Thursday, January 23, 2014
Who's next to get a new contract?
By Calvin Watkins
After the Cowboys locked up kicker Dan Bailey to a seven-year deal on Thursday, we look at a few players who might be next.
1. Dez Bryant: The Cowboys haven't opened contract talks with the star wide receiver, yet after his 93-catch, 1,233-yard season where he caught a team-leading 13 touchdown passes, he will command a huge salary. The only negatives regarding Bryant were off-field issues, which were dormant last year. Bryant is an emotional leader for the Cowboys and someone who will be extended at some point.
2. Tyron Smith. Like Bryant, Smith earned his first Pro Bowl berth this season. Smith emerged as a dominant force along the offensive line and once you have a solid left tackle, you better lock him up. The Cowboys did that with Flozell Adams a years ago and it's expected they will do that with Smith. When he was drafted in the first round in 2011, he said he wanted to make Pro Bowls, and he's starting to do that.
3. DeMarco Murray. It's difficult to pay running backs, considering their health issues, and Murray hasn't played a full 16-game season in his career. Murray did produce his first Pro Bowl selection and he emerged as the first Dallas running back since 2006 to rush over 1,000 yards. Murray needs to prove he's durable to warrant another contract, and 2014 needs to be a year where he doesn't miss any games.
4. Bruce Carter. The weakside linebacker was looking for a new contract from the Cowboys, but after a 2013 season where he was benched for poor play that appears doubtful. Carter can change the perception that he's not worth the second-round pick the Cowboys used on him in 2011 by producing a better season. The Cowboys might draft a linebacker to create competition at the position to see if Carter responds to the challenge.
5. Morris Claiborne. He's in a similar situation with Carter. He's struggled in his two seasons due to health and inconsistent play. The Cowboys want Claiborne to succeed at corner, but he lost his job to Orlando Scandrick and was moved to the nickel defense. Claiborne might have to play out his rookie deal to prove he needs another one. If he struggles again in 2014, he might not get a new contract.