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Updates: Parsons Hopes To Wear 11 (With A Catch)

Don't miss any of the action with our daily updates: news, notes and more throughout the Cowboys' regular season. Presented by Sleep Number

April 30 Updates

3:59 p.m. – Upon arriving to The Star in Frisco for his introductory press conference, first-round draft pick Micah Parsons visited with Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn about plans for the rookie linebacker within the scheme.

There's another potential checklist item for Parsons as he joins the Cowboys: his jersey number.

Parsons hopes to wear his college number, 11, but there's a catch: it currently belongs to three-year veteran receiver Cedrick Wilson.

Parsons was asked Friday where negotiations stand on that front.

"I discussed it, but I didn't talk to Cedrick yet," Parsons said. "If I can't get No. 11, I'm pretty sure we could figure something out."

After a pause, Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones chimed in.

"What negotiation?" he said with a smile.


April 29 Updates

12:19 a.m. – As soon as the dust settled on the Micah Parsons pick, thoughts turned toward Leighton Vander Esch.

That's natural any time a first-round pick is used on a current starter's position, but especially so in Vander Esch's case. After all, the NFL deadline to exercise his fifth-year option is approaching on Monday.

To hear it from Cowboys officials, though, the decision to draft Parsons has no bearing on Vander Esch's future.

"I don't think it affects it," said chief operating officer Stephen Jones. "We'll make a decision on Leighton – we'll make that decision when the time comes. We've got some discussions to have on that, period."

Vander Esch missed six games last season with various injuries, and he has missed 13 total games over the last two years. If the Cowboys exercise his option, his contract will be extended through the 2022 season. If they don't, he'll be slated to hit free agency next spring.

Parsons may not affect that a decision, but it's still a decision the Cowboys will have to make in the coming days.


April 27 Updates

3:17 p.m. – This offseason, the primary offensive line topic has been the tackle positions – specifically, Tyron Smith and La'el Collins returning from season-ending injuries in 2020. (The Cowboys say both are right on track to return healthy for the 2021 season.)

At Tuesday's pre-draft press conference, the subject shifted to the center position with veteran Joe Looney still a free agent. Could the Cowboys look for a potential starter in the draft or possible depth behind Tyler Biadasz, last year's fourth-round pick?

Head coach Mike McCarthy said Biadasz is currently the starting center (even though the team hasn't had any offseason practices yet). But generally speaking, McCarthy always believes in keeping an eye open for offensive line help in the draft.

"I think, number one, you're trying to develop obviously the full roster, but particularly the offensive line," he said. "I don't think you ever, ever pass on an offensive lineman, particularly from a depth standpoint. Just look at our experience (with injuries) last year. That's an illustration that tells you the importance of all of the positions, but it definitely changes the way you play when you lose — or the way you have to play — when you lose tackles.

"So as far as the center position, the development of that whole group is something I think with 10 picks I would not be surprised if we do select a lineman in the draft."


April 26 Updates

2:23 p.m. – As Sean Lee noted in his retirement announcement Monday, injuries unfortunately were part of his outstanding 11-year career with the Cowboys.

"To the athletic training staff, Lord knows you earned your money working with me," he wrote, specifically thanking associate athletic trainer Britt Brown for directing his rehab over the years.

Yet, despite injuries that cost him nearly 60 regular-season games over the past decade – including the entire 2014 season with a torn ACL – Lee's career defensive stats still rank highly in Cowboys history.

His 995 career tackles rank eighth and trail Cowboys all-time leading tackler/Ring of Honor inductee Darren Woodson (1,350) by just 355.

That shows Lee's impact and production when healthy. He also holds the club record for single-game tackles (22, at the N.Y. Giants, 12/11/16), while also holding five of the top-three single-game tackle total figures.


April 23 Updates

4:00 p.m. – This really might come down to the wire.

Nothing is for certain, but it shouldn't be a surprise if the Cowboy target a cornerback with their No. 10 overall pick next week during the 2021 NFL Draft. And if they do, it's a good bet they'll target either Alabama's Patrick Surtain II or South Carolina's Jaycee Horn.

Both players are widely considered to be the best two cornerbacks in this draft class. But with the draft quickly approaching, have the Cowboys identified which one they prefer. Asked about that on Friday, team chief operating officer Stephen Jones said no – but he expects those conversations to ramp up next week.

