The NFL season is here. Don't miss any of the action with our daily updates: news, notes and more throughout the Cowboys' off-season. Presented by Sleep Number
March 31 Updates
2:45 p.m. – In a conference call Tuesday, which replaced the annual owner's meeting, a vote officially passed approving a 14-team playoff, up from the 12-team format that had been in place in recent years. Starting next season, each conference will now have three Wildcard teams, and thus Wildcard Weekend will consist of three games on Saturday (Jan. 9) and three games on Sunday (Jan. 10). One significant ramification is that each conference's 2-seed will no longer receive a bye but instead will host the 7-seed on the first weekend of the playoffs.
It is now more likely for an 8-8 team to reach the postseason. If you applied this format to last season, the Dallas Cowboys still would have missed the playoffs. However, the 8-8 Pittsburgh Steelers would have grabbed the final Wildcard spot in the AFC.
March 28 Updates
2:21 p.m. – Daniel Ross could be the third Cowboys defensive free agent joining former defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli in Las Vegas with the Raiders.
The defensive lineman has not received a restricted tender offer from the Cowboys and intends to sign with the Raiders, per reports. He spent last season on injured reserve with a shoulder injury.
The Raiders reportedly are also expected to finalize deals with defensive tackle Maliek Collins and safety Jeff Heath.
March 27 Updates
11:00 a.m. – In a memo sent to NFL teams Thursday night, Roger Goodell confirmed that the NFL Draft will remain scheduled for the days of April 23-25. The Draft, which was slated to take place in Las Vegas, will no longer be open to the public due to health concerns and restrictions against public gatherings.
Teams have been told to prepare to conduct the draft outside of team facilities and with a limited number of people. This, along with limited opportunities to scout prospects in-person in recent weeks, will surely force teams to adjust the ways in which they are used to handling their player selection process.
March 25 Updates
5:05 p.m. – Sean Lee is back with the Cowboys for an 11th season, and the veteran linebacker expects the defense to look different under new head coach Mike McCarthy and defensive coordinator Mike Nolan.
"Just talking on the defensive side of the ball, I think there are going to be some changes," Lee said on SiriusXM NFL Radio. "Coverages and blitzes and everything are somewhat similar, but how you do it. I think some of the personnel changing on the defensive line – I think we'll tend to be a little bigger and thicker on the defensive line. And maybe some of the scheme will be different.
"But at the end of the day, defense is defense, and scheme matters, but it's how you execute the scheme."
March 24 Updates
1:12 p.m. – Free agent defensive lineman Kerry Hyder is expected to sign a one-year deal with the 49ers, according to NFL Media and reports.
Hyder played about 40 percent of the Cowboys' defensive snaps last year, pitching in 19 tackles, 19 pressures and a sack as a reserve tackle and end.
Starting defensive end Robert Quinn and tackle Maliek Collins agreed to deals last week with the Bears and Raiders, respectively. The Cowboys have agreed to terms with veteran lineman Gerald McCoy.
March 23 Updates
9:30 p.m. – While the Cowboys said their surprising goodbyes to a centerpiece of one side of the line, they spent the early part of Monday trying to obtain a core player on the defensive side.
The Cowboys are reportedly close to a deal with free-agent defensive tackle Dontari Poe, a former first-round pick of the Chiefs in 2012. He spent five years in Kansas City, but went to Atlanta in 2017 and then to Carolina for the past two years. He was a teammate of newly-signed tackle Gerald McCoy.
At a listed 345 pounds, Poe would be the biggest defensive tackle the Cowboys have had in the middle of the line in nearly a decade.
Poe has 20.5 career sacks, but even got some work in the backfield for Andy Reid and the Chiefs. Poe is the only defensive tackle in NFL history to throw a touchdown pass.
If the Cowboys can lock up Poe on Tuesday, he would be the fourth defensive free agent signed by the team this offseason, joining McCoy, cornerback Maurice Canady and safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. The Cowboys have also re-signed their own defenders in Sean Lee, Anthony Brown, Darian Thompson, CJ Goodwin, Justin March and Joe Thomas.
March 19 Updates
9:37 a.m. -- Looks like the Cowboys will have a new swing tackle next season.
Cameron Fleming, the primary backup to starters Tyron Smith and La'el Collins the last two years, is expected to sign with the Giants (pending a physical) after the Cowboys declined his $4 million option for 2020 earlier this week.
The Cowboys valued Fleming's experience but have to make hard decisions regarding their roster depth now that larger cap figures are going to quarterback Dak Prescott ($33 million franchise tag) and wide receiver Amari Cooper (5-year, $100 million deal).
