THE MARINELLI CONNECTION: Dallas Cowboys sign former first-round DT Amobi Okoye | NFL Free Agency 2014
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys have signed free agent Amobi Okoye, a former first-round pick in 2007, to a two-year deal.
Okoye could possibly give the Cowboys some help at defensive tackle if he can get healthy, something that has been a challenge for the former No. 10 overall pick of the Texans in 2007.
Okoye, born in Nigeria, was drafted when he was just 19 years old. The 6-foot-2, 292-pound tackle became the youngest player to start an NFL game since 1967.
Okoye reunites with Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, who coached him two years in Chicago from 2011-12.
Still just 26 years of age, Okoye will likely play the 3-technique in the Dallas Cowboys 4-3 scheme.
“We like a lot of things about him. He’s a young player coming out of (Louisville),” Jason Garrett said of Okoye.”He has a lot of talent. Rod was around him in Chicago so we know him well. We think that’s a positive thing. He’s had some health issues the last year … we feel like he has a chance to be a contributor on the line.”
In four years with the Texans, Okoye started 58 of 62 games. He played 25 games in two years with the Chicago Bears but only started once. Out of football in 2013, Okoye might have some position flex at tackle.
“We feel like he has the move to play (3-technique) but he can certainly play the nose,” Garrett said. “We’re not going to rush him into anything. But it’s good to have him in here.”
To make room for Okoye’s spot, the Dallas Cowboys waived linebacker Jonathan Stewart, who spent time on the practice squad last year.
MEET YOUR NEW WIDE RECEIVER: Pro scouting report on Dallas Cowboys WR LaRon “Big” Byrd | NFL free agency 2014
LaRon Byrd | WR, Miami, Fla. | 6-4, 220 | 4.45 | UDFA with Arizona Cardinals 2012
Games Studied: 2012 Pre Season: New Orleans, Kansas City 2012 Regular Season: Chicago
Had to go back and study tape from 2012 because he missed the 2013 season with a concussion. LaRon Byrd is an interesting player due to his physical makeup for the position. Rangy, long build.
Played both on the outside and in the slot when the Cardinals went into “11” personnel. Would line up tight to the formation as a blocker and was more than willing to do the dirty work. Was not afraid to mix it up with defenders on the edge. Was more than just a get in the way blocker.
Really tried to finish his blocks. Would see him get square to the defender and engage. You could see this in his work on special teams when he blocked on the punt and kickoff returns.
Was used as a move guy at times. Would work hard to the flat like he did in the Chiefs game catching the ball on the move, then getting out of bounds to save time in the two minute drill. Aware. Made another adjusting catch over his head working toward the sideline in the same game.
There was some purpose to his route running. Was open against the Saints on a wheel route out of the slot but quarterback did not go his direction but would have had a huge play. Had a feel for how to work himself open against the press.
Would not call him the quickest off the line. Will build up speed as he gets going. Only had one drop on a drag route against the Saints that he should have had. Hands overall looked dependable whether he was catching inside or down the seam.
Took a huge shot from the safety in Cover 2 against the Chiefs and was able to hang onto the ball. There were a couple of snaps where he jumped for the ball where he didn’t need to but made the catch. Would not say that he is a body catcher only because he did have two snatch catches that I saw.
Was on the majority of the special teams for the Cardinals in the game against the Bears. Lined up as the L2 on the kickoff team, left tackle on the kickoff return and inline blocker on the punt return. Appeared to handle his assignments well and without issues.
His size, hands and willingness to show toughness as a blocker and special teamer makes this signing understandable because of the traits that he can bring to the roster. Very low risk signing that could work out well in the end.
Editors note: LaRon Byrd is the tallest Dallas Cowboys wide receiver on the roster. He’s a young, very gifted player with the toughness, work ethic, and character traits that Jason Garrett relishes. With Scott Linehan orchestrating the Dallas Cowboys offense, you can feel assured that Big Byrd will be fully utilized against these 5’11” secondaries. Nice addition.
Related article on The Boys Are Back:
Your Dallas Cowboys wide receivers …
|11||Beasley, Cole||WR||5-8||180||25||2||Southern Methodist|
|88||Bryant, Dez||WR||6-2||222||25||4||Oklahoma State|
|80||Byrd, LaRon||WR||6-4||220||24||3||Miami (Fla.)|
|17||Harris, Dwayne||WR||5-10||207||26||3||East Carolina|
Your Dallas Cowboys wide receivers currently on the practice squad …
|16||Benford, Tim||WR||5-11||193||24||1||Tennessee Tech|
|86||Lewis, Lance||WR||6-2||207||25||1||East Carolina|
|85||Newsome, Jamar||WR||6-1||201||26||1||Central Florida|
IN CAREER RELAUNCHING MODE: Dallas Cowboys re-sign DE Anthony Spencer to one-year contract | NFL Free Agency 2014
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys answered one of their final lingering questions of this offseason this afternoon.
