THE BOYS ARE BACK ON TRACK: Both Dallas Cowboys player suspensions resolved | Greg Hardy and Rolando McClain to return in week 5 | 2015 Dallas Cowboys
After weeks of inactivity at Valley Ranch due to offseason vacation breaks … there is news to report today.
The NFL announced that Greg Hardy‘s suspension was reduced from 10 games to four games this afternoon. Continue reading →
EXPECT EXTRA-LONG EXTRA POINT: NFL owners approve PAT rule changes for 2015 season | Kickers moved back 15 yards | Defensive scoring opportunity created
The NFL has been tinkering with the PAT in hopes of making it a more difficult and therefore entertaining play for spectators. Continue reading →
DALLAS COWBOYS CALENDAR: NFL announces 2015 offseason workout dates | Dallas 2015 OTA dates | Cowboys voluntary & mandatory camp calendar 2015
The mover & shaker mode of free agency is winding down. Super Bowl XLIX is in the rearview mirror. That means it’s almost time for all 32 teams to start their offseason programs.
Below are the key offseason dates to know for your 2015 Dallas Cowboys and their evil NFC East rivals. Continue reading →
2015 NFL COMBINE: Ten eye-catching prospects | Top-32 Scouting Combine/Draft ranking | Making sense of the drills and tests
INDIANAPOLIS – As the NFL scouting combine is now underway, here are 10 players worth keeping an eye on this week in Indy. Continue reading →
2015 NFL DRAFT PRIMER: Breaking down defensive gaps | Scouting interior D-line prospects | Top-tier DTs on the board | Marinelli’s Maulers
Looking at different positions in the 2015 NFL Draft, there’s an encouraging pool of talent among interior defensive linemen. They are broken up into five different groups. Certainly, some prospects cross into other groups — depending on the level of versatility — but identifying the player’s No. 1 trait is important. The reason there are no two draft boards alike among the 32 clubs is because of the scheme they play, position requirements, the subjective analysis during the interview process and the traits some teams prioritize. Continue reading →
MEET YOUR NEW TIGHT END: Dallas Cowboys add TE Dallas Walker prior to Training Camp | Dallas Cowboys Roster 2014-2015
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys didn’t wait for training camp to make their next addition.
AROUND THE NFC EAST: Tracking The Evil Empire | The 2014-2015 division pre-training camp watch | Assessing the biggest issues facing the Dallas Cowboys rivals
IRVING, Texas – It’s a bit hard to believe, but football is here – the makings of football, at least.
IRVING, Texas – The start of 2014-2015 Dallas Cowboys training camp in Oxnard, California is only days away.
The Cowboys announced the tentative schedule for their trip today …
SITTIN’ AT SWEET SIXTEEN: True Blue fans also preparing for the Dallas Cowboys 2014 NFL Draft | NFL Draft 2014 | Special Feature
The Dallas Cowboys 2014 NFL Draft is now only 11 days away. We want True Blue Dallas Cowboys fans even more prepared for the upcoming draft than your average fan around the league. This article also introduces Dallas Cowboys players and coaches. These interviews and features shows a personal side to some of these key people in the Dallas Cowboys organization.
Take time to view The Blitz television series and latest Dallas Cowboys Draft shows on your PC or phone. All of the (much smaller) audio files can be downloaded to your computer or phone and listened to at will.
TAKING A CLOSER LOOK: Dissecting the Dallas Cowboys 2014 2015 regular season schedule | Dallas Cowboys Schedule 2014
The 2014 Dallas Cowboys schedule doesn’t have the mostly home-road-home-road pattern of the 2013 season, or the home opener and closer.
It’s back-loaded with road games.
But there are small advantages within it.
For another, the Dallas Cowboys don’t have to travel to a home opener in a rabid environment like last year, when they went to Kansas City and got ambushed. This season, the Cowboys are the home opener for Tennessee.
The Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers will be on equal footing, schedule-wise, when they open the season at AT&T Stadium. But when the Cowboys host the Saints on a Sunday night game in Week 4, it will be the third road game in four weeks for the Saints. The Saints will have opened with two on the road, at Atlanta and Cleveland, before their home opener.
It would have been too easy and too boring for the Dallas Cowboys if DeSean Jackson had disappeared off to Oakland or Cleveland.
Instead, he’ll turn the spotlight back on Washington — which is precisely where it was for much of 2013, if you’ll remember. Jackson agreed to terms with the Redskins last night.
DeSean Jackson has never been a fan of the Cowboys. The receiver once famously declared “we gonna sting they ass’’ when he played for Philadelphia.
Jackson didn’t do a lot of stinging against the Cowboys the last three seasons. Will he have a better chance now that he’s with Washington?
It almost seemed like the inevitable conclusion to Jackson’s release from Philadelphia last week. In keeping with the NFC East’s penchant for drama, the move not only keeps him within the same division as his old team, the Eagles, but also his old nemesis, the Cowboys.
The news brings a strange story to an end, as it had only been five days since the Eagles released Jackson for no definitive reason. It was widely speculated the three-time Pro Bowler would find a new home relatively quickly, and Washington wasted no time after visiting with Jackson on Monday night.
As if the storied Cowboys-Redskins rivalry needed any more juice, it certainly has picked up a bit this offseason. Washington signed lifelong Cowboys and 2013 Pro Bowler Jason Hatcher just three days into free agency, and now the Redskins have added Jackson — a favorite target of Dallas fans during his career in Philadelphia.
