Tagged in: cowboys

Dallas Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence will miss 6-8 weeks with broken foot

Dallas Cowboys defensive DeMarcus Lawrence sustained a broken foot in Wednesday’s practice that will force him to miss 6-8 weeks.

It is a huge blow to a defense that did not generate a sack in Week 1 versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and could also be without its second-best pass rusher, Randy Gregory, Sunday versus the Los Angeles Chargers.

Lawrence was listed as a limited participant in Wednesday’s practice but immediately had an MRI, which revealed the break.

Lawrence did not practice for most of training camp because of offseason back surgery but he recorded six tackles, two quarterback pressures and forced a fumble against the Buccaneers.

He has 45.5 sacks for his career and is a two-time Pro Bowl pick. As for Gregory, coach Mike McCarthy did not sound hopeful before practice about him passing COVID-19 protocols in time to play versus the Chargers.

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“If you look at the history, it’s been 10 days pretty much everybody we’ve dealt with in the COVID protocol,” he said. “We’ll just see how it goes.”

With Lawrence out and if Gregory cannot play, then the Cowboys would potentially turn to Dorance Armstrong and Tarell Basham as their starters with Bradlee Anae and Chauncey Golston as backups.

They have combined for 10 sacks in their careers, or only 3.5 sacks more than what Lawrence recorded a year ago. Basham has 7.5 sacks in 59 games.

Golston, a third-round pick, missed all of training camp with a hamstring injury and was inactive for the season opener.

Perhaps the start of Wednesday’s practice was a bad omen for the Cowboys defensive line. Assistant defensive line coach Leon Lett was carted off the field with an apparent right knee injury that will require surgery.

Since the 31-29 loss to the Buccaneers, the Cowboys have lost four starters: Wide receiver Michael Gallup was placed on injured reserve with a calf strain, right tackle La’el Collins was suspended five games for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, Gregory was placed on the COVID-19 list and now Lawrence is out with the broken foot.

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Brady, Buccaneers begin defense of title against Cowboys

Lofty, maybe even gargantuan, expectations don’t faze Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The reigning Super Bowl champions open the 2021 NFL season versus the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday night, confident they have what it takes — at least on paper — to become the first team to collect back-to-back titles since Brady led the 2003 and 2004 New England Patriots to consecutive crowns.

No one knows what it’s like to have a target on your back every week more than Brady, a seven-time Super Bowl winner who turned 44 during training camp — a few days after reminding teammates the first order of business is leaving last season behind.

The Bucs return all 22 starters from a top 10 offense and defense, however Brady and coach Bruce Arians stress talent alone doesn’t guarantee continued success.

“In one way, you’re not really defending it much, it’s kind of in the books. They can’t take away what we’ve done. It’s really just a whole other year and experience,” Brady said.

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“We have a lot of continuity. We have a lot of things to build on and a lot more experience together,” Brady added. “That’s really all you can ask for as players is to be in the position that we’re in. I’d just like us to go out and take advantage of that.”

With Brady entering his second season working with a bevy of playmakers that includes receivers Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown, tight ends Rob Gronkowski, Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard, the Bucs think they can be even more potent on offense.

The defense returns intact, too, with linebackers Devin White, Lavonte David, Jason Pierre-Paul and Shaquil Barrett leading the way and a youthful group of cornerbacks and safeties looking to make names for themselves.

“As good as we played with the same group of guys, I’d love to see where we can get this year,” Brady stated.

“Again, all of it is earned. There’s nothing given. It’s not about a bunch of hype or a bunch of buildup. We have to go do it,” Brady added. “I think that’s about a bunch of guys that are really mature and see ourselves as professional athletes. We want to go out there and put our best out there.”

The Cowboys are coming off a 6-10 finish in which they played most of the season without quarterback Dak Prescott.

Prescott returns Thursday night for the first time since suffering the severe ankle injury that ended his year last October. He didn’t play in the preseason, either, after straining his right shoulder early in training camp.

Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy is excited to get Prescott back on the field and spoke to his team about the opportunity to face a seemingly ageless Brady and the defending champs in the season opener for the entire NFL.

“We talked about … just how fortunate we are to be part of it on whatever level, most importantly the players,” McCarthy said. “There’s definitely a youthfulness that has to exist to be successful, and I think (Brady’s) a good example if there ever was one that has played the game, or any sport, of the way you need to go about it,” McCarthy said.

“He exudes with that every time he lines up. Very consistent. I think it’s a big part of his continued success.”

