Dak Prescott

Cowboys Rumors: Earl Thomas, Witten, Draft

Seahawks free agent safety Earl Thomas is expected seek $15MM a year with his next deal, The Athletic’s Calvin Watkins tweets.

Watkins notes that figure might be too high for the Cowboys. Though possessing plenty of cap space this offseason, the team is expected to use most of that money in signing Demarcus Lawrence to a long-term deal and working on extensions for players like Dak Prescott and Byron Jones.

Thomas and the Cowboys have long been linked ever since the All-Pro safety told head coach Jason Garrett to “come get him” following a 2017 game. The Cowboys and Seahawks were in talks on trades for the star defender in the offseason but could not come to an agreement on draft-round compensation.

Thomas, a Texas native and longtime Cowboys fan, reportedly will not take a “hometown” discount with the team and is also expected to be courted by the 49ers.

Here’s more surrounding the Cowboys:

  • When asked whether the newly signed Jason Witten is a “coach in waiting,” owner Jerry Jones said that he will be with the team in the future, whether that is as a coach or in another position, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen tweets. After a year-long hiatus, Witten made a shocking decision when he decided to come back for another season in 2019. Long considered a future NFL coach, Witten is sure to make a move in that direction following what is, presumably, his last season.
  • Speaking of Witten, when the future Hall of Famer rejoined the team, it was expected the Cowboys would not take a tight end early in the draft. That might not be the case, as the team has already met with Iowa’s T.J. Hockenson, The Dallas Morning News’ Jon Machota tweets. Though they might have interest, the Cowboys do not possess their first-round pick thanks to the Amari Cooper trade and the college standout will likely be gone before their Day 2 selection.
  • Like we said earlier, the Cowboys are expected to use most of their cap space to resign their own players this year. The team has already met with the agents for Prescott, Jones and Cooper, and are expected to meet with Lawrence’s agent tonight, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Clarence Hill Jr. tweets. They have not met with Ezekiel Elliott‘s agent yet, but have indicated plenty of interest in resigning him at some point.


Kellen Moore Leading Candidate For Cowboys’ OC Job?

Kellen Moore may well be set for a staggering rise within the coaching profession. The 30-year-old former quarterback-turned-quarterbacks coach spent one season on the Cowboys’ staff and has been linked to the recently available offensive coordinator job.

Moore appears to be the favorite to land the position, Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram notes.

Jerry Jones is eyeing an internal hire to take the job Scott Linehan held, and Moore — whom the organization regards as a “bright football mind” after making a strong impression this season as QBs coach — is receiving heavy consideration for the role, per Davison. Tight ends coach Doug Nussmeier is also a candidate, Jones said.

Regardless of the Cowboys’ hire here, Jason Garrett is expected to call plays next season.

Dak Prescott will play a “significant” part in determining his next OC, Jones said. Jon Kitna, who also backed up Tony Romo for a time prior to Moore’s arrival, is joining Dallas’ staff in a to-be-determined role — one that ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter said would be as the Cowboys’ QBs coach. Moore rising from reserve quarterback to OC within two years would be a Romo-esque leap within a profession. Moore, who made two starts for the 2015 Cowboys, retired as a player in January 2018.

The Cowboys are not expected to make any more outside hires, according to Stephen Jones (via the Dallas Morning News’ Kate Hairopoulos, on Twitter). The current staff’s roles and titles are being discussed.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Roethlisberger, Prescott, Foles

We heard recently that the Steelers were hoping to extend Ben Roethlisberger soon, and now we have confirmation of that. Steelers owner Art Rooney recently confirmed the team intended to get a new deal done for Big Ben soon, per Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com. “That’s certainly something that is on the agenda for this offseason,” Rooney said. Florio then dove into what a potential new contract for Roethlisberger, who has one year left on his current deal, would look like. Florio thinks Roethlisberger and his reps will demand “at least $28 million per year”, and points out that his current deal only paid him an average of $21.85 MM per year, far below market value. He also writes that Roethlisberger could choose to just play it year to year and make the Steelers franchise tag him for the next couple of seasons if they’re unwilling to meet his demands.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Speaking of quarterback extensions, Dak Prescott will need one soon as well. 2019 will be the last year of his rookie contract, and what kind of extension the Cowboys offer him will be one of the more interesting contract developments this offseason. Former NFL agent and current CBS Sports analyst Joel Corry took a look at all of Dallas’ options, and came to the conclusion that inking Prescott to a new deal “may be a lot easier said than done.” He writes that the Cowboys may be reluctant to offer Prescott top of the quarterback market money because it would preclude them from extending other young players, but that Prescott’s agent Todd France has “a reputation for driving a hard bargain in negotiations”, and will be unlikely to back down. It’ll be fascinating to see how this one plays out, and whether Prescott ends up getting top quarterback money or has to settle for something in the lower $20MM’s.
  • Another quarterback to monitor this offseason is Nick Foles. It’s been made clear that Foles won’t be back in Philadelphia next season, but it remains to be seen whether or not he’ll be traded or able to pick his own destination in free agency. Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer broke down all the scenarios for this spring, and included some telling quotes from Foles. The Eagles can exercise an option to keep Foles under contract for next year, which Foles could then void if he pays the team back $2MM, “essentially buying free agency” as Berman points out. Foles recently said “having the option to be a free agent is extremely important” indicating he would much prefer to choose his own landing spot rather than be dealt somewhere. But even if he does pay the voiding fee, the Eagles could still franchise tag him and then attempt to trade him. We should know a lot more by the start of free agency.
  • In case you missed it, the Chargers plan on extending Philip Rivers this offseason.

