Cowboys Rumors

Minor NFL Transactions: 10/1/22

Today’s minor moves around the league, including practice squad elevations for tomorrow’s action:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Washington Commanders

Cowboys TE Dalton Schultz Expected To Return In Week 4

The Cowboys are still awaiting the return of their starting quarterback, but one of his favorite pass-catchers is set to return tomorrow. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports that tight end Dalton Schultz is expected to play against the Commanders (Twitter link). 

[RELATED: Cowboys QB Prescott Targeting Week 5 Return]

Schultz missed out on Dallas’ Week 3 contest due to a PCL injury. His recovery has gone smoothly, however, leading to optimism that he would not be sidelined for very long. A return to full health would be a welcomed sight for the Cowboys, considering the fact that Schultz was on the field for every offensive play in the team’s season opener and logged a 90% snap share the following week.

A 2018 fourth-round pick, the 26-year-old emerged as a key contributor in the team’s highly-productive passing game over the past two years. That led to the Cowboys making the expected decision of placing the franchise tag on him. At times, it seemed as though a long-term deal would be reached, but nothing materialized, tying the Stanford alum to a $10.9MM cap figure this season.

Especially given the lack of proven players in Dallas’ pass-catching corps to start the campaign, that led to significant expectations for Schultz. So far, he has totaled just nine catches for 80 scoreless yards, though one of his two contests came with backup Cooper Rush under center, of course. That will be the case for at least one more week.

It remains to be seen if wideout Michael Gallup will make his season debut. He continues to rehab the torn ACL which he suffered last December; there were indications that he would play in a limited capacity last week, but the team has understandably remained cautious with his return to the field. With CeeDee Lamb operating as the unquestioned No. 1 at the position, Dallas’ passing game currently ranks 25th in the league with an average of 216 yards per game. A healthy Schultz and Gallup could go a long way to that figure improving, and Dallas moving to 3-1 on the season.

Jerry Jones Addresses Randy Gregory’s Cowboys Exit

Using Micah Parsons far more as an edge player than linebacker thus far this year, the Cowboys have formed a quality pass rush after the Randy Gregory negotiations broke down. Gregory is now a Broncos starter, teaming with Bradley Chubb as part of another team’s quality edge-rushing situation.

The Cowboys were prepared to keep Gregory on a five-year, $70MM deal — the exact terms he signed for in Denver — but an 11th-hour snafu related to guarantee forfeiture scuttled the agreement. This produced tension from both sides in the wake of Gregory going with the Broncos, but Jerry Jones said Friday the team’s depth benefited from the talks not producing a deal.

I decided we were going too much on that guy; we could have three other guys better,” Jones said, when asked if he approached Dan Quinn about the state of the team’s pass rush amid the Gregory talks, during an appearance on 105.3 The Fan (audio link). “I didn’t have to go to anybody on that.

A Cowboy from 2015-21 (amid a historically suspension-marred tenure), Gregory had agreed to stay but reversed course after he felt the Cowboys inserted language late in the process that could have voided his $28MM in guarantees even if he incurred a fine. The Cowboys have this provision included in most of their contracts. Jones now indicating he viewed the team’s offer as too high certainly proves interesting, given where Gregory’s deal ranks among edge defenders and how the Cowboys proceeded after losing him.

After Gregory committed to the Broncos during the legal tampering period, the Cowboys re-signed Dorance Armstrong on a two-year deal worth $12MM, took a flier on Dante Fowler (one year, $3MM) and drafted Sam Williams in the second round. This came after DeMarcus Lawrence, who refused to take a pay cut earlier in March, redid his deal. Lawrence, 30, is now tied to a three-year, $40MM pact ($30MM fully guaranteed).

The Broncos are now taking on the Gregory suspension risk, though the former second-round pick’s most recent ban came in 2019, and have him tied to an average salary ranking 22nd among edge rushers. The Cowboys have just one contract averaging north of $6MM across their defense — Lawrence’s — but the team stood down on adding another. Despite Von Miller offering to take a hometown discount, the Cowboys offered the Dallas-area native Gregory’s terms. That ended up placing third in the Miller sweepstakes, and the future Hall of Famer opted for a Bills proposal that included guarantees into Year 3.