CLEARING OUT THE WEEDS: New Cowboys QB Brandon Weeden appreciates the fresh start from Believeland to Big D
IRVING, Texas — Growing up in nearby Oklahoma City, Brandon Weeden was a fan of the Dallas Cowboys. He remembers sitting at his grandparents’ house watching Thanksgiving games with Emmitt Smith running all over the place.
Now Weeden is a Dallas Cowboy, having signed a two-year deal with the team this week after his release from the Cleveland Browns.
“This is the best thing for me,” Weeden said. “I’ve talked to several coaches I’ve had and players I’ve been fortunate to play with and they all agree this is what I needed — a fresh start, change of scenery. I think this is exactly what I needed now. When you’re a rookie first-round pick, the expectation is that you play right away, be the guy. I think in Cleveland it was a tough situation. I wasn’t able to go in and play as I needed to. I know that. Now I can learn from two great quarterbacks and a good offensive staff and try to become better.”
He went 5-15 in two years as a starter with the Browns and had 23 touchdown passes and 26 interceptions.
“I don’t want to be negative on Cleveland,” Weeden said. “I think my rookie year we were a very young football team. I think we had six or seven rookies starting on the offensive side of the ball and we just kind of had our ups and downs. Several things went into it but I don’t want to get too much into it. I think worrying about myself is the main thing. I wasn’t consistent enough. At times I played well, at times I made mistakes that were crucial. At this level in this league you can’t do that. You’ve got to be smart and take care of the ball and that wasn’t the case for me at times.”
Weeden comes to the Dallas Cowboys with no pressure.
The Cowboys liked him coming into the 2012 draft, which is something Garrett mentioned to Weeden when they spoke during his visit to Valley Ranch. He is not the typical third-year pro because of his age but he does not view himself as a 30-year-old quarterback either.
“I’ve been battling that since the draft and all that,” said Weeden, who spent five years playing professional baseball. “The number is a little bit misconceived. I’ve played really four years of football so it’s not like I’ve taken a beating the last 10 years as if I’ve been in the league eight, nine, 10 years. I’ve got a lot to learn a lot of growing and a lot of football ahead of me. I think the better times are ahead of me. It was a good learning experience from Cleveland.”
Editors note: For our loyal fans that also support the AFC’s Cleveland Browns … check out this site to become a citizen of BelieveLand.
MELTON REUNITES WITH MARINELLI: Dallas Cowboys add defensive tackle Henry Melton | NFL Free Agency 2014
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys agreed to terms with defensive tackle Henry Melton late tonight.
The contract is reportedly a one-year deal with a club option for three more, depending on Melton’s performance in 2014. The price figures to be a bit lower than expected for one of the league’s top defensive tackles, as Melton missed the majority of 2013 with an ACL injury. Financial details have not been disclosed, but Melton’s price tag would increase if he is brought back.
The deal brings Melton to Dallas from the Chicago Bears, who drafted him No. 101 overall in 2009.
The news makes Melton the Cowboys’ first big acquisition of free agency, after a tumultuous week saw the team part ways with Pro Bowlers DeMarcus Ware, Jason Hatcher, and Miles Austin at the outset of free agency.
The move means Melton, who is from nearby Grapevine, Texas, and is a University of Texas product, is not just returning to his home state, but is reuniting with former coach Rod Marinelli. The Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator held the same position with the Chicago Bears, where he oversaw Melton’s lone Pro Bowl season in 2012.
Melton will take Hatcher’s place as the three-technique defensive tackle in Marinelli’s 4-3 defensive front. The five-year veteran enjoyed the best years of his career from that spot, compiling a total of 68 tackles and 13 sacks in 2012 and 2013.
The injury ended Melton’s 2013 season in Week 3, as he was carted off the field during Chicago’s 40-23 win against Pittsburgh on Sept. 22.
The three-technique is the motor of Marinelli’s pass rush, to paraphrase the man himself. His purpose is to collapse the pocket and get to the quarterback, as evidenced by Hatcher in his first season playing for Marinelli and then-defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin.