In truth, Jackson’s success against the Cowboys has been lacking when compared to his impressive six-year career. He has played 11 games against Dallas, tallying 39 catches for 688 yards and just two touchdowns. That’s an average of 3.5 catches for 62.5 yards per game.
There are two obvious outliers there: Jackson torched the Cowboys for 210 yards and a touchdown on four catches in 2010, and he was also limited to just six catches for 49 yards in two games last year.
That said, the addition of one of the league’s best deep threats is an undeniable boon for Washington. The Redskins have been lacking explosiveness in the passing game for what feels like ages. In fact, Pierre Garcon’s 1,346-yard effort in 2013 was the team’s first 1,000-yard season by a receiver since 2010, and it was just the team’s fourth 1,000-yard receiving season since 2004.
Combining Garcon and Jackson is undoubtedly going to open up the passing game for Robert Griffin III, who hasn’t had a true No. 1 receiver during his brief NFL career. It should also decrease the focus on Alfred Morris and Washington’s vaunted ground game, which was already plenty successful when the Redskins didn’t have a deep threat like Jackson.
On paper, at least, this is Washington’s most intimidating offense in some time. If Griffin returns to his 2012 form, and the offensive line can keep him on his feet, the Redskins should have no problems scoring points.
Of course, the offense scored plenty last season. The bigger problem was a leaky defense — something every team in the NFC East can likely relate to. The Redskins have taken some steps toward fixing that, headlined by the addition of Hatcher.
But there’s no doubt that adding Jackson is the first truly blockbuster move an NFC East team has made this offseason. The Cowboys and Redskins had both already added Pro Bowlers to this point — but Hatcher is turning 32 and Henry Melton is coming off ACL surgery.
The Eagles made waves by trading for Darren Sproles, but he is more of a complimentary piece. The Giants have added several good-not-great players, but no bonafide stars.
The Jackson deal is sure to put the Redskins in the limelight during Jay Gruden’s first season as coach. It’s hard to imagine high expectations for a team that finished 3-13 and doesn’t possess a first-round draft pick, but that’s what it’s looking like.
Signing an All-Pro, hot button target can do that for you — especially in this division.
IRVING, Texas – This week is the Dallas Cowboys turn to be featured on NFL Network’s Dynasty Week, which runs each week with a new team throughout March.
The Cowboys are one of five NFL dynasties, along with the Packers, Patriots, Steelers and 49ers, that will be featured. Each “Dynasty Week” will feature team-related segments on NFL AM and NFL Total Access, as well as interviews with guests associated with each team.
Additionally, throughout the week NFL Network will show team-related editions of such shows as A Football Life, America’s Game, NFL’s Top 10 and Sound FX, as well as classic games and Super Bowl re-airs.
The series for the Dallas Cowboys begins Monday and continues through Sunday, April 6. Former Cowboys offensive lineman Nate Newton and former Cowboys defensive back Everson Walls are among the in-studio guests.
Cowboys Week features the following Cowboys-related programming:
Monday, March 31
3:00 PM CT – NFL’s Top 10: Team Nicknames
4:00 PM CT – America’s Game: 1971 Cowboys
5:00 PM CT – Super Bowl VI: Dallas Cowboys vs. Miami Dolphins
5:30 PM CT – Sound FX: The Triplets
8:00 PM CT – A Football Life: Tom Landry
9:00 PM CT – The Road to Canton: Deion Sanders
12 Midnight CT – Hard Knocks: 2008 Cowboys: Episode 1
2:00 AM CT – NFL’s Top 10: Dallas Cowboys
3:00 AM CT – NFL’s Top 10: Thanksgiving Moments
4:00 AM CT – NFL’s Top 10: Team Nicknames
Tuesday, April 1
1:00 PM CT – A Football Life: Jimmy Johnson
2:00 PM CT – The Road to Canton: Deion Sanders
3:00 PM CT – NFL Film Session: Emmitt Smith: Run with History
4:00 PM CT – America’s Game: 1977 Cowboys
5:00 PM CT – Super Bowl XII: Dallas Cowboys vs. Denver Broncos
5:30 PM CT – Sound FX: Terrell Owens
8:00 PM CT – A Football Life: Jimmy Johnson
9:00 PM CT – The Road to Canton: Michael Irvin
12 Midnight CT – Hard Knocks: 2008 Cowboys: Episode 2
2:00 AM CT – NFL Classic Games: 1975 Divisional Playoff – Dallas Cowboys vs. Minnesota Vikings
4:30 AM CT – Super Bowl XII: Dallas Cowboys vs. Denver Broncos
Wednesday, April 2
1:00 PM CT – Super Bowl Classics: Super Bowl XXVII – Buffalo Bills vs. Dallas Cowboys
4:00 PM CT – America’s Game: 1992 Cowboys
5:00 PM CT – Super Bowl XXVII: Buffalo Bills vs. Dallas Cowboys
5:30 PM CT – Sound FX: Bill Parcells
8:00 PM CT – NFL’s Greatest Games: 1992 NFC Championship Game – Dallas Cowboys vs. San Francisco 49ers
