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Cowboys news: Mock draft season has officially started, but there’s still that Dak Prescott thing

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

Three-round 2021 NFL mock draft 1.0: Jets trade out of No. 2 overall pick - Chad Reuter, NFL.com

This is a name you don’t see very often for the Cowboys in mock drafts.

Pick 10

Dallas Cowboys

Gregory Rousseau · Edge rusher

School: Miami | Year: Sophomore (RS)

Rousseau is just scratching the surface of his potential. His strength and length on the edge will help him become a force that the Cowboys could definitely use if soon-to-be free agents Tyrone Crawford and Aldon Smith get new addresses this spring.

Dak Prescott contract: Cowboys hope to avoid tag, confident in QB’s recovery after added clean-up surgery - Patrik Walker, CBSSports

Pay Dak what he’s owed and just get it over with.

Additionally, Prescott is said to be able to move around freely without those crutches and a separate source notes he’s completely out of his walking boot — used now only for preventative measures, if at all.

This is why the Cowboys have zero qualms about dishing out what will be a historic deal, if the two sides can finally come to terms after two failed attempts in two consecutive offseasons. The team hasn’t wavered one iota in proclaiming Prescott as the future of the organization, months after attempting to coax him into a deal that was one year longer than he wanted to commit to. They’d like to get a deal done before the franchise tag deadline in early March to avoid having to tag him a second time to the tune of $37.7 million to buy time for additional negotiations, and will soon reignite talks after having not yet done so while they seek additional clarity on what the 2021 salary cap will look like.

The problem is it’s unknown when how soon the NFL and NFLPA will come to an agreement on this year’s cap number, making it more difficult for the Cowboys to structure their next offer if they’re truly trying to tie it to the cap — for negotiating purposes. That means the expectation remains a second tag will land on Prescott, sources told CBS Sports on Feb. 1, with the deadline for negotiating a deal again set for July 15. There are rumors the cap could land anywhere from $180 million to $195 million, both being higher than the $175 million floor set one year ago due to revenue concerns created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The biggest offseason priority for every NFL team - Sam Robinson, Yardbarker

It’s pretty clear what the big need is for the Cowboys.

Dallas Cowboys: decide on Dak

Given the ignition of the quarterback trade market, it would seem the Cowboys could fetch somewhere between the Deshaun Watson and Matthew Stafford price tags for Dak Prescott. The 2020 NFC East was a reminder of the five-year veteran’s value, and the Cowboys have numerous veteran starters that match up with Prescott’s timeline. But this is now offseason No. 3 of Dak negotiations, and a monster $37 million franchise tag will hurt more once the pandemic-induced cap decrease occurs. With Watson’s 2020 extension raising QB prices further, the Cowboys face a decision: extend their QB now or trade him to avoid a Kirk Cousins-esque ending.

Cowboys Explain Dak Prescott’s Absence from Hype Video Amid Contract Rumors - Timothy Rapp, Bleacher Report

The controversy that wasn’t.

The 27-year-old Prescott and the Cowboys weren’t able to agree on a long-term contract extension before last season, leading to the team resorting to a $31.4 million franchise tag to keep Prescott out of free agency.

The Cowboys could go the franchise tag for a second straight season, but that’s the nuclear option for two reasons:

1. It would cost them roughly $37.7 million.

2. It would be the last time they could go that route, meaning Prescott would be a free agent in the 2022 offseason and likely would depart, seeing as he and the Cowboys would have failed to come to terms on a long-term deal in three consecutive offseasons.

Losing Prescott at any point would be an enormous setback for a Cowboys franchise that has made the playoffs just three times since 2010 and hasn’t won a Super Bowl since 1995, the largest title drought in team history.

Prescott was having a superb season in 2020 before a compound fracture in his right ankle in Week 5 ended his year, throwing for 1,856 yards, nine scores and four interceptions while completing 68 percent of his passes. He was on pace for another career year, a season removed from setting career highs in passing yards (4,902) and touchdowns (30).

