The status of offseason workouts for the NFL is up in the air. If the workouts don’t happen, contractually some Cowboys could be out some money.
If that were to happen, quarterback Dak Prescott, defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, receiver Amari Cooper, running back Ezekiel Elliott, linebacker Jaylon Smith, guard Zack Martin and tackles Tyron Smith and La’el Collins could have to forfeit $500,000 each from their base salary because of a de-escalator for missing at least 84.375% of the Cowboys’ offseason program.
Prescott, who signed a four-year, $160 million deal that included a record $66 million signing bonus, has a $9 million base salary.
Tight end Blake Jarwin, linebacker Tarell Basham and cornerbacks Anthony Brown and Jourdan Lewis have $250,000 de-escalators. Kicker Greg Zuerlein, cornerback C.J. Goodwin, tackle Ty Nsekhe and defensive ends Brent Urban and Carlos Watkins have $100,000 de-escalators. Safety Darian Thompson has a $50,000 de-escalator.
Defensive end Randy Gregory doesn’t have a de-escalator like the other 18 players, but would forfeit the $180,000 offseason workout bonus that is part of the one-year extension he signed last year.
Denver Broncos, Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers players say they won’t report to voluntary offseason workouts - Jeff Legwold, ESPN
Players on three different NFL teams announced on Tuesday their intent to skip voluntary offseason workouts that are set to begin next week over concerns relating to the NFL’s COVID-19 protocol, casting some doubt over the status of this offseason.
Players from the Denver Broncos, Seattle Seahawks and Tampa Bay Buccaneers will not formally report to their respective team facilities next week to begin voluntary offseason workouts, the teams said in statements released by the NFL Players Association on Tuesday.
In their statement, the Broncos players cited rising COVID-19 positivity rates in Denver and surrounding communities, as well as the lack of “adequate protocols in place.” Sources told ESPN that the players voted to take this action and notified coach Vic Fangio earlier Tuesday morning that the vote had taken place.
Offseason programs are scheduled to begin April 19 leaguewide, at which point daily testing for players and staff will commence, according to a memo sent to teams on March 31. Players who are currently using the weight room at team facilities or being treated by club medical staff have to be tested, at minimum, every other day. Teams can test more if they wish, but that is the minimum requirement.
It’s clear that the Cowboys will dedicate a large chunk of their draft picks this year to fixing their defense, as they did in free agency, and odds are good that they’ll target a cornerback in the first round. But there are options in the second and third rounds.
Ronnie Perkins — Oklahoma — 6’2 — 254 – Jersey No. 7
Perkins was a three-year starter for the Sooners and another in that group of disruptive edges over the years who really cranked up in the big games. Many of his predecessors in this spot have not translated to NFL edge starters, but scouting by school reputation is forbidden in this space. He was All-Big 12 a few times before skipping his senior season to turn pro.
Positives: The things you like about Perkins are there for everyone to see. He is an alpha on that Sooners defense and the show he put on in the rivalry game against Oklahoma State and the bowl game against Florida are talked about. If you are going to dominate games, make it right before the draft. He can dip well around the corner and has very good hand usage along with the mandatory motor. He can crank the intensity when needed and disengages well to find the ball. He is aggressive and violent which we really value here.
Concerns: We wish his testing results were a bit more in line with his tape. A 4.71 40 and a 32-inch vertical are disconcerting for an edge his size. Once hands are on him, he usually is beaten, so this is why his solid hand usage is so vital. The real question: Where is his best position? Is he a better edge linebacker or a 4-3 end with his hand in the dirt? I fear his testing scores will limit that creativity out of the box and he may have to work his way into the mix once he is drafted. This, of course, means his initial spot might be lower than he deserves. He had a suspension at a bad time before the 2019 bowl game.
NFC East roster reset: Cowboys the favorites with Dak Prescott back in the saddle? - Nick Shook, NFL.com
The Cowboys were supposed to be Super Bowl contenders at the start of last year when they hired Mike McCarthy as their head coach, but injuries to Dak Prescott and seemingly everyone else derailed the season. With Prescott and others back at full health, what can Dallas do this year?
