If anyone should know about unfair criticism on being the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys, it’s Tony Romo.
“It’s learning, evaluating,” Romo said on Thursday at the annual Invited Celebrity Classic golf tournament. “The year you have the most interceptions, sometimes you have three other years that could have been right around that [high number]. But you have four balls dropped in two games that were easy interceptions, but they didn’t catch them.
“And there were years like the year I had the most [interceptions], six balls you could say should have been caught by our team and so that still falls on you. That’s why you play quarterback because it’s your job to overcome it.”
Romo added that it is vital for any quarterback to dissect each of his turnovers and reach a conclusion on just where it went wrong on every single one of them.
There’s no denying the front office plugged almost every hole on the roster to open up every possibility draft weekend.
“We think we’re in a great situation to really improve our football team,” executive vice president of personnel Stephen Jones said in a radio interview, “but not be pressed necessarily to draft for a need.”
The Cowboys acquired receiver Brandin Cooks from Houston and cornerback Stephon Gilmore from Indianapolis in trades involving late-round draft picks. Both are likely starters who should give Dallas more depth.
After a second consecutive 12-5 season, this one ending with a divisional-round loss to San Francisco, the Cowboys brought back safety Donovan Wilson, linebacker Leighton Vander Esch and defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins.
Special teams ace C.J. Goodwin and backup pass rusher Dante Fowler also are returning, while running back Tony Pollard has been given the $10.1 million franchise tag after the offseason release of two-time rushing champion Ezekiel Elliott.
“Part of the reason I think we’ve been confident in our system is we are able to take care of a lot of our needs before we even get to the draft,” Jones said. “You’re never going to take care of every last one of them, but you certainly want to try to do as many as possible before you pick.”
Where does Micah Parsons fit into the need at linebacker for the Cowboys among the 2023 prospects?
Until the Cowboys officially switch Micah Parsons’ position from linebacker to defensive end – something that will probably never happen – then No. 11 will be included in all discussions that involve linebacker.
Parsons did rush the passer quite a bit in 2022 and was rather effective again, recording 13.5 sacks, a slight jump from his 13.0 as a rookie in 2021. Parsons is one of just 10 players in NFL history to surpass 25 sacks in his first two seasons in the league and the first player to achieve that since Von Miller, J.J. Watt and Aldon Smith all did it in 2011-12.
But figuring out how much linebacker Parsons is going to play will affect what the rest of the position looks like. Getting Leighton Vander Esch to re-sign on a two-year deal was a big get for the Cowboys. LVE was healthy for most of the regular season and finished with 100 tackles. Jabril Cox, Damone Clark and Devin Harper are three more young linebackers on the squad but this is a position that could stand to use even more depth. It’s one that could be addressed in the first two rounds, perhaps even first round as long as the linebacker has some pass-rushing ability as well.
Stephen Jones spoke about keeping Trevon Diggs and CeeDee Lamb around for the future. So what does a long-term deal for Diggs look like?
When it comes to Lamb, the Cowboys have a bit more flexibility. The team picked up Lamb’s fifth-year option and secured his rights through the 2024 season. With Diggs, however, the Cowboys do not have that luxury or time. Digg’s contract will expire at the end of this upcoming season and the fourth-year veteran is looking to cash in.
Since being taken with the 51st pick of the 2020 NFL draft, Diggs has been a steal for the Cowboys, playing far beyond his draft status. In his rookie season, the Dallas defense was abhorrent, but Diggs was one of the few bright spots snaring three interceptions in a season that was cut short by injuries.
The next season, Diggs was elected to the Pro Bowl, and earned First-Team All-Pro honors, after recording eleven interceptions and two defensive touchdowns. Diggs was the eighth cornerback taken in his draft class and so far his career has surpassed all seven taken ahead of him, having more takeaways and Pro Bowl selections than all of them combined. In such a short career, Diggs has already made himself one of the most decorated Dallas Cowboys cornerbacks in recent memory, which includes the likes of Terence Newman and Byron Jones. Diggs is certainly worthy of a new contract. The only question is how much?
In Jones’ words, he said that he was looking to retain Diggs and Lamb for five or six years. Let’s take five years in this scenario since it’s reminiscent of the last large contract a cornerback was given in Dallas. Brandon Carr signed a five-year deal in 2012 as a free agent from Kansas City which was at the top of the free agent market, and Diggs likely will ask to do the same with his new contract. As it stands, the three highest-paid cornerbacks in yearly salary are as follows: Jaire Alexander $21M, Denzel Ward $20.1M, and Marshon Lattimore $19.5 M. Each of these contracts reset the current market when signed, with Alexander’s being the most recent.
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