Armstrong, who totaled just 2.5 career sacks from 2019-21, tallied five last season and already has three in three 2022 games. Torching Giants right tackle Evan Neal on Monday, Lawrence ripped off his first three-sack game since 2018. Fowler, who disappointed with the Falcons, has notched a sack and one quarterback hit thus far. Williams (34 defensive snaps) is playing behind this trio and Parsons. Gregory has sacks in back-to-back games and has forced two fumbles in three Broncos tilts.

It is too early to grade the Cowboys’ decision, but the team’s choice to pass on a Parsons-Lawrence-Gregory (or Parsons-Lawrence-Miller) pass rush is working out so far. But it will be interesting to see how Armstrong, Fowler and Williams fare over the course of Miller’s Buffalo career and Gregory’s Denver stay.

2022 NFL Cap Space, By Team

As we exit September, trade rumors will become a steady NFL topic. This year’s deadline falls on Nov. 1. That will return cap-space discussions to the forefront. Here is how every team stacks up financially going into October, via Over The Cap.

  1. Cleveland Browns: $35.94MM
  2. Philadelphia Eagles: $10.89MM
  3. Denver Broncos: $10.67MM
  4. Carolina Panthers: $10.47MM
  5. Las Vegas Raiders: $10.35MM
  6. Dallas Cowboys: $9.25MM
  7. Pittsburgh Steelers: $8.64MM
  8. Green Bay Packers: $8.57MM
  9. Indianapolis Colts: $7.97MM
  10. Atlanta Falcons: $7.92MM
  11. New York Jets: $6.97MM
  12. Chicago Bears: $6.84MM
  13. San Francisco 49ers: $6.75MM
  14. Miami Dolphins: $6.51MM
  15. Arizona Cardinals: $6.25MM
  16. Los Angeles Chargers: $5.83MM
  17. New York Giants: $5.49MM
  18. Jacksonville Jaguars: $5.41MM
  19. Los Angeles Rams: $5.38MM
  20. Baltimore Ravens: $4.51MM
  21. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: $3.87MM
  22. New England Patriots: $3.5MM
  23. Cincinnati Bengals: $3.16MM
  24. New Orleans Saints: $2.86MM
  25. Detroit Lions: $2.64MM
  26. Washington Commanders: $2.58MM
  27. Buffalo Bills: $2.44MM
  28. Tennessee Titans: $2.41MM
  29. Seattle Seahawks: $2.28MM
  30. Kansas City Chiefs: $2.12MM
  31. Houston Texans: $1.64MM
  32. Minnesota Vikings: $1.47MM

The Eagles’ number is certainly far closer to the Vikings’ last-place figure than what the Browns have stockpiled. Cleveland would stand to have room to augment its 2022 roster, via a patient free agent or a trade. That could depend on where Jacoby Brissett has the team stationed going into the Nov. 1 deadline. But the Browns also appear to be preparing for their Deshaun Watson future. Watson’s unprecedented contract spikes from a $9.4MM cap number (2022) to a record-shattering $54.99MM numbers from 2023-26. As that reality awaits, the Browns rolling over cap space to 2023 would be prudent.

With Sterling Shepard‘s ACL tear moving the veteran wide receiver to IR, the Giants will need to both cover that cost ($6.3MM) and add a contract to fill the roster spot. Every team will go through versions of that issue this season, as injuries pile up. The Giants are prepared to eat a significant chunk of Kenny Golladay‘s 2022 base salary ($13MM) to move him, eyeing an escape from his $4.5MM 2023 guarantee. No takers have emerged, though it will be interesting to see if a market for the former Pro Bowler forms once injuries affect more teams’ receiver situations.

Since their Jimmy Garoppolo restructure, the 49ers agreed to a two-year extension with Dre Greenlaw. The team is not expected to extend Nick Bosa until 2023, however. The Texans, Falcons, Bears and Eagles all sit north of $60MM in dead money, meaning more than a quarter of their respective cap space is tied to players no longer on the roster. Watson, Matt Ryan and Khalil Mack are responsible for massive dead-money hits on the Houston, Atlanta and Chicago payrolls. Philadelphia still has Alshon Jeffery, Malik Jackson and Brandon Brooks dead money on its cap sheet.

Cowboys Notes: Dak, Rush, Washington

We heard earlier this week that Dak Prescott was eyeing a Week 5 return, but Week 6 may end up being a more realistic target. Clarence Hill Jr. of the Dallas Star-Telegram tweets that Prescott won’t start throwing until the end of this week. Assuming the QB wants more than a week to ramp up, the Cowboys’ October 16 game against the Eagles may be a more realistic return date.