9:30 PM CT – Super Bowl XXVII: Buffalo Bills vs. Dallas Cowboys
12 Midnight CT – Hard Knocks: 2008 Cowboys: Episode 3
2:00 AM CT – NFL Classic Games: 1992 NFC Championship Game – Dallas Cowboys vs. San Francisco 49ers
Thursday, April 3
1:00 PM CT – NFL Classic Games: Week 17, 1993 – Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Giants
4:00 PM CT – America’s Game: 1993 Cowboys
5:30 PM CT – Sound FX: The Triplets
8:00 PM CT – A Football Life: The Great Wall of Dallas
9:00 PM CT – NFL Film Session: Emmitt Smith: Run with History
12 Midnight CT – Hard Knocks: 2008 Cowboys: Episode 4
2:00 AM CT – NFL Classic Games: Week 14, 1994 – Green Bay Packers vs. Dallas Cowboys
Friday, April 4
1:00 PM CT – Super Bowl Classics: Super Bowl XXX – Dallas Cowboys vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
4:00 PM CT – America’s Game: 1995 Cowboys
5:00 PM CT – Super Bowl XXX: Dallas Cowboys vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
5:30 PM CT – Sound FX: Tony Romo
8:00 PM CT – NFL’s Top 10: Dallas Cowboys
9:00 PM CT – NFL’s Top 10: Thanksgiving Moments
12 Midnight CT – Hard Knocks: 2008 Cowboys: Episode 5
2:00 AM CT – NFL Classic Games: 1995 NFC Championship Game – Green Bay Packers vs. Dallas Cowboys
Saturday, April 5
8:00 AM CT – A Football Life: Tom Landry
9:00 AM CT – A Football Life: The Great Wall of Dallas
10:00 AM CT – A Football Life: Jimmy Johnson
11:00 AM CT – Super Bowl Classics: Super Bowl XXVII – Buffalo Bills vs. Dallas Cowboys
2:00 PM CT – Hard Knocks: 2008 Cowboys: Episode 1
3:00 PM CT – Hard Knocks: 2008 Cowboys: Episode 2
4:00 PM CT – Hard Knocks: 2008 Cowboys: Episode 3
5:00 PM CT – Hard Knocks: 2008 Cowboys: Episode 4
6:00 PM CT – Hard Knocks: 2008 Cowboys: Episode 5
8:00 PM CT – A Football Life: The Great Wall of Dallas
9:00 PM CT – A Football Life: Jimmy Johnson
11:00 PM CT – A Football Life: Tom Landry
12 Midnight CT – NFL’s Top 10: Dallas Cowboys
2:00 PM CT – NFL Classic Games: 1992 NFC Championship Game – Dallas Cowboys vs. San Francisco 49ers
Sunday, April 6
8:00 AM CT – The Road to Canton: Michael Irvin
9:00 AM CT – The Road to Canton: Deion Sanders
10:00 AM CT – NFL Film Session: Emmitt Smith: Run with History
11:00 AM CT – Super Bowl Classics: Super Bowl XXX – Dallas Cowboys vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
2:00 PM CT – A Football Life: The Great Wall of Dallas
3:00 PM CT – A Football Life: Jimmy Johnson
4:00 PM CT – A Football Life: Tom Landry
5:00 PM CT – America’s Game: 1971 Cowboys
6:00 PM CT – America’s Game: 1977 Cowboys
7:00 PM CT – America’s Game: 1992 Cowboys
8:00 PM CT – America’s Game: 1993 Cowboys
9:00 PM CT – America’s Game: 1995 Cowboys
10:00 PM CT – Super Bowl VI: Dallas Cowboys vs. Miami Dolphins
10:30 PM CT – Super Bowl XII: Dallas Cowboys vs. Denver Broncos
11:00 PM CT – Super Bowl XXVII: Buffalo Bills vs. Dallas Cowboys
11:30 PM CT – Super Bowl XXVIII: Dallas Cowboys vs. Buffalo Bills
12 Midnight CT – Super Bowl XXX: Dallas Cowboys vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
12:30 AM CT – NFL’s Greatest Games: 1992 NFC Championship Game – San Francisco 49ers vs. Dallas Cowboys
2:00 PM CT – Super Bowl Classics: Super Bowl XXX – Dallas Cowboys vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
ANNUAL NFL OWNERS MEETING: League ownership approves new rules | NFL approves new replay process | Field-goal posts to be extended
ORLANDO, Fla. — On the third day of the NFL Annual Meeting, the league’s ownership got down to voting.
One day after approving a rule to allow referees to consult with the officiating department in New York during replay review (see below), the league came to a decision on the rest of the rule proposals on the docket. Here’s a quick summary of the measures:
- The proposal to extend the goal posts five feet taller has passed.
“It just made sense,” Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. It passed “relatively easily.”
- The “NaVorro Bowman Rule” was passed. That allows the officials to make the recovery of a loose ball in the field of play a reviewable call. This loophole was exposed when Bowman clearly recovered a ball in the NFC Championship Game last year, but the play couldn’t be under review.
- The game clock will now continue after a quarterback sack outside of two minutes.
- Multiple proposals to expand plays that can be reviewed were shot down. The Patriots had suggested allowing all plays to be reviewed. The Washington Redskins wanted personal fouls to be reviewed.
Less than 50 percent of coaches supported the measure to make all plays reviewable, according to the Competition Committee. The committee said the topic inspired a lot of debate.
- The proposal to move the kickoff to the 40-yard line was shot down. So was their idea to eliminate the training camp roster cutdown to 75 players.
