With the two-day negotiating window set to open just before the official start of free agency, it’s about to get loud in the NFL rumor mill. We’ll take one last look at what the Cowboys really need as the market opens and break down how they can come up with the funds to do it. Odell Beckham Jr. gave scouts a preview with a recent workout and is reportedly already talking to teams. Dallas, meanwhile, looks ready to let several of its big stars test the waters. There’s supposedly a price tag now for clubs interested in going the trade route for DeAndre Hopkins, and we’ve got a look at one under-the-radar free agent that seems to check a lot of the Cowboys’ usual boxes.
Elsewhere, recapping the latest details in the Michael Irvin case, the NFL players union’s surprising stance on a debated hip-drop tackle ban, a former Cowboys backup sets a benchmark in his new league, Dallas bids farewell to a longtime nemesis from back in the day, and guess which team’s fans have been voted the league’s cringiest? That’s all up in News and Notes.
With the league’s free agency negotiating window opening on Monday, it’s worth remembering what the Cowboys’ most pressing positional needs are. A true wideout receiver is Priority One, but the club has questions at linebacker and cornerback that could use some attention, too.
Jeremy Fowler reports that teams he has spoken to have said that Arizona wants “hefty compensation” in a potential trade for wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. That equates to a “premium Day 2 pick and more.”
Twelve teams showed up in Arizona to see the free agent’s workout, and the reports were positive regarding his comeback bid. Dallas opted not to attend, though. Maybe they already know how comfortable they feel (or don’t) with signing him; owner Jerry Jones teased “a very impressive conversation” he had previously with Beckham’s mother.
Beckham is already “in talks with several teams” after Friday’s workout, though the teams haven’t been identified, and actual negotiations have not yet begun. It’s been reported that Beckham is seeking $20 million per year, but that feels overly optimistic, considering he hasn’t played live ball in over a year and is coming off ACL surgery.
The Cowboys front office did some shuffling of base salaries to the two stars to create $30 million of space on Friday, putting them $14 million under the cap just in time for the start of free agency. Both moves involved converting salary money to bonus money; it changes the schedule of some of the payments owed, not the total dollar amount. And it doesn’t preclude either player from getting an extension done this offseason.
The Joneses will need to sharpen their pencils further in order to do anything of substance in free agency. Our own K.D. Drummond recommends doing a lower-priced deal for Ezekiel Elliott, extending and restructuring Tyron Smith, do a salary-to-bonus conversion on DeMarcus Lawrence and Michael Gallup, and releasing Neville Gallimore. Dorance Armstrong, Jourdan Lewis, Malik Hooker, Bryan Anger, and Jayron Kearse could also come into play.
The Cowboys appear to want both defensive playmakers back in 2023, but not if it means overpaying them. They may be looking to let the market give them some clues about how other teams view both Vander Esch and Wilson and could still end up with both players on the roster after all. It worked last year with Jayron Kearse.
Jones was a hot prospect in 2016 after running a sub-4.4 40, but Dallas selected Jaylon Smith instead. Jones went on to a premier role with Quinn in Atlanta, but had the worst year of his career last season in Cleveland. The linebacker may not get much attention now until the second or third wave of free agency, right when the Cowboys, coincidentally, love to swoop in.
The Cowboys front office hasn’t always been gun-shy about getting into the offseason action. As recently as 2012, they were making plenty of aggressive personnel moves. Since then, not so much, even though they hint at maybe “doing something special” this season. Fans have heard it before, but maybe this is the year.
The Cowboys could use an upgrade on the interior defensive line next to Osa Odighizuwa. The draft features several intriguing options, like Pitt’s Calijah Kancey, South Carolina’s Zacch Pickens, Florida’s Gervon Dexter, Oklahoma State’s Tyler Lacy, and West Virginia’s Dante Stills.
A Friday court filing by Marriott lays out their employee’s version of events in that Phoenix hotel lobby on Feb. 5. They maintain that Irvin “flagged down” the woman and made a series of inappropriate and even lewd comments, then promised to “find her” during the remainder of Super Bowl Week. A federal judge chastised Marriott for how it’s handled their surveillance video and cleared the way for it to be made public. Irvin’s lawyer calls the chain’s accusations of sexual assault “total hogwash” that will be revealed as such with the release of the video.
While the tackling technique that left several high-profile players injured in 2022- including Tony Pollard- has been the topic of debate with NFL owners, the players’ union is asking the league not to institute a rule outlawing it. “It places defensive players in an impossible position,” the NFLPA argues, “by creating indecision in the mind of any tackling player, puts officials in an unreasonable situation that will result in inconsistent calls on the field, and confuses our fans.”
Grant led the Vikings to four Super Bowl appearances between 1969 and 1976, the same years that the Cowboys were rising to prominence in the NFC. He went just 5-7 against Dallas overall and 1-3 in postseason meetings, including the famous “Hail Mary” game. Grant was 95 when he passed away on Saturday and is enshrined in Canton as one of the greatest coaches of his generation.
The Dallas Cowboys: either you love them, or you love to hate them. And if you love to hate them, you apparently really hate the fans who love them. A survey of over 2,000 fans has named the fanbase for America’s Team the NFL’s cringiest… by a wide margin. The Cowboys faithful took the top spot with 16.6% of the vote; Philadelphia’s fans came in second at 9.9%.
The former Cowboys backup became the first passer since the XFL reboot to throw for over 1,000 yards. He did it with a 264-yard effort in the Sea Dragons’ 15-6 win over the San Antonio Brahmas. “I’ve got a big arm and can put the ball where it needs to be,” DiNucci said.