Tagged in: Dallas Cowboys

Pass-rusher Aldon Smith signs with Seattle Seahawks

Former Dallas Cowboys defensive end Aldon Smith has signed with Seattle, the Seahawks revealed Thursday.

The 31-year-old Smith adds to what was already a deep collection of edge rushers in Seattle. The Seahawks re-signed Carlos Dunlap and Benson Mayowa, added Kerry Hyder and return Jamal Adams, L.J. Collier, Alton Robinson, Rasheem Green and Darrell Taylor.

After being reinstated from an indefinite suspension that lasted from 2016 to 2019 for multiple off-field incidents and violations of the NFL’s substance abuse policy, Smith joined the Cowboys in 2020 on a one-year deal worth up to $4 million based on some incentives.

The Seahawks had strong interest in Smith last offseason before he signed with Dallas, a source told ESPN.

Smith was informed on March 24 that he would not be re-signed by the Cowboys, a source told ESPN. He started the 2020 campaign strong with a three-sack outing in Week 3 versus the Seahawks, but he concluded the year with five sacks.

He was second to DeMarcus Lawrence on the Cowboys with 33 quarterback pressures and had 48 tackles, five tackles for loss and two fumble recoveries, returning one for a touchdown.

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Smith played in every game, seeing action on 808 defensive snaps — the most among Cowboys defensive linemen and fourth most on the defense. All that work may have played a part in a late-season fade and some injuries.

He quickly rose to stardom with a record 33.5 sacks in his first two NFL seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, with that total rising to a record 42 after three seasons. However, Smith got sidetracked off the field.

In 2013, Smith was arrested on suspicion of DUI after crashing his truck into a tree in a residential neighborhood in San Jose, California. In 2014, the NFL suspended him for nine games for violating the league’s personal conduct and substance abuse policies.

In August 2015, Smith was released by the Niners the day after he was arrested on hit-and-run, DUI and vandalism charges. He signed with the Raiders a month later but was suspended for a year for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.

Smith was released by the Raiders in 2018 after he was arrested on multiple charges, including domestic violence, assault and false imprisonment.

Smith pleaded no contest to a pair of misdemeanor charges in November 2018 to settle his domestic violence case from earlier that year.

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Minnesota Vikings, safety Xavier Woods reach 1-year deal

The Minnesota Vikings agreed to a contract with free-agent safety Xavier Woods, the team revealed.

Terms were not disclosed but a source confirmed to ESPN on Saturday that it’s a one-year, $2.25 million deal that contains $1.75 million guaranteed.

The 25-year-old Woods, who developed into a versatile safety with the ability to cover the slot over his first four seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, is expected to fill the Vikings’ opening at free safety opposite Harrison Smith after Anthony Harris’ departure in free agency.

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After concluding the season ranked 29th in points allowed and 27th in yards allowed, Minnesota has focused its efforts on the defensive side.

In addition to Woods, the Vikings have acquired only defensive players in free agency — defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson, linebacker Nick Vigil and cornerbacks Patrick Peterson and Mackensie Alexander as head coach Mike Zimmer looks to revamp a unit that allowed 29.7 points per game in 2020 (third-worst in the NFL).

A sixth-round draft pick in 2017, Woods became a full-time starter in his second season with the Cowboys and started his last 44 matches, missing four games over three seasons because of injury.

Heading into 2020, he was viewed as a cornerstone piece to the Cowboys’ secondary, but he struggled despite finishing second on the team with 72 tackles. He had just two tackles for loss, did not record a sack and had just two passes defended while not intercepting a pass for the first time in his career.

Woods can play both safety spots and also played as a nickel cornerback as a rookie.

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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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Dez Bryant plans to play two more years, but it won’t be with Ravens after his six-game stint in Baltimore

Dez Bryant wants to play two more seasons, but it apparently won’t be with the Baltimore Ravens.

In a series of tweets Tuesday night, the wide receiver explained why he never broke out of a limited role with the Ravens last season.

“I realized quick Baltimore wasn’t the place for me,” Bryant wrote. “No bad blood. That’s their way of doing things so you gotta respect it.”

Bryant, 32, returned after sitting out two campaigns and totaled six catches for 47 yards and two touchdowns in six matches with Baltimore.

A three-time Pro Bowl selection during his time with the Dallas Cowboys, Bryant lacked explosiveness with Baltimore and never got consistently open.

He ended as the No. 4 wide receiver for the league’s worst passing attack, ranking below Marquise Brown, Miles Boykin and Willie Snead IV on the depth chart. Bryant managed a total of 129 snaps, or 21.5 per game.

