Offseason | 2021

Mick Shots: One-And-Done Now A Football Thing

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FRISCO, Texas – So now there is an entirely different meaning for "one-and-done."

Not just college basketball anymore.

Please add NFL contracts. The sudden proliferation of one-year deals.

Blame it on the aftereffects of COVID-19. You might be able to remove your masks, if you dare, but the scabs of the pandemic-bruised 2020 season still remain.

A salary cap reduction of nearly $16 million for 2021, meaning teams having less cap space for marginal players, has helped cause this outbreak. But also other players, including some who may be coming off season-ending injuries or down seasons or being offered undervalued long-term deals, or counting on a salary-cap increase in 2022 and betting on themselves to increase their marketability with their play this season and wanting no part of a long-term commitment for perceived peanuts.

Why, one day last week, wrote down eight guys signing one-year deals, ranging from cornerback Kyle Fuller signing a one-year deal with Denver after being released by the Chicago Bears to running back James White signing a one-year deal with the Patriots, and even running back Leonard Fournette re-signing with the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers on a one-year deal.

So the Cowboys are not outliers here, having signed an abnormally high number of players to one-year deals or watching a few of their own players leave the premises on one-year deals.

So far, here is the nibbling done by the Cowboys:

  • S Demontae Kazee, one-year deal.
  • S Keanu Neal, one-year deal.
  • S Jayron Kearse, one-year deal.
  • DL Carlos Watkins, one-year deal
  • DL Brent Urban, one-year deal.
  • OL Ty Nsekhe, one-year deal.
  • LS Jake McQuaide, one-year deal.
  • WR Noah Brown, one-year deal.
  • DT Antwaun Woods, one-year restricted tender.
  • WR Cedric Wilson, one-year restricted tender.

But then, that's what happens when you have approximately $10 million of cap space remaining against your top 51 on the roster and know your rookie pool is $10 million. Yep, that tight, without further restructures.

As for those who have signed elsewhere:

  • QB Andy Dalton, Chicago, one-year deal, one of 13 players the Bears have signed to one-year deals.
  • LB Joe Thomas, Houston, one-year deal, one of 13 players the Texans have signed to one-year deals.
  • S Xavier Woods, Minnesota, one-year deal, one of 10 players the Vikings have signed to one-year deals.
  • TE Blake Bell, Kansas City, one-year deal, one of 14 players the Chiefs have signed to one-year deals.

See what I mean? It's not just the Cowboys. This has become the way of salary-cap life in the NFL this year.

Many of these guys playing it safe this year, in order to take another long-term shot next year.

  • Back In Time: Not sure if this counts as an anniversary date, but 27 years ago Monday, March 29, 1994, in a joint press conference, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and two-time Super Bowl-winning head coach Jimmy Johnson announced they were parting ways after winning back-to-back Super Bowls. Certainly a highly unprecedented occurrence in the NFL. Remember that day better than what I ate for dinner last night. Was my first day on the job with KTCK-1310 The Ticket, the first 24-hour sports talk radio station in DFW that debuted on the air the week heading into Super Bowl XXVIII in Atlanta. On my first Ranch Report, reported their breakup on-air like 15 minutes before the press conference while most thought Jimmy was coming back for another season, then held my breath for seemingly an eternity while Jerry took his time getting to the breakup point.
  • 17th Game Fallout: Someone Tuesday asked me how does the NFL announcing the addition of a 17th game to the 2021 season affect the Cowboys. Well, this year it adds a road game against New England to a schedule that already will make you wince, considering the Cowboys are scheduled to play against these non-division teams away from home: Tampa Bay, Kansas City, New Orleans, Minnesota and the Chargers. That means, with a game at Washington, too, that makes four games against 2020 playoff teams on the road, and includes the two Super Bowl combatants and three defending division champs.
  • 17th Game II: Then there is this: Starting in the 2022 season teams playing that 17th game at home every other year could also be scheduled to play host to one of four annual international games within an eight-year span. Meaning all 32 teams within an eight-year span will give up at least one home game to play host to at least one international game in either London, Mexico City or destinations to be named. That will eliminate teams having to give up one of eight home games to qualify playing host to a Super Bowl. That means the Cowboys, wanting to play host to a second Super Bowl at AT&T Stadium but previously unwilling to give up one of eight home games, will have a chance to jump into the Super Bowl rotation. Earliest available date would be following the 2026 season, with some predicting that 2027 game in February taking place at AT&T Stadium.
  • Backup QB: Remember last week when Mike McCarthy was asked about the backup quarterback position now that Andy Dalton signed with Chicago? He mentioned they've been in talks with several veterans. Well, two came off the board since, with career backup Chase Daniel signing with the Chargers and last year's Giants backup Colt McCoy signing with Arizona. Both 34-year-olds signed one year deals, with Daniel guaranteed $1.5 million. The former Missouri quarterback is with his sixth team heading into his 12th season – New Orleans twice – and that's where he worked with Joe Lombardi, now the Chargers offensive coordinator. While Daniel, from nearby Southlake, has only started five of the 69 games he's played in, he has made $38 million during his 11 seasons in the NFL.
  • By The Way: That one-year deal with Kazee, who is coming off a ruptured Achilles in the fourth game this past season, is for the veteran exception, counting just $987,500 against the cap while being paid $1.127 million, with $387,500 guaranteed. As for defensive end Tarell Basham, his is a two-year deal worth $5.5 million, with a first-year cap hit of $2.5 million and his $1.25 million 2021 base salary guaranteed. And as for deep snapper McQuaide, just like L.P. Ladouceur has the past few seasons, he too is playing on the veteran exception, counting the $987,500 against the cap.
  • Shorter Shots: Countering that difficult road schedule, the Cowboys non-division home opponents are Arizona, Atlanta, Carolina, Denver and Las Vegas, meaning, when including the NFC East three, only the 8-8 Raiders didn't finish with a losing record … Pretty impressive 40-time from Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields at his Pro Day, running an impressive 40 in 4.44 seconds, the second fastest for a quarterback at a combine according to ESPN Stats to the 4.41 of Robert Griffin III in 2012 … Evidently, if money was a deciding factor, the Cowboys weren't interested in re-signing veteran starting safety Xavier Woods, who signed that one-year deal with the Vikings for just $1.75 million, a $500,000 signing bonus and $1.25 million base, fully guaranteed.

And this week's last word goes to Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy, who with new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, attended the Ohio State Pro Day on Tuesday. Other than the quarterback Fields, other Buckeyes on display were linebackers Baron Browning and Pete Werner, along with offensive linemen Wyatt Davis and Josh Myers, running back Trey Sermon and defensive tackle Tommy Togiai. But remember what McCarthy said last week when asked about attending Pro Days: "In our particular instance, I don't think it's going to factor in who's picked at No. 10, if that's what you're looking for."

Like remember there are six more rounds after the first.

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