"It's a really unique debate, and that debate goes on right now. I can assure you there's been no final decision on that," he said. "But as you know, we can get into some very lengthy and long discussions, and that'll obviously only probably only heat up and get even more intense as we get into the first part of next week, as you really start to roll up your sleeves, strategize and really get your board down to exactly how you want it."


3:38 p.m. – Optimism abounds for the Cowboys' beleaguered offensive line.

With less than a week to go until the 2021 NFL Draft, much has been made of the Cowboys possibly bolstering their offensive line. Long considered a strength of the roster, the team's offensive line was a wreck in 2020, largely due to season-ending injuries suffered by Tyron Smith and La'el Collins. It didn't help that perennial All-Pro Zack Martin was also lost for six games with various ailments, forcing the Cowboys to mix and match to get through the season.

Speaking on 105.3 FM The Fan on Friday afternoon, Cowboys chief operating officer didn't rule out the possibility of investing draft picks on the offensive line. At the same time, he had quite an encouraging assessment of where things stand with the returning starters.

"I'll start with the fact that we believe both Tyron and La'el, and Zack, are going to come into this season as good as we've seen them in a long time," he said. "They're healthy, they're over their injuries. We feel very optimistic about what they can do."

Smith and Collins in particular have prompted speculation this year, which is understandable given that both tackles underwent surgery to correct their issues. But with those procedures long since in the rear view, Jones said the Cowboys are optimistic about what the future holds.

"It's a huge plus that they've really done amazing, after they've had their injuries, they've rehabbed from them," he said. "We feel like they're ready to roll, and not only are we going to have a great year this year, but for several years to come."


April 22 Updates

4:17 p.m. – Wide receiver Cedrick Wilson and defensive tackle Antwaun Woods have signed their one-year restricted tender offers to return to the Cowboys.

Wilson and Woods both received the original-round tender worth roughly $2 million.

Wilson had 17 catches for 189 yards and 2 touchdowns in the receiver rotation and threw his first career touchdown pass (to quarterback Dak Prescott) on a fake reverse play.

Woods was a regular part of the defensive line rotation and started seven games, posting 33 tackles, one sack and four pressures in 14 total appearances.


10:48 a.m. – As the NFL Draft inches closer, it's no secret the Cowboys want to keep improving their defense – at all three levels, if possible.

"I think defensively it's across the board," Cowboys chief operating officer Stephen Jones said Monday on 105.3 The Fan. "You can't ever have enough defensive linemen. Certainly we lost (cornerback) Chidobe (Awuzie) in free agency. And our ongoing annual need for safety, which never seems to end in terms of draft pick resource or dollar resource.

"And then of course with the game becoming such a game that's played in space, you can't have enough of those linebackers who can cover and, as I mentioned, these tight ends really create challenges, these long, athletic tight ends. Certainly Jaylon (Smith) and Leighton (Vander Esch) are athletic and long, and you can't ever have enough of those guys either.

"I really don't know that we can necessarily say, 'Hey, it's got to be skilled or the front.' But I think defensively we have to get better. Certainly that's one of the goals in this draft is to improve defensively."

Jones added that the Cowboys also would have to strongly consider the best player available on their board, regardless of defense or offense, as they did last year with wide receiver CeeDee Lamb at No. 17.


April 21 Updates

1:25 p.m. – The Cowboys' complete 2021 schedule will be released Wednesday, May 12 at 7 p.m. Central Time, the NFL announced.

As a reminder, here are the Cowboys' regular-season opponents, including the new 17th-game matchup against the New England Patriots:

Home: New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Football Team, Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Denver Broncos, Las Vegas Raiders.

Road: New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Football Team, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers, Minnesota Vikings, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers.


10:02 a.m. – Phase One of the voluntary offseason program gets underway Monday, and unlike last year during the COVID-19 pandemic, Cowboys players are permitted to be at The Star in Frisco this spring under league guidelines.

In the last week, players for several teams have announced via the NFLPA their intention not to work out at team facilities this offseason. Such an announcement has not come from the Cowboys, however. The club doesn't announce program attendance because it's voluntary, but typically the participation level is close to full.

According to the NFL's schedule, Phase One runs April 19-May 14 and consists of virtual meetings, two hours per day at the team's direction, and no on-field drills or work with coaches. Facility and weight room capacity limits remain in place.

