Cowboys 10 FishTips: Dez, Ro, Adrian, DeMarco

Cowboys 10 FishTips for today, on Dez, Rolando McClain, Randle, Romo, DeMarco, a how-to on an Adrian Peterson trade and more!



Time to make special plans with Estilo Gaucho, one of DFW's finest steakhouses ... which brings you today's Cowboys Huddle-Up!

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FishTip 1: The AD Business

The Dallas Cowboys are in the Adrian Peterson business. The connection is sound because AD himself is making it sound.

Peterson, still sitting out a suspension from the NFL while listening to Vikings officials say nothing but positive things about his 2015 return to the team, is putting Minnesota on blast for failing to support him during trying times.

“That wasn’t people in Texas,'' Peterson told ESPN. "It was people in Minnesota that dug in and brought things out. That impacted me, but most importantly, it impacted the people around me — my family, my kids. This came from the state I love so much, that I wish to bring a championship to? This is how they treat me when I’m down and out? You kick me? ... There are some things that I’m still uneasy about.”

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Peterson, a Texas native, mentions his native state for a reason. (We explain the Peterson/Vikings/Cowboys triangle in Premium depth here.) He is the NFL's best running back. Lots of teams will want to acquire him should Minnesota cut him. Teams will want to trade for him, too ... though I'm told weekend reports of him asking the Vikings for a trade to Dallas are bogus. (Wouldn't the Cowboys need to be involved in such a conversation first?)

But know that a conventional trade won't happen. And here's why ...

FishTip 2: Eating $45 Mil?

Peterson's current 2015 cap hit stands at $15.4 million. $12.75 million is base, $.25 million is workout bonus and $2.4 million is prorated bonus. The base and workout bonus would disappear if released, leaving just the $2.4 million in dead money. That would give the Vikings the net result of $13 million in savings if Peterson insists upon not re-doing a deal and expresses continued dislike of his surrounding and they released him.

That $2.4 mil in dead money is also the only amount Minny eats if they trade him. Ah, but who would trade for AD with his three years of salary locked in at $13 mil, $15 mil and $17 mil for three years?

Nobody would.

FishTip 3: The Theory

But can you, in theory, trade for Peterson under the terms of a new, cheaper contract.

In theory, yes.

It's rarely done, for two reasons. One, it's unusual than a player wants out of a place so badly that he's willing to take less than the $45 million he's owed. And two, most long-term superstar contracts have fat amounts of guaranteed money remaining. In the event of a trade, there are locked-in piles of dough that needs to be accounted for by the trading-away team. Meaning, not only does the new team have to have cap room for the acquisition ... but the old team has to have room, too.

But in AD's case? He might be facing Minnesota asking him to take a cut to stay. He can turn that down. And he might be willing to trash the $45 mil and start over in Dallas. And the $2.4 mil in dead money means the Vikings' cap doesn't have to suffer for having sent him away.

So Peterson, when he is truly ready to play his cards, has a very good hand. And the Cowboys can expect to be candidates to be dealt in.

FishTip 4: Cowboys For Life

Jerry Jones held court on the Cowboys party bus in Indy this weekend as part of the Scouting Combine and spoke extensively on Dez Bryant and all the branches on the tree. If you read CowboysHQ.com, you knew a week ago about what Jerry is talking about when he now says, “We thought we had something in the middle of the season, early part of the season. That didn’t work out.''

If a "Cowboys For Life'' deal isn't done by March 2, the franchise tag will be used on the All-Pro receiver as a way to keep him from free agency. Bryant has voiced his displeasure at this concept, even though the tag can be the first step to a "Cowboys For Life'' deal that then must be done by July 15. (If not, the $13 mil tag sticks for the year, allowing Dez less security and screwing up the Dallas cap.)

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Jerry says the club hasn't recently negotiated with agent Tom Condon but has visited with Dez himself this week.

“I can tell you,'' Jones said, "I’m not that excited about the franchise tag with Dez simply because I’d like to have our agreement and our business in place for a long time to come with Dez.''

