The Dallas Cowboys haven’t reached the Tremendous Bowl.
It is a assertion that applies to 30 NFL groups in any given yr. However that is been true of the Cowboys for 27 consecutive seasons, a interval throughout which 21 league franchises have performed on Tremendous Sunday and 13 have lifted the Lombardi Trophy no less than as soon as.
and cowboy it is not any explicit privilege.
No different membership – in any league – is called “Staff America”. No group in skilled soccer instructions or calls for the extent of curiosity Dallas has. Champions or not, the Cowboys are the NFL’s flagships – the Yankees, Lakers, Duke and Alabama can solely dream of shining a highlight like this.
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However the draw back to proprietor Jerry Jones & Co. – it is a draw back, is not it? – is the examination and guide inspection that comes with an annual post-mortem.
In order we dive into what’s left of the undefeated Cowboys 2022, listed below are seven points they need to deal with going into the 2023 season:
Clear the quilt house
for each OvertheCapDallas has nothing in its coffers without spending a dime brokers this yr. This is a matter on a number of ranges, a number of of which will likely be explored in additional element shortly. This previous March, the Cowboys restructured the contracts of QB Dak Prescott and G Zack Martin to liberate about $22 million. Do they return to Martin and/or Prescott, who owe a mixed $65 million over the subsequent two years, and convert base salaries into signing bonuses that may be amortized sooner or later? Or do you hope different vets like WR Michael Gallup and DeMarcus Lawrence will retool their compacts equally?
And it is time to take a better have a look at the contracts of mainstays like RB Ezekiel Elliott and OT Tyron Smith. Releasing Smith, who endured one other injury-shortened marketing campaign, from the ultimate season of his deal would liberate almost $10 million — and that appears attainable given the emergence of rookie Tyler Smith in 2022. Elliott’s ensures are excessive, however he owes $52.9 million in base wage throughout the subsequent 4 seasons. His launch will save him near $5 million in 2023, nevertheless it’s most likely for the most effective in the long term. And in response to the Dallas Morning Information, Zeke, who’s coming off the least productive season of his seven-year profession, seems to be seeing the writing on the wall and is open to a pay lower.
Re-sign Tony Pollard
For the primary time, the fourth-year tailback was a spark for the Dallas offense and was a way more harmful risk than two-year-old Elliott. Pollard simply accomplished his first 1,000-yard dashing season, completed second to WR CeeDee Lamb for the crew lead in yards from scrimmage (1,378) and matched Elliott’s 12 TDs, regardless of Zeke getting brief yard alternatives. 5 of Pollard’s scores got here from over 30 yards whereas solely 5 of Elliott’s scores had been over 1 yard (the longest was 14 yards). Pollard’s 5.9 yards per landing was 2 yards higher than Elliott’s.
Whereas the leg harm he sustained on Sunday is an apparent concern, assuming there’s nothing terribly worrisome about his prognosis, it is exhausting to think about the Cowboys would not no less than give Pollard the franchise resulting from his potential to open up house for others once they aren’t. Rips parts of yardage and/or places the ball into the top zone. It did not present indicators of backing down in 2022, when the one-year bid worth was $9.57 million. However negotiations with Pollard are positive to be troublesome given the record-breaking, six-year, $90 million extension (with greater than $50 million assured) that Elliott acquired in 2019.
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Maintain Dan Quinn
For the second yr in a row, Dallas defensive coordinator is up for an additional time period as head coach, three years after his divorce with the Atlanta Falcons. Jones has to do (nearly) every thing he can to maintain Quinn on the payroll. He is carried out an awesome job creating his scheme, which generates prolific strain — thanks, Micah Parsons — and has produced a +24 turnover margin over the previous two seasons, finest within the NFL. Can the Cowboys cease the run extra successfully? Positively. However impacting the quarterback and pulling the ball extensive are most likely an important parts of a championship-caliber defence. There isn’t a purpose to mess with a profitable components right here.
Make clever free agent selections
bollard the precedence and will require using a tag. In any other case, as a lot as Jones would possibly wish to preserve his roster intact, his cap dictates in any other case. Among the many issues:
► Donovan Wilson: A sixth rounder in 2019, he has been strong in his two seasons as a starter (2020, 22). Be good to re-signing him — which might probably imply one other yr of backline security with Wilson and Jairon Kerse, who will each be free brokers in 2024. However that is not a should since Malik has already signed the Hooker in 2023.
