Tagged in: cowboys

LB Anthony Barr, Dallas Cowboys agree to one-year deal

After talks that covered a couple of months, the Dallas Cowboys reached a one-year agreement with veteran linebacker Anthony Barr on Wednesday.

The deal is for $2 million but can max out at $3 million, a source told ESPN’s Todd Archer.

With the Cowboys keeping Micah Parsons in a multifaceted role between linebacker and pass-rusher in 2022, the team wanted to add some veteran help alongside Leighton Vander Esch with no other uber-experienced linebacker on the roster.

The Cowboys have second-year linebacker Jabril Cox coming off a torn anterior cruciate ligament. While he has gotten off to a good start, he has missed the past two days of work, although there does not seem to be concern over his status.

Barr, a four-time Pro Bowl selection, had a career-high three interceptions to go along with 2.5 sacks and 72 tackles last season, the latter of which was his third-highest output in his eight seasons with the Minnesota Vikings.

The 30-year-old linebacker appeared in 11 games after undergoing a procedure on his right knee that forced him to miss the first four matches of the 2021 season.

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He reworked his contract last March to allow himself to hit free agency after the 2021 season.

After missing the final 14 games of 2020 upon tearing a pectoral muscle versus Indianapolis, Barr’s salary and bonuses were reduced from $12.9 million to $10 million with a fully guaranteed base salary of $9.4 million.

Barr has a background with Cowboys senior defensive assistant George Edwards, who coaches the linebackers, from their time together in Minnesota.

The former UCLA standout was former Vikings coach Mike Zimmer’s first draft pick in 2014 (ninth overall). Barr, a 3-4 outside linebacker in college, transitioned to a nontraditional off-ball role in Zimmer’s 4-3 scheme, where he was used strategically on blitzes designed around his skill set. According to Pro Football Focus data, Barr was ranked as the 12th best pass-rusher at his position and 14th in coverage in 2021.

Barr wore the green dot on his helmet for the majority of his time in Minnesota and played a critical role in calling defensive plays on the field.

The last time Barr hit free agency in 2019, the linebacker verbally agreed to a deal with the New York Jets that would have paid him $15 million per season for five years, but he returned to the Vikings less than 24 hours later to sign for far less money.

He has 495 tackles, 17.5 sacks, 8 forced fumbles and 5 interceptions in eight campaigns.

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Mike McCarthy not sure if TE Dalton Schultz will attend Dallas Cowboys’ minicamp

Dallas Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy is not sure whether franchise-tagged tight end Dalton Schultz will participate in next week’s mandatory minicamp.

McCarthy stated Schultz informed him last week he would not be at this week’s final voluntary organized team activities with hopes of jumpstarting negotiations toward a long-term deal by the July 15 deadline.

“You have business situations that happen all the time in this league, so had a long talk with him on Friday about it,” McCarthy said. “We’ll see what next week brings.”

If Schultz does not practice, he would be subject to fines totaling more than $95,000. Per the collective bargaining agreement, a player is subject to maximum daily fines of $15,980, $31,961 and $47,936 for each day of a missed mandatory practice.

Schultz signed the $10.9 million tender not long after the Cowboys placed the franchise tag on him in March. He said earlier this offseason he would let his agent, Steve Caric, handle the negotiations with the club. According to multiple sources, the two sides have yet to have meaningful discussions toward a contract.

The Cleveland Browns recently signed David Njoku to a four-year $57 million contract that included $28 million in guarantees after putting the franchise tag on him. Njoku caught 36 passes for 475 yards and four touchdowns last year, compared to 78 receptions for 808 yards and eight touchdowns for Schultz.

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In his past two seasons, Schultz has 141 receptions for 1,423 yards and 12 touchdowns, developing into a security blanket for Dak Prescott.

“I mean Dalton’s been here every single day since the season’s been completed. I don’t think there’s been a week where I haven’t seen Dalton, so yeah I’m not worried about his commitment or what he’s done,” McCarthy stated.

“He’s in great shape. If he was standing here he would tell you this is the strongest he’s ever been. So he’s put a tremendous amount of work into the offseason. I think it’s clearly why I separate it. It’s business. It’s business that he’s tending to and it’s understood. But to think that he hasn’t done the work would not be accurate.”

McCarthy said he does not balance business and football when it comes to players.

