The Dallas Cowboys are in a tough spot as an organization when it comes to the salary cap. When you draft as well as they have over the past few years, those guys deserve second contracts, but they don’t always get those second contracts with your team. Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott and Byron Jones are all guys the Cowboys will be negotiating with in the near future. Of course Demarcus Lawrence has had the franchise tag placed on him the last two seasons and the Cowboys are “motivated” to get a long term deal done with “Tank.”
I decided to sit down and rank the guys I would sign and the importance of each guy to the Cowboys going forward. Of course, I would like the Cowboys to keep all their good players so they can return to the top of the NFL. Lawrence is not on this list because he is already on the franchise tag.
Football logic will tell you running backs aren’t that important and are easily replaceable in the NFL. The Los Angeles Rams went on their postseason run to the Super Bowl with Todd Gurley having a combined 14 carries in the NFC championship game and Super Bowl. You can also look at the Pittsburgh Steelers where James Conner rushed for 973 yards in 10 games filling in for Le’veon Bell, who sat out the entire season.
However, I would say to “football logic” that the Cowboys are very different than both of those situations. Elliott is more important to the Cowboys offense than Gurley or Bell for two reasons, coaching and the play of their quarterback. Prescott is not the quarterback that can put the team on his back and consistently win games and the Cowboys don’t have a Sean McVay on their coaching staff. They hope Kellen Moore can help, but Moore is reportedly being limited in what he can do in his new role as offensive coordinator.
For those reasons, I would say that Elliott should be priority number one.
Amari Cooper was everything the Cowboys offense needed and more in 2018. In 11 games including the playoffs, Cooper was able to able to bring in 66 receptions, 896 yards and seven touchdowns. He made the pro bowl and provided the number one receiver that Prescott desperately needed. Cooper is still just 24 years old and will be playing on the last year of his deal in 2019 if an extension is not worked out this offseason. The Cowboys have not started those negotiations, according to reports.
Cooper can make the case that he should be paid like a top 5 receiver in the NFL based on his impact to end the 2018 season. Because of that impact, the Cowboys need to get a deal done sooner rather than later.
Dak Prescott has the third most wins among quarterbacks since 2016, yet you will get mixed reviews among Cowboys fans when you ask if he should be extended or not. The Cowboys have made it very clear that they believe he is the leader they want leading their football team for years to come and will be extended.
I am not here to say that they are wrong for thinking that or that an extension won’t happen. The Cowboys have gotten bit by proceeding with caution or waiting an extra year to pay guys, but I believe that proceeding with caution with Prescott is the right move.
There is nothing wrong with putting more on his plate in 2019 and if he handles that well and proves he can put a team on his shoulders, you can pay him next off-season or franchise him.
Byron Jones had an outstanding 2018 season that led to his first all-pro selection (2nd team). Jones had 15 pass breakups in his return to corner but did not bring in an interception.
Jones is fourth on this list because he has not shown the ability to make plays on the football, which is important as cornerback if I am going to pay top dollar.
Jones’ play also tailed off to end 2018 and we might have found out why Friday when it was reported that Jones had hip surgery. He is expected to be ready for training camp.
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