FRISCO, Texas – In one month’s time, let’s review the 2019 offseason checklist for the Dallas Cowboys. Just 28 days.
Sign DeMarcus Lawrence to a long-term deal: Check. Deal done. Surgery on Wednesday.
Create depth at defensive end while unsure of Randy Gregory’s status for 2019: Check. Traded for Robert Quinn.
Create depth at defensive tackle: Check. Check. Signed Kerry Hyder and Chris Covington.
Create depth at safety: Check. Signed George Iloka.
Purchase insurance on a backup swing tackle: Check. Re-signed Cam Fleming.
Find slot-receiver alternatives with departure of Cole Beasley. Check. Check. Check. Signed Randall Cobb, Tavon Austin, Devin Smith.
Re-sign deep snapper L.P. Ladouceur: Check.
Create insurance at fullback: Check. Re-signed Jamize Olawale.
Welcome back unretiring tight end Jason Witten with open arms: Check.
Find suitable backup running back: High on to-do list.
Determine Travis Frederick’s 2019 availability: TBD.
See there, accomplished a lot in a short period of time, setting themselves up nicely with short arms for a much purer NFL Draft, just two weeks away if you can believe that.
Now for some shots.
- Long-Term Benefits: Great DeMarcus Lawrence got his money, his five-year contract worth $105 million averages out to $21 million a year, the highest average deal in franchise history, outdistancing Tony Romo’s 2013 extension of six years, $108 million, an $18 million average. Great the Cowboys retain their “war daddy.” Greatest of all? Cowboys created a $9.4 million savings on the cap with his first-year structure of a $1.5 million base, $5 million prorated signing bonus and $4.6 million roster bonus adding up to $11.1 million vs. what had been his $20.5 million franchise tag.
- Time To Heal: Don’t minimize Lawrence’s need to have his shoulder repaired becoming a huge factor in this deal being agreed upon on Friday. The artificial deadline to be ready for the start of the 2019 season had arrived. I was told he would need a good four to five months of rehab to be ready to open the season on time. With Wednesday’s scheduled surgery, four months of rehab would bring us to mid-August. Five months mid-September. Assuming the Cowboys open the season on Sunday, Sept. 8, “D-Law” should be ready. He insisted on Tuesday he would be. Had this drawn out any longer, he might not have been ready by the opener, and as owner Jerry Jones said, that could “depreciate” his first-year payout. As for missing the offseason workouts, which officially begin on Monday with more extensive strength and conditioning team wide, there is no way even if Lawrence had his should surgery like the first of February that he would have taken part in the OTA and minicamp workouts. On top of that, he would have engaged sparingly in most training camp drills and likely not played in any of the preseason games.
- No Le’Veon Here: Lawrence is pretty pragmatic. When asked if he might have held out and not signed his franchise tag if the long-term deal had not been completed, he said, “You ain’t got to worry about that. It wasn’t going to be a Le’Veon situation. I ain’t skipping $20 million for nobody.” I’m sure his parents sitting nearby on Tuesday were thinking to themselves, “You got that right.”
- Good Talk: No texting. No emailing. No voicemail. No third-party agent. Just Cowboys COO Stephen Jones and Lawrence communicating the old-fashioned way. Actually, talking man-to-man on Thursday of last week. And I’m told that was the icebreaker in the negotiations, the two sides coming to an agreement no more than 24 hours later after that phone conversation. Amazing, huh, with direct communication.
- Hail Dirk: What a final home-game celebration to an illustrious career Tuesday night at American Airlines Center for the Mavericks’ Dirk Nowitzki, who is finally r etiring after 21 years with the same club, thus the 41.21.1 logo. What an emotionally draining night, including pregame, game – he scores a season-high 30 points – postgame. Like, who among us is such a great dude that his NBA idols growing up actually come to Dallas for the postgame presentation: Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, Scottie Pippen, Shawn Kemp and Detlef Schrempf. Plus, fist-bump to Fox Sports Southwest for providing those of us watching at home a great pregame show and televising the entire postgame activities. A big thanks.
- Nice Touch: Sure was a classy move by the Cowboys filling up an AAC suite Tuesday night to witness Dirk’s final home game. Head coach Jason Garrett, quarterback Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott and a whole group of players were on hand for the memorable night. And then on top of that, the gigantic video board outside Ford Center on Wednesday posted a huge Thank You Dirk message above a picture of the guy who is destined to have a statue erected of him out front of the AAC.
- Win-Win: The Cowboys trading a 2020 sixth-round pick to acquire defensive end Robert Quinn is a win-win deal for the Cowboys and Quinn. The ninth-year veteran signs just a one-year deal, giving him an opportunity to jump start his career for a bigger payday down the road. The Cowboys get him signed for a $6 million base, with a potential $2 million roster bonus – $125,000 every game he is on the 46-man, game-day roster – and can make another $878,789 for registering at least seven sacks in 2019.
- April Shots: Cowboys draft meetings began on Monday and will continue over two weeks with coaches, scouts, player personnel and front office convening for day-long meetings. No less intensive, though, even without a first-round pick … Prior to Lawrence’s press conference on Tuesday, I predicted someone would ask him what’s the first thing he’ll purchase after getting that $25 million signing bonus and that he would basically say, It’s none of your business. And so came the last question of the day, and right on cue the incredibly frank Lawrence said, “None of your business.” … Nice final moment when DeMarcus gave utmost credit to his mom and dad for working hard enough to provide for the family while he was growing up. He then turned to them and said with a smile, “I got you.”
And for a final shot, how about this twist, Texas becoming a basketball state: Texas Tech losing to Virginia in the national championship game; Baylor women winning the national championship; Texas winning the NIT championship, and needing to beat TCU in the semifinal game; Houston losing in the Final 8; and Ranger College losing the JUCO championship game.