“I think they’re two different entities,” McCarthy said. “Business is business and I’m in the business of winning football games. So we all have contracts. We all have these type of situations that they come about. Timing obviously plays into these decisions and transactions. Now, as head coach, it takes you a few to get used to it, but I think you have to learn to separate things in this world. It’s too competitive. There’s too much work to be done. Dalton deserves this position that he’s in. So hopefully we can get it worked out.”

Without a multiyear agreement in place by July 15, Schultz would have to play the season under the tag.

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DeMarcus Lawrence agrees to 3-year deal with Dallas Cowboys

DeMarcus Lawrence has agreed to a new three-year deal worth $30 million guaranteed, sources told ESPN, with the new contract providing the Dallas Cowboys salary-cap relief this year.

Lawrence’s future with the team had been in question with a $27 million salary-cap figure and the Cowboys needing to find room just to get under the cap, but the sides were able to work out a deal that keeps him in Dallas through at least 2024.

Lawrence’s $27 million cap figure would have been the fifth-highest hit of any defensive player in 2022.

While the exact figures are not yet known, the Cowboys will have more space to keep their own free agents, like safeties Jayron Kearse and Malik Hooker, as well as defensive end Randy Gregory, who has received early interest from multiple teams, counting the Denver Broncos and Indianapolis Colts, according to sources.

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In 2019, Lawrence signed a five-year, $101 million deal that included $65 million in guaranteed money.

After adding a voidable year on to the deal in 2020, the Cowboys tore up the final three years of the original deal in exchange for the new contract.

Lawrence is the heart and soul of the Cowboys’ defense. Since posting 14.5 and 10.5 sacks in 2017 and ’18 that saw him land the franchise tag twice, he has not had more than 6.5 sacks in a season.

He was limited to seven games in 2021 after undergoing foot surgery following the season opener. He concluded with three sacks, five pass deflections, an interception, two tackles for loss and two forced fumbles with the coaches crediting him with 18 tackles.

Over the last five seasons, Lawrence has the fifth-best pass-rush win rate (24.9%), fifth-best pressure percentage (11.7%) and 206 pressures, which are seventh-best in the league.

The Cowboys hope to have Lawrence back with Micah Parsons, who had 13 sacks as a rookie, and Gregory, who matched his career-high with six sacks, in 2022 in Dan Quinn’s second year as their defensive coordinator.

Without the cap space gained from Lawrence, keeping Gregory might have been more difficult or forced the Cowboys to make more roster moves.

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Dallas Cowboys agree to trade wide receiver Amari Cooper to Cleveland Browns

The Dallas Cowboys agreed to trade wide receiver Amari Cooper and a sixth-round pick to the Cleveland Browns for a 2022 fifth-round pick and a sixth-round pick, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Saturday.

The deal is pending a physical and should be concluded by the middle of next week.

The Browns entered this offseason on the hunt to rebuild Baker Mayfield’s wide receiving corps, which was a massive disappointment last year.

The Browns had high hopes that Odell Beckham Jr. could return to being a No. 1 wide receiver after suffering a season-ending injury in 2020. Instead, he was released by the team in early November.

OBJ went on to win a Super Bowl with the Los Angeles Rams, while Cleveland’s passing game cratered on the way to a disappointing 8-9 finish.

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The Browns, in fact, didn’t have a single wideout top 600 receiving yards, and only Jarvis Landry had more than 35 receptions.

Landry already was a question to return before the Browns landed Cooper.

He has a $16.6 million cap hit with no guaranteed money left on the final year of his deal and seemed unlikely to be back, barring a drastic restructuring of his contract.

The Browns have granted permission to Landry to seek a trade, according to sources. In February, Landry tweeted that he’d like to remain in Cleveland, but the ball was in the Browns’ court. Landry is not a free agent but has no guaranteed money left on his deal.

Cooper, meanwhile, gives the Browns a proven No. 1 receiver they so desperately needed after the Beckham debacle.

Cooper, who turns 28 in June, ranked eighth in the league during his time in Dallas in targets (428) among receivers, seventh in receptions (292), ninth in receiving yards (3,893) and ninth in receiving touchdowns (27), according to ESPN Stats & Information data.

Cooper’s future with the Cowboys had been in question going back to last off-season when the club opted not to restructure his contract.

While he signed a five-year, $100 million contract in 2020, it was effectively a two-year deal worth $40 million with his 2021 base salary of $20 million not becoming fully guaranteed until March 20.