The league also states that teams will make every effort to have the COVID-19 vaccine available for players, staff and their families during Phase One.


April 15 Updates

3:14 p.m. – Gerald McCoy never got to play a down with the Cowboys last season.

Viewed as a key addition in free agency last year, the veteran defensive tackle ruptured his quad a week into training camp and was released via injury waiver.

But McCoy, a six-time Pro Bowler since 2010, has been getting healthy the last eight months and wants to continue his NFL career somewhere.

"I understand that I've been injured, and I honestly believe the lack of interest in me being on a team right now is because of my injury," McCoy told the Tampa Bay Times. "I haven't played in a year and I'm 33 years old. But man, when I still tell you I can play this game at a high level, I know I can. … I just need that one team. And it will happen."

The Cowboys obviously value McCoy's skills, or they wouldn't have signed him to a three-year deal last spring. But so far in free agency they've gone in a different direction on the interior defensive line, re-signing Antwaun Woods and reaching deals with Brent Urban and Carlos Watkins. Trysten Hill and Neville Gallimore showed promise as starters last year, too.


April 14 Updates

8:01 a.m. – Veteran pass rusher Aldon Smith is expected to take a free-agent visit with the Seahawks, according to NFL Media and reports.

Smith became an unrestricted free agent in March after completing a one-year deal with the Cowboys. Reinstated by the NFL last spring after nearly five years out of football, Smith started all 16 games and ranked second on defense behind DeMarcus Lawrence in sacks (5) and quarterback pressures (33).

The Seahawks were believed to have interest in Smith at last year's trade deadline, but he stayed on the Cowboys roster for the remainder of the season.

While there hasn't been any apparent movement in contract talks between Smith and the Cowboys, head coach Mike McCarthy last month didn't close the door on a possible Smith return.


April 13 Updates

10:15 a.m. – By the end of last season, the thought of giving Tony Pollard some of Ezekiel Elliott's was picking up steam and it didn't slow down when Pollard filled in for the injured Zeke against the 49ers and rushed for two touchdowns in a win. 

The plan for OC Kellen Moore this offseason is to figure out a way to get both players enough touches to make the offense successful. 

But could Pollard actually out-gain Zeke in combined yards again. In 2020, Pollard led the Cowboys in total yards – 1,394. It was the first time since Zeke arrived that he didn't lead the team in that category. In fact, it was the first time since Dez Bryant in 2012 that the starting tailback didn't lead the Cowboys in that category. 

Part of the reason was Pollard's 766 kickoff returns yards, coupled with his 628 yards of offense. And the fact that Zeke's numbers were down – his 1,317 total yards from scrimmage was the second-lowest of his career, only slightly about the 2017 season when he missed six games due to suspension. 

But even if Zeke returns to form in 2021, Pollard has shown enough to warrant the touches as well. Sounds like a good problem to have for Kellen Moore and the offensive staff. 


April 8 Updates

4:23 p.m. – It's been more than two weeks since the Cowboys agreed to terms with Keanu Neal.

Since then, we've learned the Cowboys plan on using him at linebacker rather than safety, at least at first.

We've also learned that he'll be wearing No. 42, which was a topic of discussion for fans since Neal actually wore 22 in Atlanta, a number that hasn't been issued in Dallas since Emmitt Smith.

But what we haven't seen is the actual signing of Neal. That could change next week when the veteran is expected to finally arrive in Dallas.

Apparently, Neal has been dealing with an ear issue that prevented him from flying to Dallas to get his physical and to sign the paperwork.
But that should be done within the next two weeks.


April 7 Updates

4:51 p.m. – Dak Prescott's recovery from last year's ankle surgery continues to go well.

3DQB, the independent quarterback training group Prescott has worked with in the offseason, posted a video of Prescott making throws from the pocket, moving and planting well on his surgically-repaired right ankle.

Last month, Prescott signed a new four-year deal with the Cowboys worth over $160 million. At the press conference announcing the deal, he told reporters "I'm healthy. I'm getting close. … I'll be ready when it matters and I'll be more healthy and better than I was before."

Wednesday offered more proof of that progress.