Cowboys’ Jerry Jones On Elliott, Linehan

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is determined to hammer out new deals with running back Ezekiel Elliott, quarterback Dak Prescott, edge rusher Demarcus Lawrence, and cornerback Byron Jones. However, he’s stopping short of any guarantees on those fronts. 

I want him in the short-term and the long-term,” Jones said of Prescott in a radio interview (Twitter link via Jon Machota of the Dallas News).

He expressed the same sentiment about Elliott, Lawrence, and Jones while tempering expectations.

Now, getting [those contracts done]…hell, I want a bigger boat,” said Jones.

This was an up-and-down year for Prescott, but the Cowboys seem committed to moving forward with the 25-year-old (26 in July). As it stands, they have the former fifth-round pick under contract for an $816K cap figure through 2019, which should work to the team’s advantage – given his relative lack of earnings to date, Prescott may take the security of a below-market long-term deal over the gamble of free agency next year.

New deals for Elliott and Lawrence will be expensive propositions, but the Cowboys are planning to devote a big chunk of their $54MM+ in cap space towards keeping the band together.

Later in the interview, Jones declined to give offensive coordinator Scott Linehan a vote of confidence.

This is the time when these things are thought about,” Jones said when pressed on Linehan’s future (Twitter link). “This is the time when you may see an opportunity next week that you didn’t know existed next week, in the area of personnel or the area of coaching.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

2019 Proven Performance Escalators

According to the NFL’s contractual bargaining agreement, players drafted in rounds three though seven are entitled to raises during the fourth year of their respective rookie contracts. The pay bumps are tied to playing time — a player must have played in 35% of his team’s offensive or defensive snaps in two of his first three seasons, or averaged 35% playing time cumulatively during that period.

If one of these thresholds is met, the player’s salary is elevated to the level of that year’s lowest restricted free agent tender — that figure should be around $2MM in 2019. Players selected in the first or second round, undrafted free agents, and kickers/punters are ineligible for the proven performance escalator.

Here are the players who will see their salary rise in 2019 courtesy of the proven performance escalator:

Bears: RB Jordan Howard, LB Nick Kwiatkoski

Bengals: LB Nick Vigil

Broncos: G Connor McGovern, S Will Parks, S Justin Simmons

Browns: S Derrick Kindred, LB Joe Schobert

Buccaneers: G Caleb Benenoch, DE Carl Nassib, CB Ryan Smith

Chargers: LB Jatavis Brown

Chiefs: CB Kendall Fuller, WR Tyreek Hill, S Eric Murray, WR Demarcus Robinson

Colts: QB Jacoby Brissett, T Joe Haeg

Cowboys: CB Anthony Brown, DT Maliek Collins, QB Dak Prescott

Dolphins: RB Kenyan Drake

Eagles: CB Jalen Mills, T Halapoulivaati Vaitai

Falcons: LB De’Vondre Campbell, TE Austin Hooper, G Wes Schweitzer

Jaguars: DE Yannick Ngakoue

Jets: LB Jordan Jenkins, CB Rashard Robinson, T Brandon Shell

Lions: C Graham Glasgow

Packers: LB Kyler Fackrell, DE Dean Lowry, LB Blake Martinez, LB Antonio Morrison

Patriots: G Joe Thuney, LB Elandon Roberts

Rams: G Austin Blythe, TE Tyler Higbee

Ravens: DE Matt Judon, OL Alex Lewis, CB Tavon Young

Saints: DT David Onyemata

Steelers: DT Javon Hargrave

Texans: DT D.J. Reader

Titans: S Kevin Byard, WR Tajae Sharpe

OverTheCap.com was essential in the creation of this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images. 

Latest On Extension Talks For Amari Cooper, Dak Prescott

The Cowboys indicated earlier this month that they are planning on signing the newly-acquired Amari Cooper to an extension. However, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com writes, the two sides have not yet had any talks regarding a new deal. Cooper is under club control through 2019 under the fifth-year option that Oakland had previously exercised, and Cooper would be a legitimate franchise tag candidate for at least the 2020 season if it comes to it, so the Cowboys have not prioritized a new contract. However, Schefter said player and team do plan to discuss a long-term extension after the season, and that Dallas is prepared to pay Cooper.