The Cowboys started trade talks at the NFL Scouting Combine and had multiple teams interested, per sources. In moving on from Cooper, the Cowboys will have CeeDee Lamb move into the No. 1 receiver role. Lamb caught 79 passes for more than 1,000 yards last season and was added to the Pro Bowl. The Cowboys selected Lamb in the first round in 2020 and gave him the No. 88, a sign of what they believed he could become.

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Dallas Cowboys WR Amari Cooper likely to be released

The Dallas Cowboys are “likely” to release wide receiver Amari Cooper by the start of the new league year, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Friday.

Cooper is due $20 million in fully guaranteed money on the fifth day of the new league year, March 20. The Cowboys designed Cooper’s $100 million contract in a way in which they could get out of the deal for a relative pittance after two campaigns.

If they cut Cooper, he would count $6 million against the salary cap, not $22 million.

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For a team that is projected to be more than $21 million over the cap, every dollar counts — especially with so many unsigned key free agents such as defensive end Randy Gregory, tight end Dalton Schultz, linebacker Leighton Vander Esch and safety Jayron Kearse.

If the Cowboys cut Cooper, they could face a lot of turnover at the receiver spot in 2022. 

CeeDee Lamb is set, but Michael Gallup (who tore an ACL late last season) and Cedrick Wilson are set to be free agents. The Cowboys have been working on a new deal with Gallup and an agreement is considered “close,” sources said.

Cooper concluded with 865 yards on 68 receptions with eight touchdowns in his 15 matches. He had two 100-yard games in the first seven weeks and none in his last eight games.

He had three games with two receptions and one with three. Cooper missed two games last season after testing positive for COVID-19.

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Kansas City Chiefs release linebacker Anthony Hitchens

The Kansas City Chiefs have released linebacker Anthony Hitchens, it was revealed Tuesday.

Hitchens had 80 tackles and an interception in 15 matches last season. Hitchens, 29, joined the Chiefs as a free agent in 2018, and he registered a career-best 135 tackles that season.

In four seasons with the Chiefs, Hitchens played in 70 games in the regular season and playoffs with two sacks, one interception and two forced fumbles.

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The Chiefs will save about $8.4 million against their salary cap in 2022.

“I really enjoyed the opportunity to coach Anthony over the last four years,” coach Andy Reid said in a statement. “He’s as tough as they come in this league and is a team-first player. I appreciate the way he came to work, ready to do his part, but also his willingness to teach the younger guys around him.”

The Chiefs drafted one linebacker, Willie Gay, in the second round in 2020 and another, Nick Bolton, in the second round last year.

Before joining the Chiefs, Hitchens played four seasons for the Dallas Cowboys. In 63 regular-season and playoff games for the Cowboys, Hitchens had 3.5 sacks, one interception and two forced fumbles.

“He has all the intangibles and was an integral piece in our franchise winning a Super Bowl title,” general manager Brett Veach said in a statement.

“We appreciate everything he’s done for the organization and wish him the best as he continues his career.”

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Green Bay Packers to hire Rich Bisaccia to fix special teams

The Packers will ultimately have an experienced coach running their special teams. They are expected to hire veteran special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia, who most recently served as the Raiders’ interim head coach.

A source stated Monday that an announcement is coming soon after some final details are worked out. NFL Network was first to report that the Packers were expected to hire Bisaccia.

He will be the third person to coordinate the Packers special teams in as many seasons, but he’s the first one with NFL experience doing so. Bisaccia was in his 20th season as an NFL special teams coordinator when the Raiders made him their interim coach following Jon Gruden’s resignation during 2021.

He joined the Raiders in 2018 after previously coaching special teams for the Cowboys (2013-17), Chargers (2011-12) and Buccaneers (2002-10). The 61-year-old also had 19 years of college coaching experience before entering the NFL.

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Bisaccia will replace Maurice Drayton, who was fired last week following the Packers’ disastrous special teams performance in the NFL divisional playoff loss to the 49ers.

Drayton’s units had a field goal and a punt blocked, the latter of which was returned for a touchdown. The Packers became the first team in 33 years to have both a punt and a field goal blocked during the same playoff game.

The playoff game was not an anomaly. The Packers special teams ranked 31st in ESPN’s FPI and dead last in Rick Gosselin’s widely respected special teams rankings. Drayton was promoted to special teams coordinator in 2021 after serving for two years as an assistant to Shawn Mennenga, whose units ranked 26th and 29th. Neither had been a special teams coordinator in the NFL before coming to Green Bay.

