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Cowboys news: Senior Bowl prospects that could tempt Dallas in the draft

Notable headlines surrounding America’s team.

NCAA Football: Senior Bowl Practice Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

3 senior bowl players the Cowboys could target in 2024 - Mark Heaney, Inside The Star

Unfortunately, draft season has begun for Dallas.

Duke Tackle, Graham Barton

If you are looking to see a potential Dallas first-round pick next week, look no further than Duke Offensive Lineman, Graham Barton.

With experience and skill at both tackle and guard, Barton is expected to be taken near the backend of the first round.

Duke LT Graham Barton vs FSU ED Jared Verse…physicality

We see you Graham! pic.twitter.com/qAdAMssGqD

— The Draft Network (@TheDraftNetwork) October 22, 2023

He is perfectly in range for Dallas who will be picking 24th.

The Cowboys are facing free agency with both Tyron Smith and Tyler Biadasz, and Zack Martin will turn 34 in the middle of the 2024 season.

The offensive line has been a sneaky need for Dallas the last few seasons, but with two starters having their contracts up, it has become a huge focus for the team this off-season.

ESPN lists Barton as 6’5 and 314 lbs, and he showcases all 314 lbs with the kind of power you see from elite run blockers in the NFL.

As I mentioned, perhaps the biggest selling point for Barton is his positional versatility, and according to Senior Bowl President Jim Nagy, that versatility will be on full display this week.

NFL Rumors: Cowboys replacement for Dan Quinn could be a coach they have dominated- John Buhler, FanSided

Whether a replacement will be needed is a separate issue.

Shortly before kickoff of the AFC Championship Game between Baltimore and the Kansas City Chiefs, NFL insider Ian Rapoport revealed that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones may have a contingency plan in place if Quinn were to leave for either head-coaching opportunity. He says that former Washington head coach Ron Rivera could turn heel and lead the Cowboys defense going forward.

If Quinn takes over for him in Washington, then Rivera may take over for him in Dallas. That is so wild!

The Insiders on @NFLGameDay: Kliff Kingsbury is likely to be an OC in the NFL in 2024; The #Ravens coaching staff is in demand this coaching cycle; If Dan Quinn gets a head coaching job, could Ron Rivera replace him with the #Cowboys? pic.twitter.com/neYoudGk4H

— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 28, 2024

There are trading places, and then there is this. Rival teams passing around retreads for the win!

NFL rumors: Ron Rivera names as possible Dan Quinn replacement

Look. I think Rivera is a good coach (or used to be...) and is a good man. However, I like the prospects of Washington adding Quinn as its head coach more than I like Rivera coordinating the Cowboys defense. He is overqualified to do that, probably more so than Quinn was coming over to Dallas in the first place after the Atlanta Falcons fired him in 2020. Rivera has been a NFL head coach since 2011.

Cut, Duck, Brees or what? 6 ways Cowboys-Prescott negotiations could go - K.D. Drummond, Cowboys Wire

Dallas has a decision to make on how they will handle QB1.

Restructure to bring base down using void years

Chances: 20%

This is actually multiple options in one. Prescott has two void years already on his deal. This is an accounting tool that allows teams to pay a player during his contract, but not have all of the money hit their cap until later years. Prescott already has $36.5 million of cap hit in those void years that will become dead money if he leaves the team.

The club can restructure Prescott, without his permission, to create room for them to make other moves in free agency. A restructure turns base salary into bonus money that is spread out over the remaining years. So if they convert $27 million of his $29 million base salary, that $27 million is paid this year, but spread across three seasons worth of cap hit. That adds $18 million of cap space without changing anything about how Prescott is paid or under contract.

The club doesn’t have to do this restructure all at once. They could do it each time they need to create space under the cap to make a transaction; which would be wise because if they aren’t going to extend him, it would be better not to push off more money into future year’s cap than they have to.

2024 compensatory pick projections give Cowboys ammo to make another big trade- Jerry Trotta, The Landry Hat

Could Dallas pull off another Cooks or Gilmore-style trade with the additional capital coming in?

How many compensatory picks will the Cowboys receive in 2024?

The Cowboys are expected to receive a 2024 fifth-round pick for losing offensive lineman Connor McGovern and a 2024 sixth-round pick for losing tight end Dalton Schultz in free agency. This gives Dallas seven total selections in the upcoming draft — a first-rounder, second, third, fifth, sixth, and two sevenths.

Their fourth-round pick was dealt to the 49ers for Trey Lance. Their original fifth-round pick was traded to the Chiefs during last year’s draft when Dallas moved up to No. 178 overall for the rights to draft cornerback Eric Scott. Jr.

That’s what makes the Cowboys’ expected comp pick haul so important. All it took to acquire Gilmore was a 2023 fifth-round pick. All it took to pry Cooks from Houston was a fifth-round pick in 2023 and a sixth-round pick in 2024.

The comp picks give Dallas flexibility. They have their full allotment of 2025 picks, so they could package a 2024 and 2025 pick in a trade, similar to the Cooks deal. Both the Cooks and Gilmore trades came out of nowhere, but make no mistake: teams are always looking to shop veterans on affordable contracts for draft equity.

Cowboys Luke Schoonmaker: Draft ‘Bust’ or Set for Second-Year Boost?- Mike D’Abate, Sports Illustrated

This same conversation needs to be had around the entire 2023 draft class. Let’s start with Schoonmaker.

Schoonmaker finished first-season in Dallas having compiled only 65 yards, while catching eight of his 15 targets (two of which were for touchdowns) in eight appearances. While his stats failed to illuminate the stat sheet - his rookie season has some labeling the second-round pick a “draft bust’’ - his versatile skill set at the position ultimately led him to a wrestling match with Peyton Hendershot to be the No. 2 on the team’s tight end depth chart.

Though Schoonmaker’s limited resume may fail to provide sufficient evidence for a break out campaign in 2024, one need look no further than Ferguson’s successful encore to his rookie year performance this season to feed their optimism. After tallying only 19 receptions for 174 yards and two scores over 16 appearances in 2022, Ferguson significantly filled the void left by the departing Dalton Schultz by catching 71 passes for 761 yards and five touchdowns in 2023. In doing so, he secured the top spot at the position.

Still, Ferguson’s achievements do not guarantee similar results for Schoonmaker. The Cowboys second-rounder (No. 58 overall) must demonstrate the same — if not, stronger — resolve to be considered a key component in Dallas’ offense.

5 free agents the Cowboys could reunite with this offseason- LP Cruz, Blogging The Boys

There is nothing wrong with admitting to your mistakes and bringing back a familiar face.

Chidobe Awuzie, cornerback:

Since leaving Dallas, Awuzie has had a solid few seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals. In 2021, Awuzie helped the Bengals reach the Super Bowl and recorded an interception off Los Angeles Rams’ quarterback Matthew Stafford. Awuzie has been in and out of the starting lineup this past season but still is an adequate player, if only for depth, and the Cowboys might need it. Stephon Gilmore is a free agent and will turn 34 years old in September. Trevon Diggs is on the mend from an ACL injury, and Jourdan Lewis is also set to hit free agency. DaRon Bland is the only viable, healthy starting cornerback under contract this season. Expect Awuzie’s terms below the $7.25M annual salary he received from the Bengals.

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