- The proposal to move the extra point back to the 25-yard line failed, but the league will experiment with a new extra-point system during the preseason. Extra points in Weeks 1 and 2 of the preseason will be snapped from the 20-yard line. (Making them like a 37-yard field goal.)
- The proposal to allow an unlimited number of players on injured reserve to return to the active roster failed. Jeff Fisher of the Competition Committee said that vote wasn’t close.
No decision yet
- The abolition of overtime in the preseason was tabled until May.
- The idea to expand the practice squad from eight to ten players was also tabled. The same goes for expanding rosters for Thursday night games to 49 from 46.
- The league also put off deciding whether to allow teams to open their roof during halftime at games for weather reasons.
- The Competition Committee told the Patriots that it will look at the possibility of adding cameras to all goal lines, side lines and end lines. The NFL will discuss the possibility with its broadcast partners.
RELATED: NFL approves rule that changes the replay process
ORLANDO, Fla. — NFL owners voted to significantly change the instant replay process.
The league announced owners voted to pass Rule Proposal 9 at the 2014 NFL Annual Meeting, which says that referees can consult with the officiating department in New York during replay reviews.
This proposal always had a wide swath of support throughout the league because there is belief it will improve accuracy and speed during replay reviews. The existing NFL Officiating Command Center in New York immediately will begin to review replays after the call is challenged. By the time the referee gets to his “booth,” the command center can advise the referee on what to look for in the play. The referee ultimately makes the final choice on the play.
It’s hard to see the downside of this rule. It should prevent obvious mistakes from happening.
The league also voted to ban “roll up” blocks to the side of a player’s leg. This is a tweak of the rule that bans these blocks from behind. It should help mostly defensive players, and is a relatively minor adjustment on the previous rule.
The rest of the rules and bylaws proposals are expected to be voted on during Wednesday’s session (see above).
2014 NFL DRAFT ORDER: Official round-by-round order including the compensatory draft picks awarded by the league
The official round-by-round order for the 2014 NFL Draft, including the 32 compensatory picks awarded to 13 different teams:
1. Houston Texans
1 (33). Houston Texans
1 (65). Houston Texans
1 (101). Houston Texans
1 (141). Houston Texans
1 (177). Houston Texans
1 (216). Houston Texans
Compensatory picks cannot be traded
PHOTO: Larry Allen (Dallas, Round 2, Pick No. 46 overall, 1994)
Larry Allen is the only compensatory draft pick in the NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame. He had quite a career in the NFL, starting 197 of 203 games and making 11 Pro Bowls and seven All-Pro teams. He was voted to both the NFL’s 1990s and 2000s All-Decade Teams.
A total of 32 compensatory choices in the 2014 NFL Draft have been awarded to 13 teams.
Under the rules for compensatory draft selections, a team losing more or better compensatory free agents than it acquires in the previous year is eligible to receive compensatory draft picks. The number of picks a team receives equals the net loss of compensatory free agents up to a maximum of four.
The 2014 NFL Draft takes place on May 8 to 10, and will be televised live on NFL Network.
Here are the teams receiving compensatory picks this year, with the round and overall number of each pick:
Atlanta Falcons: 4th round (139), 7th round (253, 255)
Baltimore Ravens: 3rd round (99), 4th round (134, 138), 5th round (175)
Cincinnati Bengals: 6th round (212), 7th round (252)
Dallas Cowboys: 7th round (248, 251, 254)
Detroit Lions: 4th round (133, 136)
Green Bay Packers: 3rd round (98), 5th round (176)
Houston Texans: 4th round (135), 6th round (211), 7th round (256)
New England Patriots: 4th round (140)
New York Giants: 5th round (174)
New York Jets: 4th round (137), 6th round (209, 210, 213)
Pittsburgh Steelers: 3rd round (97), 5th round (173), 6th round (215)
San Francisco 49ers: 3rd round (100)
St. Louis Rams: 6th round (214), 7th round (249, 250)
Compensatory free agents lost and signed by the clubs that will receive compensatory picks in 2014:
Atlanta Falcons: Lost: Brent Grimes, Luke McCown (did not qualify), Christopher Owens, Will Svitek, Vance Walker. Signed: Osi Umenyiora. Baltimore Ravens: Lost: Dannell Ellerbe, Paul Kruger, Ed Reed, Cary Williams. Signed: None. Cincinnati Bengals: Lost: Josh Brown, Bruce Gradkowski, Manny Lawson, Brian Leonard (did not qualify), Pat Sims, Dan Skuta. Signed: Josh Johnson, Mike Pollak, Alex Smith. Dallas Cowboys: Lost: Victor Butler, Kenyon Coleman, Mike Jenkins, John Phillips. Signed: Justin Durant. Detroit Lions: Lost: Cliff Avril, Gosder Cherilus, Justin Durant, Drayton Florence, Sammie Lee Hill. Signed: Reggie Bush, Jason Jones, Glover Quin. Green Bay Packers: Lost: Greg Jennings, Erik Walden. Signed: None. Houston Texans: Lost: Alan Ball, Connor Barwin, James Casey, Justin Forsett, Donnie Jones, Glover Quin. Signed: Greg Jones, Shane Lechler, Ed Reed. New England Patriots: Lost: Patrick Chung, Donald Thomas, Wes Welker, Danny Woodhead. Signed: Danny Amendola, Isaac Sopoaga, Will Svitek. New York Giants: Lost: Martellus Bennett, Chase Blackburn, Domenik Hixon, Osi Umenyiora. Signed: Josh Brown, Ryan Mundy, Brandon Myers. New York Jets: Lost: Yeremiah Bell, Mike DeVito, Shonn Greene, Dustin Keller, LaRon Landry, Matt Slauson. Signed: Antwan Barnes, Mike Goodson. Pittsburgh Steelers: Lost: Keenan Lewis, Rashard Mendenhall, Ryan Mundy, Mike Wallace. Signed: Bruce Gradkowski. San Francisco 49ers: Lost: Ted Ginn, Dashon Goldson, Ricky Jean Francois, Isaac Sopoaga, Delanie Walker. Signed: Craig Dahl, Phil Dawson, Glenn Dorsey, Dan Skuta. St. Louis Rams: Lost: Danny Amendola, Craig Dahl, Bradley Fletcher, Brandon Gibson, Robert Turner. Signed: Jared Cook, Jake Long.
