Tyler Biadasz

Cowboys Eyeing CeeDee Lamb, Trevon Diggs, Terence Steele Extensions In 2023

The Cowboys’ top extension candidates have come up on multiple occasions this year. While the team has options with each beyond this year, the goal looks to be new deals before heading into the 2024 offseason.

CeeDee Lamb, Trevon Diggs and Terence Steele remain on Dallas’ extension radar, and ESPN.com’s Todd Archer notes the team will look to use training camp to hammer out deals with each. Lamb’s contract runs through 2024, via the recently exercised fifth-year option, while Diggs is entering the final year of his rookie contract. Steele is tied to a second-round RFA tender.

This will not be an easy mission. Diggs’ reputation as a boom-or-bust gambler in coverage notwithstanding, the former second-round pick has a first-team All-Pro nod on his resume — for an 11-interception season — and does not have an extensive injury history. Diggs has missed one game over the past two years. Going into his age-25 season, Diggs will certainly want his second contract to land in the top cornerback tax bracket.

With three corners earning at least $20MM per year and five attached to contracts worth at least $19MM on average, the Cowboys have a high bar to clear. Dallas passed on going into the $16MM-AAV range for Byron Jones three years ago, drafting Diggs shortly after letting its previous top corner walk (for a record-setting Dolphins deal) in free agency. If Diggs is unsigned going into the ’24 offseason, he will likely be positioned as the Cowboys’ top franchise tag candidate.

The Cowboys have a history of extending core performers despite two years remaining on their rookie deals. They did this with Tyron Smith in 2014, with Travis Frederick in 2016 and Ezekiel Elliott in 2019. That said, no team — in the fifth-year option era, that is — has extended a wide receiver with two years left on his rookie contract. Justin Jefferson is also a candidate to become the first wideout since the 2011 CBA to be extended with two years remaining on his rookie deal, though the Vikings are not certain to proceed down this path. That could force Jefferson to contemplate a hold-in effort, and Lamb might be fine waiting until Jefferson raises the booming receiver market further before committing to a second contract. Cowboys executive VP Stephen Jones mentioned players’ willingness to wait earlier this offseason.

Lamb, 24, may not be a threat to eclipse Tyreek Hill‘s $30MM-per-year pact now, but if Jefferson raises the positional ceiling and the top Cowboys wideout builds on his 1,359-yard season, the price in 2024 stands to come in higher than it likely does now. Ely Allen assessed Lamb’s extension value last month. The Cowboys cut bait on Amari Cooper‘s five-year, $100MM extension after two seasons; as the salary cap keeps rising, Lamb’s value will be much higher.

Steele is still rehabbing the ACL tear that ended his season early, and his being an extension candidate would point to the Cowboys planning an O-line configuration that keeps him as the starting right tackle. Jerry Jones mentioned the prospect of Steele being a swingman behind Tyron Smith and Tyler Smith, but the notion of the younger Smith sliding to left guard — which he did late in the season — and having the All-Decade blocker back at left tackle (and Steele at right tackle) has also surfaced. How the Cowboys proceed would have a big impact on Steele’s value.

A former UDFA, Steele, 26, can certainly enhance his market by putting together a strong contract year post-injury. Nine years after signing what has become the NFL’s longest-running active contract, Tyron Smith is due for free agency in 2024 as well. Steele’s status would seemingly factor into the Hall of Fame candidate’s Dallas future. Center Tyler Biadasz also could land on the Cowboys’ extension radar, Archer adds, though the fourth-year blocker is likely behind the above-referenced players in the queue.

The Cowboys’ ability to extend Diggs and Steele this year could affect Tony Pollard‘s future with the team. The Cowboys not entering into serious negotiations with the Pro Bowl back led to him joining Saquon Barkley and Josh Jacobs in being tied to the $10.1MM franchise tag this season. Because of this, Archer adds it is “highly likely” this season will be it for Pollard in Dallas. The Cowboys can tag Pollard again in 2024 — at 120% of his current tag number — but higher-end tag options could be in place by then.

That raises the stakes for prospective Diggs negotiations this summer, though the increasingly grim running back market may also allow the Cowboys to re-sign Pollard if no extension is reached before the 2024 legal tampering period.

Cowboys Activate NT Johnathan Hankins

JANUARY 16: Hankins is back in uniform for the Cowboys. The team activated the veteran defensive tackle from IR ahead of its Monday wild-card matchup. Hankins, whom the Cowboys acquired from the Raiders days before the trade deadline, has been out since Week 14.

JANUARY 11: The Cowboys could be getting some defensive reinforcement in time for their showdown with the Buccaneers. Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News reports (via Twitter) that nose tackle Johnathan Hankins was designated for return today.

