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Cowboys news: With free agency opening, the Cowboys approach hasn’t changed

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Dallas Cowboys v New Orleans Saints Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

What To Expect From The Start Of Free Agency - David Helman, DallasCowboys.com

Anyone that expected the Cowboys to come out of the gate blazing hasn’t been following the Cowboys.

Yes, the new league year is about to begin, bringing the annual chaos of free agency with it. The 2021 NFL calendar officially begins on Wednesday at 3 p.m., central time, allowing clubs to officially begin navigating this salary cap-crunched season and signing new players.

Before that, though, the league has already entered the much-discussed “legal tampering” window.

If that sounds like a bit of a contradiction, that’s because it is. Essentially, the NFL got tired of watching teams and players bend the rules several years ago and enacted a 52-hour window in which negotiations are allowed, although they can’t be finalized.

What that basically means is, starting Monday and running until Wednesday afternoon, NFL teams can reach agreements with the agents of impending free agents, and those deals can be signed as soon as the league year begins two days from now.

[UPDATE] Cowboys place original-round tenders on Cedrick Wilson & Antwaun Woods, plus Noah Brown is back - RJ Ochoa, Blogging The Boys

The Cowboys did take care of some lower-level business on Monday,

Tampering season is officially underway across the NFL and a number of deals are starting to take shape. We are all interested in the Dallas Cowboys here which means we are all in for a bit of a boring affair. The Cowboys have been notoriously silent in free agency ever since whiffing (debatable) on Brandon Carr’s deal that they negotiated in 2012. You can go ahead and hit the snooze button because it is unlikely that anything will make you jump out of bed for the next week or so.

None of this is to say that the Cowboys aren’t doing anything at all. They reportedly have interested in free safety Damontae Kazee, oh and they handed out a $160M deal to Dak Prescott last week. No big deal.

Other things are necessary though, and while everyone else is tampering the Cowboys are taking care of some housekeeping.

Dallas tendered restricted free agents Cedrick Wilson and Antwaun Woods, plus is Noah Brown dropping a bread crumb?

With teams around the National Football League handing out multimillion dollar deals on Monday the Cowboys did sit back and chill as mentioned. According to one report, though, they placed original round tenders on both Cedrick Wilson and Antwaun Woods.

Cowboys Free Agency: OT Cam Erving working on deal with Panthers - Jim Nevarez, Cowboys Wire

The Cowboys could potentially acquire a compensatory pick out of this.

Playing in only six games last season, Erving was hampered by injuries. The former first-round pick, who has also played for Cleveland and Kansas City was signed in hopes of adding depth to Dallas’ offensive line heading into last season. After being beaten out by UDFA rookie Terrance Steele to be the opening day starter at right tackle, Erving was injured in Week 1 and placed on IR.

He returned in Week 7 and started in five games, but was lost again in Week 11 and placed on IR again, ending his season. After signing for one year, $2.5 million in 2020, the reported deal would be a sizable increase.

From the Cowboys perspective, Erving would qualify for the comp pick formula for the 2022 draft. That determines extra picks given to teams who lose more qualifying free agents than they bring in.

Even with losing Erving, the Cowboys already have depth behind starters Tyron Smith and La’el Collins, both of whom are expected to make full recoveries after missing much or all of 2020. Steele and Brandon Knight earned the majority of starts in their place last season and are in line to be the main backups entering 2021.

REPORT: Cowboys Eyeing S Damontae Kazee in Free Agency - Jess Haynie, Inside The Star

A low-risk signing if the price is right for the Cowboys.

There are several free agents in 2021 that have been linked to the Dallas Cowboys thanks to new Defensive Coordinator Dan Quinn. Now there’s a report that the team is interested in one of Quinn’s former Falcons players; fifth-year Safety Damontae Kazee.

Kazee was a 5th-round pick of Atlanta’s in 2017, drafted 42 slots before Dallas selected Xavier Woods that same year. Now after three years as a starter for the Falcons, could Damontae follow Quinn to Dallas and replace his former draft classmate as a starting safety?

After serving as a backup during his rookie season, Kazee was forced into duty in 2018 when Keanu Neal was injured in Week 1. Starting the next 15 games, Damontae registered seven interceptions to tie the NFL leaders that year. He added three more interceptions in 14 starts in 2019.