Depth Chart Based on 2021 Offseason Guide to Fix the Dallas Cowboys - Brian Martin, Inside The Star

The Cowboys are going to have quite a few business decisions to make this offseason.

OFFENSE

Dallas Cowboys 2021 Depth Chart

POSITION FIRST TEAM SECOND TEAM THIRD TEAM

QB Dak Prescott Garrett Gilbert Ben DiNucci

RB Ezekiel Elliott Tony Pollard Rico Dowdle FB Jamize Olawale Sewo Olonilua

WR (X) Amari Cooper Kyle Pitts WR (Y) Michael Gallup Cedrick Wilson WR (slot) CeeDee Lamb Malik Turner

TE Kyle Pitts Blake Jarwin Dalton Schultz

LT Tyron Smith James Hudson Brandon Knight

LG Connor Williams

C Tyler Biadasz Joe Looney RG Zack Martin Connor McGovern

RT La’el Collins Terence Steele

As you can see, there isn’t much change from the Dallas Cowboys depth chart last season to my projected 2021 depth chart. Getting back several starters from injuries is the key to the Cowboys offensive success in 2021 and other than that the only new additions I made were TE Kyle Pitts and OT James Hudson.

Kyle Pitts is someone I think Dallas could utilize in a a variety of ways. I think he compares favorably to Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Mike Evans or Las Vegas Raiders TE Darren Walker, which is why I have him listed at both positions on the depth chart. James Hudson’s addition upgrades the Cowboys swing tackle position and gives them someone to eventually replace Tyron Smith.

3 things Dallas Cowboys must do for a shot at Super Bowl LVI - Connor Green, The Landry Hat

Only three, well this shouldn’t be too bad.

2. Acquire competent players in their secondary

The Dallas Cowboys gave up the fifth-most points per game in the NFL this past season with 29.6. That fact is due in no small part to the teams’ porous secondary.

The Cowboys defense only managed to get ten interceptions in 2020, which was tied for the fifth-fewest in the league. However, that number is actually an improvement for the organization that finished 2019 with the fewest interceptions in the NFL with seven.

That means that over the past two seasons (32 games) Dallas has only managed to get seventeen interceptions as a team. The defenses’ inability to force turnovers has been a persistent problem. The teams’ secondary was also one of only seven in the league to allow opposing passers to have a passer rating over 100 in 2020.

Despite the units’ struggles over the past few seasons, the team did see the emergence of two promising young players in 2020. The Cowboys second-round draft pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, cornerback Trevon Diggs, finished the season with a team-high three interceptions and also led the team in pass deflections with 14 despite only playing 12 games. The organization also saw the emergence of hard-hitting safety Donovan Wilson.

5 things Cowboys must do to be 2021 Super Bowl contenders: Improving run D, O-line health among top priorities - Michael Gehlken, DMN

Turns out it’s not three, but five.

Shore up the run D

Upgrading the interior defensive line was a priority last offseason.

It should be again.

Nose tackle Dontari Poe and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy were big-ticket additions in 2020 free agency. Poe, a far cry from his Pro Bowl form of 2013 and 2014, was cut midseason. McCoy tore a quad tendon in his first padded practice of training camp, an injury the Cowboys feared based on his medical profile and protected themselves against with a clause in his contract.

After little went as hoped, the front office is back in the market.

Better play up front can relieve pressure off the team’s linebackers, whose inconsistent run fits were part of the issue. All told, Dallas allowed an average of 158.8 rushing yards last year, second-worst in the NFL.

Defensive tackle Neville Gallimore showed flashes as a rookie third-round pick. Trysten Hill, a 2019 second-round choice, made strides before a torn ACL in October. Nose tackle Antwaun Woods easily was an upgrade over Poe.

There are some solid pieces on the interior, but help is obviously needed.

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