April 1 Updates

1:15 p.m. – Seven Cowboys free agent signings have been assigned jersey numbers:

  • 35 – Damontae Kazee 
  • 42 – Jayron Kearse
  • 44 – Jake McQuaide
  • 75 – Ty Nsekhe
  • 91 – Carlos Watkins
  • 95 – Brent Urban
  • 98 - Tarell Basham (previously worn by Tyrone Crawford, who's retiring)

Linebacker/safety Keanu Neal, who reached a deal with the Cowboys in late March, has not yet been assigned a number because he hasn't officially signed his contract yet.

Safety Steven Parker will now wear No. 25, previously worn by Xavier Woods, who reached a deal with the Vikings last week.


March 30 Updates

9:45 p.m. – Connor Williams made the improbable jump last year from young, inexperienced linemen to reliable veteran during a Dallas Cowboys season that was partly defined by constant injuries to the O-Line. The exact look of next year's offensive line is yet to be determined, but it's likely that Williams, who played more snaps than any other player on the roster in 2020, will be given the opportunity to defend his starting spot at guard.

Apparently, Williams has higher ambitions than just a starting job. The 23-year-old surprised a middle school victim of bullying with a birthday party at Main Event last week and he spoke very briefly to the media about his mindset for 2021.

"My goal has always been in this league to get a Pro Bowl," said Williams, who is entering the final year of his original four-year contract. "It's in sight now more than ever."

The Dallas Cowboys did not send a single offensive linemen to the Pro Bowl last season, ending a streak of seven consecutive seasons.


March 29 Updates

4:45 p.m. – The Cowboys officially signed safety Damontae Kazee on Monday.

Kazee, a three-year starter for new Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn in Atlanta, could replace Xavier Woods (Vikings) as a starting safety in Dallas next season. He intercepted 10 passes in 2018 and 2019, tied for the most in the league during that stretch, but a torn Achilles' tendon ended his 2020 season after four games.

It's a one-year deal for Kazee, according to reports.


March 27 Updates

3:12 p.m. – Xavier Woods, a three-year starter at safety for the Cowboys, has agreed to a one-year deal with the Vikings, according to NFL Media and reports.

Woods is the second starter from last year's secondary (Chidobe Awuzie/Bengals) expected to change teams since free agency began in mid-March. The Vikings have not yet announced the move.

With Woods an unrestricted free agent, the Cowboys addressed their safety depth earlier this week by agreeing to terms with Damontae Kazee and Jayron Kearse. They've also reached a deal with veteran safety Keanu Neal, though Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy says Neal will start off working with the linebackers.

Woods, a sixth-round pick out of Louisiana Tech in 2017, became a starter by the end of his rookie season with Dallas. In 60 career games he has 238 tackles, 18 pass breakups and five interceptions.


March 26 Updates

2:19 p.m. – Head coach Mike McCarthy says starting offensive tackles Tyron Smith (neck) and La'el Collins (hip) are right on track in their rehab from last year's season-ending surgeries.

"They look great," McCarthy said Thursday. "Obviously Tyron went through training camp (last year) so obviously I have a good feel for him. LC, he was just out there (rehabbing) with Dak (Prescott). He looks like he's close to being ready to go. I can say that about all the veteran injured players.

"Unless a guy went out of town for an extended weekend, I can't recall a day that they haven't been here. That part has been very regular. Those guys, they all look good. We don't expect any setbacks."


March 25 Updates

2:12 p.m. – Sean Lee's future with the Cowboys still remains to be seen.

Late last season, Lee said he would take some time before deciding whether he wanted to keep playing, just as he did in 2020 before signing a one-year deal to return for an 11th season with the club. Now in the second week of free agency, there hasn't been an announcement one way or the other yet.

"We're still in discussions with Sean," head coach Mike McCarthy said Thursday when asked about Lee's status.

Lee returned from core muscle surgery in the middle of last season and played in the final nine games, posting 24 tackles.


March 23 Updates

8:54 p.m. – Along with free agent safeties Damontae Kazee and Malik Hooker, former Lions starter Jayron Kearse is expected to have a free-agent visit with the Cowboys, according to multiple reports.

Kearse, a seventh-round pick out of Clemson in 2016, spent his first four seasons as a backup with the Vikings before starting seven games with Detroit last season. The Lions waived him in December. He signed to the Ravens' practice squad before the playoffs.

