Cowboys Rumors

David Njoku Requests Trade; Cowboys Interested?

Browns tight end David Njoku has requested a trade, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (via Twitter). Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com says the team is not looking to move him and would likely ask for a first-round pick if it were to swing a deal. But Njoku’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, said his client is intent on a trade and wants it to happen before training camp opens.

Njoku’s stance is perfectly reasonable. The Browns signed Austin Hooper to be their TE1 this offseason, and while the club exercised Njoku’s fifth-year option for 2021 earlier this year, that option is guaranteed for injury only. So it’s easy to foresee a scenario in which Njoku cedes snaps to Hooper, doesn’t look like a major part of the offense, and has his option declined, which would make him a UFA without a ton of bargaining power.

On the other hand, a trade now would perhaps allow the 23-year-old Miami product to get a fresh start as the top TE target elsewhere, which could in turn make him a candidate for a lucrative multi-year extension. As Cabot (via Twitter), Njoku just fired his prior agent, Malki Kawa, two days ago, and hired Rosenhaus, who wasted no time in making a characteristically bold move.

Njoku’s size and speed combination made him a tantalizing first-round prospect in 2017, when the Browns snapped him up with the No. 29 overall selection. He started to live up to some of his promise in 2018, when he started 14 games and caught 56 passes for 639 yards and four TDs. Unfortunately, a wrist injury wiped out most of his 2019 season, and the Browns could not resist the chance to add Hooper when free agency opened earlier this year.

Given his age and upside, Njoku profiles as a very intriguing trade target for a TE-needy club, especially since he is due just $1.76MM this year. Even his fifth-year option salary checks in at just north of $6MM, so the Browns should not have difficulty finding a trade partner. But new head coach Kevin Stefanski runs an offense that frequently features two-TE sets, so it makes sense that Cleveland would ask for a first-round pick in return.

One of Cabot’s sources say the Cowboys could have interest in Njoku. Dallas added to its receiving corps already by drafting talented wideout CeeDee Lamb in the first round, but its TE depth chart is currently topped by fourth-year pro Blake Jarwin. Jarwin performed reasonably well as the Cowboys’ TE2 behind Jason Witten in 2019, but Njoku would represent a clear upgrade.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

This Date In Transactions History: NFL Suspends Cowboys’ Rolando McClain

When linebacker Rolando McClain was handed a 10-game suspension on this date in 2016, it was assumed he’d be back for the Cowboys’ late-season run. However, four years later, it’s uncertain if the 30-year-old will ever play in the NFL again.

[RELATED: Jadeveon Clowney Eyeing Cowboys?]

The 2010 first-round pick had three productive, yet tumultuous, seasons with the Raiders. In 2012, he was booted from team practices after several incidents, and McClain took to Facebook to complain about the organization. One time, he wrote that he wanted “to be anywhere besides [Oakland].” He was released by the team the next offseason before briefly catching on with the Ravens. Less than a month after signing with Baltimore, McClain suddenly announced his retirement.

The Cowboys traded for McClain in 2014, even though the linebacker was one year removed from the field. It paid off for Dallas – McClain went on to appear in 13 games for his new team, registering 81 tackles, one sack, and one forced fumble. He earned his first suspension from the NFL the following offseason, limiting him to only eleven games in 2015, although he still collected 80 tackles and a pair of sacks.

After signing another one-year deal with the Cowboys during the 2016 offseason, McClain was handed the 10-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. He then failed another drug test midway through the season, and the NFL slapped him with an indefinite suspension. Following his third ban in two years, McClain was arrested on firearm and drug charges.

McClain was conditionally reinstated in August of 2019, but the Cowboys cut him almost immediately. Then, in December, McClain was hit with yet another indefinite suspension from the league office. The league did not publicly disclose the reason for the ban, but it likely means that the once-promising linebacker will never play in the NFL again.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jadeveon Clowney Eyeing Cowboys, Saints?

Jadeveon Clowney would be equally happy to join a contender on a one-year deal or a middling club on a multi-year deal, Tony Pauline of Pro Football Network hears. Specifically, he’d like to land with one of two contenders – the Cowboys or the Saints.

[RELATED: Clowney’s Best Multi-Year Offer Came From Browns]

It’s not clear whether the Saints or Cowboys have reciprocated that interest. The three-time Pro Bowler would represent a classic Jerry Jones splash, but they already have $20MM/year committed to DeMarcus Lawrence. The Saints are also short on cap space, and they don’t necessarily need Clowney. With Cameron JordanMarcus Davenport, and Trey Hendrickson on the edge, there’s little reason for the Saints to shell out the kind of money that Clowney is seeking.

The Browns put a multi-year offer on the table for Clowney, one that is believed to be in the range of $12MM/year. The Browns are reportedly willing to move their offer up to somewhere around $15MM/year, but that’s still a step back from the ~$17MM Clowney was looking for in March. Reading between the lines, it sounds like a winning club could have Clowney on a one-year deal worth roughly $15MM, but that’s likely too rich for his two preferred teams.