Earlier Wednesday, guard Xavier Su'a-Filo -- a capable fill-in starter the last two seasons -- agreed to a three-year deal with Cincinnati. But the Cowboys reportedly are expected to bring back Joe Looney, their primary backup to center Travis Frederick.
March 18 Updates
3:32 p.m. – Given the money invested in the starters, it was always going to be a challenge for the Cowboys to retain their offensive line depth.
That proved to be true Wednesday afternoon, as Xavier Su'a-Filo agreed to a three-year contract with the Cincinnati Bengals. The deal isn't finalized, but it's expected to pay him a reported $10 million. Su'a-Filo had been one of the better veteran free agents in recent Cowboys history. He was originally drafted No. 33 overall by Houston in 2014, but he made his way to Tennessee, where he was released after training camp in 2018.
From there, he signed in Dallas and showed his worth. Su'a-Filo started 12 combined games over the past two years while Connor Williams dealt with injuries, including an 8-game stretch in 2018 that helped push the Cowboys into the playoffs.
Now, he'll have a chance to compete for a starting job on an offensive line that is widely expected to protect No. 1 overall draft pick Joe Burrow.
11:50 a.m. - Darian Thomspon has officially re-signed with the Cowboys on Wednesday, the first day of the free-agent signing period. Thompson started four games in 2019 but played in all but one. He has the ability to play both free or strong safety.
With Jeff Heath expected to sign with the Raiders this week, Thompson could at least provide some experience to the position, depending on what the Cowboys do at safety in the draft or the rest of free agency.
March 17 Updates
The Cowboys are working on a deal for veteran long snapper L.P. Ladouceur to return for his 16th season. The start of free agency begins Wednesday afternoon at 3 p.m. (CDT) but it appears the Cowboys are close to finalizing a 1-year deal for their veteran snapper.
Ladouceur came to the Cowboys early into the 2005 season and hasn't missed a game, playing in 237 games, the second-most in franchise history behind Jason Witten (255).
While the Cowboys have locked up three offensive players already this week, the defense has seen more players exiting, especially key starters.
But the team has agreed to terms with safety Darian Thompson on a 1-year deal on Tuesday. The Cowboys said goodbye to Jeff Heath, who will sign with the Raiders. That paves the way for Thompson, who played in 15 games last year, starting four. Thompson was a fill-in for both Heath and Xavier Woods throughout the year, showing his versatility to play both spots.
A third-round pick of the Giants in 2016, Thompson spent two full years with the Giants before joining the Cowboys in 2018 for the last 10 games.
If Thompson doesn't start, he'll likely be a key reserve and special teams contributor.
After losing both Byron Jones and Robert Quinn in free agency, the Cowboys appear to be losing Maliek Collins as well.
But what is also not surprising is that Collins reunites with Rod Marinelli, the former Cowboys DC who is now running the defense for the Raiders.
Collins, who has 14.5 sacks, spent four years with the Cowboys, starting 55 games, including 16 this past season.
March 16 Updates
10:45 p.m. – As of late Monday night, the Cowboys had yet to make an official announcement regarding any of their free agent news from the day. But after issuing the franchise tag to Dak Prescott earlier in the day, it appears they're getting close to a new deal for his No. 1 receiver.
According to national reports, wide receiver Amari Cooper has agreed to a five-year, $100 million deal. Again, the Cowboys have not made that announcement and team sources say the two sides have made progress but a deal had not been officially reached as of late Monday night.
That doesn't mean the two sides won't come together by Tuesday, locking up Cooper through the 2024 season.
Cooper could become the third offensive player either to sign or be retained by the Cowboys since Monday when the team franchised Dak and signed tight end Blake Jarwin to a three-year contract extension.
10:22 p.m. - Although head coach Mike McCarthy was hoping for a reunion with a receiver that played for him in Green Bay, Randall Cobb is heading down south.
Cobb has agreed to a three-year, $27 million deal with the Houston Texans, ending his time in Dallas after just one season.
After eight years in Green Bay, Cobb signed a one-year deal in Dallas worth $5 million in 2019. He caught 55 passes for 828 yards for a career-high 15.1 yard average and three touchdowns.
Cobb joins a Houston team on the same day the Texans shipped All-Pro receiver DeAndre Hopkins to Arizona.