The Cowboys agreed to terms with former Falcons safety Keanu Neal over the weekend, though Neal might end up being part of the linebacker rotation rather than safety.


March 21 Updates

4:43 p.m. - While the Cowboys had never even hinted otherwise, but if there was any doubt Smith would part of the team's plans in 2021, it became rather official on Sunday.

Written in Smith's contract extension he signed back in 2019, Smith's $7.2 million base salary the season is fully guaranteed if he was on the roster on the fifth day of the new league year, which was Sunday.

Smith, who led the team in tackles this past season with 160, will count $9.8 million on the salary cap this season.

2:14 p.m. - Despite agreeing to a contract over the weekend with a former Pro Bowl safety in Keanu Neal, the Cowboys apparently aren't done in trying to upgrade the position.

The team is expected to visit with two veteran safeties that are both coming off Achilles injuries. Former Colts safety Malik Hooker and former Falcons safety Damontae Kazee are scheduled to meet with the Cowboys this week, possibly as early as Monday. Since both players are coming off ruptured Achilles tears, which can be an extensive rehab and recovery, especially for defensive backs, the two players are expected to undergo physicals with the Cowboys' medical staff.

Hooker, a first-round pick of the Colts in 2017, has missed 26 games in the last four years due to injuries, including 14 this past season. Kazee played in just four games last year before his injury, but had 10 total interceptions in the previous two seasons for the Falcons, playing under Joe Whitt, the Cowboys' new secondary coach and of course Dan Quinn, who is the team's current DC but was the Falcons head coach from 2015 to this past season.


March 19 Updates

5:17 p.m. – The NFL has announced the official draft order for all seven rounds this year, including the Cowboys' 10 picks:

1st Round: 10th overall
2nd Round: 44th overall
3rd Round: 75th overall
3rd Round: 99th overall (compensatory)
4th Round: 115th overall
4th Round: 138th overall (compensatory)
5th Round: 179th overall (compensatory)
6th Round: 192nd overall
6th Round: 227th overall (compensatory)
7th Round: 238th overall


March 18 Updates

3:03 p.m. The Cowboys have agreed on a deal with defensive end Brent Urban, who had his best season of his career last year in Chicago.

Urban, listed at 6-7, 300 pounds, had 2.5 sacks last year with the Bears. He's been a rotational player for the Ravens (2014-18) and then the Titans and Bears.

He's started just 27 of 70 career games played, but eight of those starts occurred last year in Chicago.

The Cowboys like his versatility to rush from the edge, but also to slide inside on pass-rushing situations.

Urban is the second veteran defensive lineman the Cowboys have added to the team on Thursday. Earlier in the day, they agreed on a deal with Houston's Carlos Watkins.


10:43 a.m. – Farewell to the Belldozer.

The Cowboys signed Blake Bell away from the Chiefs last offseason, and now the veteran tight end is heading back to Kansas City.

Bell is entering his seventh season in the NFL, having hopped from San Francisco to Minnesota and Jacksonville before winding up in Kansas City and helping the Chiefs win Super Bowl LIV. He signed a one-year deal in Dallas, where he played all 16 games and caught 11 passes for 110 yards as the Cowboys' second tight end after Blake Jarwin was lost for the year.

Jarwin will be back in 2021, and Schultz broke out in his absence. The Cowboys kept undrafted rookie Sean McKeon on their active roster all season, though he mainly played special teams. It will be interesting to see whether the team moves forward with McKeon as their third tight end, or whether they look to free agency – or perhaps the NFL draft – for outside help.


10:16 a.m. - After agreeing to a three-year deal on Wednesday, cornerback Jourdan Lewis officially signed his contract at The Star on Thursday morning.

Lewis becomes the third unrestricted free agent to re-sign with the Cowboys this week, joining Noah Brown and C.J. Goodwn.


March 16 Updates

12:53 p.m. – C.J. Goodwin, special teams standout and backup cornerback, has agreed to terms on a new two-year deal with the Cowboys.

Contracts are not officially announced until the start of the new league year Wednesday.

Goodwin has led the Cowboys with 10 special teams tackles each of the last two seasons. He made one of the best plays of 2020 in Week 2 against Atlanta, recovering Greg Zuerlein's onside kick to help the Cowboys pull off an improbable comeback win. In Week 9 against Pittsburgh, his 83-yard return on a fake punt led to a field goal.