With Hatcher entering free agency, it was widely speculated the Cowboys would pursue Marinelli’s old player, who many thought could be added for a lower price because of the injury. When the Cowboys released Ware and Hatcher signed a four-year, $27 million contract with Washington, the pressure to secure a pass rusher increased.
It remains to be seen how the addition of Melton affects the team’s pursuit of All-Pro defensive end Jared Allen, who visited Valley Ranch today. The Cowboys have roughly $7 million in salary cap room to work with, so signing both could be feasible given the right deals.
Allen returned to Minnesota on Tuesday to be with his family, as his wife is expecting the couple’s second child.
RELATED: Dallas Cowboys agree to one-year deal with DT Henry Melton
The Dallas Cowboys and Henry Melton have agreed to a one-year deal with an option. Melton’s signing will ease the sting of losing Jason Hatcher last week.
The Grapevine product arrived for a visit yesterday. He had dinner with defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli last night. Though he left for St. Louis today without a contract, it didn’t take the Dallas Cowboys long to get him in the fold.
Melton revealed his choice on Twitter, “Thank you Chicago for the best 5 years of my life!…. I can’t wait to begin the next chapter of my life… With a star on my helmet.”
Melton, 27, played only three games last season after undergoing reconstructive surgery on his left knee in October. But in four seasons, he has 15.5 sacks.
Melton replaces Hatcher, who signed with the Redskins last week, having played the three-technique for Marinelli when Marinelli was defensive coordinator of the Bears. Melton earned Pro Bowl honors in 2012 playing for Marinelli, and the Bears used the franchise tag on Melton in 2013, paying him $8.45 million.
The former UT product’s signing is good news for the Cowboys.
Jarod Allen left Valley Ranch without a contract and returned home to discuss his options with his wife. But with Melton on the defensive line, the Dallas Cowboys chances of improving their pass rush, and their defense, have improved.
MEET YOUR NEW QUARTERBACK: Scouting report on new Dallas Cowboys QB Brandon Weeden | Dallas Cowboys free agency 2014
Brandon Weeden | Quarterback, Oklahoma State | Height/Weight: 6-4/220
Drafted: First round, No. 22 overall, 2012 NFL Draft by Cleveland
Games Studied: 2013 Miami, Baltimore, Green Bay, Jacksonville.
As a scout you always try and go into a situation with an open mind when you are studying a player — regardless of what people tell you about his body of work — and come to your own conclusions about his fit on your roster.
When Brandon Weeden was released by the Browns, I knew there was a chance a team might take this opportunity to bring him in for a low risk, low money deal and get an idea why he failed. Scouts are always curious about what happens to these high draft picks, especially at quarterback, when they don’t make it initially
For Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones, Weeden sat on the Cowboys draft board near the bottom of the second round, so I understand their curiosity. Though you might not have seen the talent with the Browns, here is an opportunity for a free look. There is no pressure for Weeden to have to start or even be the backup as he comes into camp. He is not young in his age, but he is young in his football experience — two years as a starter at Oklahoma State and two more with the Browns.
There is a possibility that he could develop some of those traits that you believed he could be a bridge as the backup, or, like I have seen plenty of times in my career, he could be a trade possibility if a club needs a quarterback in the preseason.
In the games I was able to study with Weeden, I was surprised how up and down that he played. When he could take the snap and throw the ball without having to read the defense, he was a much better quarterback. There were times where Norv Turner had him do just that. Whether it was the slant or quick out, if he didn’t have to think much about it, there was no problem. It was when the ball didn’t leave his hand on time when he struggled the most, and this is where, mechanically, he would break down.
As a defense, if you make him hold the ball, you have a chance to get him on the ground because he is not the most mobile player. But there was one common theme in the tape that I observed: the Browns were terrible at guard with Shawn Lauvao and John Greco. The majority of the pressure Weeden faced came from the inside over those two players, and anyone that knows football knows the best way to cause a quarterback problems is to attack him in the middle of the pocket.
There were plays where Lauvao completely whiffed on the block and Weeden was down before he hit his fifth step. Against the Packers, Greco was driven so far into the backfield Weeden had no place to even plant his front foot to make the throw. I am not putting all the blame on these guards, because Weeden tends to be slow footed, but if you are getting sacked 27 times in eight games, there are issues that need to be addressed.
To Weeden’s credit, he was more than willing to stand in middle of that pocket and deliver the ball with everything breaking down around him. But he also made some throws where you have to cover your eyes — again, it’s the clock in his head. The longer than ball is in his hand, the more likely he is going to panic and try to horse the ball into a crowd of defenders instead of taking the check down and fighting another day.