Prescott has been soft tossing but has yet to progress to “real throwing.” The fact that he’s throwing at all has led some to wonder if the quarterback could even return in Week 4 against Washington. Hill completely rules out that notion, and he suggests Prescott won’t even be ready for the Week 5 contest against the Rams.

Dallas can operate with a bit more caution after backup Cooper Rush has helped guide the Cowboys to wins over the Bengals and Giants. The team can continue to operate with some flexibility after not placing Dak on injured reserve, a move that would have kept him off the field through Week 5.

More notes out of Dallas…

  • Speaking of Rush, Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post explores the Giants’ reasoning for moving on from the QB. After spending the first three seasons of his career in Dallas, Rush was claimed off waivers by the Giants in 2020. He had a brief stint on their practice squad before getting released, and that led to his return to the Cowboys. While Rush had fans in New York (including former head coach Joe Judge and former OC Jason Garrett), he also had some detractors, leading to the organization replacing him with Clayton Thorson. “The decision-makers with the Giants felt like they weren’t overly impressed with how he played or what his potential was,” Garrett told Dunleavy. “To me, Coop is not someone who wows you physically. Sometimes you get caught up in that. Sometimes those decisions happen.”
  • Meanwhile, wideout James Washington is still a few weeks away from returning, per Hill on Twitter. The veteran receiver signed with Dallas this offseason but landed on injured reserve after suffering a foot injury. He’ll be eligible to return in Week 5, but it sounds like he’ll need a bit more time to recover. Washington spent the first four years of his career with the Steelers, including a 2021 campaign where he hauled in 24 receptions for 285 yards.
  • Former Cowboys second-round pick Gavin Escobar was among two rock climbers who were found dead in a remote area near Idyllwild, CA, per the AP. The 31-year-old spent the first four seasons of his career in Dallas, appearing in 62 games. He bounced around the NFL a bit before ending his playing career in the Alliance of American Football.

Cowboys' Jason Peters Plan Changes

Tyler Smith‘s transition from training camp left guard to September left tackle has changed the Cowboys‘ plans regarding Jason Peters. After viewing him as a swing tackle who could step in if Smith struggled, Peters worked at guard in his Dallas debut Monday. The plan is now for Peters to exclusively play guard, Doug Kyed of Pro Football Focus notes. Monday’s 14-snap guard cameo represented Peters’ first in-game foray at a non-left tackle spot in over a decade. The Cowboys limited Peters’ workload due to only four practices working at guard, Kyed adds. An uptick should be expected in Week 4. It will be interesting how the Cowboys use Peters when Connor McGovern returns from his high ankle sprain; McGovern has missed the past two weeks. The team’s approach with Tyron Smith now becomes more intriguing as well, with the All-Pro left tackle not ruled out for the season. But Tyler Smith, who has always been viewed as the Cowboys’ left tackle of the future, has seized the blindside gig.

Dak Prescott Targeting Week 5 Return

Cooper Rush is now 3-0 as a starter, adding back-to-back 2022 victories to a ledger that included an upset win in Minnesota last season. While Jerry Jones has talked up his backup since Dak Prescott‘s injury, Mike McCarthy slammed the door on the veteran QB2 keeping the gig once Prescott returns. That window is approaching.

Since Prescott is not on IR, he could come back Sunday against the Commanders. Although Prescott told ESPN’s Lisa Salters on Monday he was not ruling that out, the seventh-year veteran said he “probably” will not be ready in time. But Dak added he is targeting the Cowboys’ Week 5 Rams matchup for his return, via Lorenzo Reyes of USA Today.

Prescott had the stitch removed from his surgically repaired thumb Monday, Reyes adds, with ESPN.com’s Todd Archer (via Twitter) noting the Pro Bowl passer is improving his grip strength as he ramps up toward retaking the reins for the Cowboys. Jones called Prescott’s progress “nothing short of amazing” during an appearance on 105.3 The Fan (via The Athletic). The longtime owner said his starter is a week or two away from returning.

Equipped with a much better defense than the one that surrendered a franchise-record point total in 2020, the Cowboys are in superior shape than they were when Prescott last missed a chunk of a season. Michael Gallup will likely be back when Prescott returns, after the fifth-year wideout practiced ahead of the Giants game but was held out for precautionary reasons.