Goodwin only played 16 snaps on defense last season, all against the Eagles in Week 16, helping the Cowboys keep rookie quarterback Jalen Hurts in the pocket in a 37-17 win.


March 15 Updates

6:00 p.m. – Linebacker Joe Thomas is expected to sign a one-year deal with the Texans once the new league year begins, according to multiple reports.

Thomas has been a reliable player on defense and special teams for the Cowboys over the past three seasons. In 2020, he started four games for an injured Leighton Vander Esch and finished the season with 43 tackles and five quarterback pressures, along with three special teams stops.

Thomas is one of three Cowboys linebackers set to be free agents (Sean Lee, Justin March).


5:06 p.m. – The Cowboys have retained their second free agent of the new league year, from the sounds of it.

One week after signing Dak Prescott, the front office has reportedly agreed with Noah Brown on a one-year deal that would keep him in Dallas for the 2021 season.

That's not terribly surprising, given the variety of different hats Brown wore for the Cowboys last year. The 2017 draft pick had a particularly impressive training camp and carried it into the season, playing roughly 50% of the team's special teams snaps and 20% of the offensive snaps behind the trio of Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb.

On a team with this much offensive firepower, Brown's role was never going to be huge. He started one game at receiver and caught 14 balls for 154 yards, both of which were career highs.

Still, Brown was useful on special teams, and his 6'2, 225-pound frame makes him valuable as a blocker.


12:07 p.m. – It didn't take long for the first Cowboys-related domino to fall.

Word came down Monday morning that Cam Erving was hammering out a two-year, $10 million contract with the Carolina Panthers. This is allowed, of course, because the NFL has entered into its "legal tampering" window before the official start of free agency on Wednesday afternoon.

Erving would represent the first free agency departure for Dallas. The former first-round draft pick signed on last spring to be the Cowboys' swing tackle, though he wound up being part of the team's absurd rash of injuries along the offensive line.

He was limited by injury for much of training camp, and he sprained his MCL during a field goal try in the season opener. He returned in time to start five games during the middle of the season, but he was lost for the year after another knee sprain on Thanksgiving.

The Cowboys still have the young duo of Brandon Knight and Terence Steele behind Tyron Smith and La'el Collins, but it's a good bet addressing their tackle depth will be a priority this offseason.


March 12 Updates

12:23 p.m. – It sounds like this year's NFL draft might look a lot more normal than the last one.

The NFL informed its clubs on Friday that teams will be able to conduct the 2021 NFL Draft from their draft rooms, provided that physical distancing and masking protocols are followed, according to a report from NFL Network.

The league conducted an entirely virtual draft in 2020, highlighted by Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones conducting his duties from on board his yacht.

The Cowboys have not announced any plans for how they will handle this year's draft, which is scheduled to start on April 29, but at the very least this represents a slight return to normalcy.


March 11 Updates

5:00 p.m. – The Cowboys made some official moves on Wednesday – other than just signing their superstar quarterback to the richest deal in franchise history. 

The Cowboys waived fullback Jamize Olawale, who had opted out for the 2020 season. 

Olawale has played eight full seasons in the NFL, six with the Raiders before two years in Dallas in 2018 & 2019. He made the choice to sit out this past season due to concerns from Covid-19. 

However, the Cowboys have now decided to part ways with Olawale, who was more of a special teams player than having an actual role on the offense. He had just two receptions in his two seasons with the Cowboys after having 39 in his time with the Raiders.


9:26 a.m. – The 2021 salary cap has been set at $182.5 million, according to NFL Media.

As expected, that's far below what the cap could have been before the COVID-19 pandemic caused significant league revenue loss in 2020. But the cap is slightly above this year's $180 million floor, and that's helpful for teams like the Cowboys that are expected to operate on tight budgets.

Also helpful: reaching a four-year deal with quarterback Dak Prescott, whose 2021 cap figure is expected to be $22.2 million, over $15 million less than the $37.7 million franchise tag the Cowboys would've had to budget for otherwise. The Cowboys did give Prescott the exclusive franchise tag Tuesday, but that's merely a temporary procedural move before he officially signs his new contract. The Cowboys have scheduled a press conference to announce the deal today.