That means Hankins’ 21-day practice window officially started today. Of course, there’s no guarantee that the Cowboys are still in the postseason in 21 days. So, most likely, the Cowboys are preparing for the nose tackle to be on the field for Monday’s game against the Buccaneers, a sentiment that Gehlken echoes.

A pectoral strain forced Hankins to the injured reserve in December, but assuming he’s back this season, he’ll ultimately have missed the minimum four required games.

“I feel good. I feel like I could’ve been back sooner but, with the [IR] rules, I had to be out four weeks,” Hankins said today (via the team’s website). “But I’m not mad about it, it just gave me more time to get my body right and ready for the playoffs…The time is now.”

In October, Hankins was traded with a seventh-round pick from the Raiders to the Cowboys for a sixth-round selection. The 30-year-old got into five games (three starts) for his new squad, collecting 10 tackles. Hankins previously spent time with the Giants, Colts, and Raiders, including an eight-year stretch where he started 116 of his 117 games.

The Cowboys got some more positive injury news today. Gehlken passes along that center Tyler Biadasz and linebacker Leighton Vander Esch both returned to practice today.

Tyler Biadasz Suffers High Ankle Sprain

Tyler Biadasz will not be available for the Cowboys’ regular-season finale against the Commanders, but the team is hopeful he will be able to return in the playoffs.

After Biadasz exited Thursday night’s game, tests revealed he suffered a high ankle sprain, Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News tweets. While the former fourth-round pick will not be ready for Week 18, per ESPN.com’s Todd Archer (on Twitter), the team hopes this two-plus-week hiatus will provide enough time for a return in Round 1.

Travis Frederick‘s long-term successor, Biadasz has avoided injuries for most of his Cowboys career. Coming into Thursday night, he had started 33 consecutive games. His injury caused nearly the entire Cowboys offensive line to shift roles.

Connor McGovern moved from left guard to center, Tyler Smith slid from left tackle to left guard and Jason Peters came in to play left tackle. The Cowboys have some depth up front to withstand a Biadasz absence, though the team placed Tyron Smith at right tackle upon returning in order to keep the rest of its line stable. If Peters has to start in Week 18, Mike McCarthy said he is no longer under any snap-count restrictions. He played 19 snaps Thursday and has topped out at 21 this year. Their center’s injury could well prompt the Cowboys to trot out an O-line featuring three potential Hall of Famers; quite the backup plan.

Although the Cowboys have battled some injuries up front this season — Tyron Smith’s, an early-season McGovern high ankle sprain — they had all their key principals back for the stretch run. Providing a comp of sorts, McGovern missed two games because of his September ankle injury. Three of Dallas’ O-linemen — Tyler Smith, Biadasz and Zack Martin — have played all 16 games. That provided considerable aid to Cooper Rush during Dak Prescott‘s absence and boosted Tony Pollard to his first Pro Bowl.

Biadasz’s injury certainly could have been worse, so this represents some good news for he and the Cowboys. Biadasz will become eligible for an extension at the end of the regular season.

NFC Rumors: Bears, Biadasz, Cowboys, Vikings

The Bears made Kyle Fuller a surprise cap casualty shortly after free agency’s outset, and while the team did sign Desmond Trufant, the former well-paid Falcon has struggled with injuries in each of the past two seasons. Chicago has resisted adding more help at the position, and Trufant may not have the inside track to start opposite Jaylon Johnson at outside cornerback. After a strong minicamp, Kindle Vildor may be ahead of Trufant on the track toward a starting job, Adam Jahns of The Athletic notes (subscription required). Although the 2020 fifth-round pick out of Georgia Southern only played 135 defensive snaps as a rookie, new DC Sean Desai mentioned him as an in-house solution to replace either Fuller or departed slot corner Buster Skrine. The Bears going with Vildor alongside Johnson will certainly represent an experience step back, with Fuller and Skrine having combined to play 17 seasons.

Here is the latest from the NFC:

  • On a similar note, the Cowboys appear set on a 2020 Day 3 pick taking over at center. Travis Frederick‘s retirement initially thrust Joe Looney into Dallas’ starting lineup, and after fourth-round pick Tyler Biadasz replaced an injured Looney early last season en route to four starts, the veteran reclaimed his job after a Biadasz pregame hamstring injury. Biadasz played just one offensive snap in Dallas’ final eight games, but Calvin Watkins of the Dallas Morning News notes the Cowboys plan to use the Wisconsin product as their starter this season. Looney, 30, remains a free agent, while OC Kellen Moore has talked up Biadasz this offseason. Biadasz started three years at center for the Badgers, winning the Rimington Award — given to college football’s top center — in 2019.
  • Some additional details have surfaced on Sheldon Richardson‘s second Vikings contract. The well-traveled defensive tackle agreed to return to Minnesota on a one-year, $3.6MM deal. The Vikings included some incentives in the former Defensive Rookie of the Year’s contract as well. Richardson can collect $250K if he reaches five sacks this season, Ben Goessling of the Minneapolis Star Tribune tweets. If Richardson gets to seven sacks, a $500K bonus will await. The team included another $250K bonus if the 30-year-old D-tackle makes the Pro Bowl. Richardson has two five-plus-sack seasons (2014 and ’15) and one Pro Bowl on his resume.
  • The Saints have included an interesting incentive in Ryan Ramczyk‘s extension, but it only will benefit the All-Pro right tackle if he moves to the left side.

