Dallas Cowboys: Corvey Irvin

Dallas looking at numbers to replace Ware

March, 12, 2014
Mar 12
3:00
PM ET
IRVING, Texas -- Once the Dallas Cowboys said goodbye to DeMarcus Ware on Tuesday, their plan was to replace their all-time leader in sacks with a number of guys.

New defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli wants to bring defensive linemen at quarterbacks in waves the way the Seattle Seahawks did it in 2013. It is a plan that makes sense and it’s how the Cowboys operated in their Super Bowl days of the 1990s.

So far the Cowboys' answer to losing Ware has been Jeremy Mincey and Terrell McClain, who have agreed to deals, according to sources. They aren’t done shopping by any stretch, but how much better are these guys compared to the likes of Jarius Wynn, Everette Brown, Drake Nevis, Corvey Irvin and the rest of the linemen the Cowboys trotted out there in 2013?

Mincey has 20 sacks in his career. McClain has one.

The Cowboys are hoping these guys turn into George Selvie, whose seven sacks last year were more than Ware. Selvie was a training-camp gift. He developed into a solid player, but can the Cowboys bank on another seven-sack season (or more) from Selvie in 2014?

For all of you asking about Jared Allen or Julius Peppers, look at who the Cowboys have targeted so far. If the price tags on Allen and Peppers come way down, then maybe the Cowboys will have a chance to make a deal. If they don’t, then forget it.

For years people have criticized Jerry Jones’ spending. Now when he shows some restraint, people wonder what the heck he is doing.

Mincey and McClain won’t make anybody forget Ware, or maybe even Anthony Spencer, but they won’t be the end of the Cowboys’ work to rebuild the defensive line either.

Cowboys release four players

February, 28, 2014
Feb 28
3:33
PM ET
IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys released defensive linemen Corvey Irvin and Everette Brown and offensive linemen Ray Dominguez and Jeff Olson on Friday, freeing up less than $1 million against the cap.

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Brown played in seven games last season and had seven tackles in a sack after joining the team on Oct. 29. Irvin joined the Cowboys on Nov. 12 and had five tackles. Dominguez spent last year on the practice squad and was signed to a futures’ deal after the season ended. Olson suffered a concussion in training camp.

The Cowboys will have more work to do to get under the 2014 salary cap, which is projected at $133 million, but will be able to take care of most of that with restructuring of contracts, like those of Tony Romo, Sean Lee and Orlando Scandrick. The biggest decision will be in relation to DeMarcus Ware, who is set to count $16 million against the cap.

Cowboys position breakdown: D-line

January, 29, 2014
Jan 29
10:00
AM ET
Cowboys reporters Calvin Watkins and Todd Archer breakdown the Cowboys, position by position, analyzing what the players did in 2013, what they can do in the future and what the team can do to improve the position in 2014.

Under contract: DeMarcus Ware, George Selvie, Nick Hayden, Corvey Irvin, Martez Wilson, Everette Brown, Frank Kearse, Ben Bass, Tyrone Crawford, Edgar Jones, Caesar Rayford

A look back: Jason Hatcher had the best season of his career with 11 sacks and was added to the Pro Bowl, but the defensive line play in 2013 was shoddy and played a big part in why the Cowboys finished last in the NFL in defense.

Spencer
Monte Kiffin’s defense is predicated on the front four getting pressure, and they did not affect the quarterback enough. From the first day of training camp on, the group was beset by injury. Tyrone Crawford tore his Achilles on the first day. Jay Ratliff never played a down and was cut in October. Anthony Spencer played in one game before needing microfracture surgery on his knee. The Cowboys used 20 different defensive linemen during the season. They hit on George Selvie, who started every game and had seven sacks, and received some moments from Nick Hayden as well, but the group just wasn’t good enough.

DeMarcus Ware missed three games with a quadriceps strain and had a career-low six sacks. He had four sacks in the first three games. Whether it was injury or age, Ware was not the same player in 2013 as he was even in 2012, when he had 11.5 sacks but was limited by shoulder and elbow injuries.

A look ahead: The biggest decision the Cowboys have to make is on Ware. He is to count $16.003 million against the salary cap with a $12.25 million base salary. Do the Cowboys ask him to take a pay cut, or do they restructure his deal in order to create room?

It is a delicate decision that owner and general manager Jerry Jones has been loathed to make in the past. There is no way Ware can count that much against the cap.

It seems almost a given that Hatcher will leave as a free agent. The team does not have the cap space to keep him, and it is difficult to commit big money to a soon-to-be 32-year-old defensive end. The chances of Spencer returning as a free agent are better just because his price will be kept low.

Crawford could be the key to the group, but the Cowboys should not bank on him being an every-down player coming off the injury. He played well as a rookie in 2012, but did not have a sack. His plus, however, is versatility. He could play all along the line. The question for Selvie is whether 2013 was an anomaly or a sign that he finally figured it out.