6:17 p.m.- After five seasons in Dallas, Byron Jones is headed to Miami. The unrestricted free agent was on the market for just a few hours before agreeing to the largest contract for a cornerback in NFL history. Jones will get more than $17 million per season to join the Dolphins, who already had the highest-paid cornerback in Xavien Howard.
Jones, a first-round pick in Dallas in 2015, played both cornerback and safety early in his career before a full-time switch to cornerback in 2018.
Jones made the Pro Bowl and earned All-Pro honors that year and had another solid season in 2019 but the Cowboys just couldn't compete with the price, especially after giving Dak a $33 million franchise tag and Amari Cooper expected to get in the neighborhood of $20 million per season.
3:22 p.m. - The Cowboys apparently took their tight end position in a different direction on Monday with the signing of Blake Jarwin to a contract extension through 2024 worth over $24 million.
So what does this mean for Witten? The future Hall of Famer has said he wants to return to the Cowboys for another season, which would be his 17th year with the Cowboys. While Jerry Jones said he would like him to return and thinks he can still contribute, it appears Witten would have to accept a backup role.
For the first time in his career, Witten is an unrestricted free agent and could negotiate with other teams before the official start to free agency on Wednesday.
11:00 a.m. – The long-awaited deadline has passed.
The Cowboys used the franchise tag on Dak Prescott on Monday morning, which means he cannot be pursued by other NFL clubs during free agency.
That said, all of the Cowboys' other free agents officially can. Monday at 11:00 a.m. (CDT) officially marks the start of the NFL's legal tampering period. Free agents aren't allowed to officially sign with new teams until Wednesday afternoon, but as of right now they may begin negotiating with anyone.
Amari Cooper is obviously the most noteworthy of those names. The Cowboys opted to use their franchise tag on Prescott, so the Pro Bowl wide receiver is officially a free agent. Cooper may still wind up back in Dallas, but as the best receiver on the market this year, he'll likely field some attractive offers.
The same can be said for plenty of others. The Cowboys have 25 unrestricted free agents this offseason, and all of them – except Prescott – can now field offers from others. From Cooper, to Byron Jones, to Robert Quinn and Randall Cobb, it will be interesting to see what the coming days bring.
March 14 Updates
While the Cowboys are certainly trying to figure out the best plan to keep their starting quarterback, they at least made an attempt to keep their backup. As expected, the team issued a restricted offer tender to Cooper Rush, giving him the "original round" tender of about $2.1 million.
Since Rush wasn't drafted, the Cowboys would not receive draft compensation if another team signed him to an offer sheet, although the Cowboys would now have the ability to match the deal.
Rush has been Dak Prescott's backup since 2017, playing in just five games with only three career pass attempts.
March 12 Updates
12:11 p.m. – Cowboys safety Xavier Woods pocketed an extra combined $615,755 from the NFL's performance-pay system and veteran pool – the fourth-highest total in the league in 2019.
Per the league, the Performance-Based Pay program is a collectively bargained benefit that compensates all players, including rookies, based upon their playing time and salary levels. The veteran pool is a component of the Rookie Redistribution Fund -- a player benefit created under the 2011 CBA.
Woods, a sixth-round draft pick by Dallas in 2017, has been the starter at free safety the last two years. Several Cowboys safeties have expiring contracts: fellow starter Jeff Heath, Kavon Frazier and Darian Thompson.
March 12 Updates
10:29 a.m. – With a fifth-round compensatory pick in this year's draft, the Cowboys now have seven total selections.
Here is the complete list, announced by the NFL:
1st Round (17)
2nd Round (51)
3rd Round (82)
4th Round (123)
5th Round (164)
5th Round (179)
7th Round (231)
March 10 Updates
1:04 p.m. - One of the first players the Cowboys re-signed last year in free agency was fullback Jamize Olawale, who got a one-year deal, with an option for the second.
As the Cowboys get ready for what should be a busy free agency period, they decided to pick up that option for Olawale, whose deal includes $1 million in base salary for the 2020 season.
Despite playing in each of the last 16 games for the Cowboys, it's unclear what his exact role will be in this offense, depending if Mike McCarthy will use him more as a traditional fullback or in the hybrid, H-back role he had the last two years. But in 2019, he failed to have a single catch for the first time in his career, dating back to his rookie year with the Raiders in 2012.
More than anything, Olawale could be considered a core special teams player.
9:02 a.m. — The Cowboys have a little more time to decide whether they need to use the franchise tag.
Per reports, the NFL and NFLPA have agreed to extend the franchise/transition tag deadline through Monday. The previous deadline was this Thursday.