Cap space is always a bit of a moving target, but the Cowboys now will have a much easier time not only getting under the cap by the start of the new league year next Wednesday, but also creating enough room to re-sign players on their roster, be active on some level in free agency and budget for their draft class. To add more space, they could choose to restructure contract(s) of select veteran players as they did last summer with DeMarcus Lawrence, Zack Martin and Tyron Smith, lowering players' base salaries by converting a large portion into signing bonus money that will accelerate into the cap in future years.

According to the NFLPA, the Cowboys carried $25.4 million in unused cap space into 2021, thanks in large part to those restructures.


March 9 Updates

3:41 p.m. – Remain calm, all is well.

Yes, the Cowboys did place the franchise tag on Dak Prescott on Tuesday afternoon, using the designation just as the league's 3 p.m. deadline arrived.

No, this is not a franchise tag in the traditional sense. Prescott's four-year, $164 million agreement is still in place. There have been no hiccups about Prescott's long-term status with the team.

Instead, this decision makes it unlikely that Prescott will ever be tagged again. His new deal already comes with a no-tag clause. But by being tagged on Tuesday, it's now ensured that any tag he faces over the rest of his career would come at a steep cost – roughly a 44% increase on his salary cap number at the time of the tagging.

To put it much more plainly: the no-tag clause means the Cowboys will be unable to tag Prescott when his deal comes up in 2025. The fact that he has already been tagged twice makes it incredibly unlikely that any other team will be able to afford tagging him in the future.

So, yes – strictly speaking, the Cowboys have tagged Dak Prescott once again. But this tag won't be leading to any kind of standoff. If anything, it will grant him an extraordinary amount of freedom the next time he negotiates a contract.


Mar. 1 Updates

1:42 p.m. – With major changes to this year's NFL scouting combine structure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the upcoming college pro days have even more significance in the pre-draft evaluation process.

The NFL recently announced the current pro day schedule from March 5 to April 9, though dates are subject to change. Here's the list:

  • Friday, March 5: Kansas
  • Tuesday, March 9: Kansas State, Northwestern, Wisconsin-Whitewater
  • Wednesday, March 10: Arkansas, Marshall, Maryland, Northern Illinois, Wisconsin
  • Thursday, March 11: Clemson, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas
  • Friday, March 12: Arkansas State, North Dakota State, Oklahoma
  • Monday, March 15: Army, Kent State, Middle Tennessee State, Vanderbilt
  • Tuesday, March 16: Georgia Tech, Temple
  • Wednesday, March 17: Arizona, Georgia, Illinois, Pittsburgh, San Jose State
  • Thursday, March 18: Auburn, Buffalo, Central Arkansas, Louisiana Tech, Louisiana-Monroe, Stanford, Troy, West Virginia
  • Friday, March 19: Memphis, Ohio, TCU
  • Monday, March 22: Air Force, Bowling Green, Colorado, Colorado State, Florida State, Iowa, Missouri, Northern Iowa, Toledo
  • Tuesday, March 23: Alabama, Central Michigan, Iowa State, Nebraska, Purdue
  • Wednesday, March 24: Michigan State, Mississippi State, South Carolina, USC, Virginia
  • Thursday, March 25: Georgia Southern, Liberty, UMass, Ole Miss, North Texas, Penn State, San Diego State, SMU, Tennessee, Western Michigan
  • Friday, March 26: Boston College, BYU, Michigan, South Dakota State, Virginia Tech
  • Monday, March 29: Arizona State, Duke, Louisiana-Lafayette, Miami (Fla.), Miami (Ohio), North Carolina
  • Tuesday, March 30: Alabama, East Carolina, FAU, Louisville, N.C. State, Ohio State, Texas A&M, Tulane, Washington
  • Wednesday, March 31: Boise State, Florida, Kentucky, LSU, Notre Dame, Wake Forest
  • Thursday, April 1: Appalachian State, Central Florida, Minnesota, UNC-Charlotte, Oklahoma State, Oregon State, South Florida, Western Kentucky
  • Friday, April 2: Oregon, Tulsa
  • Wednesday, April 7: Texas Tech
  • Friday, April 9: UAB, Ball State, Houston, Rice
  • --------------------------------------------

Feb. 25 Updates

12:07 p.m. – The NFL's franchise tag window began Tuesday, one of many key dates on the league's 2021 calendar.