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/12/20

Here is Saturday’s usual barrage of minor moves:

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Cincinnati Bengals

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

  • Placed on reserve/COVID-19 list: LB Jachai Polite; Polite tested positive for the coronavirus, according to ESPN.com’s Field Yates (via Twitter)

Minnesota Vikings

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Washington Football Team

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/21/20

Here is Saturday’s usual flood of minor moves:

Atlanta Falcons

Carolina Panthers

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

Indianapolis Colts

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

Washington Football Team

Injury Updates: McCaffrey, Minshew, Biadasz

Christian McCaffrey finally made his highly anticipated return from his ankle injury yesterday against the Chiefs, but unfortunately the Panthers superstar picked up another minor ailment toward the end of the game. McCaffrey hurt his shoulder on the final drive of the game, and head coach Matt Rhule is labeling him day to day moving forward. But McCaffrey is apparently in a great deal of pain and his status for this Sunday’s game against the Bucs is “very much in doubt,” reports Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter video link). It doesn’t sound like anything long-term, but this could once again become Mike Davis‘ backfield, at least for this weekend.

Here are more health updates from around the league:

  • The Jaguars nearly picked up an upset win over the Texans in Jake Luton‘s NFL debut, and he’ll get another crack at it in Week 10. Head coach Doug Marrone told the media that Gardner Minshew is unlikely to be available this weekend due to his thumb injury, and that Luton will likely start once again. Luton had a pretty impressive debut for a sixth-round rookie, passing for 304 yards and a touchdown with an interception while coming very close to leading a comeback. It’s no guarantee Minshew gets his job back even when he’s healthy.
  • Speaking of the Jaguars, they at least did get some good news back on rookie receiver Laviska Shenault. Shenault left yesterday’s game with a hamstring injury and was ruled out, but Rapoport tweets that he received good news from his MRI, and a source told him Shenault has a good chance to play this week against the Packers. The 42nd overall pick of April’s draft has been a consistent contributor, with at least three catches in every game that he’s finished.
  • The Cowboys on the other hand weren’t quite as fortunate. Rookie center Tyler Biadasz hurt his hamstring during pregame warmups, and EVP Stephen Jones said on 105.3 The Fan this morning that he’ll be out 2-3 weeks with the injury. It’s another brutal blow to a Dallas offensive line that has been decimated by injuries. The fourth-round pick from Wisconsin had been the Cowboys’ center for the past 5.5 games. Joe Looney started the first few games, and he’ll now get his starting job back for the time being.
  • Colts tight end Jack Doyle is in the concussion protocol and likely won’t be able to be cleared in time for Indy’s Thursday Night Football AFC South showdown with the Titans, head coach Frank Reich announced Monday. Doyle had touchdowns in back to back weeks before going down on Sunday, and his absence will limit Indy’s ability to run the multi-tight end sets they like so much with Mo Alie-Cox and Trey Burton.

Cowboys Activate Sean Lee, Joe Looney

Ben DiNucci will have more help up front than he did upon being thrust into action last week. In addition to Zack Martin returning from concussion protocol, Joe Looney is back on the Cowboys’ active roster.

The Cowboys activated Looney and Sean Lee from IR Saturday, though ESPN.com’s Todd Archer notes rookie Tyler Biadasz is expected to make another start at center. Looney has missed the past three games because of an MCL injury.

Dallas used Looney as its full-time starter in 2018, when Travis Frederick missed the season, and re-signed him this offseason after Frederick retired. Looney started the team’s first four games before his knee injury. He went down on the first play of the Cowboys’ Week 4 loss to the Browns. Pro Football Focus grades his 2020 work better than Biadasz’s thus far, with the latter ranking near the bottom of the advanced metrics site’s center hierarchy.

Lee will make his 2020 debut. The Cowboys placed the veteran linebacker on IR prior to the season starting, carrying him onto their 53-man roster so they could activate him at some point. Lee underwent pelvis surgery, forcing his latest injury-induced absence. The Cowboys re-signed Lee on a one-year, $4.5MM deal this offseason. This will be as healthy as Dallas’ linebackers have been all season, with Leighton Vander Esch also now back after missing early-season games.