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New Orleans Saints kicker Wil Lutz will miss start of season due to injury

New Orleans Saints kicker Wil Lutz is estimated to miss time at the start of the season because of injury, according to a source, adding to the Saints’ growing roster upheaval.

Lutz’s specific timetable is unknown, but there is optimism that he won’t miss too many matches. He missed time at the beginning of training camp with a groin injury, and the source indicated that Lutz aggravated a previous injury.

The kicker took to Instagram to acknowledge that he had an injury that had worsened and decided to get it “fixed now in order to miss the least amount of time as possible.”

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Lutz did not say when he hoped to return.

The Saints are signing veteran kicker Brett Maher after Monday’s auditions to fill in for Lutz, a source told ESPN. Maher, 31, spent two seasons as the Dallas Cowboys’ kicker 2018-19 and has been on practice squads/offseason rosters since then with the Jets, Washington, Texans and Cardinals.

The Saints are expected to have at least 11 new starters in Week 1 due to Drew Brees’ retirement, an offseason salary-cap purge, defensive tackle David Onyemata’s suspension and now injuries to Lutz and receiver Michael Thomas.

Lutz, 27, was a Pro Bowler in 2019 and ranks as one of the most accurate kickers in NFL history with a field goal rate of 86.6% during his five-year career.

The Saints will also have a new punter in 2021 after releasing longtime standout Thomas Morstead this offseason. Second-year pro Blake Gillikin is anticipated to take over the role after spending last season on injured reserve.

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Dallas Cowboys LB Sean Lee retires after 11 seasons

After 11 seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, linebacker Sean Lee has decided to retire.

A second-round pick in 2010 out of Penn State, Lee was a two-time Pro Bowl selection (2015, 2016) and the unquestioned leader of the defense for most of his career.

“It’s been a complete honor,” Lee told ESPN. “I’ve been blessed to play for the incredible Jones family, with such great coaches and teammates that I love like brothers. I loved every minute playing and tried to pour my heart and soul into winning and helping my teammates at all costs.

“To say the injuries were frustrating would be an understatement, but the support I received through them all was humbling and the lessons I learned battling adversity will last a lifetime. There are always regrets, but I’m proud of what I was able to accomplish and I leave this game grateful.”

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Injuries marked Lee’s time with the Cowboys, but when healthy he was one of the best linebackers in the NFL.

The 34-year-old led the Cowboys in tackles in 2011 and 2015-17, and he retains five of the top seven tackle games in team history, including a record 22 vs. the Giants in 2016.

He also had 14 career interceptions, returning two of them for touchdowns; 5 fumble recoveries; 2 forced fumbles; 59 tackles for loss; and 4 sacks.

He was credited with 995 tackles for his career, good for eighth in team history. He averaged 8.4 tackles per game, the most among the top 10 tacklers in team history. Darren Woodson, who is the franchise leader with 1,350, averaged 7.6 tackles per game.

Lee missed time with hamstring, wrist, toe, neck, knee and core-muscle injuries as well as concussions. He missed the 2014 campaign due to a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

He played in just nine matches last season after undergoing sports hernia surgery in September but was feeling better at the end of the year and contemplated a return for a 12th season.

His impact off the field was just as great as it was on the field.

“As an individual he’s one of the most selfless people that I’ve ever been around,” linebacker Leighton Vander Esch stated after the season.

“The dude just truly loves the game, and he is going to do what’s best for the game. He’s extremely intelligent, he understands it like nobody I’ve been around. He’s just a phenomenal individual — his character bleeds off and is contagious.

“He’s like an older brother to me, and I know he wants to see everyone around him succeed and that’s just what’s special about him. If other people are succeeding, [if] the team is succeeding? He’s just as happy as if he was out there doing it. I think it’s special to have a guy like him around. They don’t come around very often.”

Lee’s decision continues an offseason shift for the Cowboys in longevity and leadership as defensive lineman Tyrone Crawford, a nine-year veteran, also elected to retire and the team moved on from 16-year long-snapper L.P. Ladouceur.

With Lee and Crawford not returning, DeMarcus Lawrence, a second-round pick in 2014, is the longest-tenured defensive player on the Cowboys. Randy Gregory, a second-rounder the next year, is the second.

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Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman Tyrone Crawford to retire, coach Mike McCarthy says

After nine seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, defensive lineman Tyrone Crawford has opted to retire, coach Mike McCarthy revealed Thursday.

Crawford, 31, battled numerous injuries the past few seasons, including double hip surgery that limited him to just four games in 2019. That played a part in this decision, as he was set to be an unrestricted free agent but decided his body could not withstand the rigors of the NFL.

