Cowboys’ Stephen Jones hints at franchise tag plan and major offseason move - Jerry Trotta, The Landry Hat
The Cowboys tagged tight end Dalton Schultz last year, and now could use it again on running back Tony Pollard.
Giving Pollard the franchise tag makes all the sense in the world for the Cowboys. Coming off a major injury, the tag doesn’t tie Dallas to Pollard beyond 2023. Further, the franchise tag price for running backs is a reasonable $10.09 million. Assuming Pollard would somewhere between $11-14 million annually on the open market, the tag represents a potential bargain.
Stephen Jones was also asked about Dak Prescott’s future. To say the front office is sold on Prescott as the QB of the now and future would be an understatement. Here’s what Jones told reporters, via ESPN’s Todd Archer.
“I’ve got all the faith in the world we can win this thing with Dak.”
“Because we know him. We know what he’s about. His leadership skills are undeniable. Impeccable work ethic. Other than he hadn’t won some key playoff games, he’s everything you want in a quarterback. From the day he walked in the door, he’s won a lot of games. We just got to get over the hump.”
Latest mock has Cowboys committing worst draft sins imaginable - KD Drummond, The Cowboys Wire
Bijan Robinson may be the best player available at 26th overall, but the Cowboys trading up for a running back would send a different message.
Dallas moves from No. 26 to No. 22 to take Bijan Robinson
So not only are the Cowboys compounding the mistake of giving up draft capital, they are doing so for a running back, in the deepest running back class in recent memory.
Dallas could become enamored with the in-state product, and moves up with Baltimore to take one of the best players in this class. Tony Pollard is a free agent (though he could return on the franchise tag), and Ezekiel Elliott simply doesn’t have the same juice that he used to. The Cowboys are at their best when they run the football, and having a talent like Robinson doing it brings a lot of offensive freedom with opponents respecting everything he can do. A three-headed monster of Pollard, Robinson, and Elliot in Dallas would be a sight to behold.
Cowboys’ Team Needs to Fill in 2023 NFL Free Agency - Kristopher Knox, Bleacher Report
Even with Leighton Vander Esch being a top candidate to re-sign, the Cowboys could use another starter at linebacker.
Defensively, Dallas could use an interior lineman and playmaking linebacker to bolster its run defense. With Dante Fowler Jr. set to reach free agency, another pass-rusher would be welcome as well.
Cornerback is less of a pressing need but one Dallas will want to address with Anthony Brown and C.J. Goodwin headed to market.
The Cowboys are in a prime position to target any of these positions early in the 2023 draft. Prospects like South Carolina cornerback Cam Smith, Baylor defensive lineman Siaki Ika, Clemson linebacker Trenton Simpson and Notre Dame edge-rusher Isaiah Foskey—the 26th-, 27th- 31st- and 35th-ranked players on the Bleacher Report Scouting Department’s draft board, respectively—should be well within first-round range for Dallas.
What’s important to note, though, is that edge-rushers, cornerbacks and defensive tackles are premium positions that carry huge price points on the open market. Signing an off-ball linebacker should fit into Dallas’ financial plan more easily.
Buffalo Bills linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, for example, is a 24-year-old two-time Pro Bowler. His projected market value is just $11 million annually. That’s significantly less than the projected values of, say, defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones ($17.1 million) or cornerback James Bradberry ($15.1 million).
It would make sense for Dallas to spend on a linebacker in free agency while addressing the more expensive defensive positions on the draft and filling those holes with a rookie contract.
Cowboys Rookie Class Grade: Too Low or Just Right? - Bri Amaranthus, CowboysSI.com
The Cowboys saw several rookies step up and claim starting roles last season.
How does the Cowboys rookie class compare? Dallas’ 2022-23 class ranked No. 10 of the 32 teams. Here is what NFL.com said of the Cowboys’ first two picks, Tyler Smith and Sam Williams:
Tyler Smith was drafted to play left guard next to Tyron Smith, but a preseason injury to the veteran forced the rookie to man left tackle from Week 1. He didn’t get a chance to play his intended position until Dallas decided to insert Jason Peters at left tackle and place Tyron Smith at right tackle following a season-ending injury to usual right tackle Terence Steele. In all, the rookie played well, allowing six sacks, per Pro Football Focus, and accounting for close to a dozen penalties. But considering how he was required to adjust his role while getting his feet underneath him as a green blocker, he did a good job.
Entrenched behind DeMarcus Lawrence, Sam Williams didn’t see a ton of defensive snaps (273 on defense and 245 on special teams) but showed glimpses of why the Cowboys felt confident selecting him in the second round. He finished with 22 tackles, four sacks, one forced fumble and one pass defensed in his 15 games played, easing his way into the NFL while producing when given the opportunity.
Cornerback DaRon Bland must be mentioned when grading this draft class. Bland could be considered a steal after finishing the season with five interceptions, seven passes defensed and 54 tackles. The Fresno State product stepped up when injuries allowed him more playing time, giving Cowboys fans a glimpse at his bright future.
Progress Report: Ferguson On Track After Year 1 - Layten Prator, DallasCowboys.com
Jake Ferguson is in line for a much bigger role in the offense if Dalton Schultz leaves in free agency.
What Worked: The fourth-round draft pick out of Wisconsin instantly became a fan favorite amongst Cowboys fans for a multitude of reasons. In 16 games (eight starts) Ferguson tallied 19 catches on 22 targets for 174 yards and two touchdowns. While at first glance those numbers don’t jump off the page, Ferguson did show a propensity for the big play with an average of over nine yards per catch while also showing flashes of being able to produce in the run blocking department.
Needs Some Work: While Ferguson showed promise as a legitimate starting tight end, the biggest thing for him going into this second season with the Cowboys in 2023 will be to simply get more reps. The 24-year-old played in just 40% of the offensive snaps taken in games he played in, but with Dalton Schultz potentially departing in free agency that will likely change, giving him an opportunity to expand and grow his role in the passing game moving forward.
What’s Next: With the possibility of Dalton Schultz departing in free agency this offseason after playing on the franchise tag this past season, Ferguson could be primed to take over the starting tight end position or splitting time with fellow rookie tight end Peyton Hendershot. Ferguson has a chance to make a big leap in his second year, something that is not uncommon among Cowboys tight ends. Jason Witten caught 35 passes as a rookie before recording 87 catches in Year 2. Schultz actually had 12 receptions as a rookie and then one in his second year, before having 63, 78 and 57 receptions in his next three seasons.
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