DeMarcus Lawrence has already said he wants to lead the team in sacks.
With Lawrence turning 30 last April that’s no small win at this point in his career. For the Cowboys, it means putting significant faith in a defensive end who hasn’t produced double-digit sacks since 2018.
You’ve seen it said on this site and many other places throughout Cowboys Nation; there’s more to being a DE than just sacks. While he hasn’t been a premiere sack artist since his Pro Bowl seasons in 2017-2018, DeMarcus has been one of the NFL’s elite run defenders and still contributes consistently as a pass rusher with QB pressures and hits.
That said, it’s the pass rushing that generally gets defensive ends the big contracts. That’s what got Lawrence his back in 2019 after two-straight years on the franchise tag. And after the sack numbers dropped, that’s what had Dallas looking to rethink his compensation.
With LB Micah Parsons now in the mix the Cowboys probably aren’t expecting DeMarcus to lead them in sacks in 2022 or beyond. But now that Randy Gregory’s in Denver and the next-best guy is Dorance Armstrong, Lawrence needs to at least be a consistent threat to help provide balance on the defensive line.
What would that look like by the end of the season? We’d all love to see double-digits again from Tank, but even just an uptick to something around eight sacks would be a nice contribution.
A trade for Tyron Smith see a little far-fetched.
The long-term future of Tyron Smith with the Dallas Cowboys remains uncertain prompting some analysts to wonder if the team could look to trade the eight-time Pro Bowl left tackle. Bleacher Report’s Alex Kay suggested a trade proposal that has the Cowboys sending Smith to the team’s historic rival in Pittsburgh in exchange for a third-round pick. Kay referenced previous deals for Trent Williams and Duane Brown as a baseline for a potential trade, but Smith’s injury history likely decreases his value to other teams.
“While Smith is still undeniably productive on the field—he made his eighth Pro Bowl last year despite appearing in just 11 games—his spotty availability, rising costs and readily available replacement could render him expendable,” Kay wrote on June 15.
“…While Dallas may not field many offers for Smith because of concerns about his health, there is precedent for aging tackles to return a decent haul of draft capital. A 31-year-old Trent Williams netted third- and fifth-round picks, and Duane Brown was traded for second- and third-rounders when he was 32 years old.
“Getting back a third-rounder for Smith would be a win for the Cowboys, and a team like the Pittsburgh Steelers should be happy to oblige. The Steelers had PFF’s No. 26-rated offensive line in 2021 while deploying ineffective rookie Dan Moore Jr. at left tackle.”
Another trade suggestion.
Dallas Cowboys: Trade for Chuck Clark
Cowboys get: S Chuck Clark
Ravens get: 2023 fourth-round pick
One of the cleanest potential trades exists between two conference contenders. The Baltimore Ravens invested heavily into the safety position this offseason, signing free-agent Marcus Williams to a $70 million deal and drafting Kyle Hamilton in the first round. Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald even acknowledged there’s not a clear role for Chuck Clark after those moves.
Clark is set to receive a new contract after this season and would surely rather be in a situation where he can build value and cash in. Dallas has the perfect opening next to free safety Malik Hooker and versatile defender Jayron Kearse. The Cowboys saw both Keanu Neal and Damontae Kazee depart in free agency, and Clark could help fill the box safety role they split in 2021.
Clark and Kearse offer well-rounded skill sets that give defensive coordinator Dan Quinn more flexibility when moving each around. Both can cover tight ends in the slot, attack the line of scrimmage and functionally play two-high shells. Hooker would be relied upon more to play the ball and produce turnovers.
NFL.com analyst predicts Cowboys’ record in 2022 and if they’ll win the NFC East - Zach Ragan, A to Z Sports
Will the Cowboys win the NFC East in 2022 and what will their win/loss record be?
It’s certainly possible. The Cowboys have the talent across the board to bring the Lombardi Trophy back to Dallas. But before they worry about the Super Bowl, they need to focus on winning the NFC East.
NFL.com’s Adam Rank recently gave his game-by-game predictions for each NFL team in 2022 and he has the Cowboys finishing with a 9-8 record. Rank thinks that win/loss record will be good enough for Dallas to win the NFC East for a second straight season.
Cowboys have a pretty good RB tandem in Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard.
4. Dallas Cowboys (Ezekiel Elliott, Tony Pollard, Rico Dawdle)
Elliott’s numbers took a dip in 2021—his 58.9 rushing yards per game was a career low. But the 26-year-old still topped 1,000 rushing yards and scored 10 times on the ground, and Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy has raved about how Elliott has looked in OTAs. Pollard is one of the league’s more underrated running backs. He averaged a career-best 5.5 yards per carry a year ago, and per Linsley only Nick Chubb and Derrick Henry have averaged more yards after contact per attempt than Pollard since 2019.
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