Byron Jones

Latest On Cowboys’ Pending FAs, Jason Garrett

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the Cowboys have made no progress on extensions for pending free agents Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, or Byron Jones, as Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes. La Canfora had a similar report towards the end of October, and nothing has changed since then.

Dallas, obviously, is not going to let Prescott get away, and even if the two sides cannot work out a long-term pact prior to the deadline for using the franchise tag, the Cowboys would tag their signal-caller to buy themselves some more time. That would mean that the Cowboys could not tag Cooper, and La Canfora’s sources say the odds of the team retaining Cooper without the tag are slim. Plus, given that we are now close to the end of the season, Cooper is not inclined to forego his shot at the open market by restarting extension negotiations.

La Canfora adds that there has been no communication between the Cowboys and Jones, and no talks are expected before the end of the season. With Jones, like Cooper, poised for a big payday, it seems increasingly likely that the team will lose both players.

With respect to Jason Garrett, we have already heard that the Cowboys will not be firing their head coach before the end of the season, but we also heard that Garrett may need to capture the Lombardi Trophy in order to remain in Dallas beyond 2019, and Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network confirms earlier rumors that the Cowboys will have interest in Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley if they elect to move on from Garrett (video link). Owner Jerry Jones and his family already have a relationship with Riley stemming from Riley’s recruitment of Jones’ grandson, John Stephen Jones, who ultimately elected to play his collegiate ball at Arkansas.

Riley has been a hot name in NFL coaching rumors in the past, and if he elects to jump to the professional ranks, Rapoport suggests the Cowboys could be appealing to him.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC East Notes: Cowboys, Jones, Manning

There is not going to be a quarterback controversy in the Giants organization, according to head coach Pat Shurmur. Rookie starting quarterback Daniel Jones‘ hot start to the season had many fans and pundits retracting their criticism of New York’s first-round selection. The former Duke quarterback, however, has shown some substantial regression since. With longtime starter and two-time Super Bowl champion Eli Manning remaining on the bench, some speculation began that the team might shift to the veteran. When asked if he would consider making a change, though, Shurmur remained committed to the rookie:

“No, I think Daniel is going to learn from everything that’s going on,” Shurmur said (via PFT).

Here’s more from one of the Giants’ biggest NFC East rivals:

  • Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett‘s job status has been a large point of speculation throughout the season. Garrett, currently in the final year of his contract, is the longest tenured head coach in the NFC East, but he has found himself on the hot seat many times since he was hired in 2010. Dallas ownership’s close relationship with Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley and Urban Meyer’s recent comments on FS1’s The Herd with Colin Cowherd have created even more speculation. Cowboys COO Stephen Jones tried to quell those rumors this week. Jones, the son of team owner and general manager Jerry Jones, tells Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network that the organization believes “Jason’s doing a great job” and has no intention of making a change.
  • Garrett isn’t the only prominent member of Cowboys in the last year of his contract. Extension negotiations with franchise quarterback Dak Prescott have stalled, making it increasingly likely that the team will need to use the franchise tag on him, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. While the tag would ensure their ability to retain their signal-caller, La Canfora mentions some domino effects that would impact two other Dallas cornerstones. Star corner Byron Jones and wide receiver Amari Cooper are both in their final years under contract as well. The team, via La Canfora, has gained little progress in talks with either player. Furthermore, the team had originally planned to franchise Jones, but unless they can settle their negotiations with Prescott, he will hit the unrestricted free agent market alongside Cooper and be able to negotiate with all 32 teams.
  • Elsewhere in the NFC East, the Redskins are still rejecting calls of trade interest on offensive lineman Trent Williams.

Injury Updates: Packers, Adams, Cardinals

No surprise here, but Davante Adams will miss another game this week, per the Packers‘ final injury report. This marks the wide receiver’s third-straight missed contest as he rehabs from a toe ailment.

Adams had a strong start to the season with 25 receptions for 378 yards before going down and seemed on his way to matching last year’s 111/1,386 posting. The Packers were able to get past the Lions without him and they’ll aim to do the same against the Raiders.

Here’s the latest on other bumps and bruises from around the NFL:

  • Uh oh – Cardinals running back David Johnson is dealing with a new injury. After tweaking his back against Atlanta, Johnson will be a game time decision thanks to a sore ankle, head coach Kliff Kingsbury told reporters.
  • The Cowboys will have offensive tackles Tyron Smith and La’el Collins, wide receivers Amari Cooper and Randall Cobb, and cornerback Byron Jones are set to play on Sunday against the Eagles, as Todd Archer of ESPN.com tweets. All five are listed as questionable for the game, but they took the practice field and Friday and should be good to go.
  • The Eagles, on the other hand, will try to fly without: linebacker Nigel Bradham (ankle), wide receiver DeSean Jackson (abdomen), defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan (foot), cornerback Avonte Maddox (concussion/neck), tackle Jason Peters (knee), and running back Darren Sproles (quadricep).
  • Wide receiver Kenny Stills is set to return on Sunday against the Colts, per the club’s injury report.