The Packers special teams problem isn’t unique to Matt LaFleur’s tenure.

Dating to the start of Mike McCarthy’s run as head coach in 2006, the Packers have ranked in the top 10 in special teams only once (2007). In that span, they have finished in the top half of the special teams rankings only four times — most recently 16th in 2017. In that same span, Bisaccia’s special teams have six top-10 finishes plus a No. 11 ranking this past season.

LaFleur acknowledged after the season that a coaching modification might not be the only necessary fix for the Packers’ special teams.

“Just one takeaway, just watching that game back, San Francisco had a lot of their starters on special teams,” LaFleur said. “That’s going to be something that I want to do some studies around the league and see how many teams operate that way. Again, does it have some inherent risk? Absolutely.”

Bisaccia interviewed for the Raiders’ permanent head-coaching job, which ultimately went to Josh McDaniels even after quarterback Derek Carr was among the players who threw their public support behind the interim coach.

Bisaccia went 7-5 after Gruden resigned, and the Raiders (10-7 overall) made the playoffs for the first time since 2016.

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QB Jimmy Garoppolo has ‘slightly’ sprained throwing shoulder, should be OK for Saturday vs. Green Bay Packers

Already playing through a torn ligament in his right thumb, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo suffered another injury in Sunday’s triumph over the Dallas Cowboys.

This time, Garoppolo is dealing with what coach Kyle Shanahan called Monday a “slightly” sprained right (throwing) shoulder. According to Shanahan, the injury occurred in the second quarter.

Garoppolo joins linebacker Fred Warner (sprained right ankle) and defensive end Nick Bosa (concussion) on the list of key Niners nursing injuries to watch this week as the team prepares for Saturday night’s NFC divisional-round game versus the Green Bay Packers.

The good news, according to Shanahan, is that Warner and Garoppolo should be ready to go versus Green Bay. In fact, Shanahan believes Garoppolo will be able to practice when the team resumes those sessions on Tuesday.

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“He should be fine for practice,” Shanahan said. “He had to play through some pain and stuff, but he ended up checking out all right. Just a slight shoulder sprain and he should be good for [Tuesday’s] practice.”

Warner sprained his ankle in the fourth quarter and was writhing in pain and grabbing at it, which put a scare into the Niners and their fans. Further testing on Monday, however, revealed it was a low ankle sprain, which means he should also be OK this week, though it’s unclear if he will resume practice right away.

“We’ll evaluate and see as the week goes,” Shanahan stated. “The initial scare was that it could have been high, so we got good news on that. He had something similar to this earlier in the year, but we’ll evaluate him on Wednesday, which I think is Tuesday this week.”

Earlier Monday, Warner had indicated that his injury wasn’t as serious as first feared, tweeting: “Sorry for the scare yesterday everyone, I appreciate everyone showing love and support for me and the fellas. We’ll be good to go. Huge win, onto the next.”

Bosa’s status is more unclear because he must clear the necessary steps of the concussion protocol in order to play.

Bosa suffered his concussion just before halftime of San Francisco’s 23-17 win against Dallas.

Shanahan said he did not get a chance to speak to Bosa on Sunday night or Monday morning but got positive reports from those who did.

“We’re being pretty optimistic with it,” Shanahan said. “I’ve seen that a few times and he seems like he’s in a pretty good spot right now, but I’m not going to be the one who judges that.”

In addition to Garoppolo, Bosa and Warner, Niners defensive end Jordan Willis suffered a high ankle sprain against the Cowboys, which puts his status in doubt against the Packers.

With a short week and less time for their injured players to heal, Shanahan said the Niners will have a lighter schedule this week. They will have a late start time on Tuesday, followed by less strenuous practices on Wednesday and Thursday before traveling to Green Bay.

“I think the biggest thing about this week is going to be about recovery,” Shanahan said. “So, the more sleep we can do, we’ll slow most of the stuff down. I doubt we get many full-speed reps in this week. … [We’ll] make it pretty easy on the guys this week.”

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49ers hang on late for 23-17 wild-card victory over Cowboys

Deebo Samuel and the San Francisco 49ers have started another playoff run after hanging on in a frantic wild-card finish versus Dallas.

Dak Prescott and the Cowboys will have to keep waiting for that elusive deep trip in the postseason.

San Francisco’s versatile receiver ran 26 yards for a touchdown the play after an interception by Prescott, and the 49ers held on for a 23-17 triumph over the Cowboys on Sunday.

