Dallas Cowboys: Kellen Davis

IRVING, Texas -- Beginning at 11 p.m. tonight, the Cowboys can start contacting the agents for free agents.

If you believe what the Cowboys have said, then there’s no need to stay up late trying to figure out who they will be calling.

Ed Werder joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss Tony Romo's potential contract extension, the Cowboys' plans for Anthony Spencer and how Joe Flacco's final month of the season impacted the Cowboys' offseason.

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Executive vice president Stephen Jones said at the NFL scouting combine that the Cowboys can't be as active in the free-agent market as they were last year when they signed seven players, including cornerback Brandon Carr to a five-year, $50-million deal.

The NFL has instituted this three-day legal tampering period to get rid of the illegal tampering that normally occurred at the combine. Teams can entering into negotiations with the agents, but they cannot meet with the players or officially sign them until Tuesday at 3 p.m.

On the first day of free agency last year the Cowboys hosted Carr, Mackenzy Bernadeau and Kyle Orton at Cowboys Stadium, wining and dining them with current players such as Jason Witten, DeMarcus Ware and Miles Austin on hand.

They missed on only one free-agent target: tight end Kellen Davis, who chose to re-sign with Chicago.

The Cowboys still need to pare roughly $6 million before Tuesday just to get under the cap. They can rework the deals on players such as Jay Ratliff and Bernadeau and are waiting to hear if Dan Connor will take a pay cut.

They could also get under the cap by signing Tony Romo to a new deal to reduce his $16.8 million cap figure.

A Look Back: How the Bears slowed Ware

October, 2, 2012
IRVING, Texas -- Raise your hand if you thought DeMarcus Ware would be able to make Jay Cutler cuss out his left tackle J'Marcus Webb even more than he did a few weeks ago on Monday?

Cowboys LB Sean Lee discusses the play of the defense, focusing on their mistakes during the bye week and more.

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In this week’s Look Back, Chicago did its best to make sure Ware would be contained.

Of the seven possessions by Chicago (not including the two kneel downs and a three-and-out when the score was 34-10), the Bears made sure they knew where Ware was and mostly made sure Cutler got rid of the ball. The one time he didn’t Ware had his sack and fumble by chasing Cutler down from behind.

Ware has seen a backup tackle (Seattle was without Russell Okung) and a picked-on tackle in Webb and he has only been OK. His sack/fumble of Cutler on Monday was a huge play that gets lost when Tony Romo is intercepted (or fumbled) on the next play and is returned for a touchdown by Lance Briggs

Ware was singled up with Webb or right tackle Gabe Carimi 14 times in his pass rush. Seven times they gave some sort of help to the tackles with either a tight end or running back. Four times Ware was in coverage. He was off the field for one of Cutler’s passes to take a rest.

On Cutler’s long touchdown to Devin Hester, Ware was singled up by Webb but Cutler was throwing away from Ware and drifted away from any pressure. On Brandon Marshall’s big third-down catch on Brandon Carr, Ware was able to pressure up the middle but it was a quick throw. On Marshall’s 31-yard touchdown, Ware got caught in the wash as he looped inside.

For those of you wanting to believe Ware doesn’t make impact sacks, take a peek at how the Bears made sure they took Ware out of the game with shorter drops and quicker throws.

The secondary struggled to say the least against the Bears. A lot of the attention will go on Carr, but the Bears took advantage of the Cowboys’ safety play.

They were able to work the middle of the field against the Cowboys’ zone coverage to near perfection, especially with Marshall but Alshon Jeffery had his moments too. Gerald Sensabaugh might not want to look at the first drive of the third quarter.

Jeffery worked underneath for 14 yards against Sensabaugh. Marshall got him for 10 more a play later. And on Hester’s touchdown, Sensbaugh jumped an underneath receiver when Danny McCray was already apparently in position.

Hester uses a double move to break free from Morris Claiborne, but the rookie corner looks like he is playing outside leverage and expecting help inside to the post. It wasn’t there.