He was all over the place against the Packers in poor weather conditions and missed several open receivers. When he gets in a situation where things become tough, you can see him start to aim the ball instead of making a good confident throw. He really struggles with his decision-making as things begin to fall apart. When he can play pitch and catch, he looks very comfortable, but in the Green Bay game, he was far from comfortable. He was late on his reads and it hurt several of his throws. He missed an open “curl” and was way too high on an “out”.
Not all his throws are poorly thrown. There are times again, when he can catch the ball and get rid of it like he did at Oklahoma State — with some accuracy. The second snap of the game against the Ravens, he slides to his right and delivers a strike to Jordan Cameron for a 53-yard gain. There was a crossing route to Greg Little that was on the money, that allowed a run after the catch. He even showed some touch on a red zone fade for a touchdown against Jacksonville, with Josh Gordon out of the slot.
You have heard me say this plenty of times about the job of a scout in this league — it is about trying to find players. At one time, Brandon Weeden, whether it was right or wrong, was a highly though-of player by this organization. This league is filled with players that started on one team, then landed on another to have outstanding careers.
I remember my time in Green Bay where we had Brett Favre, Mark Brunell, Ty Detmer and a quarterback named Kurt Warner on the roster for camp. In that 1993 season, Favre, Brunell and Detmer were all on the roster and we let go of Warner, who made his way to Arena Ball, then later a Hall of Fame career. I am not saying Brandon Weeden is going to have a Hall of Fame career like Warner. But like the St. Louis Rams did, it never hurts to give a player a look.
Courtesy: Bryan Broaddus | Football Analyst/Professional Scout
THIS WEEKS FREE AGENCY FRENZY: The dollars n’ sense of the Dallas Cowboys NFL Salary Cap | 2014 NFL Free Agent Review
IRVING, Texas – First the good news.
As expected the Dallas Cowboys successfully ducked under the NFL salary cap last week despite all the consternation being made out there.
By this afternoon they still had roughly $7 million of cap space, and by June 1 they will add another $5.5 million when the release of Miles Austin takes effect, basically a savings fund to absorb this year’s rookie pool, projected to cost them roughly $5.3 million for their eight draft choices.
Oh, and this may be a reach, but the current Dallas Cowboys Top 51 cap figure for 2015 is only $108 million, but then that doesn’t account for Dez Bryant, Tyron Smith’s option ($10.5 million), Doug Free, DeMarco Murray, Bruce Carter, Ronald Leary, and Miles Austin’s $5 million more of dead money that rolls over into next year. But still, that’s better than this year right, when the Cowboys were projected to be nearly $25 million over the cap heading toward March 11 before the cap increased nearly $7 million (to $133 million).
Now the bad news, and be forewarned, you might not have the stomach for all this.
As you know, after the Dallas Cowboys released DeMarcus Ware the Broncos signed him in the blink of an eye to a three-year deal too rich for the Cowboys’ cap blood to match. Then it took Washington all of two full days to sign unrestricted free agent Jason Hatcher to a four-year deal, another one too rich for the Cowboys’ salary cap constitution, and the Redskins seem to also be flirting with Cowboys unrestricted free agent Anthony Spencer, although with his knee condition there should be a buyer-beware tag on him. And the Cowboys no longer own the rights to wide receiver Miles Austin, designating him a June 1 release.
Now the Cowboys did ink a couple of guys, defensive end Jeremy Mincey and defensive tackle Terrell McClain, but remember, Denver didn’t even attempt to re-sign Mincey and the Texans didn’t even offer McClain a minimum restricted free-agent tender ($1.4 million). At least the Dallas Cowboys didn’t commit a lot of cap dough to them.
DON’T MEET YOUR NEW DALLAS COWBOY: Veteran LB Will Herring brings special teams leadership and depth to defense | Professional Scouting Report | NFL Free Agency 2014 | UPDATED
UPDATE: HERRING AND COWBOYS DEAL IS NOW OFF THE TABLE
IRVING, Texas – The deal between the Dallas Cowboys and former Saints linebacker Will Herring is now off.
Herring had announced the agreement with the Cowboys on Thursday on Twitter, stating that he’s “blessed to be playing in Big D this year and to be a part of the Cowboys’ organization,” but the deal fell apart by Friday before Herring had signed.
It was a mutual parting of the ways that had to do with the language of the contract.
The move would have been the third signing for the Dallas Cowboys in free agency, after inking deals with defensive end Jeremy Mincey and defensive tackle Terrell McClain.