A look out: Last season's free-agent market was light for defensive linemen, so that could help the Cowboys in possibly keeping Hatcher, but he will take the best offer with this being his last chance to cash in.

Finding free agent help will be difficult, so the best chance to improve is in the draft. They made a mistake in not choosing a defensive lineman last year, and they can’t do that again this year. They need to find a pass-rusher, a run defender and a multi-faceted player. Getting one or two in the early rounds seems imperative.

Position breakdown:

Quarterbacks
Running backs
Tight ends
Wide receivers

Cowboys snap counts: defense

January, 6, 2014
Jan 6
3:30
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IRVING, Texas -- No team in the NFL needed more players on defense than the Dallas Cowboys in 2013.

They had 41 defenders with cornerback Brandon Carr playing the most (1,116 snaps) and Dez Bryant playing the least (three). The Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints had the second most with 32 players on defense.

In training camp, the Cowboys’ projected defensive line was Anthony Spencer, Jason Hatcher, Jeremiah Ratliff and DeMarcus Ware. Hatcher played the most snaps (747) but that was only 66 percent of the snaps. Ware missed three games and played 628 snaps (55 percent). Spencer played 34 snaps in one game before his season ended. Ratliff, of course, played none before his release.

Nick Hayden played the most snaps on the defensive line (821). George Selvie did not join the team until training camp began and played 744 snaps.

With Hatcher and Spencer set to be free agents and Ware coming off a career-low six sacks, the Cowboys need to refurbish their defensive line in a way where Hayden and Selvie are not playing as much.

The Cowboys used 20 defensive linemen during the season, although Kyle Wilber moved to linebacker late in the season and played 501 snaps.

It might not have seemed this way, but Jeff Heath played only 79 more snaps than J.J. Wilcox.

Defensive snaps:

1,116 – Brandon Carr
1,088 – Orlando Scandrick
1,015 – Barry Church
874 – Bruce Carter
821 - Nick Hayden
747 – Jason Hatcher
744 – George Selvie
702 – Sean Lee
628 - DeMarcus Ware
594 - Jeff Heath
515 - J.J. Wilcox
506 – Morris Claiborne
501 – Kyle Wilber
380 – Ernie Sims
275 – Jarius Wynn
254 - Drake Nevis
207 – DeVonte Holloman
197 – Justin Durant
178 – B.W. Webb
163 – Will Allen
153 – Everette Brown
144 – Caesar Rayford
117 – Corvey Irvin
81 – Sterling Moore
72 - Edgar Jones
63 – Cameron Lawrence
49 – David Carter
46 – Jason Vega
45 – Jerome Long
38 – Landon Cohen
34 – Anthony Spencer
34 – Frank Kearse
24 – Kyle Bosworth
22 – Micah Pellerin
20 – Everett Dawkins
20 – Martez Wilson
16 – Jakar Hamilton
15 – Marvin Austin
8 – Danny McCray
6 – Orie Lemon
3 – Dez Bryant

Rayford returns, added to practice squad

November, 14, 2013
11/14/13
4:25
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The Cowboys brought back defensive end Caesar Rayford on Thursday, two days after releasing him from the active roster to sign a bigger defensive lineman.

Rayford, who was signed to the practice squad, played in seven games and was credited with five tackles and one quarterback pressure. After the Cowboys released Rayford on Tuesday, they signed defensive tackle Corvey Irvin to the active roster to bolster that position.

The Rayford signing means the Cowboys have filled their eight practice squad spots.

Cowboys make roster moves on D-line

November, 12, 2013
11/12/13
8:55
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IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys made a roster change late Tuesday afternoon, but it's not what most fans are looking for: The team released defensive end Caesar Rayford, who played in seven games and totaled five tackles.

To replace Rayford on the 53-man roster, the Cowboys signed defensive tackle Corvey Irvin. Irvin played at Georgia and was drafted in 2009 by Carolina in the third round. He's played in 18 NFL games, including 12 games for Tampa Bay last season, when he recorded six tackles.

Guard Phillipkeith Manley and defensive tackle Jason Vega were released from the practice squad, and tackle John Wetzel was signed to the practice squad. Wetzel signed with Oakland as an undrafted free agent after the 2013 draft and was released in August.

The day started with the Cowboys working out 16 players, including veteran safety Michael Huff, who was cut by Baltimore last month. But the Cowboys, in need of improved play along the secondary, have decided to focus their energies to the defensive front, which has had health issues. Starters DeMarcus Ware (thigh) and Jason Hatcher (stinger) are nursing injuries. Hatcher missed Sunday's game at New Orleans. Ware returned after missing the previous three games, but he said he tweaked his thigh during the game. Ware added that he didn't believe it was too serious, and Hatcher said he expects to play in next week's game at the New York Giants.

Since the start of the season, the Cowboys have signed nine defensive linemen to the active roster.

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