Cowboys want homegrown players, like Dalton Schultz, but reaching deals has been difficult – Todd Archer, ESPN
Does the deal actually happen before the July 15th deadline?
After skipping the final week of voluntary organized team activities, Schultz participated in the mandatory minicamp Tuesday as the clock ticks toward July 15, when the sides either have to agree to a multiyear deal, or he will play the season on the $10.9 million franchise tag.
While the Schultz situation might not be the perfect case study, it does speak to a question the Cowboys have been trying to answer: Why haven’t they been able to re-sign their own players to early extensions?
Schultz falls in line with the Cowboys’ stated desire of keeping their own rather than playing in the deep end of the free-agency pool. In the past two years, the 2019 fourth-round pick has caught 141 passes for 1,423 yards and 12 touchdowns. Last season, he joined Jason Witten as the only tight ends in franchise history with at least 75 receptions for 800 yards and eight touchdowns in a single season.
Mid-round draft picks this year along with re-signing a defensive stalwart are some of the positives this offseason.
3. Drafting TE Jake Ferguson amidst TE depth issues
The Cowboys’ tight end room has had some major changes over the last couple of months. Former starting tight end Blake Jarwin was cut in March due to major injury concerns that were allegedly going to keep him out of the beginning of the 2022 season.
2. Drafting Jalen Tolbert to help with WR depth
Another position group that got majorly uprooted this offseason was wide receiver. Not only are Amari Cooper and Cedrick Wilson now in new uniforms, but starting WR Michael Gallup is also not expected to be available for the start of the 2022 season. That leaves the ‘Boys without three of their most effective receivers from 2021.
1. Re-signing Jayron Kearse to solidify the safety position
The safety position has long been a defensive position the Cowboys have ignored in terms of signing star players or giving out big, lucrative contracts.
A few years ago, the seventh-round pick out of Clemson was a no-name. After five years in the NFL with two teams and only 12 stars, Kearse had yet to find a way to break out in the league. He certainly didn’t turn any heads when the Cowboys signed him to a one-year, prove-it deal ahead of last season.
But Kearse made the most of it. The 28-year-old led the team in tackles (101), started in 15 games, and took over play-calling duties midway through the season. It was a career year for him in many ways, which led to the Cowboys to give him a two-year, $10 million contract. All things considered, that’s a small price to pay for a player who will now lead the safety group.
Outside of the day-to day-football activities, developing a brotherhood is also important off the gridiron.
JUNE 15: DIFFERENT DAY Late on Tuesday night, the Cowboys decided to skip practice during Wednesday minicamp.
But not skipping work. Just conventional practice.
Said coach Mike McCarthy before the Tuesday session regarding the week’s plan: “I’ll be honest with you. When I walk off here today, I’ll have a better idea of what we’re going to particularly Thursday. So, I want to get through the install phase. We didn’t have the best of weeks last week, which is normal. It’s not negative. I just think young players, veteran guys that we were resting, the different combinations. This is — six, seven, eight installs is always a tough stretch for your rookies.”
So ... a break. But still “bonding.’’
McCarthy and team leader Dak Prescott talk often about bonding and brotherhood, and what McCarthy is doing here feeds into that.
Part of it is “being smart’’ with veterans who have nagging physical issues. And part of it is the “tough stretch’’ for guys intellectually.
But most of all, it’s a break - bowling or swimming or a trip to the movies or whatever - to bond as something more than just teammates.
Our goal, McCarthy said recently, “is clearly to get these eight installs in just to make sure our rookies and our whole football team is totally exposed to everything that’s going to be asked of them when we get back together in Oxnard, California. We can get that done with our walkthroughs and that type of thing, too.’’
Dallas could sure use the added depth at linebacker.
How He Got Here: Like sixth-round draft pick Devin Harper (Oklahoma State), Hansford shined as a “super senior” for Texas A&M after receiving an extra year of eligibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Hansford started 11 games for the Aggies in 2021, posting a team-high 89 tackles and finishing third on defense with 8.5 for loss. If this year’s draft wasn’t so deep with prospects, Hansford might not have ended up as a rookie free agent. But the Cowboys were happy to sign him to an undrafted deal last month.
What’s Next: The linebacker group got a boost when Leighton Vander Esch returned on a one-year deal, and Micah Parsons is as talented as any player in the league, but overall the position doesn’t look as deep as it did this time last year. Jaylon Smith was released in the middle of last season. Keanu Neal, who played about 50% of the snaps, was not re-signed. Neither was second-year linebacker Francis Bernard. 2021 fourth-round draft pick Jabril Cox has a chance to replace Neal in his return from ACL surgery, but a young player such as Hansford should have a chance to earn a backup spot/special teams role. The Cowboys have had success finding undrafted linebackers in recent years (Luke Gifford in 2019, Bernard in 2020).
Bet You Didn’t Know: Hansford (6-3, 240) actually didn’t start playing linebacker full time until 2019, his junior year at Texas A&M. He began his college career at tight end, catching three passes as a freshman before missing his sophomore year because of a knee injury. With a strong senior year and reported 4.6-second 40 time at his Pro Day, Hansford showed he’s got the speed and range that Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn likes at the linebacker position.
NBC hires Jason Garrett as analyst on Football Night in America – Charean Williams, Pro Football Talk
Another coaches perspective will be headed to the NBC booth.
NBC Sports has hired former Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett as an analyst for Football Night in America, the network announced Tuesday.
Garrett replaces Drew Brees on the most-watched studio show in sports. He will work with host Maria Taylor and analysts Tony Dungy and Chris Simms in Studio 1 at NBC Sports’ International Broadcast Center in Stamford, Connecticut. Co-host Jac Collinsworth and analyst Rodney Harrison will continue as anchors of FNIA’s coverage from the game site, while PFT’s Mike Florio will continue to report on the news of the day.
Garrett is currently making his broadcasting debut as a game analyst alongside play-by-play voice Jac Collinsworth on NBC’s USFL coverage.
“I’m truly humbled and thrilled to be joining the Football Night team and continuing my broadcasting career with NBC Sports, who have been fantastic to work with on the USFL,” Garrett said. “I intend to share my life-long passion for football and utilize my experience as both an NFL coach and quarterback to try to explain the game and break down the matchups for our audience every Sunday night. I can’t wait to get started.”
Garrett was the Cowboys’ head coach for 9 1/2 seasons, going 85-67 in the regular season, 2-3 in the postseason and earning NFL coach of the year honors in 2016. He was the Giants’ offensive coordinator for 26 games over the past two seasons.
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