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Offseason | 2021

Mick Shots: Some Capping Off The Offseason


FRISCO, Texas – Here is a sure sign things have screeched to a halt out here at The Star.

Watching as the grass practice field is being scalped, though some conditioning and rehab work still has been taking place. You know, Dak. But a day later, with lots of water, the field greening back up again.

Other than that, might as well hang the "Gone Fishing" sign out front. Won't be long before the trucks will begin rolling out to Oxnard, Calif., and the first wave of football-ops personnel begin setting up training camp for the team's scheduled July 20 arrival.

You know that scramble drill the Cowboys ran during minicamp, the quarterbacks acting as if the play has broken down, forced to move about in the pocket? Well, for sure scrambling right now for some worthy shots to throw out your way.

  • Hey Rookie: Cowboys first-round draft choice Micah Parsons signed the standard four-year deal, with the club option for a fifth back on June 9. Not bad for the 12th pick in the draft, four years, $17.079 million fully guaranteed that comes with a $9.781 million signing bonus. But remember, with these rookie deals under the CBA, those guys don't break the team's salary cap, Parsons counting $3.1 million this year. If these offseason workouts are any indication of things to come, that will be a steal. The Cowboys have all but two of their 11 draft choices signed, the exceptions being Chauncey Golston and Nahshon Wright, typical of what's been happening with third-round picks.
  • Cap Heavy: That would be on offense for the Cowboys. When analyzing the team's top-10 salary cap hits for 2021, seven of those belong to offensive players: Dak Prescott ($22.2 M), Amari Cooper ($22 M), Ezekiel Elliott ($13.7 M), Zack Martin ($9.95 M), Tyron Smith ($7.3 M), La'el Collins ($6.8 M) and Blake Jarwin ($4.5). That totals $86.45 million of the Cowboys' $209.9 million cap. That figure expanded from the $182.5 million standard amount thanks to carrying over $25.4 million from last season. The other three top-10 cap hits belong to the defense, with DeMarcus Lawrence tops at $25M, followed by Jaylon Smith's $9.8 million cap hit and Anthony Brown's $5.75 million. Then, after Leighton Vander Esch, CeeDee Lamb and Parsons, no other Cowboys player has a cap hit higher than Connor Williams' $2.9 million.
  • Capping Out: Right now, with just the top-51 players counting against the salary cap, according to spotrac the Cowboys have just more than $5 million of space left, but that's somewhat of a floating number. Donovan Wilson currently owns the 51st cap hit at $881,960. And remember, by the time the season begins, the Cowboys will have to add two more players to that cap total to reach 53, leaving them precariously close to their total allowed. And then they must factor in a 15-man practice squad, and budget for guys on injured reserve being replaced and the inevitable injury settlements during training camp. Might need another contract restructure to get by.
  • Wandering Eyes: None of those three backup quarterback candidates on the 90-man roster, Garrett Gilbert, Ben DiNucci and Cooper Rush, ought to go buy a house anytime soon. The Cowboys still are keeping their eye on the quarterback market, a few weeks back working out first-year QB Case Cookus, a 2020 undrafted free agent out of Northern Arizona. Hear he had a good workout, and not surprising since Cookus in his 2015 freshman year at Northern Arizona won the Jerry Rice Award that goes to the best freshmen in the FCS. Then after suffering shoulder injuries in 2016 and 2018, playing just two games that year, Cookus in 2019 threw for 4,095 yards by completing 290 of 481 attempts (60.3 percent), with 31 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. He originally signed with the Giants in 2020, but was released early in training camp and then had signed with Denver this spring but was released a few days later, the Broncos clearing a spot for Cam Fleming. Guess he's still bouncing around.
  • You Don't Say: Guess overlooked the fact that Cowboys special teams ace C.J. Goodwin appeared in 14 games with the Falcons in 2016 and another 12 in 2017, meaning he knows a bit about Dan Quinn, Keanu Neal and Demontae Kazee. "Those guys, Kazee and Keanu, are great locker room guys as well," said Goodwin, his 10 special teams tackles in 2020 leading the Cowboys. "They're great teammates to have. I actually missed them when I left. And Dan Quinn is a fresh face to have around here, man. He's such a great coach, X's and O's coach, and he's such a player's coach. It's a blessing to have those guys here." … And since we're on Quinn, here is what veteran cornerback Anthony Brown had to say of the new defensive coordinator: "I love Dan Quinn, his coaching style. He's very big on fundamentals, very big on doing your job. Being a man, manning up to everything on the defense. I think that's going to be big for us this year."

And let's turn to Parsons for this week's last word, when asked if he has to be more vocal when coming from playing some weakside linebacker in college to the Cowboys immediately throwing him into the middle, the thinking being if the rookie can learn the middle by some osmosis he will also know the other two spots.

"For sure, because I think a lot of guys look to me to know what to do. And, you know, when you're the middle linebacker you're kind of like the quarterback of the defense, and they've got to believe in you," Parsons says. "So that comes with the confidence of every day coming in, not free to make mistakes, but making sure if I'm wrong, we're all wrong. You know, I mean we all can't be on different things, so coming in with that confidence and having them believe in my play and believing that they are going to get all of me."

Has such a good grasp on things for having turned all of 22 on May 26.

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