Never one to shy away from speaking his mind or giving his honest opinion, Micah Parsons gave an interesting answer when asked who could be added to the Cowboys to make the team better. Parsons mentioned a certain division rival he’d like to see join him in Dallas.
Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons, one of our favorite in-person player-guests, joined PFT Live from Radio Row in Phoenix for a wide-ranging discussion about football generally — and about his team specifically.
When the time came to ask Parsons what he’d like to see the team do to improve in 2023, he didn’t hesitate.
Parsons wants Washington defensive tackle Daron Payne in Dallas. (In the attached photo, Parsons is perhaps making his case directly to Payne.)
Payne is due to be a free agent in March. And it’s unlikely that he’ll be available, given that the Commanders can use the franchise tag to hold him in place, if they don’t work out a long-term deal.
The Commanders made Payne the 13th overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft. He has now concluded his four-year rookie contract and fifth-year option. He qualified for the 2022 Pro Bowl (or whatever it was).
The Dallas Cowboys have a difficult choice to make as it pertains to Ezekiel Elliott. His hefty contract and the impending free agency of his explosive counterpart, Tony Pollard, makes Elliott’s situation in Dallas very complex. Has Elliott played his final down in Dallas?
Elliott is coming off a year in which he had career lows in yards (876) and yards per carry (3.8) while missing two games with a hyperextended right knee that forced him to miss two games and required him to wear a bulky brace for a good portion of the season. In 2021, he played through a partially torn posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, didn’t miss a game and finished with 1,002 yards.
The explosive runs have disappeared. Elliott had just 16 runs of 10 yards or more and five of 20 yards or more in 2022. Tony Pollard had 34 runs of at least 10 yards and nine of at least 20 with three touchdown runs of at least 30 yards. Elliott caught just 17 passes this season, a career low. He remained a terrific pass-protector, but teams don’t pay $15 million for a running back to protect the quarterback.
In the Cowboys’ six losses, including playoffs, Elliott failed to average more than 3.7 yards per carry. In the two playoff games, he had 23 carries for 53 yards (2.3 YPC).
It’s not that Elliott can’t be effective. He had 12 rushing touchdowns. On third- or fourth-and-1, he converted first downs 14 of 17 times. But teams don’t pay backs $15 million per season to be short-yardage and goal-line runners.
The Cowboys could ask Elliott to do what DeMarcus Lawrence did last offseason. He signed a three-year, $40 million deal that included $30 million guaranteed. His $27 million salary-cap figure in 2022 went from $27 million to $14 million.
It should be obvious to everyone by now, but the Cowboys have got to get faster at wide receiver, and they must get playmakers who have discernible speed.
It’s clear, the Cowboys offense needed to be better and more explosive. It’s a need to be corrected either through free agency or through the draft.
Based on 40 times, Dallas played with one of the slowest receiver units in the NFL last season. Only six teams logged slower route-weighted averages than the Cowboys (crediting players with heavy contributions more than those who played minimal parts) and it showed on the field.In fact, the reality may even be worse than the numbers indicate.
The compiled numbers are based on pre-draft 40-yard-dash times so it doesn’t account for players actually getting slower. While CeeDee Lamb is likely still his 4.51 self, Michael Gallup was far slower coming back from his knee injury than he was entering the NFL. It’s safe to say T.Y. Hilton was also much slower than the 4.34 time he posted 11 year ago.
KaVontae Turpin (4.31) was on the roster, but Dallas couldn’t get him on the field for meaningful offensive snaps. Simi Fehoko (4.37) was also on the active roster for a period of time, but like Turpin, he didn’t take a meaningful amount of snaps to make his speed felt.
Looking at the list of teams it’s clear, speed is not an indicator of success for all teams. Defense and rushing ability also play a role in winning and losing games, which explains why the 49ers can be simultaneously slower and more successful than Dallas.
For as great as the Dallas defense has been in recent years, they could be even better next season. Here are a few ways they can go from great to supreme.
Dallas Cowboys should get Trevon Diggs a running mate in Patrick Peterson
Saying that the cornerback spot opposite of Trevon Diggs was a rotating door is putting it mildly. The injuries to Anthony Brown and Jourdan Lewis definitely didn’t help the situation. However, watching Kelvin Joseph, Nahshon Wright, Trayvon Mullen, and Xavier Rhodes all get a shot at that spot was underwhelming. If the Dallas Cowboys used the 26th pick in the upcoming NFL draft to fill this need, you wouldn’t hear a complaint from me. Not one peep.
However, what is the harm in doubling down at the position? Bringing in a veteran like Patrick Peterson is the perfect bridge player and complementary piece for this defense. His film from last season matches his numbers. Neither of them lied. Patrick Peterson played some good ball last year. According to PFF, 60 tackles, 5 interceptions and 80.7 overall grade (82.5 coverage grade) isn’t too shabby at all.
He is a bit long in the tooth at 33 years of age, but that may aid the Dallas Cowboys in contract negotiations. Spotrac shows he signed for 1 year at $4 million contract with the Vikings in 2022. If we can get something similar this offseason, sign me up. Lining up Trevon Diggs, Daron Bland, Patrick Peterson and a healthy Jourdan Lewis on Week 1 will certainly help your chances of being better in 2023-2024.
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