NFC Notes: Inactives, Peterson, Evans, Jones

Adrian Peterson will not suit up vs. the Eagles today, as Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo of NFL.com report. Redskins coach Jay Gruden has made it clear that Derrius Guice will be the starter and handle most of the rushing work.

Some of Peterson’s teammates aren’t happy that he’s a healthy scratch, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. The future Hall-of-Famer is regarded by some as the best back on the team and many members of the Redskins believed that come week 1, the question would be how many carries Guice would be taking away from Peterson and not whether Peterson would be suiting up.

Washington gave Peterson a $1.5MM signing bonus and another $1MM to re-sign with the club this offseason. No word if the team has plans to trade or release him.

Here’s more from the NFC:

  • TE Jordan Reed is among the other inactives for the Redskins, John Keim of ESPN.com tweets. QB Colt McCoy will also not suit up.
  • Mike Evans and Devin White will both play for the Buccaneers today, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter (Twitter link). The pair were listed as questionable heading into the contest will illnesses.
  • CB Byron Jones won’t start for the Cowboys today, Schefter adds in a separate tweet. Jones will play, but he’ll be limited as he is still recovering from offseason hip surgery.
  • RT Marcus Gilbert will not play for the Cardinals today, as Darren Urban relays on the team’s website. Gilbert is nursing a knee injury.

Cowboys Notes: Elliott, Garrett, Lawrence

Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett says he has stayed in contact with Ezekiel Elliott during his holdout (Twitter link via Jon Machota of The Athletic). He went on to say that the conversations have been “all very positive,” though there’s still no word on when Elliott will show up for work.

Publicly, both sides are attempting to paint a fairly rosy picture of what’s taking place. Last week, a story likely leaked from Elliott’s camp indicated that he is in shape and ready to go for the upcoming season, despite his absence from practice. Meanwhile, Garrett was quick to tell reporters that he is on good terms with his star running back.

While we wait for movement on the Elliott front, here’s more from Dallas:

  • The Cowboys are set to activate defensive linemen DeMarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford from the PUP list, a source tells ESPN.com’s Todd Archer (on Twitter). Lawrence had shoulder surgery soon after signing his five-year, $101MM contract in April and has been out of action for the last few months. Crawford, meanwhile, is working through a hip issue that kept him out of the offseason program. Unfortunately, safety Byron Jones (hip) and receiver Noah Brown (knee) remain on PUP.
  • This week, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones acknowledged that a new deal for Dak Prescott would put him in the top tier of compensation for NFL quarterbacks.

Injury Notes: Brown, Luck, Gore, Watt, Jones, Lawrence

Here’s the latest on all the injuries to big names as training camps get underway across the league:

  • There was a brief uproar earlier when it was mysteriously announced that Antonio Brown would start camp on the Raiders’ non-football injury list. However, the as of now undisclosed issue that caused Brown to be placed on the NFI was described to Field Yates of ESPN as “very minor” (Twitter link). Further, Jerry McDonald of the Oakland Tribune tweets that the Raiders have known of the injury for two weeks, and that Brown will probably only miss a week of camp time. Despite the initial panic, it doesn’t sound like this is anything you need to monitor going forward.
  • Andrew Luck was sidelined by a calf injury during the Colts’ offseason program, which sparked some concerns about his Achilles. However, Luck told Tom Pelissero of NFL Network today “my Achilles is not at extra risk of anything. It’s fine” (Twitter link). In a separate tweet, Pelissero notes Luck participated in team drills today, and that his limited workload has only been precautionary.
  • Speaking of the NFI, Bills GM Brandon Beane said that running back Frank Gore has been removed from it, per longtime Bills beat reporter Joe Buscaglia (Twitter link). Gore had been dealing with a minor injury, but has passed his physical and is cleared to practice. Gore will be competing for carries in a crowded Buffalo backfield that also features LeSean McCoy and rookie Devin Singletary.
  • J.J. Watt started camp on the Texans’ PUP list, but he’s now been removed and cleared to practice, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). Watt was limited to just eight combined games in 2016 and 2017 due to injuries, but he played a full 16-game slate last year. Watt wasn’t the only Texan to get cleared, as James Palmer of NFL Network tweets that DeAndre Hopkins was also cleared and activated from PUP.
  • Byron Jones, DeMarcus Lawrence, Tyrone Crawford and Noah Brown will start camp on the PUP list for the Cowboys, according to Todd Archer of ESPN.com. Fortunately, Dallas is expecting all of them to be ready for the start of the season. Lawrence had offseason shoulder surgery, Jones had surgery on his hip, and Crawford is also dealing with a hip injury. Last we heard, there had been no progress in extension talks between the team and Jones.

