When he was signed as an undrafted free agent following some of the worst pre-draft luck in NFL history, the once sure-fire first-round draft pick La’el Collins declared he was aiming to help Dallas build the greatest offensive line in history. He’s had his moments, no doubt—hence his nice contract. But has he lived up to expectations and done enough to earn another big-money deal? That’s not as clear.
After three strong years at offensive tackle from 2017-2019, Collins missed the entire 2020 season with a hip injury and eventual surgery. He was all set to return in 2021 but ran into a new obstacle as the NFL suspended him for five games for a missed drug test.
Collins fought the suspension, even filing a lawsuit against the league, but ultimately served out the full suspension from Weeks 2-6. But once he was eligible to play again, the Cowboys kept him on the bench for an additional week and allowed Terence Steele to remain the starter at right tackle.
This was not a case of simply trying to ease a player back in after an absence. Collins had played the full Week 1 game in Tampa and was only out for five weeks after that.
Micah Parsons earned accolades galore throughout his historic rookie season. While it might not have included the Super Bowl ring he’d had his eye on, he nonetheless appreciates the incredible company he now keeps.
The NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award speaks for itself. Parsons also has a Pro Bowl nod and a first-team All-Pro selection. On Wednesday, WWE chipped in with a commemorative Rookie of the Year title belt – a nod to this year’s impending Wrestlemania, happening at AT&T Stadium. And that goes perfectly with a handful of NFL Rookie of the Week belts, not to mention a handful of signed jerseys – from Patrick Mahomes to Trevor Lawrence.
“It’s going to look pretty sweet, man,” Parsons said on Wednesday. “Glad I could get everybody’s jerseys and set my man cave up the right way after my first year.”
It’s been a hectic month for Parsons, who has bounced from the Pro Bowl to the Super Bowl and back since the Cowboys were bounced from the playoffs. During that time, he had plenty of opportunity to pick the brains of the NFL’s elite, from current players to former legends. Notable among them, he said he had a chance to meet two of his idols at the linebacker position, Ray Lewis and Luke Kuechly.
“I got to talk to Luke and Ray Lewis, so two guys that I look up to,” he said. “Luke’s actually about 200 pounds right now. I didn’t even recognize him at first. But a really good guy, a genuine guy. A guy I look forward to talking to again.”
Neville Gallimore missed much of 2021 recovering from a dislocated elbow suffered in the preseason. While that might have stunted his production, the flashes were brilliant, bringing a much-needed force to the heart of the Cowboys’ defense.
The Good: When he’s been on the field, he’s been good, and that goes back to the end of his rookie season in 2020 when the “light bulb” seemed to come on for Gallimore. He carried that into the offseason and training camp, where he shined, even when it’s not easy to do so amidst unpadded practices. And after Gallimore returned from injury, he picked up where he had left off, showing that his arrow continues to be pointed upward.
The Bad: The only bad part of Gallimore’s season was that it wasn’t longer than five games. The dislocated elbow injury he sustained in the middle of the preseason was initially announced as a 6-8 week injury. Instead, it kept Gallimore out for about 14 weeks as it took that long to get his strength back. Perhaps he could’ve made a difference in some of the losses during his absence.
Cowboys Rumors: ‘Feeling Around League’ DAL Blew ‘Best Chance’ at Super Bowl Win - Adam Wells, Bleacher Report
The stash of health, talent, youth, and impactful players on either side of the ball, with many players set to hit free agency this summer meant the 2021 Cowboys were as well-equipped as any team in the postseason to head to the Super Bowl and chase that elusive sixth championship. Instead, they fell 23-17 in the Wild Card round to the visiting San Francisco 49ers, leaving questions aplenty and a roster headed for massive turnover.
The Dallas Cowboys’ 23-17 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Wild Card Round may have been more impactful than it seemed in the moment.
Per ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler and Dan Graziano, there is a “feeling around the league” that the Cowboys blew their best chance to win a Super Bowl in this current window of contention.
There are significant roster questions for Dallas to answer this offseason. The team is currently $21.2 million over the cap with Randy Gregory, Dalton Schultz, Cedrick Wilson and Michael Gallup among their key free agents.
Some of the recent moves made by Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones have put the team in a position where it may need to make some drastic moves to get under the cap.
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