Bryant will be happy to hear that. But ...

FishTip 5: Unicorn On Tape

There's another issue/non-issue: This supposed "incriminating video'' of Dez murdering a unicorn, or something. Read here for a "5-Steps-Through-The-Muck'' detailed breakdown of the Dez video-tape tale, complete with what Stephen Jones tells me about it).

Jerry's take: “Right now, as to our basic approach to all of the contracts that we’re considering negotiating, off-the-field issues are not a consideration in any situation with any player as far as what we’re doing with our contracts.''

In other words, the dead unicorn is immaterial to Dallas.

Yet the truth is ... the words of Jerry don't matter as much as the actions of Jerry. And the origin of where this "rumor" really came from is from doesn't matter as much as where Dez Bryant believes it came from.

FishTip 6: DeMarco's Frame

Believe Jerry Jones when he says he wants DeMarco Murray to be a Dallas Cowboy for his entire career. Believe him when he says, “I don’t see a number. I see a (bracketed) range.” Believe him when he says, “We want DeMarco enough that I got some serious flexibility in my bracket.''

“In a legitimate negotiation you usually have both of them thinking 'ranges,'” Jones said. “You have both of them in brackets. You have both of them thinking brackets and within the parameters how you get a deal done. And you can usually tell if one or the other is outside the parameters significantly ...''

Believe that part most of all. CowboysHQ.com has reported that Dallas (at mid-season) wanted to do a deal worth about $4 mil annually and that Murray wanted something comparable to Jamaal Charles' $9 mil annually.

Even assuming there's been a little movement there ... those numbers aren't the same. Those ranges aren't the same. Those brackets aren't the same.

FishTip 7: Fist-Sized Hole

The Cowboys, the NFL and Wichita police say they are still gathering information on Joseph Randle's "incident.'' I guess I should be a cop, because all I'd need to do is locate the woman's car and determine whether it has a fist-sized hole in the windshield. Open-and-shut, one way or the other.

FishTip 8: Romo's Window

Jerry says he's comfortable making decisions based on Tony Romo being his QB for five more years. The world of medicine, the world of salary structure and the world of the personnel department whispering to me inside of Valley Ranch says the Romo plan is actually 24 months long.

Believe what you wish.

FishTip 9: 'Racial' View

This doesn't have to mean we're "racist.'' But when we express surprise at the news that draft-eligible QB Jameis Winston is football-smart but footspeed-slow, it does mean we're ... well ... "racial.''

By the way: The biggest, deepest coverage of the Scouting Combine available is here via Scout.com. Dig in!

FishTip 10: Ro's Woes

Rolando McClain is the the top middle linebacker in free agency (see our rankings here) and is a top-level difference-maker for the Dallas defense, too, a prioritized guy for the Cowboys.

Unless he doesn’t have his priorities straight.

McClain faces a substance-abuse penalty of four games; CowboysHQ.com is told that it is not a four-game suspension but rather a four-game fine.

Using the parameters of the new NFL drug policy (and assuming in this example that it’s marijuana use):

The punishment for a first-time offense is now entry into the substance-abuse program (with no penalty). Second positive test? A two-game fine. Third positive test? A four-game fine. From there comes a level of a four-game suspension (for a fifth failed test) and then for a sixth failed test, a 10-game suspension.

This is part of a new level of NFL leniency for pot; The threshold for a positive test has been increased from 15 ng/ml to 35 ng/ml.

This is also, obviously, proof that McClain is in the substance-abuse program and that Dallas traded for him (at a very cheap price) with knowledge of that.

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The next very cheap price? Cap-conscious Cowboys fans would like that to translate to an inexpensive contract to retain their star-caliber defender. But the Cowboys will be careful here in negotiations; the enigmatic McClain has already retired twice from the NFL before the age of 26, and telling him he’s one of those “It’s-Always-Something’’ kinda guys — while true — is no way to win his faith.

Of course, McClain failing a series of drug tests is no way to win the Cowboys’ faith, either.


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