BACK TO THE 3-4 DEFENSE: Jason Hatcher departs 4-3 system; signs 4-year deal with rival Redskins | Dallas Cowboys Free Agency 2014
IRVING, Texas – A third Pro Bowl player has now departed Valley Ranch in as many days, as defensive tackle Jason Hatcher signed with the Washington Redskins on Thursday afternoon.
Hatcher, who was the NFL’s sack leader among defensive tackles with 11 last season, signed a four-year deal worth roughly $27.5 million with the Washington Redskins – the Dallas Cowboys oldest rival.
The news ends days (actually months) of speculation about the veteran’s future, as Hatcher made several visits around the NFL to potential suitors. Hatcher visited with the Seattle Seahawks and Oakland Raiders earlier in the week, and he reportedly had visits with the Redskins and the Tennessee Titans lined up.
“My hard work paid off. I just left a great organization and now I’m with a great organization,” Hatcher said. “Things change. I just have to take it all in stride.”
Hatcher said he didn’t close the door on returning to the Dallas Cowboys, but said it was clear to him he wouldn’t be returning.
“Once me and my agent met and they didn’t show no signs they wanted me back,” Hatcher told 105.3 The Fan Thursday afternoon. “So I know the fans are upset, they should be. But I made the right decision for me. If we could’ve made it work out, we could’ve, but I’m in a great place with the Redskins, a great organization.”
Hatcher was a third round pick by the Dallas Cowboys in the 2006 NFL Draft, going No. 92 overall out of Grambling State. He played in at least 13 games in every year of his career, from 2006 to 2013. He didn’t start his first game until 2010, and he didn’t become a regular starter until 2011.
In 2012 and 2013, Hatcher became a full-time starter for the Cowboys, starting in 31 of a possible 32 games. He featured primarily as a 3-4 defensive end in the final year of Rob Ryan’s tenure as defensive coordinator. Monte Kiffin and Rod Marinelli made Hatcher the three-technique defensive tackle in their 4-3 scheme upon arriving in Dallas last spring.
It’s safe to say Hatcher flourished in that role.
Prior to 2013, Hatcher had 16 career sacks with his career highs being 4.5 in 2011 and 4.0 in 2012. He nearly tripled that during the 2013 campaign, earning his first-ever Pro Bowl selection in the process. He posted two-sack performances in three different divisional games – Oct. 13 against Washington, Nov. 24 against New York, and Dec. 29 against Philadelphia.
Hatcher said during the season he planned to test the market when the NFL’s free agency window opened in March. He played the final years of his Cowboys career on a three-year $6 million contract he signed following the 2011 NFL lockout.
“I’m going to test the market – I’m going to test the market. But you guys just leave me alone about my contract. I just once to focus on – I’m a Cowboy,” Hatcher said in December. “I’ve got a star on my helmet. I’m not trying to think about that. I’ll let it take care of itself when it happens. I’ve got four games to play, to be the best three-technique in the league and help my team go to the playoffs. That’s my approach.”
That clearly won’t be the case going forward, as the Dallas Cowboys have now parted ways with their all-time sack leader in DeMarcus Ware and their 2013 sack leader in Hatcher. New free agent acquisition Jeremy Mincey is now the team’s sack leader with 20 career sacks. George Selvie is behind him with 10 career sacks, seven of those coming last season.
RELATED: Career stats for former Dallas Cowboys DE Jason Hatcher
DALLAS COWBOYS NFL SALARY CAP: Team under 2014-2015 cap after releasing Phil Costa and renegotiating Mackenzy Bernadeau contract | DeMarcus Ware and Miles Austin decisions pending
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys are now under the salary cap after cutting the center many thought could be the starter prior to last year’s draft.
The Cowboys cut Phil Costa and renegotiated the contract of Mackenzy Bernadeau on Friday, putting themselves in better position financially prior to the start of free agency on March 11, which is the beginning of the new league year and the time all teams must be under the cap.
The restructuring of Tony Romo, Orlando Scandrick and Sean Lee already saved the Cowboys more than $16 million in cap space, and the move to release Costa saves another $1.5 million. Despite their continual cap restraints, the Dallas Cowboys will have no issue being under the new cap figure next week.
Costa appeared in only six games the last two seasons after starting all 16 games at center in 2011. He started three games at center in 2012 before injuries cut his season short. Costa, who signed a two-year deal worth $2.7 million last year, appeared in three games in 2013, but rookie Travis Frederick started all 16 games at center.