Responding to a fan’s comment that he should’ve been given a better opportunity, Bryant wrote: “It’s hard. I’ve been off almost three years. I flashed my abilities to the point [Ravens coach John] Harbaugh asked was I ready to play because he thought I was ready …You have to learn the playbook … chemistry with the QB have to be on point.”

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Asked if his chemistry was off with quarterback Lamar Jackson, Bryant wrote: “Our chemistry was good on and off the field. But it was guys there before me who understood the offensive concepts better than me. You can’t jeopardize that.”

Bryant became the second Pro Bowl wide receiver to miss two full seasons and return to the NFL since the 1970 merger, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Josh Gordon was the first.

The Ravens first worked out Bryant in August, but he left without a contract because he was told to improve his conditioning.

Baltimore brought him back and signed him to the practice squad on Oct. 28.

After being elevated off the practice squad twice, Bryant was signed to the 53-man roster on Nov. 28. He never eclipsed more than 28 yards receiving in a game and was held without a catch in the Ravens’ two playoff games.

“I wasn’t bothered about playing time,” Bryant wrote. “I enjoyed myself. I met some great teammates, guys I feel like I will be keeping in contact for a long time. I’m thankful for the opportunity Baltimore gave me.”

The Ravens weren’t expected to bring back Bryant. Upgrading the wide receiver group in free agency and the draft was considered one of Baltimore’s priorities.

Bryant, the No. 24 overall pick of the 2010 draft, played eight campaigns for the Cowboys. In 113 games, he caught 531 passes for 7,459 yards and a Cowboys-record 73 touchdown catches before his release after the 2017 season. When asked if he plans to play in 2021, Bryant wrote: “I plan on playing two more years and that’s it for me.”

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Ex-Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn reaches deal to become Dallas Cowboys DC

The Dallas Cowboys have hired Dan Quinn to be their next defensive coordinator, the team informed Monday night.

Quinn agreed to a three-year deal, a source told ESPN, matching the length of Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore’s new contract. Both coordinators will be signed through the 2023 season.

Quinn takes over for Mike Nolan, who was fired last week by head coach Mike McCarthy, and inherits a defense that had one of the worst seasons in Cowboys history.

Quinn was fired as head coach of the Atlanta Falcons five games into the 2020 campaign after having held the job since 2015. He posted a 43-42 record and took the Falcons to the Super Bowl in his second season.

Going with Quinn signals a return to the scheme the Cowboys employed from 2013 to 2019 under Monte Kiffin, Rod Marinelli and Kris Richard.

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Quinn, 50, was the Seattle Seahawks’ defensive coordinator in 2013 and 2014, before becoming Atlanta’s head coach.

He employed a 4-3 scheme that mostly used a single-high safety look and helped the Seahawks to consecutive Super Bowl appearances. The Seahawks finished No. 1 in yards and points allowed in his two campaigns.

Team owner and general manager Jerry Jones was eager to move away from the scheme the Cowboys used in McCarthy’s first year because he thought it was too simplistic. Nolan brought in a hybrid defense designed to use multiple coverages and disguises to confuse offenses, but that never really happened.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, Nolan and the defensive staff had to implement their new defense virtually, without any benefit of on-field work until a shortened training camp started. The early results were disastrous, with the Cowboys allowing at least 34 points in five of the first six games.

Nolan simplified the scheme early in the season, but the defense never really took hold. The Cowboys permitted the most points in franchise history (473) and concluded with the 31st-ranked run defense.

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Dallas Cowboys fire defensive coordinator Mike Nolan

Defensive coordinator Mike Nolan and defensive line coach Jim Tomsula will not be returning to the Dallas Cowboys for the 2021 campaign, the team revealed Friday.

Last season, the Cowboys (6-10) allowed the most points in franchise history (473) and concluded 31st in the league in run defense. In the season-ending loss to the New York Giants, they allowed 23 points, including 20 in the first half, to an offense that had not scored more than 19 in five weeks.

The unit played better down the stretch with 12 takeaways in the final four matches after getting just 11 in the first 12 games, but that was aided in part by facing backup quarterbacks in Cincinnati, San Francisco and Philadelphia.

“I am appreciative of my relationships with both Mike and Jim, and I am grateful for the contributions that both of them made to our team under difficult circumstances in 2020,” coach Mike McCarthy said in a statement. “These are never easy decisions to make, and we wish them, and their families, the very best in the future.”

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Speaking on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas at different times during the season, owner and general manager Jerry Jones and executive vice president Stephen Jones lamented the jarring scheme switch — from a 4-3 look to a hybrid look — made by the Cowboys during an offseason in which the coaches could only meet virtually with the players.

Unable to get hands-on experience until the start of an abbreviated training camp, the Cowboys defense struggled badly. They finished 23rd in yards per game (31st vs. the run, 11th vs. the pass) and 28th in points (29.6). The Cowboys allowed 69 plays of 20 yards or more, including 51 passes and 18 runs.

