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Progress Report

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Progress Report: Contract Year For DE Armstrong


_(Editor's Note: In the coming weeks, the staff of will evaluate those players who are already under contract, examining their past performance and future outlook. Today, we'll continue the series with defensive end Dorance Armstrong.) _

The Good: The good thing for Dorance Armstrong is that he has support from the very top. If he said it once, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said it at least four or five times last season that Armstrong was one of the players that routinely catches his eye. Ask Jones to name a few players he's excited about, and Armstrong usually gets in the answer. That's obviously a good thing for him, and there has been some reasons as to why he's being talked about. Armstrong has been a steady force in the rotation on defense, even starting two games. He also gives the team a presence on special teams, something that is rather rare for a pass-rusher.

The Bad: The Cowboys don't seem down on Armstrong's progress and development at all. But from a production standpoint, it would seem logical the team would've hoped for more than two sacks in his first three years, including zero this past season. Now, you can argue that he's behind D-Law, Aldon Smith and Randy Gregory, but that's also not by accident. The Cowboys decided to get Smith and bring back Gregory and play them both in front of Armstrong. So while he has shown the versatility to play multiple spots, the production in numbers hasn't been as high as the team might've hoped.

Best of 2020: One of Armstrong's biggest plays actually occurred on special teams. Early in the Week 15 game against the 49ers, Armstrong had a tone-setting play when he forced a fumble and then recovered it while covering a punt. That led to a touchdown to give the Cowboys an early lead in a game they win by two scores. More than anything, plays like that show the value of a player like Armstrong, who can not only start at times at end, but cover punts and kickoffs.

Contract Consideration: Armstrong enters the fourth and final year of his original contract. While this will be the first time he is expected to count over $1 million on the cap, his $1.08 charge, which includes a $920,000 base salary isn't that significant, especially for a versatile pass-rusher who can help in other areas. If Armstrong didn't have value to play other positions, this could potentially be an area to save some money, but that seems unlikely.

What's Next: In a season like this, where the Cowboys will most certainly be cap-strapped and unable to add much value in free agency, they will rely on players such as Armstrong to make big contributions. These are the kind of guys that will help the Cowboys make a run next year. It has to come from within and it's players like Armstrong, entering the fourth year of their career, still relatively cheap on the salary cap, to make bigger impacts across the board. It's likely he will be one of the third or fourth edge rushers and will also have a role on special teams. But personally, this is a contract year for Armstrong, who needs to prove that he can be a reliable rusher.

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