A deep threat the Dallas Cowboys should target in free agency
The Dallas Cowboys are in need of a deep threat who can take the top off of opposing defenses. Is the perfect player about to hit free agency?
Following the midseason trade for Amari Cooper, the Dallas Cowboys wide receiver corps appeared compete. Along with a new number one, the Cowboys also had an impressive third-round rookie in Michael Gallup, a grizzled veteran in Allen Hurns, one of the best slot receivers in the NFL in Cole Beasley and a gadget speedster in Tavon Austin. They even have an up-and-coming talent in former 2017 seventh rounder Noah Brown.
But heading into the offseason, this wide receiver unit in Dallas could be gutted. Cooper, Gallup, and Brown appear to be locks for 2019. But both Beasley and Austin are scheduled to become free agents in March.
While Hurns is coming off a devastating leg injury (broken fibula, dislocated ankle). It seems unlikely the Cowboys will opt to keep Hurns on the roster based on his scheduled salary ($6.25 million salary cap hit in 2019) and low production in 2018 (20 receptions, 295 yards, two touchdowns.)
With potentially three spots open on the Cowboys’ receiver corps, Dallas figures to look to free agency to fill at least some of their needs. And one area the team needs to improve upon is finding themselves a consistent deep threat, someone who can take the top off opposing defenses tracking down bombs from quarterback Dak Prescott while also opening things up for others underneath.
In former third-round selection John Brown, the Cowboys could find themselves the perfect deep threat … and a versatile wideout who could play in the slot to boot.
Originally drafted in the third round of the 2014 NFL Draft, Brown played his first four seasons with the Arizona Cardinals alongside future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald. The 5-foot-11, 178-pound receiver averaged 14.3 yards per catch and recorded 18 total touchdowns during his time with the Cardinals. Brown’s best season in Arizona was in 2015 when he posted 65 receptions for 1,003 yards and seven scores.
As a free agent in 2018, Brown inked a one-year, $5 million deal with the Baltimore Ravens. The contract also included $1.5 million in possible incentives. Early on, Ravens’ head coach John Harbaugh raved that Brown was better than expected. And through his first nine games in Baltimore, he shined recording 34 receptions for 601 yards and four touchdowns.
But when rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson took over the Ravens’ offense as the starter following the team’s Week 10 bye, Brown’s numbers took a nosedive. He recorded just eight catches for 114 yards and one score in Baltimore’s final seven games.
Despite his poor second-half performance, Brown was still able to post a career-high 17.0 yards per catch average. And that’s the aspect of his game that would most benefit the Cowboys.
Here’s what Austin Gayle of the football analytics website Pro Football Focus had to say about Brown after ranking him as the fourth best wide receiver who is scheduled to hit free agency this offseason.
"“John Brown made some splash plays deep down the field with Joe Flacco under center for the Baltimore Ravens early in the season, but he failed to record more than 30 receiving yards in any game after Week 7. If given an opportunity to field deep targets in bunches, Brown can thrive in 2019 and beyond.”"
The Dallas Cowboys aren’t known for making big splashes in free agency as they prefer to re-sign their own drafted players instead. But John Brown could very well be the exception to the rule.
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