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Offseason | 2024

Mick Shots: Finally full-court action now in play


FRISCO, Texas – Well, well, things sure started buzzing around here after so much football inactivity.

First the Big 12 Conference Combine, replacing the individual members' Pro Days last week. Then the Dallas Day visits on Monday for players from the area or had played for colleges in the area. Followed by the start of the 30 Visits out here at The Star on Wednesday, the Cowboys bringing in draft eligible players, and not just potential first-round picks either.

And in less than two weeks the Cowboys will begin Phase 1 of their offseason workouts on April 15.

Let's go, need some Shots material, but as usual we have enough for another round today.

  • Never Fails: Always seems to be somebody out there voicing disappointment the Cowboys didn't try to sign them in free agency or draft them. Next acting surprised is 30-year-old running back Derrick Henry, shown the door at Tennessee after spending eight years with the Titans, four of those Pro Bowl seasons, most recently in 2023, rushing for 1,167 yards and 12 touchdowns. On a recent podcast after signing a two-year, $16 million free-agent deal with Baltimore, points out since he resides in Dallas, he's disappointed the Cowboys didn't try to sign him, saying, "I thought it'd been some type of reach out, some type of talks or whatever. They never reached out, you know what I'm saying? I don't really know too much about their organization. All I know is what I hear. I was talking to my agent. They weren't really interested. It is what it is." Well, Derrick, here is what it is. The Cowboys barely have enough cap space to re-sign their necessary own, having let six starters walk in free agency. Might have gotten you, Derrick, a one-year deal with incentives for like $5 million. But from what I hear, sounds like the Cowboys put a call in, discovering the money was way out of their reach. Maybe he isn't familiar with the salary cap. Just know he's been guaranteed at his age $9 million, all of that in base salary and signing bonus for 2024, including a 2025 cap hit of $10.8 million. Just another example of the salary cap problems the Cowboys have for this season, and even more so for next season. Funny how no one ever says like, I'm disappointed the Falcons did talk smack with me. Or looking at you Randy Moss, voicing his displeasure the Cowboys didn't take him with the eighth pick in the 1998 first round (Greg Ellis), though 19 other teams also passed him over until Minnesota snatched him at 21.
  • Speaking Of RBs: Hey, Zeke, continuing my campaign to get you back here as a part-time running back, like a one-year deal to add some experience to that room. For maybe $3 with incentives. What you say? Ezekiel Elliott did play 51 percent of the snaps for the Patriots last year and nearly totaled, 1,000 yards from scrimmage, finishing with 642 yards rushing, 313 yards receiving and five total touchdowns. Did average 4.1 yards/touch. Sure couldn't hurt having him around. And sounds as if someone is putting out the word there is interest, an all-time great marketing tool, figuring if Cowboys are interested, then that might attract interest from other teams. And from the Cowboys' standpoint, might as well get something for the $6 million in dead money he's still costing them this year against the cap.
  • Just Rewards: You go, DaRon Bland, striking gold in his second season with the Cowboys when it comes to the NFL/NFLPA performance-based pay program. A 2022 fifth round draft choice, Bland signed a four-year, $3.964 million contract that included a signing bonus of $304,788. But he sure outperformed his second-year base salary of $8970,000, leading the NFL with nine interceptions, an NFL single-season record five of those returned for touchdowns. Thus, handed that $759,756 bonus, curiously ranking only 20th. Not bad unexpected spending change.
  • Mocking Mocks: There is this natural tendency when mocking a first-round pick for the Cowboys at 24 to give them an offensive tackle or guard. But you know what? What would be so wrong if the Cowboys began the season with Tyler Smith at left tackle and T.J. Bass at left guard? That would be the most financially feasible way to compensate for the loss of Tyron Smith. Wouldn't hurt my feelings if they traded back to select a center, someone to potentially step in to replace Tyler Biadasz, who the Cowboys deemed too expensive for what they got in 2023 when Washington just signed him to a three-year, $29.25 million deal, including that $13.5 million signing bonus. As it presently stands, second-year offensive lineman Brock Hoffman would start at center if they had to play tomorrow. Remember, you don't need a first-round pick at every spot on the offensive line. Had three of them last year, and still two at this point of 2024.
