Dak Prescott

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.

NFC East Rumors: Cowboys, Prescott, ‘Skins

The Cowboys are already planning to back up a Brinks truck for quarterback Dak Prescott when the times comes, as Charean Williams of PFT writes.

Yeah, you know at that position, it kind of is what it is,” Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said. “You kind of, when the time comes, [expect to pay him]. I know Dak is going to have a good year this year. I hope it’s up there. It’s going to be as he deserves. He was a fourth-round pick. No one deserves to get paid fairly more than he does. We all see what some of the other guys are who aren’t Aaron Rodgers, who aren’t Matt Ryan [are getting paid]. He’s going to do well. We certainly know that’s going to happen. We’ve got that planned in our budgeting for the salary cap. I just want Dak to go out and be MVP this year of the NFL. That’s what I want. Then, we’ll deal with that.”

For now, Prescott is under contract through the 2019 season with below market cap numbers of $726K and $815K in the next two years. Per NFL rules, Prescott cannot renegotiate his deal until after the 2018 season is through.

Here’s more from the NFC East:

  • The Cowboys are on the lookout for safety help, Williams writes. For now, Xavier Woods is penciled in as the starter at free safety following Byron Jones‘ shift to cornerback. “Absolutely. I mean, we don’t ever quit looking in terms of player acquisition,” Jones said. “One of the things that is unique is, when you have players with versatility, it probably makes you feel a little better…We feel like, overall, we’re very comfortable and confident where we are. But there’s still a lot of work to do between now and the start of the season.”
  • The Redskins let go of longtime scout Scott Campbell who spent 17 years with the club and was the director of college scouting through the 2017 draft, as Mike Florio of PFT tweets. The team says that they simply did not offer Campbell a new contract after the expiration of his old deal, but that’s really a matter of semantics.
  • Earlier today, we rounded up other news on the Cowboys, including items on Randy Gregory‘s reinstatement and the team’s post-Jason Witten plans.

Dak Prescott On Dez Bryant’s Release

The Cowboys’ decision to release Dez Bryant and the fallout from Bryant’s release have predictably dominated NFL storylines over the last couple of days. Yesterday, we learned that Bryant is at least partially blaming the Cowboys’ team captains for his departure, saying, “Little do they know is they can wear that ‘C’ [for captain] all they want to, but in that locker room, they know who they run and they talk to. They know who they communicate with. Everybody know where the real love is at, and I’m not throwing anybody under the bus, but that’s the difference between me and them.” 

Last season’s team captains included young quarterback Dak Prescott, with whom Bryant never seemed to establish any real on-field chemistry. But as Clarence E. Hill Jr. of the Star-Telegram writes, Prescott denied any involvement in Bryant’s release and expressed sadness that the three-time Pro Bowler will no longer be suiting up for Dallas.

The video of Prescott’s first post-Bryant remarks is on the Cowboys’ official website, and here are some of the highlights (via Hill):

On his relationship with Bryant: “That is a brother to me. Put the football stuff beyond you, what he meant to me as a person, what he meant to me as a brother, it’s tough to see him gone.”

On his role in Bryant’s release: “As much you want to say yeah I want a say so … those guys (front office executives) get paid a lot more than me. That is what those guys are there to do. That is not my decision.”

On how difficult it will be to replace Bryant:He was a great player. He did a lot of great things for us. He was a guy in man-to-man you go to. Dez is going to be a hard guy to replace. He is a talented guy. So he will be missed.”

On how Bryant will be replaced:At this point, we got to figure that out with the guys we got. I have thrown with [Allen] Hurns. Deonte [Thompson] is on his way. We have communicated. We will see. We will figure it out. I am sure we are going to go after guys in the draft and free agency. Who knows? All I can do is to continue to get better at my job and do the best I can do.”

