FRISCO, Texas – Man, oh man. Leave town for one week, and all heck breaks loose.
Supporting my no-offseason theory in the NFL. Just no games.
In fact, like, have you ever seen the old movie The Day the Earth Stood Still? Old black-and-white sci-fi production released in 1951. Well, waiting for the day The NFL Stands Still.
Here I am, skiing at Beaver Creek, and this text comes in from a friend:
"Aren't we a little early for April fool jokes? #witten."
What the what?
Then, too, an indefinite suspension levied against Randy Gregory. Then David Irving. Then tags.
Not to mention the Feb. 25, 30-year anniversary of Jerry Jones buying the team. The NFL Scouting Combine. Jerry. Stephen. Jason. Just on and on.
Guess we'd better get started with these shots.
- Welcome Back, Welcome Back: Not exactly Gabe Kotter, but just the same. Jason Witten somewhat surprises us last week, deciding he missed playing the game of football more than he enjoyed being in the Monday Night Football booth talking about football. What in the world after retiring from the Cowboys just a little less than a year ago? From the looks of things, Witten – and the Cowboys – not only think he can still play the game, the 36-year-old simply missed being _in_ the game. I mean, if the last three days is evidence, Witten has been here at The Star each day. Hanging out. Talking up a storm to anyone. Us included. Coaches. Scouts. Personnel guys. Looks like he just couldn't stand being away. Or maybe it was like, hey, Ed "Too Tall" Jones, Mark Tuinei, Bill Bates, I'm one-upping you dudes who played a franchise-record 15 seasons with me, his return gunning for 16 to make the longevity record all his own. Bet ol' Bill slammed his fist down on the breakfast table.
- Playing Tag: To me, the Cowboys had little chance of coming to terms with defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence on a long-term deal before the franchise tag deadline (March 5). First of all, the two sides were oceans apart last year, leading to Lawrence playing under the $17.1 million franchise tag this past season. And he didn't do anything in 2018 with his team-leading 10.5 sacks, team-leading 12 tackles for losses and team-leading 39 quarterback pressures to deflate his value since his 25 sacks in the past two seasons represent the most by a Cowboys player since DeMarcus Ware had 31 in 2011-12. But please consider this: His agent David Canter is in no hurry to cut a deal. Why? Well, here is a list of the other noted pass-rushers hit with the franchise tag by Tuesday's 3 p.m. deadline: Houston's Jadeveon Clowney, Seattle's Frank Clark, Kansas City's Dee Ford and Atlanta's Grady Jarrett. Agents are hesitant to set market value on long-term deals for their clients, fearing the next guy to sign a long-term contract gets a better deal. Remember the long 2015 stalemate with Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas? The two receivers frighteningly close to playing for the franchise tag both signed within 24 hours of each other with no more than hours before the deadline. Sit tight here.
- Three Straight: When reading in the Cowboys' Season-In-Review release that Dak Prescott has put together three consecutive winnings seasons, made me think: Well, when is the last time a Cowboys fulltime starting quarterback put together three consecutive winning regular seasons? Of course, we have to go back to Tony Romo going 13-3, 9-7 and 11-5 from 2007-09, starting 45 of those 48 games. Before that, then Troy Aikman 1991-96, but with an asterisk. Aikman started only 12 of the 16 games during that 11-5, 1991 season, a knee injury knocking him out just after halftime with the lead in Game 12. But we'll give him six straight since the Cowboys moved to 7-5 with the win over Washington in that game and then went on to seasons of 13-3, 12-4, 12-4, 12-4 and 10-6. Before that? Danny White took the Cowboys to records of 12-4, 12-4 and a strike-shortened 6-3 from 1980-82, sort of interrupting his streak of four-straight winning seasons (12-4 in 1983). The king, though, is Roger Staubach, with nine consecutive winning seasons from 1971-79.
- Indefinite Randy: Talk about throwing a wrench into plans for the 2019 season, Randy Gregory suspended indefinitely for another violation of the NFL's substance abuse policy. Strange, though, with all of his previous suspensions, he hasn't been kicked out for good. Or that Jerry Jones mentions there is a chance the projected starting right defensive end could be back for the start of the season. Remember, with so many stipulations governing his 2018 reinstatement, a positive test isn't the only infraction that leads to suspensions.
- Always Something: A shame, but this appears to be the last something for the Cowboys with defensive lineman David Irving facing another suspension. He becomes a free agent next week, and it sure doesn't seem the Cowboys have any intention of even trying to re-sign him. That shipped sailed when the injured Irving dragged out that high-ankle sprain and wasn't complying with his rehab duties. The last straw, though, was Irving's miserable workout when the Cowboys were trying to get him on the field for the playoffs. How do you think that went over, considering how guys like Travis Frederick and Sean Lee were staying engaged while unable to play.
- Last Shots: Appears the Cowboys and Rams are serious about hooking up for that preseason game at Honolulu's Aloha Stadium this summer, possibly the second preseason game as the Cowboys break camp in Oxnard, Calif. Coming down to working out the logistics … This seems hard to believe, Michael Irvin turning 53 on Tuesday of this week. Seems like yesterday he took that draft-day picture in 1988 hugging the life-sized Tom Landry cardboard cutout … This won't matter since the Cowboys do not have a first-round pick, but while watching a little of the combine, sure liked me some Montez Sweat … If you're looking for a benchmark to extend wide receiver Amari Cooper to a long-term deal, look no further than the deal Kansas City signed Sammy Watkins to this past year: three years, $48 million with $30 million guaranteed. So the bargaining at least starts at an average of $16 million a year since Cooper already is on the books for $14 million this year, with a 2020 franchise tag projected to be $18 million.
Yep, that time of year, isn't it, when money talks.