In the three other times the Cowboys allowed a franchise record in points, the organization either made a scheme modification or a coaching change.

After allowing 436 points in 2010, Jason Garrett was named the full-time head coach after taking over for Wade Phillips at midseason, and he hired Rob Ryan as defensive coordinator. In 2013, they allowed 432 points in Monte Kiffin’s first year as coordinator, and he was replaced by Rod Marinelli. After giving up 405 points in 2004, Bill Parcells switched from a 4-3 to a 3-4 scheme but kept Mike Zimmer as his coordinator.

McCarthy and Nolan have a long background together.

In 2005, Nolan hired McCarthy as his offensive coordinator with the San Francisco 49ers, which helped propel him to earning the Green Bay Packers head job a year later.

But the defense could not find its footing. While they suffered some injuries to Leighton Vander Esch (collarbone, ankle), Trysten Hill (knee) and Trevon Diggs (foot), they were not hit as hard as the Cowboys’ offense.

Their bigger free-agent pickups were either hurt in training camp (defensive lineman Gerald McCoy), did not make the team out of camp (safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix), were traded (Everson Griffen) or were released because of poor play in the middle of the season (defensive tackle Dontari Poe, cornerback Daryl Worley).

If the Cowboys look in-house for a substitute, George Edwards spent the year as a senior defensive assistant. He was Zimmer’s defensive coordinator from 2014 to 2019.

But the first question that must be answered is what type of scheme the Cowboys want to use. In Green Bay, McCarthy employed a 3-4 scheme for most of his tenure. If he wants to continue with the hybrid look Nolan attempted to use, adding players to fit the scheme will be an offseason priority. In all but three years of his time in Green Bay, the Packers used a 3-4 scheme.

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Dallas Cowboys’ Kellen Moore agrees to multiyear extension

Kellen Moore will remain as the Dallas Cowboys’ offensive coordinator, agreeing to a multiyear deal on Saturday night.

Dallas didn’t reveal the length of the contract, but a source said it’s a three-year deal.

In a statement released by the Cowboys, Moore stated he would no longer pursue the Boise State head-coaching job. He was almost immediately linked to the opening after Bryan Harsin left for Auburn. Moore had a record-setting career as quarterback for the Broncos from 2008 to 2011, winning 50 games in four campaigns.

“I love Boise State. I will always root for them, and I hope one day to be a part of the program again,” Moore said. “We are building something special here in Dallas. I am thankful to the Jones family and [head coach] Mike McCarthy for providing me with the opportunity to coach these special players. I am excited for us to put it all together and finish the job.”

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Moore, whose contract was set to expire after the season, is finishing his second season as the Cowboys’ playcaller. In 2019, the Cowboys had the top-ranked NFL offense in terms of yards per game (431.5) and finished second in passing (296.9) and fifth in rushing (134.6), as quarterback Dak Prescott posted career highs in passing yards (4,902) and touchdowns (30).

The Cowboys had the eighth-best scoring offense (25.8).

This season has been much more challenging with the Cowboys (6-9) starting four different quarterbacks. Prescott was lost in the fifth match of the season with a compound fracture and dislocation of his right ankle that required surgery. Andy Dalton started the next two games before suffering a concussion and missing a game on the reserve/COVID-19 list, which forced rookie Ben DiNucci and Garrett Gilbert to make the first starts of their careers.

The Cowboys were also forced to remake their offensive line numerous times, with right tackle La’el Collins not playing in a game because of hip surgery and left tackle Tyron Smith playing in just two before undergoing neck surgery. Right guard Zack Martin will miss his fifth consecutive game because of a calf strain and sixth overall Sunday.

This season, the Cowboys have the 12th-ranked offense in terms of yards, are seventh in passing and 17th in rushing. They are 16th in scoring, averaging 25.1 points per game.

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Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh won’t say if Lamar Jackson will play vs. Dallas Cowboys

Starting quarterback and reigning NFL regular-season Most Valuable Player Lamar Jackson was one of a handful of Baltimore Ravens players who tested positive for COVID-19 amid the club’s worrisome coronavirus outbreak that caused its showdown with the Pittsburgh Steelers to be postponed on three occasions.

Baltimore was without Jackson during Wednesday’s 19-14 defeat at Heinz Field, and head coach John Harbaugh refused to say if the signal-caller will be available for the upcoming contest versus the Dallas Cowboys that was rearranged to Tuesday night.