As Hill notes, and as Prescott suggests, the Cowboys are focused on selecting a wide receiver in the early rounds of this month’s draft in an effort to replace Bryant’s production. New free agent signees Hurns and Thompson will play a significant role in the team’s offense, along with returning players like Cole BeasleyTerrance Williams, and Ryan Switzer.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Baalke Blocked 49ers From Drafting Dak Prescott

This probably didn’t help Trent Baalke‘s case in San Francisco. Apparently, Chip Kelly and others within the organization wanted to draft Dak Prescott last spring but Baalke didn’t pull the trigger, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (on Twitter). Ultimately, that was one of the final straws for Baalke and he was fired after a dreadful 2-14 season.

Dak Prescott/49ersOf course, it was the Cowboys who drafted Prescott in the fourth round and he has put together a jaw-dropping rookie campaign. Through 17 weeks of regular season action, Prescott appears to be the best QB in his class, ahead of No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff, No. 2 overall pick Carson Wentz, and first round pick Paxton Lynch. Pro Football Focus has Prescott ranked as the 12th best QB in the NFL for the 2016 season, ahead of notables like Ryan Tannehill, Alex Smith, Andy Dalton, Ben Roethlisberger, Cam Newton, and Philip Rivers. Colin Kaepernick, meanwhile, earned a poor overall grade of 61.9, placing him 27th amongst qualified QBs. After watching Prescott throw for 3,667 yards and 23 touchdowns against just four interceptions, 49ers ownership couldn’t help but wonder how different things would have been if Baalke was on board with the Mississippi St. product.

The 49ers had multiple opportunities to grab Prescott, but instead they are entering the offseason with no clear answer at the position. Blaine Gabbert and Kaepernick fizzled this year and the No. 2 overall pick in this year’s draft might not help their quarterback dilemma considering the dearth of quality QBs. UNC’s Mitch Trubisky is widely considered to be the best signal caller in this year’s unimpressive crop.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Eagles, Linehan, Bradford

The Eagles have fallen into a tailspin after an exciting start to the season, and that has led to some speculation as to whether the team will make any major changes this offseason. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, Philadelphia will not make any such changes, which means that head coach Doug Pederson will be back for a second year at the helm. Per Rapoport, the front office knew going into 2016 that the club was at least a year away from being a legitimate playoff contender, and while the Eagles’ 3-0 start helped to hide some of the weaknesses on the roster, the team knew that fixing those weaknesses would not be an overnight process.

Now for more notes from the NFC:

  • Despite Dak Prescott‘s recent struggles, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets that things would have to get much worse for the Cowboys to consider switching to Tony Romo. But Rapoport adds that Dallas OC Scott Linehan will be a sought-after head coaching candidate this offseason, and his departure could have a major impact on Prescott moving forward (Twitter link).
  • As the Ezekiel Elliott domestic violence investigation drags on, Tim Rohan of TheMMQB wonders why it’s taking so long, and if the league is just prolonging the process to keep up appearances. Rohan lays out in excellent detail the steps that the league’s investigative team takes in a post-Ray Rice world, and how that process could explain the lengthy delay in the NFL’s issuing a final word on the Cowboys‘ star running back.
  • Su’a Cravens may miss the rest of the season with a biceps injury, but that has not stopped speculation surrounding the young defensive playmaker and how he will fit in with the Redskins moving forward. Thus far, Cravens has worked exclusively as an inside linebacker, but given his strength in the passing game, JP Finlay of CSNMidAtlantic.com believes he may ultimately be better-suited as a safety, especially since the Redskins do not have a long-term answer at strong safety.
  • As Tom Pelissero of USA Today Sports observes, the Vikings have two high-profile players who are due for big roster bonuses in March: Sam Bradford and Adrian Peterson. Per Pelissero, Minnesota plans to bring back Bradford, but as we have heard for a long time, the Vikings will likely not pay Peterson’s $6MM roster bonus and instead will approach him about a pay cut prior to the bonus coming due.
  • We learned earlier today that the Saints could look to trade Sean Payton in the offseason.

East Notes: Cowboys, Dak, Romo, Eagles, Pats

The Cowboys expect defensive end Randy Gregory to return to practice on Monday, tweets Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News. Reports last week also indicated the Gregory was close to to returning to the field, but the NFL subsequently informed the Cowboys that Gregory would not be allowed to practice. Still appealing a one-year ban, Gregory’s status for Dallas’ Week 16 game Lions is still unclear, but his being allowed to practice is clearly a good first step.

