DALLAS – In this edition of Dallas Cowboys 1st & 10 we start to break down, position-by-position, this team’s 2020 NFL Draft needs, along with everything you need to know as the offseason begins. The Top 10 Dallas Stories are Here …
1) 2020 DALLAS COWBOYS DRAFT NEEDS: OFFENSIVE LINE
CURRENT PLAYERS AT POSITION: Tyron Smith (starter LT), Connor Williams (LG-IR), Travis Frederick (C), Zack Martin (RG), La’el Collins (RT), Joe Looney, Xavier Su’a-Filo, Cameron Fleming, Brandon Knight, Wyatt Miler, Mitch Hyatt, Connor McGovern (IR), Adam Redmond (IR), Cody Wichmann (IR).
2020 FREE AGENTS: Fleming (club option), Su’a-Filo, Redmond.
DRAFT NEED: Low.
THE BREAKDOWN: This might be one of the most stable position groups on the team. The starting lineup is locked in for 2020. That doesn’t mean precautions for depth shouldn’t be taken, specifically when it comes to Smith’s back. But with Collins now locked up long-term and Williams having two more years left on his rookie deal, the Cowboys don’t have to do anything, contract-wise, with the starting five until after 2021.
Looney remains under contract and can be a swing guard-center. Fleming could be back on a club option in 2020, but it could be a $5 million cap hit, so that might be too rich for the Cowboys. Then again, Fleming did nice work as Smith’s backup. In those situations, however, Williams could move to left tackle — or Collins could move to left tackle and Williams to right tackle — and a player like Looney or McGovern could slide into the left guard spot. The point is, if the Cowboys do nothing this offseason they still have options and depth. So the need to spend a pick on an offensive lineman, at this moment, remains low.
That said, expect the Cowboys spend at least one pick on the position group because they’ll probably find something they like on Day 2 or Day 3. The Cowboys picked up Boise State lineman Marcus Henry as a futures player after the season ended. And none of this takes into account that last year’s mid-draft pick, McGovern, spent the season on injured reserve.
2) THE JASON GARRETT SAGA
As we reach this weekend Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett is still, well, Dallas Cowboys head coach. Those of us who expected a ‘Black Monday’ firing of Garrett were disappointed. Those of us who expected it to happen after a second meeting with Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones on Tuesday were disappointed. Those of us who expected it after a planned THIRD meeting on Thursday (that we’re told never happened) were disappointed.
So … what’s up? Our Mike Fisher has tried to add some context throughout the week on what he termed ‘The Long Goodbye.’
Then, on New Year’s Day, Mike Fisher asked the question that, frankly, many Cowboys fans have been asking for years.
As we encountered delays with Jerry’s decision on Garrett, some began reporting that Jerry may, indeed, be looking for a way to keep Garrett in Dallas, just not as the head coach. Which might seem weird. What kind of role could Garrett have? Mike Fisher tried to suss that out and how a role change for Garrett might impact the Cowboys’ current personnel guru.
As we got into Thursday, Garrett was still playing the role of the good soldier because, after all, he’s still the head coach, and trying to complete exit interviews with players, which usually only take a day. But when you’re getting pulled into meetings to try and save your job, well, your calendar takes a hit.
There are other subplots, too. Oklahoma lost a five-star player commitment earlier this week and that immediately triggered rumors that the player may have withdrawn his commitment because Sooners head coach Lincoln Riley could be a candidate for the Cowboys job, should Garrett leave the picture. Of course, there’s no actual reports backing that up, either. The player in question is a junior in high school, after all. Seventeen-year-olds change their minds all the time.
Then, on Thursday night, ESPN reported that Garrett and the Cowboys had parted ways. And there was much rejoicing. Except, on Friday, no official announcement. Not even an unofficial announcement. Somebody jumped the gun.
And the whole thing became meme-tastic on Friday, thanks to, of all people, the Pope.
Our Mike Fisher is among those who have been all over this.
So what exactly is going on?
Well, anyone who has been around Jerry Jones, whether it’s as a reporter or as a fan, knows that Jones does things his way. I don’t think this is an attention grab, though. I think he knows what needs to be done. But he’s also seriously conflicted.