This is undoubtedly ambiguous, but you don’t get to this point unless your defense was an 11-man sieve in 2020. That was Dallas under Mike Nolan. He’s gone, and in comes Dan Quinn to turn Dallas’ defense around, a task that would be greatly assisted by some new talent on that side of the ball. Safety is a concern after Xavier Woods’ departure, as is corner (as mentioned above). The Cowboys could also use an edge rusher.
With all of this considered, Dallas doesn’t need to spend every pick on defense, but it does need to upgrade many areas of the D with its selections. The ‘Boys also need an infusion of new talent for their once-dominant offensive line. Last year’s injuries up front proved this is an area that requires addressing, but it’s incredibly difficult to look past the defense with the team’s first pick.
The NFC East was atrocious last season, and it’s very fair to wonder if a Cowboys team with a healthy Dak Prescott would have won the division. The defense was a massive Achilles heel, but as Prescott proved before his injury, he was capable of keeping the Cowboys in games. Without him, they fell off a cliff for a good portion of the season.
A healthy Prescott and improved defense could help this team take two large steps, and the addition of another playmaker — wipe the drool from your faces when viewing Kyle Pitts, Cowboys fans — would only further boost their hopes. After a 7-9 team won the division last season, it’s wide open in 2021. We’ll see if the Cowboys can take control of it in Year 2 under Mike McCarthy.
The Cowboys are largely expected to take a cornerback with the tenth overall pick in this year’s draft, but what if they don’t? There are more than a handful of other cornerbacks who could be available in the later rounds, including Appalachian State’s Shemar Jean-Charles.
Jean-Charles may not have the sizzle behind his name like Alabama’s Patrick Surtain or South Carolina’s Jaycee Horn but he carved out a nice collegiate career during his time with the Mountaineers. After he redshirted in 2016, Jean-Charles played as the third cornerback and a special teams contributor for two years and only amassed 15 total tackles and five pass breakups.
Once Jean-Charles transitioned into a starting role he turned into one of the better cornerbacks in the nation. As a junior, he registered 45 tackles, an interception, nine pass breakups, and a forced fumble while being named Third-Team All-Sun Belt. Jean-Charles finished his collegiate career with a strong showing by racking up 35 tackles, an interception, and 17 pass breakups (led the nation) while garnering First-Team All-Sun Belt honors.
Jean-Charles was excellent in coverage in his final two seasons at Appalachian State. Last season, he allowed the second-lowest completion percentage for cornerbacks facing at least 20 targets and gave up the fewest receptions for all cornerbacks that saw 50 or more targets. Also, Jean Charles had the highest forced incompletion rate since 2019.
Everyone is wondering whether the Cowboys will use all 10 picks in the draft. or if they will trade some of them.
With 10 draft picks, do you see the team trading up for more quality starter type players? I think they need a CB, a one-tech DT and a linebacker for sure to help this defense. Three starter types should make Dan Quinn smile. Love to hear your opinions. — ROBERT LOCKHART / HAWKINS, TX
Nick: I want to use all 10, if not get a few more. In some years, I think it helps to trade up and grab more value. In this case, with how bad the depth was last year, I think the Cowboys to get 10 players in here and see what sticks. They’re not all going to be good, and might not all make the team. But you’ve got to try. That’s how thin it was a year ago and if the Cowboys can figure out a way to acquire enough potential talent, I think it’ll help them build a more complete roster from top to bottom.
Jonny: I think the second part of your point speaks to why trading up seems unlikely. They do need all three of those things, and I would add offensive tackle depth to that list as well. But in order to trade up you have to package multiple draft picks or trade away future draft picks, and neither of those options seems very advisable in the Cowboys’ current situation. If they had one glaring need and an otherwise fairly well-rounded team I could definitely see the Cowboys packaging their second- and third-round picks to move up a couple spots in the second round, but I think they probably stand pat and draft as wisely as possible.
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