Rush, albeit in a very small sample size, ranks sixth in QBR after helping the Cowboys to wins over the Bengals and Giants. The sixth-year backup’s improvement will give Prescott time to recover, without the starter needing to be rushed back. But it will be interesting how the Cowboys play it if Dak deems himself ready ahead of their Rams tilt. The Cowboys face the Eagles in Philadelphia the following week.

Minor NFL Transactions: 9/26/22

Today’s minor moves:

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Dallas Cowboys

New York Giants

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Latest On Cowboys TE Dalton Schultz, WR Michael Gallup

SEPTEMBER 26: Although a run of Gallup-related optimism emerged this week, the Cowboys will still opt for caution regarding the fifth-year wideout. Gallup will not play against the Giants in Week 3, Jane Slater of NFL.com tweets. The Cowboys are hopeful Gallup, who got in three limited practices leading up to this Giants matchup, can make his debut against the Commanders next week. Gallup did not suffer a setback, Slater adds (via Twitter). Schultz is expected to miss the game as well, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets.

SEPTEMBER 21: There’s some good news on the Cowboys’ injury front. According to Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News (on Twitter), tight end Dalton Schultz avoided a serious knee injury and shouldn’t miss much time. Gehlken also tweets that wide receiver Michael Gallup could make his season debut on Monday night against the Giants.

Schultz suffered a knee injury during Sunday’s win over the Bengals, but an MRI later revealed that his injury could have been much worse. The tight end is specifically dealing with a PCL injury, according to ESPN’s Todd Archer (on Twitter), and he’s currently considered day-to-day. Jerry Jones cautioned yesterday that Schultz could end up sitting out Week 3, but if that’s the case, it sounds like it should only be a one-week absence.

The tight end had a strong season in 2021, finishing with 808 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. Through two games this season, the 26-year-old has hauled in nine receptions for 80 yards.

Meanwhile, Cowboys EVP Stephen Jones said it’s “certainly possible” that Gallup takes the field on Monday night (per Gehlken on Twitter), while Calvin Watkins of the Dallas Morning News tweets that Gallup will indeed play but will be on a snap count. The receiver tore his ACL in Week 17 of the 2021 season, and he later inked a five-year, $62.5MM extension with Dallas this offseason.

“The plan for Michael Gallup is to get him a full week of work,” coach Mike McCarthy said (via Watkins). “He hasn’t had that yet. Hopefully when we get to the end of it, we’ll be able to make a decision. I think I talked about this last week, I really don’t see Michael going through a second padded practice, I thought his work last week was excellent. He frankly, did a little more than we anticipated in the beginning of the week. We’re going to try and give him a full slate this week and see how it goes.”

Cowboys’ Jason Peters To Play In Week 3

In the wake of Tyron Smith‘s injury, the Cowboys added Jason Peters as a stop-gap. The veteran will make his Dallas debut tonight, as first reported by NFL insider Jordan Schultz (Twitter link). 

Peters will be not be manning the left tackle spot, however. The 40-year-old will move inside to left guard, something which the team has been experimenting with in the build-up to his debut. That news should ease his workload, something which will be further limited by keeping him on a pitch count (Twitter link via Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News). It also signals confidence in first-round rookie Tyler Smith, who has played every snap on the blindside so far.

Gehlken also tweets that Peters is being signed to the Cowboys’ active roster from the practice squad. Dallas is elevating quarterback Will Grier and tight end Sean McKeon. If he sees the field, Peters will eat into Connor McGovern‘s playing time (if the latter is able to suit up after being sidelined last week), while resuming his efforts to transition inside – something which briefly took place in 2020 with the Eagles.

In other Cowboys news, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reports that wide receiver Michael Gallup will not play tonight (Twitter link). He has yet to play in 2022, as he continues to recover from knee surgery. Dallas could also be without tight end Dalton Schultz, who is dealing with a knee injury of his own; he will be a game-time decision. The absence of both would further hurt a Cowboys offense already missing Dak Prescott for at least one more week.

With Tyron Smith expected to be back before the end of the regular season, the Cowboys will have a decision to make regarding Tyler Smith, along with Peters and McGovern, down the road. For now, at least, the team will have options at both the tackle and guard spots, as Peters looks to begin the second chapter of his All-Pro career with his once-NFC East rival in a key divisional contest.