It wasn’t just Sensabaugh either. Mike Jenkins was beaten by Kellen Davis for a 21-yard pickup on third down with the score 24-10. Davis opened up the corner route by taking Jenkins inside for a few steps. Sensabaugh was in position for that but Jenkins lost contact with Davis, giving up the outside throw.

For those of you wanting Rob Ryan to blitz more, witness Marshall’s 31-yard touchdown. The Cowboys sent seven guys at Cutler, including Claiborne off the corner, and could not get home. Carr got caught up with Davis and McCray underneath, giving Marshall the middle of the field for what could have been the easiest touchdown of his career.

As Jean-Jacques Taylor noted this morning, this was another brutal game for the offense.

Jason Garrett was right about one thing: they were able to pick up yards in the passing game. The protection of Tony Romo was not that bad overall but Henry Melton’s forced pick/fumble that led to Briggs touchdown was a back breaker.

Right guard Mackenzy Bernadeau was beaten to his outside shoulder and caught off balance. He tried to push Melton by as Romo climbed the pocket but Melton was able to poke the ball free. I have a feeling this will be called a fumble after an official review of the play by the league and not an interception even as Romo was looking to flip the ball to Jason Witten.

That was a huge play, but the line’s pass protection was good enough. The Bears brought five-man or more pressures nine times and Romo completed 8 of 9 passes.

Romo will want a couple of throws back and we’re not talking about the interceptions in the second half. We’re talking two touchdown throws.

The first came in the second quarter. He missed Dez Bryant on a deep ball down the seam on man-to-man coverage after Felix Jones’ motioned wide to open up the throw. Romo either did not put enough air under the ball or threw it too early.

The second came in the third quarter with the Bears leading, 24-10. It was another deep ball down the seam, this time to Miles Austin. At the snap Austin beat the corner and the safety, Chris Conte, was late to cover up. Again Romo either didn’t put enough air under the ball or threw it too early.

The running game was non-existent and it wasn’t because the Bears were dedicating an extra defender to the box. They had only three eight-man fronts in the first half. The line could not get enough push. Simple as that.

But DeMarco Murray will lament a second-quarter toss play to the left. Jason Witten sealed the edge. Tyron Smith had Lance Briggs under control. Kevin Ogletree had safety Conte blocked and cornerback Charles Tillman took himself out of the play.

If Murray catches the toss from Romo, which was a good one, then he has a big gain. Maybe not a touchdown, but certainly a first down and perhaps his second-longest run of the season.

Making that hurt even more? Romo and Bryant had a miscommunication on the next play that led to Tillman’s pick six.

Kellen Davis one who got away from Cowboys

September, 29, 2012
IRVING, Texas -- The Cowboys targeted eight free agents almost immediately when free agency began in March and signed seven of them.

The original No. 88, Drew Pearson, shares his take on how Jason Witten's spleen injury has affected his play and the Cowboys' offensive woes.

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The only player to visit Valley Ranch and Cowboys Stadium and not sign with Dallas was tight end Kellen Davis, who chose to return to Chicago with a two-year, $6 million deal.

Davis visits Cowboys Stadium on Monday with the Bears and has three catches for 41 yards, including a 21-yard touchdown grab.

After the Cowboys lost out on Davis, they chose not to pursue another free agent, going with John Phillips as the No. 2 to Jason Witten and eventually drafting James Hanna in the sixth round.

“He’s a big, strong, Y-tight end," head coach Jason Garrett said. “He can play on the line as a blocker and we thought he was a good receiver. I thought we did a really good job landing most of the guys we targeted. He felt like that situation in Chicago was better for him. He’s obviously their starting tight end. (Jason) Witten was going to be our starting tight end here. We had to explain what his role was going to be. When he put it all together, he felt like that was a better spot for him, but we like him a lot and he’s playing well for them."

Cowboys have interest in Jarrett Bush

March, 19, 2012
IRVING, Texas – Having already hauled in seven free agents, the Cowboys might not be done shopping.

