1. The only time I attended the National Scouting Combine was the 2008 offseason. At the time I was working for the Charlotte (FL) Sun-Herald and Bucsblitz.com, covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for both outlets. This was back when the combine was held in the RCA Dome. But this is the Granddaddy of the NFL Scouting process. It’s a smorgasbord of interviews with players and coaches, of course, as nearly every NFL head coach does a press conference with the assembled media during the ramp-up to the workouts (see below).
But the fun is outside the media room. That’s where assistant coaches, scouts, media members and player agents mill about all day discussing all things NFL. The coaches and scouts are there for obvious reasons. The agents are there because, with free agency starting right after the combine, they’re trying to hammer out deals — or get clarity on whether their player will get a deal.
I remember one time I blundered out of the media room to go talk with a player only to run into a gaggle of guys talking with agent Drew Rosenhaus. Sometimes you learn more from what you run into than what you’re trying to run to.
So as you see these wealth of stories come out of the combine next week, know a couple of things. First, these guys in the media know what they’re doing (despite what certain leaders will tell you) and when they use “sources” they’re not talking about Joe the Hot Dog Cart Guy. They’re using well-connected people they have worked with before and whose information has proven right, usually repeatedly (we don’t use a source again if we’re burned by them). Second, remember that agents push agendas, too, and that information is only as good as the additional sources reporters use to cultivate their stories.
Oh, and a third thing? The vast majority of the players the Dallas Cowboys talk to next week aren’t coming to DFW. So keep that in mind as you watch these lists of combine conversations. If the Cowboys are talking with them, it means they’re doing their due diligence and trying to determine where they go on their board, nothing more.
2. Tony Romo News? As usual it was a fun week of speculation. Fansided.com broke down how Romo could end up in either Chicago or Minnesota. Forbes (yes, that Forbes), speculated the Redskins might be interested if they don’t retain Kirk Cousins (why would you not retain Kirk Cousins at this point? Oh, yeah, it’s Daniel Snyder. Nevermind.).
But there was no movement this week. However, that should change soon. The NFL Scouting Combine is next weekend and with free agency starting shortly thereafter (the business year begins March 9), this should all be over soon.
Meanwhile, Romo branched out into motivational speaking this week, giving Jimmy Kimmel a little pep talk before he hosts the Oscars on Sunday in L.A.
Want Romo to speak at your next event? Try now because come mid-March I think he’s gonna be busy getting ready for the 2017 season for …. I guess we’ll see.
3. Jaylon Smith hasn’t posted a video of himself working out since Feb. 15. I honestly don’t know what to do with myself.
4. Our Mike Fisher talked with StarCast host Jamie Horton on some offseason topics this week. They talked about Ezekiel Elliott's latest "run-in" with the law. It's really much ado about nothing, but discretion is required when you party like it's 1999 (like I wrote last weekend, it’s the offseason. Make good choices). The Dallas Cowboys restructured the contracts of Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick and immediately removed themselves from "Cap Hell.'' Fish and Jamie talk about who’s next? Tony Romo is expecting a third child with wife Candice. But does anybody expect him to play football again? Well, yes, we do. We'll "massage" our way through another chapter in this ongoing Romo saga.
Plus, there’s bonus StarCast this week, as Jamie spoke with 105.3 The Fan’s resident scout, Jeff Cavanaugh, about players that might pique the interest of the Cowboys at the NFL Scouting Combine next weekend and beyond, all the way to the NFL Draft. Cavanaugh has some great insight, thanks in part to his extensive film study with former NFL scout Bryan Broaddus. It’s worth a listen.
5. Joey Ickes goes deep on money this week at CowboysHQ.com. First, check out the implication if the Cowboys were to cut Tyrone Crawford, something I don’t believe they would consider. But Ickes’ view of what the move might look like financially are interesting nonetheless.
Second, you’ve heard about the endless speculation of Tony Romo “massaging” his contract to facilitate a trade out of Dallas. Well, what you haven’t heard much about is the “how.” Ickes delves into that scenario too, giving you real-world insight on how this “massage” could lead to a friendlier cap hit for whatever team acquires Romo.
6. What if the Cowboys are unable to retain any of their free-agent secondary players? I’m talking Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne, Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox. Well, at corner you still have Orlando Scandrick, Anthony Brown and Leon McFadden. Yikes. That won’t cut it. Is Captain Munnerlyn of Minnesota or D.J. Hayden of Oakland an option worth considering? Both are low-cost and both have talent. At safety the Cowboys are a little better off with Byron Jones and Jeff Heath. But that’s it. There’s no depth if the Cowboys lose both Church and Wilcox. At free safety are Oakland’s Nate Allen or Tampa Bay’s Bradley McDougald worth investigating? What about D.J. Swearinger of Arizona on the strong side, or even Houston’s Quinton Demps?
That is why I think the Cowboys will make a major push to keep at least half of their free-agent secondary players. Sometimes what you know is better than what you don’t.
7. The Dallas Cowboys are headed for Hall of Fame Game — again. The Cowboys will face the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday, Aug. 3, the first Thursday game in the history of the Hall of Fame game. Of course, the Cowboys will be there because their owner, Jerry Jones, will be inducted in the Hall of Fame that weekend. It’s also a chance for the Cowboys to get an earlier start to training camp, more practice and an additional preseason game. It also can expose some players to more opportunities for injury. So how the Cowboys approach the preseason, based on this additional game, is key to their regular-season success in 2017. Expect the regulars to not play unnecessarily in Canton, Ohio.
8. It’s our Tweet of the Week:
Good times, good times.
9. This week’s great moments in headline porn: “Should the Dallas Cowboys consider trading Dak Prescott?” from thelandryhat.com
I know it’s the offseason and we, at times, run out of stuff to write about. But some things are better left unwritten, lest you look like you don’t know what you’re talking about.
10. And one more thing...
I don’t plug Mavericks coverage here often, but this week our Mike Fisher, David Lord and Matt Galatzan were all over the Mavs’ trade for Nerlens Noel, the attempts to move Deron Williams, and more. I mean, they nailed it. Check out DallasBasketball.com today for Noel coverage from every angle. Plus, if you like your Mavs coverage you can get a premium membership for less per month than it takes to spend on a cup of coffee at Starbuck’s. (And you get all the other sites in the family, too. Hundreds of them, including of course this one.) That way you’ll never get left in the dark on the Mavs again.
And if you don’t believe Mavs fans get their news from DallasBasketball.com, well …