Exclusive: Cowboys Working Deal With Durant

Justin Durant tells CowboysHQ.com he harbors optimism about returning to the Cowboys, and his status as a three-position guy, an inspirational team captain and a coaching-staff favorite all work in his favor as sources tell us Dallas is working on an affordable deal to keep the veteran linebacker.

Closing in on Durant

When discussing linebacker Justin Durant's contributions to the Dallas Cowboys, it's easy to get caught up in the injury and the age.

The Dallas front office is surely bringing up those factors as it works to keep down the cost of a new contract for Durant that is close to being reached.

The coaching staff has other thoughts ... and big visions.

He played in just six games in 2014 before sustaining a biceps tear that required surgery ... and now he's 30 years old. But when he was finally allowed to settle in at the WILL, Durant made plays: 59 tackles, four for loss, two quarterback hurries, an interception, four pass breakups, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.

He is thought of as "solid.'' The film and the numbers say he's closer to a playmaker.

But most of all, Durant -- who humbly tells CowboysHQ.com he's flattered and amused by the attention here -- is part of a vision.

Dallas will have Sean Lee back on the field in 2015. The Cowboys hope to retain free-agent Rolando McClain, knowing full-well about his drug-program issue ... which they knew about even before acquiring him. Anthony Hitchens is coming off a fine rookie season and maybe those are your three starters (with Bruce Carter probably getting paid elsewhere) and Durant is there to push all three.

That fits his reputation, a rep that earned him a team captain title even though he'd played just one season here before. This is going to be an affordable keeper; two years ago he signed a two-year, $2.4-mil deal and that range feels right again.

And it's all going to feel right to a coaching staff that loves having Justin Durant around here as a security blanket.

Onside Kicks

*So Dez gets the non-exclusive franchise tag, Stephen Jones tells CowboysHQ.com. That puts Dallas at $129 million of used cap space ... plus Dez' $12.8 mil hold ... which equals $141.8 million. But the cap is at $143.28 million? Yes. Now add the $5 million carryover from 2014 (that essentially makes Dallas' cap $148 mil) ... and there is about $7 mil of room at the moment. The team also has a few restructure and release options at their disposal should they want to create more room. This would include restructuring Tyron Smith and/or looking at QB Tony Romo to create more space. (We'll break all that down in the coming hours). There are a handful of other moves that could create a million or so of additional wiggle room. ... all simply a part of what is, as Condon accurately says, "business.''

That business is happening as you read this. Stay tuned.

*Cowboys fans get the Premium goods: What the Cowboys say privately about Greg Hardy.

*Cowboys RFAs? We've got the scoop on Cole Beasley's coming deal.


*In an exclusive with Stephen Jones, CowboysHQ.com learns the team's "shop-and-drop'' plans with DeMarco Murray.

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