The Cowboys have interest in Green Bay cornerback Jarrett Bush and are attempting to set up a visit.

With WR Laurent Robinson leaving for the Jaguars, ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM's Ben & Skin wonder how the Cowboys will replace his production.

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So far in free agency the Cowboys have proven to be good closers. The Cowboys have signed seven of their eight free-agent visitors. The only player not to sign was tight end Kellen Davis, who returned to Chicago on a two-year deal.

Bush, 27, is considered a top special teamer and led Green Bay with 12 tackles. Defensively the Packers’ coaches credited him with 21 tackles, 1.5 sacks, two interceptions and eight pass breakups. He started two games for the Packers in 2011.

So far in free agency the Cowboys have taken care of the defense with cornerback Brandon Carr, safety Brodney Pool and linebacker Dan Connor and the offense with guards Mackenzy Bernadeau and Nate Livings, fullback Lawrence Vickers and quarterback Kyle Orton.

Bush (6-0, 194 pounds) would help the special teams as well as the sub packages defensively. He can play cornerback or safety.
IRVING, Texas -- With Martellus Bennett flying to visit the New York Giants, the Cowboys are not wasting time shopping for a second tight end to play alongside Jason Witten.

According to a source, the Cowboys will visit with Chicago’s Kellen Davis, and another source said the Cowboys have an interest in John Carlson, who missed last season with a shoulder injury. Carlson is visiting with Kansas City and has received interest from other teams, as well.

The Cowboys like to use two-tight end packages. Bennett was a solid blocker but went three years without a touchdown catch. He had 17 catches for 144 yards in 2011.

Davis, at 6-foot-7, 267 pounds, caught 18 passes for 206 yards with five touchdowns last season for the Bears in an offense that did not feature the tight end. He has 28 catches for 300 yards and nine touchdowns in his career.

Carlson has 137 catches for 1,519 yards and 13 touchdowns, but he did not play last year and was limited to 31 catches in 2010 after catching 106 passes his first two seasons.

Opportunity could limit Boys TE search

March, 12, 2012
IRVING, Texas – Martellus Bennett made it pretty clear last week that he does not intend to return to Dallas, and the Cowboys are not about to stand in his way by making some lucrative offer to keep him.

Bennett might want to be a No. 1 tight end, but there does not seem to be a lot of teams in need at the moment. You might be able to come up with five - Cleveland, Denver, Chicago, St. Louis and Indianapolis – so Bennett’s market might not be too large.

But Bennett’s impending departure does create a void in talent and also sheer numbers, and filling that hole could be somewhat difficult in free agency.

When players hit the open market, their top concerns are money, opportunity and winning. Depending on the player, you can put those three things in any kind of order you want.

Let’s focus on the opportunity part for this discussion.

In Jason Witten the Cowboys have one of the best tight ends in the NFL. He will not come off the field unless he loses a limb. He will catch around 80 passes on the season, average around 12 yards a reception and score about five touchdowns a year.

When the Cowboys drafted Anthony Fasano in 2006 and Bennett in 2008, they were ahead of this two-tight end thought many teams have now. They traded Fasano to Miami in 2008 and took Bennett to be the guy. It never happened for Bennett for reasons that will depend on your loyalty: the coaches never utilized Bennett correctly or Bennett never took advantage of the opportunities he got in order to receive more opportunities.

It doesn’t matter how it happened. It did. Now the Cowboys have to move on to the next guy.

Maybe that next guy is John Phillips. It’s doubtful that guy will be in the draft because most of the draft experts call this one of the worst tight end classes ever.

So what to do in free agency. The Cowboys would like more of an in-line blocker, like Bennett, but also somebody who can be something of a pass threat.

John Carlson missed last year with a shoulder injury and will be available. If healthy, he can produce, but he might want a bigger opportunity elsewhere. Cleveland’s Alex Smith’s season ended because of an injury too. Other options could be Cincinnati’s Donald Lee or Chicago’s Kellen Davis.