Last year, Clowney registered just three sacks with the Seahawks. That was the lowest healthy-season total of his pro career.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Cancels Hall Of Fame Game

The Hall of Fame Game has been canceled, per a Thursday morning announcement from the NFL. The league’s annual preseason kickoff was slated to take place on August 6 between the Steelers and Cowboys.

COVID-19 cases have risen all across the country and a number of players have tested positive for the virus in recent weeks. Not long ago, the league was optimistic about having fans in attendance for games and moving forward with its existing preseason and regular season schedule. Now, everything appears to be in flux.

As of this writing, the rest of the NFL’s exhibition period remains in tact. However, that could change quickly. On Thursday, the league will have a virtual huddle-up to discuss the fate of upcoming training camps and other in-person offseason activities.

Before this, teams were planning to hold training camp on July 28, which is the scheduled start date for most of the league. They were also hoping to have a pre-camp conditioning period. At minimum, it seems likely that the preseason will be shortened from its usual four-game slate to two games.

On the plus side, Dr. Anthony Fauci indicated that a COVID-19 vaccine could be developed sometime before the end of the calendar year.

Latest On NFL, COVID-19

The NFL has scheduled a conference call with owners Thursday, and the discussion will include plans to reopen team facilities, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Players not rehabbing injuries have been barred from team headquarters throughout the offseason. As discussion between the NFL and NFLPA regarding the navigation of a season amid the COVID-19 pandemic continues, here is the latest from the coronavirus front:

  • Multiple teams are proceeding as if they will report to training camp July 28, which is the scheduled start date for most of the NFL, and that there will be no pre-camp conditioning-type period, Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero of NFL.com note (via Twitter). This does not appear set in stone, but the NFLPA is not believed to be on board with an earlier report date. Additionally, a shortened preseason is likely following the late-July reporting date, per the NFL.com duo. A truncated exhibition slate has also been a recent topic.
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said this week a COVID-19 vaccine surfacing this year is not out of the question. Fauci said he was “cautiously optimistic” a vaccine would be available by the end of 2020 or early in 2021, Steven Nelson of the New York Post writes. Fauci added that vaccine distribution could come around the same time. These developments would obviously be a game-changer as the world grapples with the virus, and sports leagues would benefit immensely from a vaccine being available so soon.
  • Although Fauci recommended the NFL reconsider a bubble format — one the league opted against weeks ago — other doctors have pushed back on the idea the league can or should attempt this, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe notes. While restrictions on players when they are away from team facilities during camp and the regular season are not yet known, multiple experts informed Volin sequestering NFLers for so many months was not exactly feasible.
  • Shifting back to the subject of preseason football, the possibility of the Hall of Fame Game not taking place is on the table. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said recently that the game will likely not be played in front of fans and that the CowboysSteelers matchup would not take place if it needed to be played at this moment, per Zac Jackson of The Athletic (on Twitter). Cowboys officials have been skeptical for weeks the game will happen, David Moore of the Dallas Morning News tweets. The league could well opt to eliminate the early portion of the preseason schedule in an effort to give players more time to re-acclimate after the virtual offseason.

East Notes: Cowboys, Prescott, Patriots, Sanu

Dak Prescott is discussing a long-term deal with the Cowboys, but the patient approach could also pay off for the quarterback. As Field Yates of ESPN.com (on Twitter) notes, Kirk Cousins is in great shape after playing on back-to-back franchise tags with his former club. From 2018-2022, Cousins’ $150MM cash value ranks second overall in the NFL, behind only Aaron Rodgers ($150.95MM). Meanwhile, he tops the chart with his guarantees ($150MM, 100% locked in).

That fact isn’t lost on Prescott, who has rejected offers from the Cowboys in the past. His camp is currently seeking a four-year deal that would make him the league’s highest-paid player on an annual basis with upwards of $35MM per year. The Cowboys, meanwhile, are pushing for a five-year pact.

Here’s more from the East divisions (and, by that, we mean some Pats items):

  •  Mohamed Sanu is “way ahead” of the curve as he returns from ankle surgery, trainer Hilton Alexander tells Mike Reiss of ESPN.com. “I would tell you he’s probably faster, quicker, leaner and in better shape now than prior to the surgery,” Alexander said. “I would say he’s way ahead of any doctor’s knowledge or prediction where he would have been at this point. Way ahead of the curve.” With a healthy Sanu – plus Julian Edelman, N’Keal Harry, and a solid supporting cast – the Pats can stand pat at WR.
  • If the NFL salary cap is reduced next year due to a revenue decrease, it could work to the Patriots‘ advantage. As Tom Curran of NBC Sports explains, the Pats currently have $124MM committed to 55 players in 2021. If the cap falls from $198MM, most teams will be left scrambling to shed expensive contracts. The Patriots, on the other hand, would be in good shape and able to scoop up those available vets.
  • Jamal Adams wants out, but it remains to be seen whether the Jets will trade him. In a recent poll, PFR readers were split on whether Adams will stay or go.

