- ESPN’s Todd Archer says the Cowboys will use the franchise tag on QB Dak Prescott if they can’t sign him to a long-term deal before the deadline.
- Archer also adds the Cowboys will use the transition tag on WR Amari Cooper if necessary and if the CBA allows it in order to make sure they can at least match any offer he gets.
- Cowboys EVP Stephen Jones said despite talks between the team and Prescott breaking off in September, it wasn’t acrimonious between the two sides: “It just kind of stopped. We kind of left it where it was. I wouldn’t say there was anything acrimonious. I guess they felt they were done where they were. We felt like we were where we were. We never really got going again.” (Michael Gehlken)
- Jones added the expectation was still that both Prescott and Cooper would be signed even if it took up a large percentage of their salary cap space: “We’re going to have some challenges with our cap. We are. Certainly, with Dak and Amari, that’s going to shrink it in a hurry. We’re going to have challenges, but they’re not challenges that we cannot overcome.” (Gehlken)
- While mid-March looms as a deadline to sign Prescott and Cooper, with potentially only one franchise tag to use, Jones isn’t worried about time being a factor yet: “When things get momentum, they can happen in 24 hours, it’s just a matter of can you get some traction and get headed in the right direction.” (Jane Slater)
- After locking up those two, Jones told reporters the plan is to pivot to addressing the defense this offseason: “In general, defense is the priority for this offseason, whether it’s getting some of our own guys back or whether it’s free agency or whether it’s the draft.” (Gehlken)
- Jones mentioned the team isn’t concerned about LT Tyron Smith‘s health, though they’re always looking for a good backup swing tackle, and they anticipate it being training camp before LB Leighton Vander Esch can really cut loose. (Slater)
- Regarding a potential reunion with WR Dez Bryant, Jones said that might be something that comes together later in the offseason: “Obviously our focus has been our own guys and guys we had here last year. As we start to expand the web, we will look at things like that.” (Slater)
- 94WIP’s Eliot Shorr-Parks lists Chargers RB Melvin Gordon, Chiefs RB LeSean McCoy, Raiders RB DeAndre Washington, Texans RB Carlos Hyde and Redskins RB Chris Thompson as potential free-agent options for the Eagles.
- According to SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano, the Giants already “love” Iowa OT Tristan Wirfs and have expressed a similar level of interest in Alabama OT Jedrick Wills. Improving the offensive line is one of New York’s top priorities this offseason.
- ESPN’s Jordan Raanan doesn’t think the Giants use the franchise tag on DL Leonard Williams to prevent him from hitting the open market without a long-term deal, despite trading draft picks for him midseason.
- Per CBS Sports’ Cody Benjamin, the Giants are among the teams who would be interested in Titans RB Dion Lewis as a backup if he’s cut by Tennessee as expected.
- The Giants fired long-time area scouts Ryan Jones and Donnie Etheridge, both of whom had been with the team for around 20 years. (Neil Stratton)
- The Giants are hiring Buccaneers assistant ST coach Amos Jones to their coaching staff in a game management role. (Pat Leonard)
New Redskins HC Ron Rivera became the first coaching domino to fall this past cycle when he accepted Washington’s offer, which was somewhat of a surprise given Rivera was widely seen as the top option on the market and the Washington job was widely seen as not the top job available. It turns out that’s actually what drew Rivera to the job, as he was captivated by the challenge of turning around the culture of the franchise that’s rotted away since the team’s heyday.
“What I love is the opportunity, the challenge,” Rivera said via Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. “It’s funny because everyone kept asking, ‘Why did you take the job so quickly?’ It ain’t about the money. I really thought about it. I could’ve waited on the Giants. I could’ve waited on Cleveland. I could’ve waited on Dallas. Those are the teams we kept hearing [had interest]. This is about the fit, and the more I listened, the more I looked at it, the more I looked at the roster, that’s what impressed me the most, the more I knew. I came in [to initial talks] with some trepidation, but as I’ve gotten to know Mr. Snyder, I understand really all he wants to do is figure out how to win, and that is pretty exciting.”
Part of Washington’s struggles have come from team owner Daniel Snyder, who has put his fingerprints on the team in all the wrong ways since becoming the owner. Rivera acknowledged he wasn’t immune from the outside perception of the team entering his interview with Snyder, but he came away believing that he would be given what he needed to turn the team around.
“Mr. Snyder was contrite, self-deprecating, very upfront and very honest,” Rivera said. “He laid it all out in front of me. That really made me feel and believe that he knows his mistakes and he doesn’t want to repeat them. . . . Every time I have guys come in, I tell them: ‘It’s going to be hard. It’s not going to be easy. But I need you all. I can’t do it myself. Just because they hired me doesn’t mean the culture changes automatically. All it means is I am going to come in and implement the things I believe in. ‘I need your help. I need you to buy in. I need you to believe in what I am trying to do.’ We have to change the perception. That’s just the way it is. If you don’t, it will stick with you.”