The Cowboys had a final opportunity with 32 seconds remaining and were at the San Francisco 41 with 14 seconds to go when Prescott took off up the middle intending to slide and spike the ball for a final play.

But Dallas didn’t get the snap off from the 24 until after the clock hit 0:00. After a brief delay, referee Alex Kemp announced the game was over.

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The 49ers overcame an interception by Jimmy Garoppolo when they led by 13 in the fourth quarter.

Prescott ran for a touchdown to get within a score, and had a chance to drive Dallas to a go-ahead score. But the 49ers got a stop at midfield when Prescott’s desperation fourth-down pass was just out of the receiver Cedrick Wilson’s reach.

After a 14th penalty from the NFL’s most-penalized team in the regular season that helped San Francisco run out most of the clock — and the frantic final seconds as Dallas tried for the victory — the 49ers (11-7) clinched their first playoff victory at the Cowboys in a storied postseason rivalry.

Now they head to Green Bay for a divisional game, looking for another trip to the NFC championship match.

The wait for Dallas (12-6) to get that far in the playoffs will reach at least 27 years after another first-game flameout in the postseason for Prescott, the second in three trips over six seasons for the star quarterback. It was his first playoff game since signing a $40-million-a-year contract in the offseason.

The 49ers were in control in the fourth quarter, but not leaning on the running game they figured could carry them to a win when Garoppolo threw an interception to Anthony Brown that set up Prescott’s 7-yard scoring run.

Garoppolo’s mistake wasn’t long after Prescott was picked off at the Dallas 26 by K’Waun Williams and Samuel ran untouched on a cutback up the middle to the end zone on the next play for a 23-7 lead.

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Derek Carr channels Jon Gruden advice in Las Vegas Raiders’ OT win over Dallas Cowboys

Derek Carr had not been himself since the Las Vegas Raiders emerged from their bye.

A three-game losing streak, with calls from fans for him to be replaced with Marcus Mariota at quarterback growing louder by the loss, had him feeling off.

So on a short week, and with a prime-time game at the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day, Carr remembered a piece of advice his former coach Jon Gruden gave him.

Don’t ever take your arm out of a game.

So Carr channeled Gruden, who resigned Oct. 11 after the publication of offensive emails, in the course of the Raiders’ 36-33 overtime victory and passed for 373 yards, his most since Week 3, when the Raiders were 3-0.

Carr also acknowledged starting faster on offense was key. So finding wide receiver DeSean Jackson on the Raiders’ third play from scrimmage for a 56-yard touchdown was the chef’s kiss. Even if it was early.

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“We get that touchdown, I look at the scoreboard, OK, 7-0,” Carr said. “I’m excited. I’m an emotional, passionate person, but my mindset literally goes, ‘OK, 7-0.’ We’ve got to keep going.

“But I can’t exhale during the game, especially with this one, how close it was. We hit that play, it’s exciting … but I can’t exhale. Win or lose, whether it’s going good or bad, I have to stay in the moment.”

Carr also got his run game going, rushing for a 22-yard pickup.

He celebrated by flashing a “shaka” hand sign at Mariota, a Hawaiian native.

“I always call myself ‘Carriota’ and he gets a kick out of that one,” Carr stated of Mariota. “Anytime I scramble in practice or in a game, I’ll come up to him and be like, ‘Carriota, bro,’ and he’ll laugh at me. Probably just to appease me. It felt good to be able to pick up that. They actually got tripped up, and I felt it. Honestly it was just experience at that point. I knew they were in the man coverage look on the back end, and when that gain happened and they didn’t have contain, I just took off.”

Said interim coach Rich Bisaccia: “Derek is his biggest critic. … He’s been off sync a little bit; we’ve all been off sync.

“Today he looked like Derek Carr. It’s fun to watch him play.”

The Raiders, who play host to Washington in 10 days, have endured the Gruden resignation as well as the trauma and tragedy of former receiver Henry Ruggs III’s high-speed car crash that killed a 23-year-old woman and her dog.

After Ruggs was released, the Raiders’ vertical threat was gone. So they signed Jackson, who turns 35 on Wednesday but is rounding into form for Las Vegas. “One thing I’ve tried to do this year, especially when [Ruggs] was here, I was going to be so aggressive,” Carr said.

“It leads sometimes to not completing as many balls on a percentage chart, but to me, Gruden used to tell me, ‘Don’t ever take your arm out of a game.’ So when we call these things, let’s rip ’em.”

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