The NFLPA had already extended the players' voting window on the proposed collective bargaining agreement through Saturday. So, by extending the tag deadline, the Cowboys - who are trying to negotiate new contracts for free-agents-to-be Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper - should know by Monday whether they still have the option to apply both tags or just one.
If the new CBA is passed, teams will be able to use only one tag if needed to avoid a player from hitting free agency.
March 9 Updates
10:45 a.m. - The Cowboys re-negotiated the contract for offensive lineman Adam Redmond, and brought back the guard to a 1-year deal on Monday.
Redmond was scheduled to be an exclusive rights free agent but the Cowboys have instead signed him to a contract, likely worth the NFL minimum.
Redmond has played just 14 games, including 10 with the Cowboys in 2018. Last year, he was on the 53-man roster for half the year and was active for only one game. He spent the second half of the season on injured reserve.
2:27 p.m. – The NFLPA announced it has pushed back the players' voting window on the proposed new collective bargaining agreement from Thursday to Saturday.
As it stands now, Thursday is still the NFL's deadline for teams to use franchise/transition tags to maintain players' rights and avoid free agency.
The Cowboys have prioritized new contracts for free-agents-to-be Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper this offseason, but no deals have materialized yet. If the new CBA is approved, the Cowboys wouldn't have both tags as an option. If both are used, one would have to be rescinded.
March 5 Updates
10:17 a.m. – Ballots for the proposed new NFL collective bargaining agreement have been sent to the league's players, with voting open through next Thursday, March 12, per NFL Media and reports.
The proposed CBA would go into effect with a majority approval vote by the players.
March 12 is also the current deadline for NFL teams to use the franchise and/or transition tag to maintain players' rights, per reports. That's a pertinent date because the Cowboys have prioritized new contracts for free-agents-to-be Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper this offseason, but no deals have materialized yet. If the new CBA is approved, teams such as the Cowboys wouldn't have both tags as an option. Read more about that here.
March 4 Updates
12:37 p.m. – With roughly 25 of their own players set to be free agents later this month, it's a little early to know the Cowboys' biggest draft needs until the roster comes more into focus.
But from a general philosophical standpoint, Cowboys owner/GM Jerry Jones says new head coach Mike McCarthy has a clear approach to draft weekend.
"In the draft, (we want) the best player that's sitting there, the very best player," Jones said last week at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. "One thing that Mike has basically emphasized with everybody is, 'I can change what I'm doing to the skills of the player if he's a player.' So he says 'Get me the good player, and I'll put him to work in what he does best.'"
Mar. 3 Updates
12:23 p.m. – Last week at the scouting combine, both Mike McCarthy and Jerry Jones talked to reporters for a combined two hours and many topics surfaced in conversation. One player who didn't get mentioned much, if any, was defensive tackle Maliek Collins.
While there were reports the Cowboys have met with Collins' agent Todd France, it should be noted that France also represents Dak Prescott. So yes, Collins' name has probably come up in those discussions.
The Cowboys would likely want to keep Collins, who had four sacks and 30 quarterback pressures in 2019. But with Dak and Amari Cooper clearly the top two targets, likely followed by Robert Quinn and maybe Byron Jones, you wonder where Collins will fit.
You won't find Collins name on many lists of top free agents, but that doesn't mean other teams aren't coveting an interior lineman with his rush ability. Getting 30 pressures from the inside of the line won't be overlooked.
Feb. 28 Updates
1:33 p.m. – Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was rather optimistic when asked about many players on Thursday, stating that he would like to keep everyone. One of them was Tyrone Crawford, who missed most of last year with a hip injury.
"We have every reason to believe he is going to be productive," Jones said. "I know he has been outstanding in rehab as we sit right here. I don't want to equivocate but the answer is yes (to returning in 2020.)
However, Crawford is scheduled to count $9.1 million on the cap, including $8 million in salary. Jones was asked if Crawford might need to take a salary reduction to stay.
"I don't have an answer to that. The answer to being on the team … yes," Jones said. "What we do as we work through putting the whole thing together we more than likely are going to be asking for several restructures to the get the most out of what we have available."
10: 22 a.m. – When it comes time for the Cowboys to possibly draft a tight end in the upcoming draft, expect new position coach Lunda Wells to share his thoughts. While that would likely be the case anyway, considering he would be the person in charge of coaching the new player, he should have a good idea about the rookie, especially if he went to the combine.
Wells runs the position drills for the tight ends here in Indy. He's on the field working them through the cones, the blocking drills and giving them on-field instruction.
No tight ends coach in the NFL will have a better look at these players than Wells.