  • Second Take: While researching the other day, ran across the Cowboys' 22-20 loss to the Dolphins on Christmas Eve when the Cowboys wound up with field goals from the Miami 25- and 15-yard lines, but also squandered a game-opening 73-yard drive on first-and-goal from the 1 with a lost fumble exchange between Dak Prescott and Hunter Luepke for a touchback. There also was a fraction of a second illegal shift penalty in the third quarter nullifying Dak's 14-yard run on third-and-11 from the Miami 25-yard line when CeeDee Lamb reset at the line of scrimmage, scooching back a half step to be onsides with tight end Jake Ferguson just starting his motion. Ended up with a 43-yard Brandon Aubrey field goal. There also was two fourth quarter, inexcusable missed assignments by Chuma Edoga, starting for the injured Tyron Smith, deciding to double-team inside on pass pro instead of blocking to his left on untouched pass-rusher Bradley Chubb. One for an incompletion on third-and-3, resulting in a field goal, and another a sack on first-and-goal from the 1, though overcome for the go-ahead touchdown and a 20-19 lead with 3:27 remaining. As painful, on that game-deciding 12-play, 64-yard drive for the Dolphins' walk-off field goal, twice Miami offensive linemen tackled Cowboys defenders, once Bland and the other on Damone Clark for significant runs with no calls. Just sayin'.
  • Best In Business: Congrats to the Cowboys' equipment staff for being honored as the 2023 NFC Equipment Team of the Year by New Eraat the NFL's Annual Meeting in Orlando, Florida. You can't believe the hours these guys put in, Mike McCord, Bucky Buchanan and Dylan Keane. They deserve that championship belt award and should take turns wearing it while walking through the locker room.
  • This & That: For left tackle insurance, the Cowboys did re-sign Edoga, but for the veteran exception, meaning he is only guaranteed his $152,000 max signing bonus and just a $1.092 million cap charge, that is, if he makes the team … Man, the Bills must have desperately wanted to rid their hands of wide receiver Stefon Diggs, trading Trevon Diggs' brother to Houston, plus a 2024 sixth-pound pick and a 2025 fifth for just a 2025 second. Most importantly shedding his guaranteed $18.5 million base this year but absorbing a reported $31 million in dead money, meaning the Bills paid dearly to shed a headache and cap money … And before anyone goes off, the Cowboys couldn't afford his $18.5 million base for this year, but finally we'll get that Diggs vs. Diggs confrontation, the Cowboys playing the Texans this year … Saw where R.J. Godfrey – the son of Cowboys linebacker Randall Godfrey, a 1996 second-round pick having started 54 of 64 games played in four seasons for the Cowboys – was playing for Clemson this weekend in the NCAA Regional … Did you see kicker Jake Bates of the UFL's Michigan hit that walk-off 64-yard field goal to beat St. Louis, possibly the second coming of Brandon Aubrey since the former soccer player, no more than a collegiate kickoff specialist, last with Arkansas, was attempting his first field goal try since high school. In fact, hit it twice, since St. Louis called timeout just before he hit from 64 the first time, too.

And for this week's final word, sorta, and couldn't resist, but man they've come a long way baby in women's college basketball with Iowa's Caitlin Clark going for 41 points, 27 of those coming on nine three-pointers in the Hawkeyes' 94-87 regional final victory over LSU. And I'm proud to say I was one of those record 12.3 million watching a women's college basketball game on TV.

Just how remarkable?

See where Brad Townsend of The Dallas Moring News did a quick chat with Dallas Mavericks MVP candidate Luke Doncic during Tuesday's night's shootaround before the game at Golden State, Luka saying Clark reminded him more of Steph Curry than himself with her ability to shoot the 3, "She shoots it better than me, that's for sure." This coming from the NBA's trick shot artist, who Sunday night in Houston during warmups bounced a ball off the video screen high above the court into the basket. Swish. Google it.

Anyway, for context, think about the evolution of women's basketball. Back when I first started covering games, there still were some states playing halfcourt basketball in high school, three-on-three a side, ancient history figuring women weren't meant to run up and down the full court. In fact, back nearly 50 years ago, the NCAA had not yet sanctioned women's basketball. Was run under the jurisdiction of the AIAW (Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women), and not until 1982 did the NCAA sanction Division I championships. That's 42 years ago.

If only Clark had scored one more point for symmetry sake.

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