The Cowboys also promoted cornerback Saivion Smith from their practice squad. Smith will help a cornerback corps that will be without Chidobe Awuzie. The Cowboys enter Week 8 ranking 30th in defensive DVOA. They jettisoned three veterans — Everson Griffen, Dontari Poe and Daryl Worley — this week.

Cowboys Place C Joe Looney On IR, Activate CB Anthony Brown

The Cowboys will have one of their top cornerbacks in uniform Sunday against the Giants. They are activating slot corner Anthony Brown from IR.

Brown has missed the past three games, joining Chidobe Awuzie in that regard. Dallas, however, will be without its starting center for a while. Dealing with an MCL malady he suffered on the first play of the Cowboys’ Week 4 game against the Browns, Joe Looney is now on Dallas’ injured reserve list.

Dallas re-signed Brown this offseason, bringing back the fifth-year veteran after allowing Byron Jones to leave in free agency. Brown played all 73 of the Cowboys’ defensive snaps in Week 1, but a rib injury sidelined him for the team’s past three games.

The Cowboys made Brown part of their standout 2016 draft class, adding him in Round 6. He has played 57 games with the team since. No. 58 will come Sunday against the Giants, helping the NFL’s last-ranked scoring defense. Awuzie, however, remains on the Cowboys’ IR.

Looney must miss at least three games. While he is not expected to miss the rest of the season like starting tackles Tyron Smith (now on IR as well) and La’el Collins, this is an obvious setback for an injury-riddled Dallas offensive line. The Cowboys will turn to rookie Tyler Biadasz as their starting center Sunday.

The Cowboys also promoted linebacker Francis Bernard, center Marcus Henry and defensive back Steven Parker from their practice squad.

NFC East Notes: Redskins, Smith, Cowboys, Prescott

With graphic details and graphic images, ESPN.com’s Elizabeth Smith and Stephania Bell bring us the story of Alex Smith‘s gruesome injury and his road to recovery.

“Our first priority is we’re going to save his life,” a hospital worker said to Alex’s wife, Elizabeth, just days after the injury. “And then we’re going to do our best to save his leg. And anything beyond that is a miracle.”

Smith said that he feels “very much lucky to be alive” after the horrific injury and ensuing sepsis infection. And, after celebrating his 36th birthday in May, the Redskins quarterback is working towards an NFL return. Mrs. Smith, meanwhile, is conflicted.

When I think about Alex returning to football, there’s part of me that wants him to do whatever he has the inner drive to do. If that means stepping back on the football field and throwing on those pads, then I want him to prove that to himself. But obviously there’s part of me asking, “‘Is it worth ever doing that again? Do you know what we just went through?'”

Here’s more on the Redskins, the Redskins’ quarterback situation, and the rest of the NFC East:

  • Talk of Tua Tagovailoa going to the Redskins didn’t bother starter Dwayne Haskins.“Throughout the whole process Ron [Rivera] was just telling me to trust him,” Haskins said (via JP Finlay of NBC Sports). “I did so it worked out.” The Redskins were long expected to take Chase Young with the No. 2 pick, but there were Tua rumblings on draft week. Ultimately, they took the Ohio State edge rusher and passed on the Alabama star.
  • If the Cowboys can’t work out an extension with Dak Prescott by July 15th, they’ll have to wait until after the 2020 season to resume negotiations. That deadline puts some serious pressure on the team to get something done with their beloved QB, but COO Stephen Jones says he won’t break the budget. “There’s all sorts of analytics out there that show if your quarterback takes up too big a percentage of your salary cap, it decreases your chances to win,” Jones said (via PFT). “We’re just trying to figure out the right fit. No one wants to sign Dak to a longer term deal more than Jerry and myself. We’re on the record time and time again on what we think of him as a leader. He has the ‘it’ factor. He’s a fierce competitor. He wants to win as well, and it’s just gotta be right for him and right for us.”
  • The Cowboys are feeling really, really good about their Day 2 and Day 3 haul in the draft, Todd Archer of ESPN.com writes. Before the draft, they had a “high-second-round” grade on cornerback Trevon Diggs – they landed him at No. 51 overall. They assigned a second-round grade to defensive tackle Neville Gallimore, and snagged him in the third. In the fourth round, they see yet another steal – the scouting department gave center Tyler Biadasz a high-third-round score and snagged him with the last pick of the fourth round. Time will tell, but the Cowboys are doing cartwheels over their 2020 middle-round choices.
  • Carlos Hyde, who racked up 1,000+ yards rushing in Houston last year, is still available. The Eagles are interested, but they only want him at the right price.
  • Recently, the Giants reworked Cooper Rush‘s contract to dial down his base pay but also give him a chunk of guaranteed money. That may bode well for his odds of making the roster, but he’s got lots of competition.