to sign Prescott long-term and enough draft capital to package together to entice the Cowboys. If things do end up turning sour between Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys, the Patriots are probably a favorite to try to land his services.
Indianapolis Colts. The Indianapolis Colts are in win now mode and the only thing holding them back from making a strong playoff push in 2021 is the quarterback position. They don’t really have the ammunition move up in the draft to select one of the top QBs, which leaves them having to sign a veteran or finding their starter via trade. The latter could put them in the sweepstakes for Dak Prescott. They are currently third in the league in salary-cap space ($68 million) so signing him long-term wouldn’t be a problem. Putting together a good enough trade package to outdo other teams on the other hand could be a problem. Regardless though, if Prescott does become available they will no doubt be in contention for his services.
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