► T Dalton Schultz: Good participant, however he ought to be grateful that he made almost $11 million in franchise tag in 2022. The Cowboys ought to be high-quality transferring ahead with Jake Ferguson and Peyton Hendershot, rookies in 2022.
► LB Leighton Vander Esch: The previous first baseman had most likely his finest season since his rookie yr in 2018. If he is able to play for near $2 million once more, it is value preserving him.
► J Connor McGovern: He has began 29 video games over the previous three seasons however ought to solely keep on the Dallas worth level.
► Ok. Brett Maher: An excellent common season, when he tied for third within the league with 137 factors, trying 29 of his 32 discipline objectives whereas being 50 for 53 further factors. However the effort was marred by a (skillful?) disastrous playoff displaying, which clearly affected Dallas’ technique in a divisional spherical loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Kicker is not essentially ready to restrict himself financially, however overinvesting in Maher looks like a transparent threat.
► QB Cooper Rush: He may very well be the second hottest free agent in Dallas. Clearly, if one other crew breaks out and needs to offer Rush the prospect to start out whereas paying him accordingly, the Cowboys should provide you with alternate plans for his or her depth chart. However few folks will neglect that Rush stored this crew afloat early within the season, profitable 4 of his 5 begins whereas Prescott recovered from thumb surgical procedure. Clearly, it might be a good suggestion to increase an insurance coverage coverage that you just belief.
Moved from OBJ
Jones instructed USA TODAY Sports activities in December that free agent WR Odell Beckham Jr. “He’ll be part of us.” It by no means occurred. proper Now? Most likely should not. Will the OBJ, assuming his surgically repaired knee is wholesome, add one other dimension to this offense? After all. However the Cowboys are primarily tied to Gallup financially for no less than one other yr and will begin engaged on an extension for Lamb, a two-time Professional Bowler. It is exhausting to see how Beckham, 30, suits into such wage constraints – particularly when Jones may actually deliver again WR TY Hilton, who has been a strong contributor on and off the sector after becoming a member of the crew late within the season, at a way more affordable worth.
Speak to Sean Payton
Jones indicated after Sunday’s loss to San Francisco that head coach Mike McCarthy’s job is secure, which is not an surprising sentiment provided that Dallas has proven regular progress in his three seasons — together with its first playoff victory in 4 years. However would not Jones be remiss to no less than dine with Payton, who has been commonly related to the job within the years since he served on the Dallas offensive crew beneath Invoice Parcells from 2003-2005? If nothing else, perhaps Jones will get some worthwhile outdoors perception for his crew from somebody with a tremendous offensive thoughts and nice management qualities. But when there’s a likelihood for extra?
Let’s be trustworthy, if McCarthy wasn’t right here in 2023, this job would immediately change into essentially the most coveted job within the NFL. And if Parcells can determine find out how to get together with Jones, even when just for 4 years, then absolutely Payton, 59, can discover frequent floor – if Jones needs to alter gears and is able to hand over the twenty seventh decide from this yr’s draft to the New Orleans Saints. Anyway, reservations for 9pm, Jerry?
Duck Prescott Restore
Ought to be a staple on the Dallas agenda. And sure, Prescott was solely per week away from taking part in what was broadly hailed as the most effective recreation of his profession, when he fed a 31-14 wild card runaway from Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, changing into Prescott the fourth participant within the Tremendous Bowl period ( since 1966) to throw no less than 4 TDs and no less than one run in a playoff recreation.
However Sunday marked a comeback to his largely disappointing season, together with two extra interceptions after he tied for the common season lead (15) regardless of lacking these 5 video games. And perhaps we’re not acquainted with the Cowboys’ playbook — to be clear, we’re not — nevertheless it’s merely exhausting to grasp what he is when he is allowed to fly a few of these ill-advised throws. Whether or not the issue is bodily, psychological, mechanical, philosophical, or some mixture thereof, Prescott has to do the most effective he can — his 3.8% interception fee in 2022 is double his profession common (2.0%).
Prescott has flashed the potential to be an elite midfielder and is unquestionably compensated as one. However his efficiency in 2022 means that if he is a quarterback within the high ten, he is tenth at this level — and far nearer to the Carr/Cousins/Garoppolo finish of the elite-class Allen/Buro/Mahomes spectrum.
If Prescott is not higher in 2023, neither will the Cowboys.
Observe USA TODAY Sports activities’ Nate Davis on Twitter @tweet.