Cooper’s price, though, is only going up. He is starting to look a little like his old self in Dallas, and he exploded for 180 yards and two scores in the team’s Thanksgiving Day win over the Redskins. Now riding a three-game winning streak, the Cowboys have suddenly become the favorites to win the NFC East, and Cooper — who has 22 receptions for 349 yards and three TDs in four games with the team — is a big reason for that.

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk examines what a new contract for Cooper could look like, and he suggests that any deal reached prior to the 2019 season would need to include at least $30.6MM in fully-guaranteed money, and probably more. Plus, in light of recent contracts for players like Sammy Watkins and Brandin Cooks, Cooper could easily make a case for a deal that features an average annual value of $16MM+. Cooper is represented by agent Joel Segal, who of course did wonders for Khalil Mack earlier this year.

In addition to Cooper, the Cowboys are also planning an extension for third-year signal caller Dak Prescott. as Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network confirms (video link). Owner Jerry Jones and executive VP Stephen Jones are reportedly convinced that Prescott is the team’s franchise quarterback, and they plan to pay him accordingly. As Florio notes, it will be difficult to determine a true starting point in negotiations for Prescott, but Rapoport says that Dallas wants to lock up both Cooper and Prescott for the foreseeable future this offseason and that the club is making financial preparations now. The Cowboys have not yet initiated talks with Prescott’s camp either but will do so at season’s end.

As we heard yesterday, star running back Ezekiel Elliott may be left out once Dallas has finished paying Prescott, Cooper, and (potentially) Demarcus Lawrence.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboys Won’t Fire Garrett During Season

On Monday night, the Cowboys were held scoreless in the second half and lost 28-14 to the Titans. It marked the Cowboys’ second straight loss and dragged the team down to 3-5, leading many to question Jason Garrett‘s job security. However, owner Jerry Jones says he will not make an in-season head coaching change (via Todd Archer of ESPN.com). 

Whether Garrett is the biggest problem in Dallas is up for debate, but something was clearly amiss with the Cowboys’ game plan on Monday night. Star running back Ezekiel Elliott ripped off 96 total yards in the first half, but had just six touches in the entire second half. Meanwhile, quarterback Dak Prescott didn’t do them any favors by throwing an ill-advised end zone interception early in the game and giving up a costly fumble in the second half.

Many are concerned about Prescott’s development in the midst of his third season, but Jones reaffirmed his commitment to the former fourth-round pick.

“Listen,” Jones said on 105.3 The Fan (Twitter link). “Dak is the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys. He’s young and he’s going to get extended.”

The Cowboys – with Garrett on the sidelines and Prescott under center – will travel to Philadelphia this week to take on the defending champs.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Lincoln Riley, Prescott, AAF, Supplemental Draft

As one of the top coaches in college football, it was only a matter of time before Lincoln Riley started to be discussed as a potential NFL head coach. The discussion has already started after just a year as the coach of Oklahoma. NFL teams are fascinated by what Riley has done at Oklahoma and are flocking to Norman to pick his brain, according to Albert Breer of SI.com. Breer notes how the NFL is trending more and more toward college-style offenses, and that many of the concepts Riley has been implementing at Oklahoma since he became their coordinator in 2015 are already starting to become commonplace in the pro game.

Breer thinks that due to their interest in his schemes, NFL teams will eventually try to hire him, writing “it’s not hard to see NFL teams trying to pry him loose” from Oklahoma. When Breer asked Riley about it, he said it was “hard to say” and that “you can never say never” but added that “it’s hard to see myself ever leaving Oklahoma right now.” Whatever happens, Riley will be an interesting name to keep an eye on for future head coaching searches at the NFL level.

Here’s more from the football universe:

  • Dak Prescott changed agents, signing with Todd France of CAA, according to Clarence Hill Jr. of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Hill notes Prescott needed to make the move now, since he’s eligible to sign a contract extension after this season. Cowboys brass has repeatedly made clear they plan to sign Prescott to a longterm mega-extension in the near future.
  • Randy Mueller will be named the new GM of the Salt Lake City AAF team, a source told Alex Marvez of Sporting News (Twitter link). Mueller is currently a senior executive with the Chargers. The AAF continues to poach talent away from the NFL as it ramps up its operations.
  • Supplemental Draft prospect Sam Beal “has a shot to be a second round claim” but Matt Miller of Bleacher Report hears he is “most likely” to be a third round pick (Twitter link). Beal, from Western Michigan, is one of three defensive backs with a shot at being taken in the Supplemental Draft, which will be held July 11th.