Unfortunately, his 2020 season was cut short after four games with an Achilles injury. But Kazee is reportedly good to go for next year and will be turning 28 in June.

Rams LS Jake McQuaide being wooed by Cowboys - Kenneth Arthur, Turf Show Times

The Cowboys decided to go in another direction with their long-snapper.

The Dallas Cowboys are parting with longsnapper L.P. Ladouceur after 16 seasons with the club and are in talks with Rams free agent Jake McQuaide, according to ESPN’s Todd Archer. It would make sense that the Cowboys want to poach LA’s longsnapper, as special teams coordinator John Fassel went from the Rams to Dallas in 2020 and also took kicker Greg Zuerlein with him.

This would nearly complete the circle for Fassel and the Cowboys. Hold onto your Johnny Hekkers everybody.

McQuaide, 33, entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent out of Ohio State in 2011. He has been the longsnapper in all 160 regular season Rams games ever since, plus six postseason games. He is a two-time Pro Bowler and most recently signed a three-year contract in 2018. He is a free agent and while we haven’t discussed the possibility of LA having to find a new longsnapper, that’s becoming a real thing to consider now.

{Update} The Cowboys have signed McQuaide.

Cowboys Rumors: DAL Want Andy Dalton to Re-Sign After Dak Prescott’s Contract - Tyler Conway, Bleacher Report

It would be great if they did get Dalton back but he should get a better offer from another team.

Dalton spoke to reporters in January about what lies ahead:

“There’s a lot to be decided this offseason. This is my first time being a free agent when the new league year starts, so I’ll go through the process of everything and weigh all of my options and see what I got.

“Like I said, I’ve really enjoyed my time in Dallas. Just a good chance to play back at home where I’ve had a lot of family and friends that are able to come to games. I’m very thankful for the opportunity that I had this year, with the ability to play and just put some tape out there.”

Dalton’s free-agent destination will depend on his desires for the immediate future. If he wants a chance to start, Washington or Chicago could be enticing on an incentive-laden deal. Otherwise, he’s probably looking for a situation much like last season, when he signed with the Cowboys as a high-end backup.

After giving Prescott a massive four-year contract, the Cowboys likely won’t be able to give Dalton the same type of deal he got in 2020. Dalton will likely find a team with more money or a better opportunity at playing time and wind up departing Dallas this offseason.

Noah Brown Staying with Dallas Cowboys on One-Year Deal - Dan Hope, Eleven Warriors

Big target and even better blocker. Cowboys are keeping Noah Brown.

On a day where many NFL free agents are changing teams, former Ohio State wide receiver Noah Brown is staying put.

The Dallas Cowboys are bringing back Brown on a one-year deal, according to USA TODAY’s Jori Epstein.

Brown posted about the news on Instagram with a photo that includes fellow former Buckeye Ezekiel Elliott:

A seventh-round pick in the 2017 NFL draft, Brown has spent his entire NFL career with the Cowboys. He has caught only 23 passes for 241 yards in four seasons, but has also seen regular playing time on special teams.

Dallas Cowboys Bigger Priority: Fixing Run-D or Improving Secondary? - Reid Hanson, Dallas Fort Worth

That’s like deciding what came first, the chicken or the egg.

The Dallas Cowboys’ secondary hurt them far more than their horrific run defense

As the above line bluntly states, the Cowboys secondary deserves the most attention and should be the bigger priority this offseason. Whether it’s through free agency or the NFL Draft, Dallas will need to invest more time and resources to stop the pass than to stop the run And it’s not just because two starters, Chidobe Awuzie and Xavier Woods, are set to leave. It’s because Dallas was hurt more against the pass than they were against the run last season.

Despite what the overall league rankings indicate, the Dallas Cowboys were worse against the pass than they were against the run last season. For as back-breaking as those 5+ yard runs were game after game last season, the damage was far less than the plays made through the air against Dallas.

Let’s add some value to the raw numbers. 5.0 y/c doesn’t mean much if we don’t have context, right? A 5.5 yard run sounds bad but if it’s on 3rd-and-6, it’s actually a win for the defense. A 20-yard pass completion allowed sounds like bad thing, but if it happened when time expired in the first half, it’s a win for the defense.

Looking at expected points added (EPA) and success rates, we can see how often opponents had success against Dallas, and to what extent. The scores are in context so we have the ability to replace what we “feel” with what we “know.” Always the goal in enlightened sports analysis.

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