Here’s more from the NFC’s two East divisions:

  • Despite Dak Prescott‘s struggles against the Giants in a close loss in Week 14, the Cowboys are insistent that they won’t be turning things over to veteran Tony Romo any time soon, as Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram writes. “You can make it as simple or complex as you want to make it,” head coach Jason Garrett said this week. “It’s pretty simple for us: Dak’s going to play quarterback as we go forward.” Meanwhile, a debate is reportedly raging with the Cowboys organization, as some decision-makers believe Romo should be given live game snaps in order to prepare him if Prescott is injured, per Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (video link).
  • Pass rusher Connor Barwin was a better fit in the Eagles‘ 3-4 scheme of years past than the club’s current 4-3 look, opines Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer. For his part, Barwin realizes that he hasn’t played up to his contract, and understands that he could be released at season’s end (a move that would save the Eagles $7.75MM in cap space). “He’s too smart for that defense,” an NFL personnel director told McLAne. “That’s a defense for . . . linemen that can just pin their ears back and not think. He’s neither athletic nor strong enough to consistently win battles against the best left tackles.”
  • The Patriots are dealing with injuries at wide receiver in the short-term, and while those issues likely played a role in New England claiming Michael Floyd off waivers today, the club is likely looking taking a long-term view in assessing Floyd’s fit with the team, as Mike Reiss of ESPN.com writes. While the Pats will pay a relatively high price tag for a three-game regular season audition, that time will allow the team to see how Floyd meshes with the organization, and determine if he could be part of the franchise going forward.

East Notes: Taylor, Cowboys, D-Jax

We heard several days ago that Bills GM Doug Whaley was unwilling to commit to Tyrod Taylor as the team’s starting quarterback of the future until after the season, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports that no talks regarding who will be the team’s 2017 quarterback have taken place. The Bills’ decision-makers appreciate that Taylor has just 26 career starts to his name, and they will evaluate his entire body of work–including the final four or more games of 2016–with that in mind.

If they decide Taylor is their man, the Bills could pick up his 2017 option, thereby kickstarting a new five-year, $80MM+ deal, or they could redo his contract to make it more palatable, which Rapoport believes is the more likely option. If Buffalo moves on, Rapoport expects the team to be active in the veteran quarterback market with a possible eye on Tony Romo. Jay Cutler and Colin Kaepernick also could be on the Bills’ radar.

Now for more from the league’s east divisions:

  • We learned last night that the Cowboys would be without return specialist Lucky Whitehead for tonight’s game against the Giants, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports that Whitehead was indeed left home in Dallas for missing a team meeting, which has been a recurring issue for him.
  • Even if the Cowboys reach a point in the regular season when they have nothing to play for, they do not plan to rest their starters, according to Rapoport. Dak Prescott would be a logical exception to that rule, though Tony Romo may not be the replacement if Prescott comes off the field. As Rapoport writes, Dallas would want to keep Romo safe in case Prescott should suffer an injury in the playoffs (Twitter links).
  • Despite recent reports that the Eagles will pursue Redskins wideout DeSean Jackson at season’s end, and despite reports that the interest is mutual, Jackson himself says that free agency is not on his mind at the moment, per John Keim of ESPN.com. Jackson said, “Who knows what happens in free agency? If I’m a free agent, I might seek some options and wherever it takes me, it takes me. It’s not my focus now. We have four games left here. Whatever happens, happens at the end of the season.”
  • Jets wideout Devin Smith is expected to finally get back on the field Sunday, and as Mark Cannizarro of the New York Post writes, the embattled former second-round pick is embracing a new beginning even in the midst of a lost season for the Jets. Smith said, “I just have to continue to [prepare] and we’ll see come Sunday. I’m going to continue to keep working hard and my chance is going to come.’’
  • We learned earlier today that Jets head coach Todd Bowles is expected to keep his job, but that Chan Gailey might not be so lucky, Nick Mangold may be considering retirement, and that Woody Johnson might not be the one in charge of the team’s day-to-day operations in 2017.