According to NFL Network, here are more *tentative* dates for the offseason, though like last year, the COVID-19 pandemic could force some scheduling changes:

  • February 23-March 9: Franchise/Transition tag designation window
  • March 17: Start of the new league year and free agency
  • April 19: Start of offseason workouts for teams with returning head coaches
  • April 23: Last day of restricted free agent signing period
  • April 28: Last day to match offer sheets for restricted free agents
  • April 29-May 1: NFL Draft


Feb. 22 Updates

With Texans mired in power outages and food and water shortages throughout the state last week, Dak Prescott provided a helping hand during the winter storm crisis.


OurCalling is a Dallas-based non-profit serving the homeless. Actor/Texas native Matthew McConaughey also donated money for meals.


Feb. 4 Updates

9:17 a.m. – The big question this offseason is whether the Cowboys, with a healthier roster and some key personnel decisions, can get back to the playoffs in 2021.

CeeDee Lamb is confident in a rebound season.


"Definitely won't see 6-10," Lamb said Wednesday when asked about the team's expectations on NFL Network’s Good Morning Football."We obviously felt like we let ourselves short, if you will. We had as much excitement (about last season) just as well as y'all did just going into the season. And the way it went down, you hate to see it, but it's all part of it, and we know that.

"The NFL is a tough game. A lot of guys want to be great. A lot of guys want to stay healthy but obviously that's not the case. And for us as a team, we kind of took a blow on the injury bug, if you will. But going into next season we're looking forward to better preparation and staying healthy."


Jan. 25 Updates

4 p.m. – With Senior Bowl week here, the pre-draft evaluation process is in full swing. The best senior prospects in this year's class will take the stage in Mobile, Alabama.

But the NFL has also announced 98 underclassmen granted special eligibility for this year's draft, plus 30 more prospects who have fulfilled their degree requirements with college football eligibility remaining.

Click here for the full list.


Jan. 22 Updates

1:03 p.m. – Alicia Landry, the wife of longtime Cowboys head coach Tom Landry, passed away this week at the age of 91.

The Cowboys issued a statement on social media Friday to support the Landry family:

"The Jones Family and the Dallas Cowboys organization extend their deepest sympathies and heartfelt condolences to the Landry family on the passing of Alicia Landry."

Alicia and Tom were married for over 50 years before Tom's passing in 2000.


Jan. 21 Updates

1:18 p.m. – The Cowboys can breathe easier, as it looks like they won't be losing their offensive coordinator to a division rival.

The Philadelphia Eagles made waves last week when they requested to interview Kellen Moore for their vacant head coaching job. Moore reportedly interviewed for the job on Tuesday.

It wasn't meant to be, though, as word came down Thursday afternoon that Philadelphia was poised to hire Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni for the job. Sirianni coached three seasons in Indianapolis under Frank Reich, who was formerly the Eagles' offensive coordinator.

That decision figures to keep Moore in Dallas for a third-straight season as the offensive coordinator. Moore helped the Cowboys finish first in the NFL in total offense and sixth in scoring in 2019. In 2020, with the unit ravaged by injuries, they still managed to finish 14th in total offense and 17th in scoring.

Moore signed a three-year extension to remain with the team several weeks ago, when he was being courted for a head coaching opportunity with his college alma mater, Boise State.


Jan. 20 Updates

5:57 p.m. – Maurice Linguist, Cowboys defensive backs coach in 2020, is the new co-defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach at the University of Michigan, the school announced Wednesday.

Linguist joined the Cowboys' staff in 2020 and coached the secondary with Al Harris.

The Cowboys are expected to officially hire Joe Whitt Jr. to the defensive staff, presumably to work with the secondary. Whitt worked on new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn's staff in Atlanta last year as secondary coach/defensive passing game coordinator, and he previously was on head coach Mike McCarthy's staff in Green Bay from 2008-18.


9:44 a.m. – The Cowboys are expected to hire Aden Durde as their new defensive line coach. He was previously with the Atlanta Falcons on Dan Quinn's staff. Durde will replace Jim Tomsula, who was fired along with defensive coordinator Mike Nolan after the season.

Durde has some Cowboys ties as well, spending the 2014-15 seasons in the minority fellowship program.

A native of England, Durde has been with the Falcons since 2018, as a quality control coach for two seasons before taking over as the outside linebackers coach this past season.


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