Herring’s signing would have also put into question the future of Danny McCray, the Cowboys’ special teams star who’s now an unrestricted free agent. Herring finished second on the Saints with seven special teams tackles last season.
EDITORS NOTE: If you’re a regular reader, you already know The Boys Are Back website goes to extraordinary lengths to make sure information is ‘official’ and “accurate” before it’s posted here. This site is not a rumor mill. We wait for official confirmations and verify stories via multiple inside sources before anything is posted here. Our apologies. The team and Herring’s agent had a verbal agreement that broke down this afternoon regarding language in the contract. Deals off.
INITIAL REPORT FROM THE OFFICIAL DALLAS COWBOYS RESOURCE:
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys have now signed a third player in free agency, adding veteran linebacker Will Herring.
The seven-year pro first announced the move on Twitter, saying “blessed to be playing in Big D this year and to be a part of the Cowboys’ organization”
Herring, a fifth-round pick of Auburn in 2007, spent four years in Seattle and the last three in New Orleans, where he played all 16 games each of the last two seasons, registering 13 tackles in each year.
Herring spent the last three seasons with the New Orleans Saints, playing mostly special teams and backup linebacker. He was the Saints’ special teams captain in 2013.
In his three years with the Saints, Herring started three games and had 35 tackles, two interceptions and forced one fumble. He joined the Saints after a four-year run with the Seattle Seahawks. He had three tackles on defense and two on special teams in New Orleans’ win against the Cowboys last season.
This move could signal the end of free agent Danny McCray’s time with the Cowboys. The team’s most productive coverage player since 2010, McCray is an unrestricted free agent.
Editors note: Herring was signed to a one year contract. The financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed by the team at this time.
Scouting Report: Herring Stands Out On Special Teams
Will Herring | Linebacker, Auburn | Height/Weight: 6-3/235
Drafted: Fifth round, No. 161 overall, 2007 Draft by Seattle
Games Studied: 2013 preseason vs. Kansas City, Oakland, Houston; regular season vs. Dallas
Herring was mainly used as a special teams player during his three seasons with the New Orleans Saints — my look at him as a linebacker was from preseason film. He’s 6-3, 235 pounds and can play all three positions, but he’s most likely better suited to play as a weak side linebacker in this scheme (Editors note: That would put him in as Bruce Carter’s backup if the positions remain the same as 2013).
In Rob Ryan’s 3-4 scheme, Herring played as a weak inside linebacker for the Saints last season. He has a nose for the ball, and an easy flow and drop in coverage. He’s aware of the back out of the backfield and assignment to pick up — able to see the ball, than drive on it to make a wrap up tackle.
In the preseason tape against the Chiefs, he was a little too aggressive when it came to their waggle packages and defending them. He went hard after the fakes but while reading was reacting in a hurry. Herring isn’t the biggest player weight-wise, so he has to keep himself active to avoid blocks. Works with his hands and feet to keep himself free. Herring is aware to take his hands, jam the blocker, then move to the ball — you see him do this in his special teams as well.
He plays on the edge of the blocker more than square, but he’s effective in the way he does this. When he sees the ball, he will go get it. There were several times where he beat the blockers to the spot and was able to either make the tackle or be near the ball.
If he has an issue as a tackler, it’s not the physical side of wrapping up, but he will over-shoot the ball carrier with his angle because of his aggressive play. There were a couple of snaps where he freed himself but just overran the play. He moves well in coverage and appears to have an understanding of where he needs to be — whether that is in zone or man. He’s aware of crossers in zone and doesn’t labor in his movements — plays with a burst. Judging from the tape, he knows how to work through the traffic, doesn’t get hung up or slowed down.
All of that said, where Herring makes his living is as a special teamer. He plays as the center in the kickoff return, punt return blocker, L3, L4, L5 on the kick off team. He’s the left guard on punt team and field goal rush. On special teams, he showed the same traits he had on defensive snaps — nose for the ball, the use of hands and the wrap up tackle.
He runs well on the cover teams and keeps his eyes open and aware of blockers. Has a plan when he covers. I’d like for him to better a little better on his sustain as a blocker when he becomes engaged. He hustled down the field on the kickoff coverage. In the Dallas game, he was able to control James Hanna at the point, then make the tackle inside the 20 on Dwayne Harris.
With the Cowboys, he will be asked here to be a backup linebacker most likely as a Will but more importantly as a core special teamer in all phases of the kicking game. There are plenty more positives to his game than negatives.
Special Thanks: Bryan Broaddus | Football Analyst/Professional Scout