“I think I already answered that,” Harbaugh replied when asked about Jackson’s status during Thursday’s media availability, according to Jamison Hensley of ESPN. “When the doctors clear them for practice, that’s when we’ll have them,” he added about the 17 Baltimore players now on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

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2012 Offensive Rookie of the Year Robert Griffin III filled in for Jackson versus Pittsburgh but suffered a hamstring injury in the fourth quarter that knocked him out of the game. Griffin rushed for a team-high 68 yards but completed just seven of 12 passes for 33 yards with no touchdowns and an interception.

Trace McSorley substituted Griffin and completed two of his six attempts, one of which was a 70-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Marquise Brown.

Harbaugh did say that punter Sam Koch won’t be needed as an emergency QB, which suggests two of the three players at the position will be ready to go by Tuesday evening.

The Ravens players had a day off and will return Friday for their first full practice since Nov. 20, a span of two weeks. The outbreak in Baltimore limited the team to a couple of walk-throughs. The Ravens had no positive tests Wednesday, which ended a stretch of 10 consecutive days with at least one player testing positive.

“We need to have some good practices and get our football sea legs under us so we can go out there and perform the way we want to,” Harbaugh said. The Ravens have lost three consecutive games to fall to 6-5.

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Dak Prescott of Dallas Cowboys had surgery after compound fracture

It was a bittersweet Sunday for the Dallas Cowboys. They found a way to overcome their errors on both sides of the ball to steal a victory from the New York Giants that could’ve easily gone the other way, but they lost Dak Prescott in the process, and not just for a game or two.

Prescott is presumably done for the campaign after suffering a compound fracture and dislocation of his right ankle, following a tackle that pinned his leg between the turf and the falling defender. He was carted off and rushed to the hospital where he was to undergo surgery Sunday evening. 

The procedure is now complete and was a success, the team informed, and Prescott will be released from the hospital at some point on Monday.

And with that, his long and arduous road to recovery initiates, but owner Jerry Jones believes few are as equipped as the two-time Pro Bowler to bounce back from such a devastating injury.

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“We are all heartbroken for Dak and this very disappointing injury,” Jones said in a statement.

“The outpouring of messages that I have received regarding his setback speaks volumes to the respect and admiration that he has earned from his teammates, former Cowboys players and Cowboys supporters everywhere. I know this young man very well. I know the personal hardship and strife that he has faced, dealt with and overcome in his young life. 

This will mark the end of an ironman streak for the former fourth-overall pick who once entered training camp as a rookie as the fourth-string quarterback, but who has since taken the NFL by storm in historic, record-setting fashion.

Prescott logged 69 consecutive starts since entering the league in 2016 — having not missed a single game — and was racking up legendary numbers as he tried to counterbalance a defense that was permitting more than 36 points per game weekly. 

The mantle for 2020 will now pass to Andy Dalton, who was able to finish the rally Prescott started on Sunday versus the Giants, helping the Cowboys move to 2-3 on the season. 

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Cowboys’ Aldon Smith ‘grateful’ to be reinstated by NFL

Dallas Cowboys defensive end Aldon Smith says he’s “grateful” for the opportunity to get back on the playing field after being conditionally reinstated by the NFL on Wednesday.

Smith, who had been suspended since 2015 for violation of the NFL’s personal conduct and substance abuse policies, discussed his reinstatement during an interview with TMZ Sports. Asked about what it will be like to get back on the field after being suspended for over four seasons, Smith said that situation has “played in my head.”

“I think the overall emotion is I’m grateful. I’m really grateful,” Smith said. “… I came a long way. For me to have the opportunity to get back and do something that I love, something that I enjoyed — just to have that opportunity again means a lot. I was able to defeat some big, big obstacles in my life.”

Smith has been arrested numerous times in his career for offenses including DUIs and domestic violence. In 2018, he was sentenced to 90 days in jail and three years’ probation after pleading no contest to violating a court order and false imprisonment to settle the domestic violence case. He served the sentence in an inpatient drug and alcohol treatment center.

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He stated he is now sober, telling TMZ that he wants his story to be an inspiration for others.

“I just want my story to spread and help out others,” Smith said. “For people who may have thought differently about me and for those people who always believed in me to be able to say, ‘Wow, this is great.’ Because I believe everybody goes through things in their life, and no matter what they do for a profession, it affects them in a manner that can either be their downfall or it can be something they look at and learn from. I want people to see my story and see it and be like, ‘Hey man, he can do it; he’s done it.’ I want to be a source of inspiration.”

Smith had 47.5 sacks in 59 matches before his suspension. He told TMZ he is now “an overall better person.” Smith will be able to take part in meetings with Cowboys coaches and teammates in the virtual offseason program starting Tuesday.

He signed a one-year contract with the Cowboys in April. By being reinstated, he will receive $90,000 from the Cowboys and can make up to $4 million if he reaches multiple incentives in the contract.

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