FRISCO, Texas -- It’s Tuesday, which means it is time for Five Wonders. Why wait any longer?
Away we go:
** The Dallas Cowboys will face an interesting decision on DeMarcus Lawrence next offseason. He is second in the NFL in sacks with 9.5 in just six games. He has already set a career high. He is just 25. He would be one of the most sought-after free agents if he hits the open market. The Cowboys have been looking for a pass-rusher since releasing DeMarcus Ware. They can’t be cavalier in this decision. But they have to be prudent, as well. Lawrence has had two back surgeries, so there has to be caution. I wonder if the Cowboys will do with Lawrence what they did with Anthony Spencer a few years ago. They placed the franchise tag on Spencer in back-to-back years, paying him roughly $21 million for two seasons instead of locking him up with a long-term deal. The tag for defensive ends in 2017 was roughly $17 million. Maybe the transition tag would be more palatable, but then the Cowboys would have a right of first refusal only if Lawrence signed with another team.
** I wonder if the severity of Dan Bailey's groin strain will play a part in whom the Cowboys add at kicker. Since Bailey will likely be out for “weeks,” according to a source, it would make more sense for the Cowboys to add a veteran kicker. Of the players set to work out, Mike Nugent would be at the top of the list, but Jason Myers has two-plus years of experience. If the Cowboys think Bailey has a chance to kick Sunday against the Washington Redskins, perhaps they would go with an inexperienced kicker to stash on the practice squad, like Sam Irwin-Hill, who was with the Cowboys in training camp. If they went that route, they could simply wait until the day before the Washington game to make a roster move.
** Speaking of roster spots, with Cooper Rush ascending to the No. 2 quarterback role against the San Francisco 49ers, I wonder if the Cowboys would look to potentially move Kellen Moore to the practice squad. He still has eligibility for the practice squad. It is unlikely a team would sign him if the Cowboys chose to make a cut. The Cowboys could pay Moore the same base salary he is making now, and they could add a developmental player at a position of need, such as cornerback, safety or defensive line. Honestly, though, I don’t think they would do this. I think the offensive coaches like the security of knowing Moore is on the 53-man roster.
** I wonder if the return of Chidobe Awuzie will benefit Byron Jones. In training camp, Jones was perhaps the Cowboys’ second-best defender behind Anthony Hitchens. Jones made plays on the ball by playing a center-field type of role. Awuzie worked against tight ends down low, giving Jones the freedom to roam. But Awuzie has dealt with hamstring issues all season, so the Cowboys have needed Jones to cover tight ends, and rookie Xavier Woods has played one of the deep safety roles in the dime defense. If Awuzie can get right, then perhaps we will see Jones get to the ball more.
** I wonder if the Cowboys can stay ahead of things when it comes to turnover margin. Thanks to their plus-3 effort against San Francisco, the Cowboys are plus-2 in the turnover/takeaway department. The last time the Cowboys finished plus-3 or better in a game was at Washington to close out the 2014 regular season. The Cowboys like to believe turnovers come in bunches. After three forced turnovers against the Niners, we’ll see if the Cowboys can cause takeaways against teams with more proven offenses such as Washington, Kansas City, Atlanta and Philadelphia.