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Cowboys’ Dominant O-Line Could be an Issue in 2018

The Cowboys’ offensive line has been considered one of the best in the NFL for the past few years. Most of this is due to the outstanding play of Pro Bowlers Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, and Zack Martin. The problem is not that their play is declining or their talent is diminishing, but that their health may not be able to keep up.

Zack Martin left the second preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals with a knee injury. The good news is that there is no ligament damage; he was diagnosed with a hyperextended knee and bone. However, knee problems and offensive lineman have never been a good mix. Martin will not play in the last two preseason games, and aims to be back for week 1 against the Carolina Panthers.

Travis Frederick had been dealing with a ‘stinger’ since August 15th. He missed the preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals and has had several doctor’s appointments since then. A week later, on August 22nd he was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a rare autoimmune disorder that affects the nerves. The Mayo Clinic says that for most people with GBS, the condition worsens for 2 weeks after the first signs and symptoms and plateaus within a month. Recovery usually lasts 6-12 months, but could take as long as three years. Jerry Jones was optimistic that Frederick would play week 1 before the diagnosis, but now Frederick says there is no timetable for his return.

The third and best of this trio, is Tyron Smith. He has looked like his future gold jacket wearing self in the first two preseason games, and says that he is “feeling great now” and is “in the best shape I’ve been in a while”. Unfortunately, that is coming from a 6’5″ 320 pound man who had bulging disk problems in 2016, and missed several games due to back, hip, groin and knee problems in 2017. If you had to think of injuries not to have as an NFL left tackle, at least 3 of those would be in the top 5. Dak Prescott would be the first to tell you Smith’s importance to the Dallas offense, considering Dak was sacked 8 times in the first game Tyron missed due to injury last year. It should be noted that 6 of those sacks were by Adrian Clayborn, the defensive end that Smith would have been responsible for blocking.

With Cameron Fleming added through free agency there is seemingly better depth at tackle than last year. He is a swing tackle that can fill in better than Chaz Green did in 2017. Second round draft pick Connor Williams will most likely be starting at left guard opposite Zack Martin (if healthy). Joe Looney started at center in the absence of Frederick against the Bengals, and looked as if he could benefit from a few more reps in the final two preseason games. La’el Collins is holding his own at the right tackle position, and seems to be feeling more comfortable with each snap.

All in all, the Cowboys offensive line is a force to be reckoned with…if healthy. But if injuries become an issue, especially with the three All-Pro lineman, Zeke will not be saying “feed me” as much and Dak will be running for his life. Jason Garrett better be praying for a healthy offensive line in 2018, or he may be finding himself getting his resume together in January.

 

 

UPDATE: La’el Collins limping with heavily taped ankle on 8/23/18. Yup, the only healthy Cowboys offensive lineman in rookie, Connor Williams.

BREAKING NEWS: LeBron James to Sign with LA Lakers

The cat is out of the bag on the first day of the NBA Free Agency Moratorium: The King will be taking his talents to Los Angeles. Klutch Sports Group, the agency that represents LeBron, released a statement on Twitter earlier today, “LeBron James, four time NBA MVP, three time NBA finals MVP, fourteen time NBA All Star, and two time Olympic gold medalist has agreed to a four year, $154 million contract with the Los Angeles Lakers.”

This free agency was much less of a circus than the first time LeBron left Cleveland in the summer of 2010 with “The Decision”. This time there was no hour TV special with Jim Gray that sent the entire city of Cleveland into a whirlwind. This was something that LeBron obviously knew he wanted to do and there was no point in putting anyone (fans or teams) through the drama of a week long recruiting trip. Cleveland will also be much more understanding this time since LeBron delivered on his promise of bringing a championship to “The Land” with the memorable comeback from a 3-1 deficit against the Golden State Warriors in 2015.

The question now is, who will be playing with LeBron? Paul George has already agreed to stay in OKC with Russell Westbrook and the Thunder. There is no way LeBron made a decision to go to a team that hasn’t made the playoffs since 2011, if there were not wheels in motion to bring in All Star caliber talent like he did when he went back to Cleveland in 2014.

