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Updates: Connor Williams Says "Goal is a Pro Bowl"

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

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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