Costa’s been with the Cowboys since signing in Dallas as an undrafted free agent in 2010 out of Maryland, playing in a total of 26 games with 20 starts. He didn’t take a pay cut, and the Cowboys decided to part ways with the center to help get under the cap.
The Cowboys also saved cap space by renegotiating Bernadeau, who came on strong at the end of the 2013 season after getting replaced by Brian Waters. Bernadeau started the first three games of the season before the change was made, and the offensive line remained a strong point of the team when Bernadeau returned to the starting lineup for the final eight games of the season. Bernadeau will challenge for a starting guard spot in 2014.
The Dallas Cowboys sat high above the projected cap figure just weeks ago but figured out a way to get under the cap relatively smoothly and much more easily than many (in the media) anticipated.
If nothing changes, Ware will count $16 million against the cap and Austin will count $8.25 million against the cap. The Cowboys can save $7.4 million by releasing Ware and $5.5 million by designating Austin a post-June 1 cut. Of course, the Dallas Cowboys could also rework Ware’s deal to save cap space if he’s willing to cooperate on a reduction.
RELATED: DeMarcus Ware will listen to Dallas Cowboys offer
Former Pro Bowl defensive end DeMarcus Ware doesn’t want to take a pay cut but will listen to the Dallas Cowboys thoughts about a restructured deal.
He also hopes for a quick resolution.
The Cowboys informed Ware and representatives earlier this week about their need to lower his salary and cap figure. Ware is due a base salary of $12.25 million in 2014 with a salary cap hit of $16 million. The team would save $7.8 million if they cut Ware.
However, the Cowboys say they want the team’s all-time leading sacker back in 2014.
Ware will be 32 next season and recently underwent surgery for second consecutive off season. He had a career-low six sacks in 2013 when he has hampered by neck, quad and elbow injuries.
Ware expects to be back to his old dominant ways after surgery to repair nerve damage in his elbow last month. He will listen to the Cowboys thoughts on a restructured deal but remains hesitant about taking a major shave in salary.
Ware, who is shoo-in for the Cowboys’ hallowed Ring of Honor and likely future Hall of Famer, is expecting to draw a lot of interest on the free-agent market if he is released.
A decision on Ware would allow them to set a game plan for the start of free agency.
The Cowboys must address the defensive end position in the draft and free agency. Without Ware, it makes the situation even more acute because there are no players on the roster with his talent or prior production.
Even during an injury-plagued and limited 2013 campaign, Ware was ranked by Pro Football Focus as the ninth-most productive 4-3 defensive end as a pass-rusher and third in run-stop percentage. Ware was picked 11th overall by the Dallas Cowboys in 2005 NFL Draft. He has 117 sacks in nine years to rank first in team history and 18th in NFL history.
DALLAS COWBOYS COACHES ROSTER: Keith O’Quinn promoted to assistant special teams coach | Coaching assistants Turner West and Kyle Valero added to staff
The Dallas Cowboys are adding Turner West and Kyle Valero to the staff as coaching assistants and are moving Keith O’Quinn (pictured) from offensive quality assistant/assistant wide receivers coach to assistant special teams coach.
West is a former graduate assistant at Middle Tennessee State.
Valero was an offensive assistant with the Detroit Lions last year under then offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, who is now the passing game coordinator in Dallas. Valero will have a similar role in Dallas under Scott Linehan and help with the wide receivers in place O’Quinn.
O’Quinn came to Dallas in 2006 as a pro scout. He left in 2009 to become director of Pro Personnel with the Cleveland Browns before returning to the Cowboys in 2010 as a quality control coach. He has worked with the receivers the past three years as an offensive assistant.
RIDING INTO THE SUNSET: Dallas Cowboys Special Teams assistant coach Chris Boniol moving on
IRVING, Texas – It’s never too early in today’s NFL to start making wild conjectures about the draft.
Mock drafts pop up every week after the Super Bowl ends from a variety of sources, providing different names and opinions regarding which players will end up with specific teams. It’s only February, so these will get tinkered with throughout the offseason as draft experts learn more and more about each player.
Many of those mock drafts have the Dallas Cowboys landing a defensive lineman, which is understandable given their health at the spot and the pending free agency of Jason Hatcher and Anthony Spencer.
With that in mind, here’s a compiled Top-10 list of the most common names of potential Dallas Cowboys first-round picks.
1) Aaron Donald, Pitt, DT – Probably the most popular choice for the Dallas Cowboys so far, Donald’s quickness and ability to push the pocket and get up field quickly makes him a popular choice in the middle of the first round for Dallas. His lack of height may scare some teams away, but his dominant week at the Senior Bowl and ability to play in a 4-3 defense should attract the Cowboys.
2) Kony Ealy, Missouri, DE – His size at 6-5, 275 pounds means gives him the frame to be a dominant force off the edge. His ability to move inside and outside could also give him some versatility in this 4-3 scheme. If the Cowboys take Ealy, the consensus seems to be that he hasn’t reached his potential and may need some time to develop and tap into that, but the ceiling is high here because of his athleticism.
3) Calvin Pryor, Louisville, S – If the Cowboys don’t look to the line, Pryor could be the next best choice. He’s got a ton of range and maintains his aggression with the ball in the air. He can cover, and he could be the perfect cover safety to pair with Barry Church, whose ability near the line of scrimmage could be tapped into more fully. But Pryor can still lay the wood.
4) Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Alabama, S – The Crimson Tide defensive back might be the best all-around safety in the class. He had two picks in 2014 and may not rack up interceptions like an Ed Reed type, but he can bring the boom as well as any safety in the class, as most Alabama safeties are known to do. The Cowboys’ shouldn’t have much of an issue with their safeties attacking the line of scrimmage if Clinton-Dix pans out.
5) Louis Nix, Notre Dame, DT – Nix may not fall into the typical mold the Cowboys use on the defensive line and may fit more as a nose tackle for a 3-4 team at 6-2, 345 pounds. He might have trouble keeping his weight down to where he can be a mobile defensive tackle that gets up the field the way Rod Marinelli likes. But the Cowboys could take the chance, in which case he’d fill in as the new 1-technique in Dallas.
6) Timmy Jernigan, FSU, DT – The lasting image of Timmy Jernigan is going to be him watching, out of breath, on the sideline during crunch time of this year’s national championship game. It was a damning moment for what is otherwise considered one of this draft’s brightest defensive linemen. Jernigan notched 63 tackles, 11 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks last year.
7) Ra’Shede Hageman, Minnesota, DT – Hageman certainly stands out from a physical aspect, as he tips the scale at 6-6, 311 pounds. The first-team All-Big Ten selection was one of the standout defensive tackles at this year’s Senior Bowl, along with Donald. Conventional wisdom says Hageman could fit with the Cowboys as an oversized three technique tackle, similar to Jason Hatcher.
8) Dee Ford, Auburn, DE – Ford was another Senior Bowl standout, as he followed his 10.5-sack season at Auburn with a promising showing in Mobile, Ala. Ford is a bit undersized for a 4-3 defensive end, at 6-2, 240 pounds, but he makes up for it with speed. It raises the question of whether he’ll be used in the NFL as a down lineman or a pass rushing linebacker.
9) Zack Martin, Notre Dame, OT – A somewhat surprising target, considering the Cowboys just spent a high draft pick on Travis Frederick. Martin was fantastic at the Senior Bowl as an offensive tackle, though some think he projects as a guard at the next level. Depending on who else is available, the Cowboys could opt to shore up their offensive line for the foreseeable future with another high pick.
10) C.J. Mosley, Alabama, LB – The latest in a long line of dominant Alabama linebackers, Mosley finished the 2013 season with 108 tackles and nine tackles for loss. He was the heart and soul of a dominant Crimson Tide defense, averaging eight tackles per game. One problem is that he plays middle linebacker, the same spot as Sean Lee, but the Dallas Cowboys could surely find a place to use him.
Derek Carr, Fresno State, QB – Probably the most polished of the quarterbacks at the Senior Bowl last month, Carr is following in his brother David’s footsteps to
the NFL. Carr showed some experience and poise in working with other players and media at Senior Bowl practices that showcased his leadership potential. Most agree he isn’t the top quarterback prospect in this draft, but he still figures to be selected early.
Change is on the way to “Thursday Night Football.”
It was announced Wednesday that the NFL will partner with CBS to produce and televise 16 games under the “Thursday Night Football” banner for the 2014 season.
CBS will air eight early-season games before NFL Network takes the baton for eight late-season games leading up to the playoffs. Fourteen games will be played Thursday, with two late-season games taking place Saturday.
All 16 games will be produced by CBS with Jim Nantz and Phil Simms — the network’s No. 1 announcing team — calling Thursday night games. The first eight games on CBS will be simulcast on NFL Network. The agreement is for the 2014 season with an additional year at the NFL’s option.
“NFL Network built Thursday into a night for NFL fans,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “Our goal is to bring these games to more fans on broadcast television with unprecedented promotion and visibility for ‘Thursday Night Football’ on CBS.”
What does this mean? Well, “Thursday Night Football” is about to get bigger. Airing eight games in prime time on television’s top-rated network will be a ratings bonanza. Expect to see some premium matchups in those first eight weeks as the brand is established on a new platform. The CBS ratings surge should create momentum when NFL Network takes over in the season’s back end.
Many fans also will be pleased to see the return of NFL football on Saturdays, something that slipped off the grid in recent years. The only real negative on our end? This looks like the end for the Thursday night team of NFL Network’s Brad Nessler and Mike Mayock, who have done quality work for the past three seasons.
VALLEY RANCH RESTRUCTURED: Expect Dallas Cowboys coaching changes to bring aggressive, attacking style on both sides of the ball
Here’s what to expect from the 2014 restructuring of the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff:
The differences with Rod Marinelli as the defensive coordinator
Nothing against George Selvie, Nick Hayden and what appeared to be the cast of thousands that played along the defensive line this past season. They were not what these defensive coaches believed they had before they went to Oxnard. Rod Marinelli and Leon Lett were outstanding in what they were able to do with the group that Jones and Will McClay assembled.
What you will see from Marinelli that you didn’t see from Monte Kiffin is playing more to the strengths of your personnel. Marinelli and the other coaches were not going to step on the toes of Kiffin and what he wanted to do scheme wise, that just was not their style.
You will see a more aggressive approach from Marinelli when it comes to attacking offenses. His defenses while he was with the Bears, were this way. His front seven played a huge role in how he called the game. You will still see some two deep schemes but you will see even more of the single high packages that they went to in the second half of the season in Dallas. Kiffin was more willing to sit there and play sound than he was to come after an offense. This is where Rod Marinelli was be totally different.
