Kavon Frazier

Cowboys Searching For O-Line, Safety Help

The trade market’s heating up as teams configure their 53-man rosters, and one team isn’t making it a secret it’s seeking upgrades.

Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said Wednesday the team is exploring additions to bolster their safety and offensive line spots. Specifically, Jones said the Cowboys want to fortify their interior offensive front, which suffered a critical setback when Travis Frederick was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre disease. Joe Looney resides as the Dallas starting center now, and the Cowboys either want depth behind him or competition.

We feel good about Joe,” Jones said, via Kate Hairopoulos of the Dallas Morning News. “I think we do, I think the personnel group does. The coaches do. And more importantly I think Dak [Prescott] really feels good working with him. At the same time we’re not naive. We’re certainly looking for interior offensive linemen as well as the safety position. It’s no secret. If we can find something that makes sense, we want to improve our football team.”

Frederick is a short-term IR candidate to open the season, but that might not be necessary. The Cowboys are optimistic the All-Pro snapper may recover in weeks rather than months.

The Cowboys already added a safety to their roster in former Kris Richard Seahawks pupil Jeron Johnson, but he’s only played four games since the 2015 season and is in Dallas for depth purposes. Xavier Woods remains out, as does his replacement, Kavon Frazier. However, the Cowboys are hopeful Frazier will be sufficiently recovered from his shoulder malady to play in Week 1.

As for the obvious safety upgrade, Jones said the Cowboys have not discussed Earl Thomas with the Seahawks “lately.” Thomas remains a holdout, and nothing of note’s transpired regarding his Seattle situation in weeks.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboys Notes: Collins, Jones, Swaim, WRs

The Cowboys boast more defensive line depth than they have in the recent past, and they are expecting to have one of their starters back in time for the regular season. Executive VP Stephen Jones expects Maliek Collins to be ready to go by Week 1. Jones indicated during a Saturday radio interview with 105.3 KRLD-FM (via the Dallas Morning News) that Collins, who suffered another foot injury this offseason but was activated from the PUP list last week, may well be on a pitch count upon returning. He may no longer be a starter, however, with Tyrone Crawford having moved to defensive tackle. Crawford and Antwaun Woods are currently Dallas’ inside starters. Collins has started 30 of the 32 games he’s played since arriving as a third-round pick, so this would create some depth — something Jones said isn’t as prevalent at defensive tackle as it is at end — inside.

Here’s the latest out of Dallas:

  • Stephen Jones dismissed the prospect of Byron Jones returning to safety due to the team’s situation there. Byron Jones is now a cornerback, with new secondary coach Kris Richard preferring taller corners who can press, and Stephen Jones has praised the development the former first-round safety’s made at his new position.
  • Kavon Frazier is now working as Dallas’ starting strong safety, replacing the injured Xavier Woods for the time being, and that’s resulted in Jeff Heath moving to free safety, Calvin Watkins of The Athletic notes (subscription required). The Cowboys do not view the recently signed Jeron Johnson as a starter but instead more of a depth piece behind the current first-stringers. Watkins writes the Cowboys discussed George Iloka, who opted for the Vikings on a league-minimum agreement, but liked Johnson because of his positional flexibility. Stephen Jones hinted at (Twitter link, via the Morning News’ Jon Machota) another safety potentially being added after preseason cuts commence.
  • While the Cowboys discussed Earl Thomas with the Seahawks, they did not replace Jason Witten with a high- or medium-profile player. Geoff Swaim, a 2015 seventh-round pick with nine career catches, will replace the future Hall of Famer in the starting lineup, per Watkins, who adds 2017 UDFA Blake Jarwin is the No. 2 tight end. Rico Gathers may not have a way onto the roster, with Watkins expecting Dallas to carry three tight ends. The Cowboys drafted Dalton Schultz in the fourth round, and he almost certainly will be the No. 3 player here.
  • Stephen Jones dropped an interesting hint about what the Cowboys may be planning with their reconfigured wide receiver corps. The team may choose to carry more than six at this spot. “Traditionally we’ve kept five or six receivers. But if I’m a betting man, I think that ends up being more than five or six,” Jones said (Twitter link, via Machota) of how the Cowboys plan to handle their Week 1 roster. Watkins views Allen Hurns, Cole Beasley, Tavon Austin, Terrance Williams and third-round rookie Michael Gallup as locks. UFA addition Deonte Thompson and second-year man Noah Brown are currently dealing with injuries, but it doesn’t look like they’re out of the running as a result.

NFC East Notes: Giants, Beckham, Cowboys, Frazier, Eagles

There’s been endless drama this offseason surrounding the Giants and Odell Beckham Jr. Things finally appear to be headed in the right direction for the two sides, and the much awaited contract extension could finally be on the horizon. Beckham recently opted to report to camp on time rather than hold out, and Giants management has in turn spoken very highly of him. Now that a new contract in the near future finally seems like a real possibility, Matt Lombardo of NJ.com spoke with former NFL agent and current CBS Sports analyst Joel Corry and cap expert Jason Fitzgerald of Overthecap.com about what kind of deal Beckham can expect to get.

Corry said the number one most important thing is that “there wouldn’t be a deal to be made if it didn’t make Beckham the highest-paid wide receiver by average, and with the most guarantees.” Mike Evans recently got a five-year $85MM deal from the Buccaneers, and Corry is quite confident that Beckham will top that. While Fitzgerald notes that the Giants have a league-low $2.13MM in cap space, he thinks they’ll be able to make a deal work by using a “large signing bonus to bring his current year salary down.” Fitzgerald thinks Beckham won’t “sign for anything less than $20 million a season” a number that would make him the league’s highest paid receiver by a substantial margin. Whatever his deal ends up looking like, it seems as if the saga is finally nearing an end and that Beckham will be locked up long-term before too long.

Here’s more from the NFC East:

  • Cowboys safety Kavon Frazier may have a blood disorder, a source told Brandon George of SportsDay Dallas News. Frazier, who played in 15 games for Dallas last season, is undergoing tests to determine if he will be able to return to the field. The Cowboys placed him on the non-football injury list just before training camp started.
  • Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports would be “shocked if the Eagles don’t make at least two more trades” before the start of the regular season. La Canfora thinks that because of the team’s depth at positions like running back and quarterback, they’ll be forced to move some players through trade rather than cut solid players. La Canfora writes that Eagles president Howie Roseman will try to “spin some of that quantity into truly elite quality” and that he will “explore every option to do so.”
  • In case you missed it, the Redskins signed quarterback Colt McCoy to an extension yesterday.

Cowboys Sign Ezekiel Elliott

The Cowboys have formally signed their presumptive running back of the future. The team announced today that No. 4 overall pick Ezekiel Elliott has put pen to paper. Ezekiel Elliott

In the weeks leading up to the draft, the Cowboys were heavily connected to both Elliott and FSU defensive back Jalen Ramsey with their top pick. Ultimately, Jerry Jones’ fondness for the Ohio State product won out, giving the Cowboys a well-rounded tailback to join veterans Darren McFadden and Alfred Morris. Elliott will receive a four-year deal worth nearly $25MM in accordance with his draft slot.

That deal comes with a healthy $16.3MM signing bonus and a cap number of $4.5MM that escalates all the way to $7.94MM in the fourth and final year. Of course, as a first-round selection, the Cowboys will reserve the right to retain Elliott for an additional year via his fifth-year option.

In addition to Elliott, the Cowboys have also inked sixth-round picks Darius Jackson, Anthony Brown, and Kavon Frazier.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.