FRISCO, Texas – All right, here we go, the non-game season is in full swing.
To tag or not to tag.
Free agency on the seeable horizon.
And wild "reporting" in full swing, too, mashed potatoes being thrown on walls with hopes of sticking faster than the now nationally-renowned "Tower Of Dallas" is crumbling down.
Yeah, ain't it grand? Maybe we should add not just a 17th game to the regular season, but a 20th game to shorten the length of the offseason.
Time to fire off some shots, for sure.
- Super Tuesday?: At this point, with the back and forth going on over a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, maybe we need a debate among team player representatives before a full player vote is taken on the NFL's proposed CBA needing to be ratified by the NFLPA. Come on, this might have more significance than any Super Tuesday. Wild reports coming out of Indianapolis on what the NFLPA executive committee did or didn't do, and while no one on the NFL's eight-member management council that includes Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has commented on the progress, the only concrete word we've received, helping you to cut through the tall grass, is this official statement from the NFLPA: The NFL Board of Player Representatives voted to send proposed Collective Bargaining Agreement to the full player membership for a vote. Wonder if they, too, will have early-voting polling places.
- Tired Head: Because we've been heading into the final year of the current CBA that does not expire until the start of the 2021 league year, teams are contracted to have the one-time ability to use both a franchise tag and transition tag to hold rights of first refusal on chosen players instead of just one or the other. But now, with a potential new CBA being ratified before the March 18 start of the 2020 league year, teams might be reduced to having just one tag available as usual. And one report insists if a team uses both available tags and then a new CBA is agreed to, one tag will be rescinded. Talk about flying by the seat of your pants.
- What's Up: Not sure why most are surprised over Cowboys COO Stephen Jones pointing out there hasn't been any meaningful discussions on Dak Prescott's new contract since the beginning of the 2019 season. That's what happens when the two sides are the distance from here to the moon apart. And while Jones didn't come right out and say it, he did have this not-so-veiled comment from Indy the other day summarizing the negotiating separation: "They were pretty entrenched with their thoughts and we were pretty entrenched with our thoughts." Again, we do have somewhat of an idea of what the Cowboys have been offering, but we have no idea what Dak's people are asking for.
- Non-Sticking: Glad both Jones and Cowboys new head coach Mike McCarthy allowed this recent bunch of reporting mashed potatoes to slide off the wall this week, Jones leaving no doubt Prescott will be the Cowboys quarterback going forward, and as expected, either under a new long-term deal or a franchise tag. And McCarthy left no doubt, either, starting off by saying of Dak being considered a franchise-quality quarterback, "No. 1, you just look at what he's done during his time in the league," and going on to say, "Defenses get you to the championship. The quarterbacks win championships. And I definitely think Dak is that quarterback." And that should end all the silliness.
- Lane Change: Leave it to Shaquille O'Neal to break up 20,000 folks at Monday's memorial ceremony for Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna when talking about his early Lakers days playing with Kobe: "The day Kobe gained my respect, the guys were complaining, said, 'Shaq, Kobe's not passing the ball.' I said, 'I'll talk to him.' I said, 'Kobe, there's no 'I' in 'team.' Kobe said, 'I know, but there's an 'M-E' in there (ahem).' I went back and told Rick (Fox) and Big Shot Bob (Horry), 'Just get the rebound. He's not passing.'" Gotta love Shaq.
- Not So Free: Here is another cautionary tale about the dangers of free agency for those proponents of overspending for those big-name "free" players. Remember a few years back when Jacksonville was the envy of the league, having a then-considered enormous $71 million in space coming off a 3-13 season? They started spending and spending over the next few years. Well, well, now the credit card charge is due, and lookie here, in 2020, with the predicted cap in the $200 million vicinity, the Jaguars are in the red. They already have declined the $20 million option bonus on defensive tackle Marcell Dareus. Aren't sure if they can cover the $15 million base of defensive lineman Calais Campbell, who signed a four-year, $60 deal in 2017. And then there is Nick Foles, who might not be the starting quarterback. He's costing $21.87 million against the cap this year and would cost $33.87 million in dead money to cut him. Oh, and the Giants, after just two seasons, have cut linebacker Alec Ogletree, not quite as good as advertised, saving $8.25 million against the cap but costing them $3.5 in dead money. Ain't nothing ever been "free."
- Good Answer: So this is the time of year everyone has an opinion of what the Cowboys need, like definitely a safety or a cornerback or a wide receiver or a tight end, especially in the draft. But McCarthy said his druthers are you "can't have enough good players," meaning position aside, just give me a guy who can play, and I'll figure it out. McCarthy went on to point out that in the 2010 season when his Packers won the Super Bowl at AT&T Stadium, Green Bay used 77 players that year to claim the Lombardi. "You want as competitive a roster as you possibly can," McCarthy said. Wise man.
- Off-Shooting: Looks like one change to the proposal CBA players are receiving pertains to the capped $250,000 payment for those already under contract for the additional 17th game to the season, the NFL now saying they will receive the same weekly amount they would have made over the previous 17 weeks, in other words 1/17th of that year's base salary … Maybe after watching the "sky judge" operating in the XFL, the NFL will get serious about doing what the coaches were asking for during last year's owners meeting that was denied, and what Jason Garrett so eloquently campaigned for, wanting an independent referee in the replay booth to immediately correct any egregious mistakes without a challenge or game-stopping review … With many predicting eight receivers will be drafted this year in the top 27 picks, and as many as 20 in the top three rounds, would you be mad at the Cowboys, even if they get Amari Cooper signed, if they grabbed, as one mock suggested, Ceedee Lamb at No. 17? Not I if he indeed is the BPA (best player available).
Happy Anniversary to Jerry Jones and Family, 31 years ago Tuesday of the Dallas Cowboys purchase for a mere $140 million. Looking back at video of the press conference that Feb. 25 day reminds of the scene's strange dichotomy, Jerry and his family understandably overjoyed stepping into the NFL, but those with the Cowboys for nearly all of those first 29 years, especially president and general manager Tex Schramm, responsible for officially announcing the sale and introducing Jones, appearing as if attending a funeral. That day changing a lot of lives, including mine, the Cowboys fulltime beat at the Dallas Times Herald landing squarely in my lap, as it's turned out, forever more.