The Cowboys selected Crawford in the third round of the 2012 draft. After playing a reserve role as a rookie, he tore his Achilles in training camp in his second season.

He returned as a full-time starter in 2014 and had 37 tackles, 3 sacks, 4 tackles for loss and 29 pressures. In 2015, the Cowboys signed him to a five-year extension worth $45 million, and he posted 19 sacks from 2015-18, including a career-high 5.5 in 2018.

His capacity to play multiple spots along the defensive line ultimately hurt some of his production because the coaches would not settle on him playing defensive end or tackle.

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Crawford battled through shoulder injuries that would require surgery, but he became one of the defensive leaders, which was missed during his absence in 2019.

He started three of 16 games in 2020 and ended with 17 tackles, 2 sacks and 13 quarterback pressures.

If linebacker Sean Lee, who is a free agent, does not return for a 12th season, then DeMarcus Lawrence, a second-round pick in 2014, would be the Cowboys’ longest-tenured defensive player. Randy Gregory, a second-round pick in 2015, would be the second-longest.

Dallas has signed defensive end Tarell Basham as well as defensive tackles Carlos Watkins and Brent Urban this offseason.

“You can’t have enough 6-5, 260-, 265-pound athletes on your team,” McCarthy said.

With the firing of coordinator Mike Nolan and the hiring of Dan Quinn as his replacement, the Cowboys’ defense will have a new boss, but not necessarily a new look as McCarthy said they’ll run a similar scheme as last year.

The defense ranked 31st vs. the run, 23rd in yards allowed per match and 28th in points allowed last season. It was tied for seventh with 23 takeaways. “When you look at our team from 2020 to 2021, the largest change is clearly on defense,” McCarthy said.

“That’s something we felt was needed. … [But] this isn’t a start-over situation. We’re able to build on some of the things we were able to accomplish last year.”

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QB Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys reach four-year, $160 million deal

The Dallas Cowboys and quarterback Dak Prescott have agreed to a four-year, $160 million deal, including $126 million guaranteed, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Monday.

The deal, which is technically for six years but voids to four so as to help Dallas against the salary cap, can be worth up to $164 million, a source said.

Prescott’s signing bonus is $66 million, the highest in NFL history, with a record $75 million due in year one, Schefter reported. The first three years of the deal average $42 million per year, according to a source.

The Cowboys revealed they had agreed to a contract with Prescott but did not disclose terms. The Cowboys will place the franchise tag on Prescott on Tuesday as a procedural matter, a source told Schefter.

The Cowboys announced they will hold a Wednesday news conference. Prescott’s salary-cap number for this campaign will be $22.2 million instead of the $37.7 million that would have come along with the franchise tag, a savings of $15.5 million against this season’s cap, Schefter reported.

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The process to reach a long-term deal with Prescott covered three offseasons, multiple mega-million offers and hours of negotiations. The Cowboys, all along, said they wanted Prescott to be their franchise quarterback for the present and future, and Prescott stated he wanted to stay with the Cowboys.

It just took a lot longer than normal.

Prescott, who will turn 28 in July, is coming off a compound fracture and dislocation of his right ankle suffered in the Week 5 win versus the New York Giants in October, but he was predicted to make a full recovery during the offseason.

The Cowboys have missed the playoffs in three of the past four seasons.

Prescott’s absence in 2020, however, showed how integral he is to their success. Before getting hurt, he threw for 1,856 yards with nine touchdowns and four interceptions in five games.

The Cowboys’ offense scuffled along for a few weeks without Prescott, scoring one touchdown in three games after scoring at least 31 points in four of their first five games.

In five seasons, Prescott has a team-record seven 400-yard passing games and 24 rushing touchdowns, the most by a Cowboys quarterback. He is second to Tony Romo in 300-yard passing games with 15. Prescott also has proved to be clutch with 15 game-winning drives.

Prescott, the Cowboys’ 2016 fourth-round pick, has posted a 42-27 record with 17,364 passing yards to go along with 106 touchdown passes and 40 interceptions.

With the contract secured, the expectations will be even greater on Prescott to deliver a Super Bowl to an organization that has not made it to the title game in 25 years.

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Dallas Cowboys, Dak Prescott still not close to long-term deal

The Cowboys and Dak Prescott still are not close on a new deal to keep the star quarterback in Dallas long-term, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

The Cowboys and Prescott were banned from negotiating a new deal during the season, but the sides were permitted to resume contract talks once Dallas’ disappointing season ended.