To me, Garrett was his ticket to legitimacy as a general manager. He’s heard what we’ve all said — three Super Bowls on the coattails of the personnel acumen of Jimmy Johnson. Garrett was the hire that was supposed to prove that wrong. Jones builds the team, Garrett coaches it to a Super Bowl and, finally, Jerry can say, ‘I did it my way, baby!’ But it hasn’t worked out that way, and if Jones wants to hoist another Lombardi before he heads for the great beyond (or officially hands the team to his son, Stephen), they he needs to make a move now.
But there’s also sentiment involved. Garrett wasn’t just a head coach. Along with being an assistant coach, he was a backup to Troy Aikman and saved the Cowboys’ butts a couple of times as a starter during the glory days of the 1990s. Jerry has known Garrett almost as long as he’s owned the team. He knew Jason’s father, a Cowboys scout, just as long. Firing Garrett (or letting him go, since his contract likely lapses Jan. 14) isn’t just like letting an employee go. It’s like letting a friend go. Think Jerry and Jimmy but without the animus of the “500 coaches” quote.
Garrett should not be the head coach of the Cowboys in 2020. But Jerry doesn’t need to draw blood to make it happen, either. I think this one’s tearing him up inside, frankly. Knowing that something NEEDS to be done doesn’t make it any easier to actually DO it.
And so on Sunday, we’re here:
But, like most, I believe the Cowboys will have a new head coach in 2020. It’s just not happening on the timeline we want.
3) THE FUTURE OF JASON WITTEN
The Cowboys have a few players that have futures to consider when it comes to 2020. One of them is Jason Witten, who said before the Cowboys’ final game of the season that he wouldn’t keep us waiting long for a decision.
Personally, I think Witten’s return was a one-shot. He saw a team with a chance to content for a Super Bowl and came back to give it a shot. No harm there. Witten played well. But the team’s lack of success in 2019 was certainly not his fault. And, no, he won’t be the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys in 2020. But he will be a coach somewhere, someday. I feel that in my gut.
4) OTHER COACHING NEWS (COWBOYS-RELATED)
The ‘process’ of moving on from Jason Garrett isn’t impacting the job prospects of other Cowboys coaches. The New York Giants wanted an interview with Cowboys defensive coach Kris Richard (and they are rumored to want a few minutes with Garrett, should he emerge from Dallas free and clear).
5) BY FAR THE ODDEST COWBOYS COACHING RUMOR OF THE WEEK
Comes to us from Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.
Hey, co-starting quarterbacks didn’t work for the Cowboys in the 1970s. Co-head coaches sure isn’t going to work in 2020.
6) A BOOK FOR ALL COLLEGE FOOTBALL FANS
Looking for a great 2020 gift for your college football fan? The 2019 College Football America Yearbook is out at Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com and features Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence on the cover. Myself and our two other contributors, Chuck Cox and Kendall Webb, travel the country every fall covering college football games each week for using the following year’s book.
The College Football America 2019 Yearbook features more than 930 college football teams from the United States and Canada in more than 250 striking, full-color pages. That includes every team from the NCAA (FBS, FCS, Division II and Division III), NAIA, NJCAA, CCCAA and U Sports (Canada). It also includes updates on club football, one-year postgraduate prep/sports academies and Mexican college football, along with dozens of action shots and stadium photos taken by the CFAY staff.
Plus, the great thing about what I do for the yearbook is that I get to see great college football players each week that COULD become Dallas Cowboys next season, and I get to bring that experience to you through scouting reports and other stories throughout the next several months.
Get a copy today at the links below:
7) THE PERFECT BUSINESS CARD
If Cowboys running backs coach Gary Brown needs a job after this whole Jason Garrett thing blows over, he can just show future employers this video.
8) TWEET OF THE WEEK
Help Travis Frederick generate donations for a worthy cause as he waits to hear if he’s an NFL Man of the Year finalist.
9) WHAT ABOUT DAK AND AMARI?
Fish says the new coach should have a voice.
In a stable organization, this makes sense. But, you know.
10) THE FINAL WORD
Read CowboysSI.com and you can make sense of the Mike McCarthy interviews and the Marvin Lewis interview and the interviews to come. But to us, it’s the non-interview that is most intriguing.
Regarding Lincoln Riley, it’s awfully quiet. Maybe too quiet?