No Progress In Talks Between Cowboys, Byron Jones

We have written a great deal about the Cowboys top extension candidates — Dak PrescottEzekiel ElliottAmari Cooper, and Byron Jones — this offseason. It does not appear that the club is particularly close to striking a long-term deal with any of those players, and Calvin Watkins of the Dallas Morning News reports today that there has been no progress between the Cowboys and Jones (Twitter link).

Dallas made Jones the No. 27 overall pick of the 2015 draft, and though he spent most of his first three years in the league as a safety, he converted to cornerback full-time last season, and it was a highly-successful transition. Jones was one of Pro Football Focus’ best-graded boundary defenders in 2018 en route to a Second Team All-Pro nod, and he has positioned himself nicely for a big payday.

Jones is due roughly $6.2MM in 2019 under the fifth-year option of his rookie contract, but a new deal would give him a considerable raise. The Dolphins made Xavien Howard the highest-paid CB in league history several months ago after signing him to a five-year, $76.5MM extension ($46MM guaranteed), and Jones will be shooting for a similar payout.

Given all of the big-money negotiations that the Cowboys are engaged in, it’s not surprising that they haven’t made much progress with Jones. But if they don’t get something soon, Jones may price himself out of the team’s range.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboys Unlikely To Extend Ezekiel Elliott?

Following the DeMarcus Lawrence extension, the Cowboys’ talks with their bevy of standouts have stagnated. But their priorities have become clear. The Cowboys have begun re-up discussions with Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper, and despite acknowledging Ezekiel Elliott is “the straw that stirs the drink” for them, the fourth-year running back appears to be on the team’s back-burner.

And they might not any time soon. Based on talks with several close to this process, ESPN.com’s Dan Graziano notes the Cowboys are not only unlikely to extend Elliott in 2019 but possibly will go through 2020 with the two-time rushing champion still tethered to his rookie deal.

Elliott being under contract for two more seasons, with his fifth-year option worth only $9.1MM, and the prospect of a 2021 franchise tag makes the Cowboys comfortable they can retain Elliott at a reasonable price for a while, Graziano adds. Elliott participated in Dallas’ offseason activities, and a recent report indicated the parties were on the same page. But the two-time Pro Bowler’s patience with this situation figures to soon be tested.

The 23-year-old back watched Todd Gurley, Le’Veon Bell and David Johnson each sign for at least $13MM per year, and Elliott has amassed a historic workload through his first three seasons. No running back has more touches than Elliott (1,003) since 2016, despite the Ohio State alum missing eight games because of suspension and Week 17 rest, and only two backs (Edgerrin James and LaDainian Tomlinson) have ever accumulated more touches per game than Elliott (25.1) through three seasons. Another high-volume season, at a $3.9MM base salary, would be a risky proposition for the former No. 4 overall pick.

The Cowboys may not only view Prescott and Cooper deals as more pressing matters, but Graziano adds a Byron Jones extension may be a higher priority as well. This makes sense, given these players are in contract years and Elliott is now signed through 2020. But Elliott’s 2017 suspension helped keep that Cowboys iteration out of the playoffs, and among this sect of extension candidates, he is the only first-team All-Pro.

While a holdout would stand to weaken the defending NFC East champions, Elliott would be subject to fines for missing training camp. And from the team’s perspective, these high-end running back deals obviously come with risk due to running backs’ short shelf lives. Nevertheless, Elliott’s next move will be interesting.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

East Rumors: Ansah, Bills, Scherff, Cowboys

The Bills do not appear ready to concede they are losing the Ziggy Ansah race. It is unclear what terms have been exchanged between Ansah and the teams pursuing him, but Brandon Beane does not believe the Seahawks are the favorites to land the defensive end.

We’re still in talks with him and his agent,” Beane said during an interview with 1270 The Fan (via Mike Rodak of ESPN.com, on Twitter). “Everything has been very good. All I’ll say about reports (regarding Seattle is emerging as favorite) is I don’t buy into that garbage, especially when I consider where some of the sourcing comes from.”

While the Seahawks have a more immediate need for edge rushers, the Bills recently declined perpetual trade candidate Shaq Lawson‘s fifth-year option and have Jerry Hughes in a contract year. Ansah visited the Bills in March, but the rehabbing lineman was not expected to sign until at least April. It appears the finish line is near for the soon-to-be 30-year-old sack artist’s decision.

