Mick Shots: Good Deals, Bad Deals, Big Deals

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FRISCO, Texas – Offseason, err, non-game season, moving right along.

Just 12 days away from official offseason workouts beginning at The Star.

Just 22 days away from the NFL Draft, er, 23 days away for the Cowboys, since at this time, April 3, the Cowboys already have spent their first-round pick acquiring wide receiver Amari Cooper from the Raiders. And judging from this crop of draft-able receivers, not a bad deal.

Next thing you know, the Cowboys will be holding their rookie minicamp and OTAs in preparation for the 2019 season.

How time flies, yet still an abundance of shots every week.

  • Sounds Familiar: This should always be considered when discussing the developing “impasse” occurring during the contract negotiations between the Cowboys and franchise-tagged DeMarcus Lawrence. The Pro Bowl defensive end is among the top four pass-rushing franchised players in 2019 still unsigned: Lawrence, Houston’s Jadeveon Clowney, Seattle’s Frank Clark and Atlanta’s Grady Jarrett. To date, Clark, with 14 sacks in 17 games last year, has not signed his tag ($17.128 million) and says he won’t report to any offseason activities unless signed to a long-term contract. All have until July 15 to do that. Clowney, tagged at $15.7 million, remains unsigned, too, and if he should pull a LeVeon Bell and sit out the season, can you imagine forfeiting $939,247 a WEEK guaranteed for 17 weeks? And in Atlanta, Jarrett, like Lawrence, Clark and Clowney, still hasn’t signed his tag ($15.2 million), and word had been that it would be shocking if negotiations for a long-term deal would not be completed in time to prevent the Falcons from tagging him. That was back the first week in March. It’s now April 3. Shock it is, but then maybe not, since none of those guys is signed yet.
  • Not So Fast: While being reported the Cowboys have extended the indefinitely-suspended Randy Gregory’s contract through 2020, turning $310,000 of his 2019 base salary into a signing bonus and adding a year to his deal at $735,000 for 2020 to keep him out of restricted free agency, well, they have but … the NFL still hasn’t approved the contract. Weird. Shows the Cowboys are standing by their man despite his struggles, even trying to financially support him as he tries to right himself. The NFL maintains the substance abuse policy is rehabilitative, but this measure seems quite punitive since the Cowboys have previously done this with other players, though not suspended, to keep them from reaching restricted free agency the next year.
  • Say What: Barely got to know you AAF, er, Alliance of American Football. The upstart league has suspended play after eight weeks and with two games remaining. And to think, the championship game was scheduled to be played here on April 27 at Ford Center on the evening of the final day of the draft. Seems a rather knee-jerk deal for a startup league, and granted attendance was scarce with TV ratings plummeting after the first week. But players weren’t being paid much, other than a last chance to showcase their skills for the NFL. In fact, heard the players weren’t even being given money to return home, wherever home might be. Also read online that new chairman Tom Dundon of Dallas, the guy who forked over $250 million to supposedly save the league’s payroll after Week 1, wasn’t purchasing the league as much as he was purchasing its online in-game betting app. Like a down-the-road investment for sports gambling possibly becoming legal nationwide.
  • Betting On Self: When inspecting the inner workings of Cowboys recently-signed defensive end Robert Quinn’s contract, this is another one of those one-year, prove-it deals where the player is betting on jumpstarting his career, meaning earning a long-term contract with guarantees from someone in 2020. We keep hearing Quinn’s deal is $10 million. Well, the whole package might be worth $10 million, but his base is $6 million with weekly 46-man roster bonuses worth another potential $2 million ($125,000/week), along with a sack incentive of $878,789 for at least seven sacks. Plus, Miami already had paid his 90-man roster bonus of $1.1 million to retain his rights until he was traded. The Cowboys certainly hope Quinn plays well enough to win his bet.
  • Deebo, Deebo: The Cowboys began their allotted 30 visits this week, and among the guys already through The Star is one of my favorite college players, jack-of-all-trades Deebo Samuel of South Carolina. Great he ran a 4.48-second 40-yard dash at the scouting combine. Or that his hands measured 10 inches. But the guy can just play football. Line him up inside or outside as a receiver. Seen him run a variety of routes, especially right past defensive backs. Can hand him the ball. Can return punts. Can return kickoffs. Saw him torture Mizzou during his career. Did the same to DBs at the Senior Bowl. No matter the Cowboys’ receiver depth now, I certainly could find him a spot if … if … he lasted until 58.
  • Beeping For Horn: Of all the players I’ve watched play in the AAF, and not saying avidly watched games each week, but this guy caught my eye: Memphis wide receiver Reece Horn, who had gone for 100 yards in each of his final two games. Now again, with a grain of salt since you know the quality of defensive backs he’s playing against. But the 6-3, 215-pound receiver in what turned out to be his last two games totaled 15 catches for 242 yards and a touchdown. Now here is a guy basically playing in Last-Chance-U, the undrafted receiver out of Division II Indianapolis University getting looks from Tennessee and Indianapolis in 2016 and then playing professional ball overseas for Milano and Vienna before landing with the Memphis Express. Maybe NFL scouts saw him. Know the Cowboys scouting department did.
  • Last Word: And it goes to Jason Garrett, from the NFL meetings when asked about heading into the final year of his contract without an extension: “It just doesn’t matter to me. It never has. My sole focus is to build a team that we can all be proud of, and that’s what I get out of bed thinking about every day. And regardless of what business aspect is going on in my career, that’s never impacted that one bit. … Life is a day-by-day proposition.”

No kidding. For all of us, right? No matter what time of year it might be.

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