The Dallas Cowboys are putting their faith (and their money) in their once diamond in the rough, Terence Steele. Steele has shown large improvement since arriving to the team as an undrafted free agent. Despite his injuries, the Cowboys have seen enough from the young offensive lineman to place a sizeable restricted free agent tender on him.
Dallas will place the second-round RFA tender on Steele, per Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News (Twitter link). Doing so carries a value of $4.3MM for 2023, a figure which comfortably surpasses the $2.295MM he has earned to date on his rookie contract. The first-round tender would have cost the team just over $6MM.
Steele, 25, has played in 45 games across his three seasons with the Cowboys. He has logged 40 starts over that span, primarily at right tackle. His level of play at that spot allowed Dallas to move on from La’el Collins and commit to the Texas Tech alum full time in 2022. Steele took a step forward in PFF rating for the third straight year, generating an overall grade of 73.9. That figure ranked 23rd out of 81 qualifying tackles. As Gehlken notes, that makes him part of the Cowboys’ long-term o-line plans.
Steele’s 2022 campaign was cut short by ACL and MCL tears. However, his recovery is going well so far, and a return in time for training camp is expected. Before that point, Steele’s financial future will likely become clearer. Their chosen tender will earn the Cowboys a second-round pick if Steele signs an offer sheet with another team and they decline to match it.
Given his age and experience, it will be interesting to monitor if a multi-year deal worth notably more than the tender’s value is put on the table, and how the Cowboys would respond to it. Steele can negotiate with teams up until April 21.
Here’s a comprehensive look at who they have met with at the combine.
The annual NFL Scouting Combine affords each NFL team an opportunity to meet, greet, poke and prod at a number of draft prospects. Teams are able to get medical evaluations, athletic measurements and a feel for how a prospect handles the bright lights of Indianapolis and the league machine at work. The drills and performance metrics are a great baseline to how the prospect’s film will translate to the professional level.
But perhaps nothing is more revealing and helpful in finding the right fit than the chance to sit down and talk with a prospect. Teams can do this throughout the week, but there is a structure that goes along with the general open nature of an event where everyone talks to everyone. Each team is afforded a maximum of 45 official meetings and it’s a glimpse into guys Dallas wants more information on.
Interest By Positions
Running Backs: 4
Wide Receivers: 6
Tight Ends: 2
Interior OL: 2
Offensive Tackles: 3
Defensive Tackles: 2
Edge Rushers: 2
Off-ball Linebackers: 1
Cowboys’ Jerry Jones: Dak Prescott could have Brady-like ability to be impactful as cap hit grows - Bobby Kownack, NFL.com
Jerry Jones believes Dak Prescott could continue to blossom in the same manner as an NFL legend but at what “cost”?
Jerry Jones is as confident as ever in the Cowboys and quarterback Dak Prescott finding success. The degree to which the team makes him correct will hinge on Prescott taking on a greater burden moving forward.
“I’ve really felt for quite a while that Dak has the ability,” Jones said Friday at the NFL Scouting Combine. “I don’t want to dare do this to Dak or me or anybody, but I think just as (Tom) Brady became, in my mind, better and better and more impactful on how [his team] won as he got into his career, I think Dak really has those qualities. I think he can get better.”
Now, after a year with too many forced throws and too few results, Prescott’s cap hit jumps from $19.7 million to $49.1 million, 21.5% of Dallas’ salary-cap space, per Over the Cap. Jones addressed the impending squeeze on spending, as well.
“You can’t pay that position at that level, take that much of the available dollars and then put the exact thing around him,” he said. “When Dak first got here, we had one of the best offensive lines, in my mind, that had been put on the field in a long time. And he had that. So we had skill around him, especially offensively.
“Well, when you do what you do today and invest in a quarterback the way you do with these premium quarterbacks, that automatically has to be diminished. And so, when you ask me the supporting cast around him, it’ll be hard to get to a supporting cast the way he did when he started his career.”
While we’re discussing the subject of managing resources, let’s revisit how the Cowboys left their wide receiving position in unsteady hands last season and how they can remedy the situation.
A hot mess of their own making
The saddest fact of the state of the wide outs is that they were a hot mess in 2022. Even worse, it was the weakest link on the offensive chain because of Jerry Jones and the Front Office. Who in their right mind trades away the best receiver the team has had in years in favor of paying a player coming off a significant leg injury? The Jones boys, that’s who.
Amari Cooper was sent off to Cleveland, with a hot mess at the quarterback position. All he did this year in 17 games was catch 78 passes for 1,160 yards and nine TDs. By comparison, Michael Gallup had 39 catches for 424 yards and four touchdowns. He played in 14 games with 11 starts in 2022. He also couldn’t get separation downfield from a plastic grocery bag.
Free agency and the draft. Because aside from Gallup finally coming back to pre-injury form, Noah Brown is about the only receiver on the roster worth keeping. The lone exception would be Hilton, assuming he would sign an affordable contract. The two free agents I would take a long look at are Juju Smith-Schuster and D.J. Chark Jr.
Smith-Schuster would come in with a championship ring on his finger, giving the Cowboys a player who knows how to win. He collected 78 catches for 933 yards and three TDs for the Chiefs last year. Chark battled injuries in 2022 but rallied for a strong second half of the season as the Lions made a playoff push. Despite missing six games he still hauled in 30 passes for 502 yards and three scores.
A healthy Gallup stretching the defense along with Lamb and either of those two free agents would be a force on the Cowboys in 2023.If the Cowboys go to the draft to address this issue – assuming the first-round pick isn’t Bijan Robinson – there are four good options. TCU’s Quentin Johnson is the best wide out in the upcoming draft. End of discussion. If Dallas has a chance to grab him, they need to do so. USC’s Jordan Addison, Tennessee’s Jalin Hyatt and Ohio State’s Jaxon Smith-Nigba would also be immediate help to a weak wide receiver room in Dallas.
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