Sources told ESPN that the Cowboys still want to re-sign Prescott, who wants to stay in Dallas. But the sides still have plenty of work to do on a new deal, with a history of not being able to get it done.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones acknowledged last month that Prescott is in a good negotiating position, considering Dallas’ 6-10 record and the offense’s struggles after the two-time Pro Bowler’s season-ending leg injury.

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“I don’t know how you could have any more leverage,” Jones said on 105.3 The Fan.

Prescott, who played this past year under the Cowboys’ franchise tag, suffered a dislocation and compound fracture of his right ankle in Week 5 versus the New York Giants.

He was on pace for his best statistical season, with 1,856 yards passing, nine touchdown passes and four interceptions, but the Cowboys were 2-3 in his five starts.

Once the sides did not reach an agreement on a contract on June 15, 2020, Prescott had to play this season on the $31.4 million franchise tag. The Cowboys offered Prescott a deal last year that sources said averaged $34.5 million a year, with a $50 million signing bonus and had $110 million in guarantees.

The biggest issue between the sides was the length of the deal. The Cowboys wanted five years; agent Todd France countered with four because impending television contracts are expected to significantly raise the salary cap in the future.

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Cowboys’ DeMarcus Lawrence debating whether to report to training camp

The Dallas Cowboys could be without their star pass rusher entering training camp.

DeMarcus Lawrence, a two-time Pro Bowl selection in 2017 and 2018, is debating whether or not he will skip training camp due to the upcoming birth of his daughter. His wife is due in October and the current coronavirus pandemic may make it unsafe for Lawrence and his family.

Cowboys training camp is set to start on July 28. “I’m taking it one day at a time, talking with my team and trying to figure out as many details as possible before I make a decision and have it set in stone,” Lawrence told ESPN.

“Shoot, I love to ride with my brothers and play the game of football. When I have to take that away from myself, it’s hard and I don’t want to make a decision like that. But I also have to make sure I’m taking care of my family. Family is No. 1. After the game of football is done, that’s the only thing I have to depend on, so I’ve got to take care of them.”

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He doesn’t want to miss his daughter’s birth after being absent for his son’s birth back in 2014.

“But my No. 1 concern is will I be able to see my family and be there for my daughter’s birth?” Lawrence said. “If I can’t be, we’re really going to have to take some major difficult considerations about this season, because I’m not missing the birth of another child.”

The Cowboys haven’t exactly had the best of offseason. Dallas was recently unable to complete a long-term contract with franchise quarterback Dak Prescott.

The failure to get a deal done before the deadline last Wednesday means the 27-year-old will play on a franchise tag — a one-year deal — worth $31.4 million. Lawrence is entering the second year of a five-year, $105 million deal — with $65 million guaranteed — that he inked prior to the begining of the 2019 season.

If he sits out training camp, he would be forced to repay part of his bonus.

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Dak Prescott plans to sign franchise tag by Monday

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott plans to sign his $31.4 million exclusive franchise tender by Monday, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

The two sides still have until July 15 to work out a long-term deal. The Cowboys had placed the franchise tag on Prescott on March 18.

By signing his franchise tender, Prescott will be contractually forced to report to training camp on time, whether or not he and the Cowboys can figure out a long-term deal.

Prescott’s decision to sign the franchise tender is not an indication that a long-term agreement is close, league sources told ESPN’s Ed Werder.  The fact that Prescott will be one of the highest-paid players in the NFL — and the potential his franchise tag increases by a obligatory 20% next season to $37.7 million with a flat or lower cap in 2021 — is incentive for Dallas to secure a long-term deal before the July 15 deadline.

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This offseason, the Cowboys made a long-term offer to Prescott that would put him among the highest-paid quarterbacks in the NFL, ESPN’s Todd Archer previously reported.  Seattle’s Russell Wilson is the highest paid at $35 million per campaign, followed by Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger at $34 million.

Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones and executive vice president Stephen Jones have repeatedly expressed their belief that Prescott is the team’s quarterback of the future and capable of leading the franchise back to a Super Bowl.

Prescott, who turns 27 on July 29, has said on multiple instances that he never wanted to leave the Cowboys.

Prescott completed 388 of 596 passes for 4,902 yards and 30 touchdown passes last season. Despite career highs in yardage and touchdowns, Prescott had his worst record as a starter (8-8) as the Cowboys missed the playoffs. His growth as a passer, however, was obvious as the Cowboys had two 1,000-yard receivers in Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup.

In his four seasons, Prescott ranks among the top five quarterbacks in victories (40), passing touchdowns (97), rushing TDs (21) and Total QBR (68), becoming one of the NFL’s biggest bargains. He earned $4 million in salary and signing bonus the past four seasons.

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