Here is the latest news coming out of the Eastern divisions:

  • A torn pectoral muscle ended Brandon Scherff‘s fourth season, but there do not appear to be any complications in his return. Scherff expects to be ready for Redskins training camp. The fifth-year guard said (via Redskins.com) he was at around 90 percent when the Redskins started their offseason program late last month. In February, we heard Washington and its top guard began discussing an extension. But nothing has emerged on that front since. Scherff is entering his fifth-year option season.
  • Elsewhere in the NFC East, the Cowboys have a host of extension candidates. While Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper have emerged as the clubhouse leaders to be signed first, Cowboys executive VP Stephen Jones included Ezekiel Elliott in that conversation. Jones called Elliott “every bit as important,” per Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News (on Twitter). It still looks like Elliott, under contract through 2020, will take a backseat to Cooper and Prescott for the time being. The Cowboys have a history of overworking running backs as their rookie deals wind down, as DeMarco Murray‘s final Dallas season showed, but Jones is saying the right things regarding the team wanting Elliott in the fold long-term.
  • Jones also mentioned Jaylon Smith, La’el Collins and Byron Jones as players the team would like to address. “I feel very good that we’re going to strategically work through getting guys like Dak and Amari and Zeke done. And I think we can still do others,” Jones said (via Machota, on Twitter). Each is going into a contract year, with Collins having already signed two NFL deals despite entering the league at the same time as Cooper and Jones. But it will be difficult for the Cowboys to retain all three members of this section of their extension queue, given how much Prescott, Cooper and Elliott will cost.
  • The Bills reshuffled their scouting department recently. Former Dolphins GM Dennis Hickey, in his fourth year in Buffalo, is now a senior national scout with the Bills. Buffalo also hired A.J. Highsmith and Mike Szabo as area scouts. A.J. Highsmith, a 49ers staffer over the past five years, is the son of Browns executive Alonzo Highsmith. The Bills also announced Asil Mulbah received a promotion, becoming a pro scout, and that R.J. Webb is now on board as a scouting assistant.

NFC Notes: Gurley, Panthers, Cowboys, Giants

Much has been made about Todd Gurley and his knee, which caused him issues in the 2018 postseason. The Rams didn’t do much to quiet those rumors when they tabbed Memphis running back Darrell Henderson with the No. 70 pick in the draft.

The team, however, is adamant the pick of Henderson has nothing to do with Gurley’s status, Pro Football Talk’s Charean Williams writes. Though the team did mention monitoring the perennial Pro Bowl back’s workload.

“Like we have said all along, we anticipate Todd being a huge part of this like he has been the last couple of years,” head coach Sean McVay said. “As far as managing the workload, those are things that we talk about with Todd and as you continue to get educated on, is that something that we should do for the long haul or something that is or isn’t going to affect Todd most importantly and how does that affect our team? But we added a really good playmaker was a big thing.”

Henderson was one of college football’s stars in 2018, rushing for 1,909 yards and 22 touchdowns on just 214 carries. His 8.9 yards per rush was no fluke, as he posted the exact same average as a sophomore in 2017.

It will be interesting how the Rams handle their backfield in 2019. In addition to Gurley and Henderson, the team also matched an offer for running back Malcolm Brown.

Heres’ more from around the NFC:

  • Panthers wide receiver D.J. Moore has hired Drew Rosenhaus to represent him, per Sports Business Journal’s Liz Mullen (via Twitter). Rosenhaus and Robert Bailey will team up in repping the Maryland product, who posted 788 yards on 55 receptions in 2018.
  • The Cowboys are expected to be extremely cautious with cornerback Byron Jones, who underwent offseason hip surgery, the Dallas Morning News’ Jon Machota tweets. Machota mentioned Jones, a breakout star in his first season as a cornerback, will be “highly managed,” but they do expect him to be ready for the start of the season.
  • Sticking in Dallas, new slot receiver Randall Cobb said he signed with the team because he wanted to play on a contender, Machota writes“Once I talked to everybody I knew this was the place,” Cobb said. “I definitely believe in this team. I felt like I wanted to be on a team that was a contender and I definitely believe that we have the ability, it’s just putting the pieces together.” Cobb replaces Cole Beasley in the slot, after the latter left for Buffalo early in the 2019 offseason.
  • The Giants will bring back veteran cornerback Janoris Jenkins, ESPN’s Jordan Raanan tweets. Though the team drafted three cornerbacks, Giants general manager Dave Gettleman left no doubt Jenkins would be back, saying, “Janoris has a bunch of puppies he has to train.”