Changes with Scott Linehan as the new offensive play caller
The hiring of Scott Linehan as the offensive player caller for the Dallas Cowboys did catch many by surprise. Once Jason Garrett came out after the bye week and said that he would be the coach relaying the play call to Tony Romo, it signaled the end of Bill Callahan in that role.
At that point, some believed Garrett was coaching for his job and by taking over that role, he was trying to save it.
What Linehan can bring to the table is a scheme that will get Dez Bryant even more involved in the offense. During his NFL career, Linehan has made it a point to make the “X” receiver the focus of the passing game. We all witnessed firsthand what Calvin Johnson was able to accomplish with Linehan as the play caller.
What Garrett and Callahan were able to do later last season was move Bryant around to create some matchup opportunities which Linehan should build on. There were times during the Lions games where you observed Johnson playing out of the slot and with effectiveness.
We should also appreciate what Linehan was able to do with Reggie Bush in the backfield. There were creative ideas of where to line him up and how to get him the ball in space. That’s not to say that Lance Dunbar is Reggie Bush but the thought of what he can do with a loose-play running back is inviting.
Scott Linehan has moved the ball wherever he has coached and with this offense at key positions, he should once again have that opportunity.
SACKED FOR FIFTH TIME: Dallas Cowboys living legend Charles Haley again denied induction into NFL Hall of Fame
IRVING, Texas – Once again, Charles Haley’s been left out of the latest Hall of Fame class.
This marked the fifth year Haley, who’s the only player in NFL history with five Super Bowl rings, was a Hall of Fame finalist without getting in. Michael Strahan, Andre Reed, Walter Jones, Derrick Brooks, Aeneas Williams, Claude Humphrey and Ray Guy all were named into the Class of 2014.
Haley ranks 12th in Cowboys history with 34 sacks and had 100.5 for his career. He would have been the 13th former Cowboys player who accrued at least five years with the team to be named to the Hall of Fame.
Haley, who was the NFC Defensive Player of the Year twice in his career, joined the Cowboys in 1992 in a trade from San Francisco. Many believe Haley was the difference-maker on defense to put the team over the hump. Emmitt Smith, Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin were already in place and leading a high-octane offense, but it was Haley’s presence that added a needed piece.
The converted defensive end had six sacks in his first season but played a big role in the Cowboys having the No. 1 ranked defense in the NFL in 1992. In Super Bowl XXVII, Haley made a game-changing play when he sacked Bills quarterback Jim Kelly and forced a fumble, which was recovered in midair by Jimmie Jones for a touchdown. The Cowboys eventually pulled away for a convincing 52-17 win.
Haley had four sacks in 1993 but his most memorable moment came after a Week 2 loss to Buffalo, which dropped the Cowboys to 0-2. Haley emphatically slammed his helmet through a locker room wall at Texas Stadium and voiced his anger in the Cowboys’ not having signed Emmitt Smith, who was two games into a contract dispute with Jerry Jones and the organization. Haley’s comment, “We can’t win with a rookie,” in reference to Smith’s backup Derrick Lassic, might have been the final straw as the Cowboys and Smith came to terms the next week. Smith went on to have an MVP season and the Cowboys won another Super Bowl.
The Cowboys went back to the No. 1 defense in 1994 and Haley had his first double-digit sack season with the club with 12.5, including four in the season opener in Pittsburgh.
Haley had 10.5 sacks in 1995, battling through a bad back all season. He had a sack against the Steelers in Super Bowl XXX, which helped him earn his league-best fifth Super Bowl ring.
In three Super Bowls with the Cowboys, Haley had 2.5 sacks and he had 4.5 sacks in his five Super Bowl games played
RELATED: Charles Haley won’t be included in NFL Hall of Fame Class of 2014
NEW YORK – Charles Haley’s wait continues.
The fifth time was not the charm for the former Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman, who again was denied entry into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Derrick Brooks, Walter Jones, Andre Reed, Michael Strahan, Aeneas Williams, Ray Guy and Claude Humphrey form the Class of 2014, announced Saturday night. Brooks and Jones earned enshrinement as first-year eligible candidates, and Strahan made it after missing last year in his first year of eligibility.
Williams and Reed have waited longer, with Reed in his ninth year of eligibility and Williams in his fifth. Guy, the first punter to earn induction and only the second true specialist, and Humphrey were seniors nominees.
The seven-man class will be enshrined in Canton this summer.
The 46 selectors met for a record 8 hours, 59 minutes, with Haley’s discussion taking 25 minutes. Discussion on Tony Dungy lasted 47 minutes, the longest of the day, with Brooks taking only 10 minutes.
Haley made the cut to 10, but he, Jerome Bettis, Kevin Greene, Marvin Harrison and Will Shields were eliminated in the reduction to five. Morten Andersen, Tim Brown, Eddie DeBartolo Jr., Tony Dungy and John Lynch were eliminated from consideration in the first reduction ballot from 15 to 10.
Haley, whose final retirement came following the 1999 season, has been eligible for enshrinement for 10 years. In that time, he has watched seven teammates inducted into the Hall of Fame.
It had seemed this might be Haley’s year.
He remains the only player with five Super Bowl rings, winning two with the San Francisco 49ers and three with the Cowboys.
Haley’s teams went 153-66, including 19-6 in the postseason. Only once in 12 regular seasons did his team have a losing record. That was in 1999 after he had retired and then unretired.
His teams won 10 division titles, and he played in seven NFC Championship Games. His teams missed the playoffs only twice.