Jamal Adams Confirms Cowboys Interest

  • A report last week indicated the Cowboys reside on Jamal Adams‘ list of preferred trade destinations, and the Jets safety confirmed he will try to make a Dallas venture happen. In a short response to a fan, an in-transit Adams said he will try to maneuver his way to the Cowboys, via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). The Jets have yet to indicate they will honor Adams’ trade request. Adams wants a monster extension, but were the fourth-year defender to be dealt to Dallas, he may not be as demanding for an new deal this year.
  • With Dak Prescott signing his franchise tender, the Cowboys are now the only team with three players — Prescott, Amari Cooper and DeMarcus Lawrence — earning $20MM per year, per ESPN Stats & Info’s Evan Kaplan (on Twitter). Cooper’s deal averages $20MM per year, but the Cowboys can get out of it — if need be — fairly easily by 2022. Prescott is tied to a $31.4MM payment, and the Cowboys have barely three weeks to extend him.

Raiders, Cowboys Interested In Japanese Kicker Toshiki Sato

Japanese kicker Toshiki Sato says he’s garnered some interest from the Cowboys and Raiders (via Kyodo News). Their level of interest is not clear and Sato recognizes that the Cowboys aren’t exactly in need of his services.

The Cowboys and Raiders are interested. I’m waiting for an offer,” Sato said. “The Cowboys might be difficult since they have three kickers and one has a big contract, but the Raiders only have two. I think there’s a chance I could get an invite if those two don’t do well at the upcoming camp.”

One of those three Cowboys kickers is Greg Zuerlein, who inked a three-year, $7.5MM deal with Dallas in March. Greg The Leg is also a longtime pupil of Cowboys special teams coach John Fassel, so it’s unlikely that Sato would have much of a chance there. The Raiders might be more realistic – Daniel Carlson struggled a bit last year and he’s set for a kicking battle with UDFA Dominik Eberle.

Sato spent last year with Japanese X-League team IBM Big Blue. In November, he nailed a 58-yard field goal, the longest in that league’s history.

Dak Prescott Still Wants Four-Year Deal; Cowboys Want Five-Year Deal

Dak Prescott agreed to sign his franchise tender on Sunday, but there’s still a lot of work to be done between now and the July 15 deadline. The length of the contract still needs to be ironed out, and there’s still a slight disparity in what each side wants. The Cowboys want to sign Prescott to a five-year add-on, but the quarterback continues to push for a four-year deal, a source tells Mike Florio of PFT

[RELATED: Prescott To Sign $31.4MM Franchise Tender]

Prescott’s camp is concerned that a five-year deal could turn into something longer via the franchise tag. Ideally, Prescott wants the flexibility to test the open market while he’s still in his prime years, giving him an opportunity to cash in as the salary cap increases. Prescott is pretty set on the four-year mark, so the Cowboys may ultimately have to bend in order to get a deal done before the upcoming deadline. If they can’t hash out an extension in the next few weeks, they’ll have to wait until after the 2020 season to revisit talks.

Meanwhile, Florio hears that the Cowboys have been surprised by Prescott’s resolve. The former fourth-round quarterback has spent his whole career playing on his rookie deal – other players in his position would have jumped at earlier offers. Instead, Prescott has been unwilling to settle. He understands his value as a young, quality quarterback in today’s NFL and the leverage he has. Ultimately, if the Cowboys opt to tag him again in 2021, he can make nearly $70MM over the next two years.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboys’ Dak Prescott To Sign $31.4MM Franchise Tender

Dak Prescott will sign his exclusive franchise tender by Monday, according to a source who spoke with ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter). With that, the Cowboys quarterback will be slated to play out 2020 on a one-year, $31.4MM deal. After that, the two sides will have just a few weeks to hammer out a multi-year deal.

[RELATED: Prescott Pushing For Four-Year Deal?]

For months, we heard that Prescott was pushing for a two or three-year deal while the Cowboys were looking for a five or six-year add-on. Now, it seems like the two sides are closer than previously believed – at least, in terms of contract length. Prescott reportedly wants a four-year deal and the Cowboys would prefer a five-year arrangement.

Prescott is aiming for a deal that would pay him more than $35MM/year, enough to top Russell Wilson. That’s not exactly chump change for the Cowboys, but they’d rather lock up the QB than risk his asking price skyrocketing next year. If Prescott’s full 2020 played out like his 2019 first half, he’d be in line for untold riches next year. At that point, the Cowboys would have to give him an absolute fortune or tag him with a 20% raise over this year’s tag, for ~$37.7MM. Even in the tag scenario, it’s unlikely that Prescott would cooperate.

Under the more commonly used non-exclusive tag, other teams would have had a shot to sign Prescott to an offer sheet. Instead, the Cowboys opted for the slightly more expensive exclusive tag. Ultimately, it was a ~$5MM difference between the two.

Last year, Prescott threw for 4,902 yards and 30 touchdowns. Meanwhile, the two-time Pro Bowler won’t turn 27 until the end of July.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.