East Notes: Cowboys, Prescott, Patriots

As a former fourth-round pick who is still on his rookie contract, Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott has one of the most team-friendly deals in the NFL. He has taken notice of the big money deals given to Matt Ryan ($30MM/year), Jimmy Garoppolo ($27.5MM/year) and Matthew Stafford ($27MM/year), but he says he’s staying patient at the same time.

I know if I play well, they’ll take care of me,” said Prescott on SiriusXM (via the Dallas News). “It’s just part of it. All these guys out here getting these contracts, they’re getting them deservedly so because of the way that they’ve been playing. My [focus] this year is just winning games. That’s my main goal. That’s really my only goal, not any individual success or numbers or worry about the contract. It’s about going in and winning enough games to get us to the playoffs and then winning one game at a time at that point. The rest of the stuff will come.”

Prescott is entering the third year of a four-year rookie contract that pays him $681K annually. The fifth-year option will not be available to the Cowboys when his deal expires after the 2019 season, but the team – in theory – could control him for at least another two years via the franchise tag. Both sides, ideally, would like to hammer out an extension between now and ’19 that would provide security to Prescott while giving the Cowboys cost certainty.

Here’s more from the East divisions:

  • The Patriots trading for Seahawks safety Earl Thomas doesn’t seem terribly likely, but Mike Reiss of ESPN.com notes that the Pats often utilize the “Big Nickel” package, which could lead them to at least consider a deal. The Big Nickel allows a defense to add an extra defensive back who can support the passing game while also helping out against the run as a linebacker type. The Pats already have a solid top three at safety with Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, and Duron Harmon, but adding Thomas to the mix would give them additional depth and more options to work with as they look to keep up with the league’s best aerial attacks.
  • Dolphins wide receiver Leonte Carroo could be on the roster bubble after having just seven catches for 69 yards last season, ESPN.com’s Mike Rodak writes. The departure of Jarvis Landry, in theory, could open up an opportunity for him, but he’ll have to stand out in a group that now includes free agent pickups Danny Amendola and Albert Wilson. Meanwhile, DeVante Parker and Kenny Stills are also in line for playing time and 2017 seventh-round pick Isaiah Ford has impressed this offseason, which could push Carroo out of the picture.

NFC Notes: Cowboys, Giants, Eagles, Wentz

Following the Cowboys’ decision to move on from Dez Bryant, the offense was left with only two wideouts from last year’s roster: Cole Beasley and Terrance Williams. The team did an admirable job of adding Allen Hurns and Deonte Thompson via free agency, Tavon Austin via trade, and Michael Gallup via the draft, but none of their options profile as a top-tier wideout.

While the team’s depth chart may be lacking, quarterback Dak Prescott believes the Cowboys’ offense will be just fine.

“I don’t know if any team in the league necessarily needs a No. 1 receiver,” Prescott said (via Charean Williams of ProFootballTalk.com). “It’s about getting the ball out, spreading the ball around, keeping the defense on its toes.”

Of course, while Prescott is confident in his ability to lead the unheralded offense, he understands that there’s still work to be done.

“I mean the only thing you can do is just get out there with routes on air, things like that,” Prescott said. “We did a bunch together. Me and these young guys have been here before we even started OTAs, getting that timing down so we can get in OTAs and have good feel for each other and now with the defense in front of us, grow off of that and grow from what we’ve already accomplished. That’s the best thing I can do.”

Let’s take a look at some more notes out of the NFC…

  • After having seen several Giants practices, Matt Lombardo of NJ.com opines that 2017 third-round pick Davis Webb has been the team’s most impressive signal-caller. However, the writer emphasizes that there isn’t a quarterback controversy, noting that the team’s offseason moves indicate that the front office wants to make a playoff push with Eli Manning. Still, since the Giants weren’t sold on any of the top quarterback prospects in the draft, Webb has been doing a nice job of making his case to be Manning’s heir apparent.
  • Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com takes an early look at the Eagles projected depth chart. The writer’s opinion of the offensive tackle position is of particular note, as Jason Peters and Lane Johnson are currently slotted in as starters. However, Shorr-Parks wonders if Halapoulivaati Vaitai could take over as the starter for Peters if the veteran doesn’t recover from his major knee surgery. The writer also notes that there will be a battle between Josh Sweat and Steven Means for third-string defensive end reps. If Means earns a spot on the active roster, the Eagles could choose to stash the first-year Sweat on the injured reserve.
  • Carson Wentz participated in the Eagles OTAs this week, and reports indicated that he looked good as recovered from an ACL and LCL tear. Still, while there should be optimism around Wentz’s progress, Dr. David J. Chao of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes that it’s too early to “anoint his full return for the season opener.” While the quarterback is on track, he still has plenty of steps to complete until he’s back to full mobility. Wentz will have to focus on running and cutting before he’s ready for regular season action.