In the aftermath of their playoff loss to the LA Rams, the Dallas Cowboys are in a situation where they need to look at themselves in the mirror.
Every fan is on the edge of their seat, waiting to see what happens to offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, to defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, and up and coming defensive coach Kris Richard, each with their futures with the team in limbo.
But wait, there’s more!! With a plethora of players about to hit free agency looking for new contracts, the Cowboys will need to choose wisely on who they want to keep and who they’ll need to let walk away. The key, is importance to the team. Which player has the biggest impact? Which player will play up to their desired contract? We have a lot to cover, so let’s get started.
Scott Linehan is every Cowboy fan’s favorite offensive coach….to blame for the teams struggles on the offense. This season through the first 8 games, the team was 3-5 and only averaging 18 points per game, while passing for just 207.5 yards per game on average. The Amari Cooper trade saved the season, as they finished the season 10-6. Despite the winning record, the Jones’ have yet to commit to retaining the OC.
“Why would I put some sort of statement out when we might have an opportunity? This is the time when things need to be chewed on,” Jerry said on his weekly radio show on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas.
Rod Marinelli and Kris Richard are in a situation where both were in control of the Dallas defense for the most of the season, where Richard had been calling the defensive plays, while Rod oversees the operations of the defense. Initially sought after teams like the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins, Kris Richard was looked as a favorite to land the Dolphins head coaching position, but later slipping behind the New England Patriots’ Brian Flores in the running.
With that being said, the Cowboys will expect Richard to return, but at what position? He obviously wants a promotion, hence the interviews for head coaching vacancies. Rod Marinelli already mentioned that he would take a step back to allow the team to keep Richard on the staff, confirming his importance to the development of the young defense. I predict the Dallas Cowboys will keep Richard, and it’ll be at the DC position, with Rod stepping down to a positional position, but continuing to be a big factor in the defensive scheme.
Free Agents to Be
With so many names on the list, we’re going to highlight some key players that had a major role on the team starting on the defense that saw players break out in a positive way.
Byron Jones was drafted as a safety in the first round, but played cornerback in college as an athletic defender at Penn State. But when Kris Richard arrived in town, he immediately switched Byron to the corner position, resulting in him making his first Pro Bowl in his career. Top cornerbacks in the NFL make between $13-$16 million per year, per spotrac.com. Since Jones is looking for a big payday, below are the top 5 paid cornerbacks of 2018.
This season, Jones only gave up one touchdown to opposing wide receivers, facing top talents such as DeAndre Hopkins, Michael Thomas, Odell Beckham, Mike Evans, and Julio Jones. Does he deserve a contract? Yes he does. If you look at any championship team, they have a solid number 1 cornerback in their secondary, and by golly, the Cowboys have found one.
PAY THAT MAN.
DeMarcus Lawrence has turned in his best two seasons of his young NFL career, recording 24.5 sacks over the past 2 seasons, leading the team by far. Playing under the franchise tag, he made $17.1 million this past season, racking up 10.5 sacks in the process. So the question is this: “Has Tank earned a big time contract?”
The answer is yes.
Lawrence turns 27 years old in April, well in the midst of his prime. If you sign him to a 5 year deal at about $20 million per season, it’ll put him at 31 years old at the end of his contract, just at the tail end of his prime. As a pass rusher, physicality is just as important as having a high football IQ. Many veterans have been able to play effectively into their early 30s such as Rob Ninkovich, Cameron Wake, and J.J. Watt. He can very well be effective for the rest of his career, and I think it will be a smart decision for the Dallas Cowboys to re-sign Tank Lawrence to a long term deal.
Amari Cooper is the most interesting piece of this equation, having been acquired at the trade deadline for a 1st round draft pick in 2019, essentially putting the pressure on Dallas to retain the young pass catcher. In his first 4 seasons, Cooper has two 1,000 yard seasons and 2 Pro Bowl selections. He also helped the Cowboys win 7 of their last 8 games, running off a 5 game win streak in the process. In the final half of the season, the Cowboys saw their passing game increase from 207.5 yards per game, to 278 yards per game since acquiring Cooper.
Amari Cooper is a must sign if you are the Dallas Cowboys. If they don’t sign him, then they have wasted 1st round pick for a half a season, so I highly expect the team to retain the young wide receiver.
Cole Beasley, the ever loved slot wide receiver is coming off a season where he battled injuries, but still ended the campaign with 65 receptions, 672 yards and 3 touchdowns. He’s going to be 30 years old this offseason, and the team has to take a strong look at the veteran player. As good as Beasley can be at times, he can also disappear at the most inopportune times. He had 6 games this year with 2 receptions or less, and 10 games of 50 yards or less.
How do you pay him with an injury history at his age? How many years does he have left in his career? No one really knows these answers, so it’ll be best to find the next Cole Beasley in the draft, or free agency.
With so many players to watch, the Cowboys still seem to have so little time to get the team in order before next season. With the upcoming NFL draft mere months away, they will need to start making moves as soon as possible to make sure they get the most out of this draft class.