Could this push the Lakers to be more aggressive in trading for Kawhi Leonard by offering the Spurs something they can’t refuse? Will LeBron’s signing in LA attract any other free agents to the Lakers? Will Lonzo Ball, last year’s 2nd overall pick, be ready to play this season after tearing his meniscus?

As it stands now, the 2018 Lakers roster consists of Lonzo Ball, Thomas Bryant, Tyler Ennis, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Ivica Zubac, and a washed up Luol Deng making $18 million. That is hardly a group that LeBron looks forward to playing with at age 33. Look for the Lakers to be making some big trades and signing before the start of the season.

This is uncharted territory for The King. LeBron has never played in the Western Conference since he came into the NBA in 2003. The Eastern Conference has had, by all accounts, a much easier path to the Finals for the last 15 years, so it will be interesting to see LeBron enter a monster playoff field that should include: the reigning champion Golden State Warriors with the Hampton 5, the Houston Rockets with Chris Paul and the reigning MVP James Harden, and the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Big 3 of Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. Should be fun.

 

 

UPDATE: The Lakers are set to sign Rajon Rondo, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Lance Stephenson & Rajon Rondo. The have renounced the rights to Julius Randle and may waive Luol Deng as well to spread the $36 million owed to him over the next 5 seasons to open up more salary cap space.

BREAKING NEWS: Mavs trade up for Luka Doncic

After Luka Doncic, the 19 year old Slovenian soon-to-be star, made it past the Sacramento Kings with the 2nd pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, the Dallas Mavericks traded picks with the Atlanta Hawks. This allowed the Mavs to pickup who many believe is the 2nd best talent in this year’s draft. The Mavs will also have to give up next year’s first round pick (protected) to the Hawks, in addition to Trae Young who was selected with Dallas’ original 5th pick.

Luka Doncic is a 6’7″ wing player who was the youngest Euroleague MVP & Euroleague  Final Four MVP ever at 19 years old.

This is a breaking story. More information will follow.

Tavon Austin Traded to Dallas Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys have added to their receiver arsenal by getting Tavon Austin from the Los Angeles Rams for a 6th round pick (192 overall).

Tavon had promising beginnings in his first four years with the Rams, but had a down year last year with only 13 catches for 47 yards. He did, however, have his best rushing season with 59 carries for 270 yards and a touchdown.

At 5’9″ it is doubtful that Austin will be able to replace the hole in the Cowboys’ receiving core, caused by the loss of Dez Bryant. Austin has a 1 year contract that will count $7 million against the cap.

This is a peculiar addition, to say the least, considering the Cowboys already have two slot receivers in Cole Beasley and Ryan Switzer.

Jason Witten May Have Played His Last Game as a Dallas Cowboy

According to a report from ESPN’s Chris Mortenson reported around 11:15am on April 27:

The Dallas Cowboys’ future Hall of Fame tight end, Jason Witten, is planning to retire after 15 years in the NFL. He will join the Monday Night Football broadcast team as a lead analyst.

Witten has not made a final decision yet, and plans to meet with Jerry Jones before he does.

Witten is an 11 time Pro Bowler, and 4 time All Pro. He was the NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year in 2012. He will retire at #4 on the NFL all-time catch list with 1,152 receptions.

Dallas Cowboys to Franchise DE Demarcus Lawrence

Adam Schefter tweeted today around noon:

“Cowboys and DE DeMarcus Lawrence will not reach a long-term deal before Tuesday’s franchise deadline, per source. Dallas has said it will place franchise tag on Lawrence if no long-term deal reached. So tag coming for Lawrence.”

This will set Lawrence up for a $17.1 million dollar year in 2018. The deadline for the franchise tag is March 6 at 4pm EST., so it will be finalized before then. Demarcus had 14.5 in 2017 (tied for 2nd in the NFL), which is over 60% of his career sack total of 23.5.

It was rumored that Lawrence was looking for “Von Miller money”, which is 6 years, $114 million with $70 million guaranteed. The Cowboys were obviously not ready to pay that price after one great year of productivity. Lawrence will need to prove himself again this year to receive a contract similar to that.

The down side of this deal is that the Cowboys have $16.4 million in cap room as it stands now. This means that they will have to move some money around in order to make room for Lawrence’s 2018 salary. If, however, Lawrence decides to sign with another team and the Cowboys do not match the deal, they will be compensated with 2 first round picks.

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