Bucs at Dallas: Preseason Week 4 preview

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The regular season is just around the corner. The only thing
standing in the way of real, actual football is the Bucs Week 4 matchup against
Dallas. The Buccaneers travel to Dallas, where contract disputes and position
battles abound.

Two offensive starters are very publicly unhappy with their
current contracts – Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott. The players have taken polar
opposite approaches to voice their displeasure. Whereas Elliott has yet to
appear at any Cowboys functions, including preseason games, Prescott has shown
up and participated despite being grossly underpaid this season (Prescott is set
to make a measly $2 million this year).

Both players expect to be paid at the top of their position.
Elliott wants a deal in excess of Todd Gurley’s $60 million, $45 million
guaranteed contract. Cowboys, however, are reportedly squeamish about the
guaranteed portion of that equation. Prescott has reportedly turned down an
offer for $30 million a year, with his target being $40 million a year. For
perspective, Russell Wilson just signed a $35 million a year deal. The team
could franchise tag Prescott in 2020, but would still have to pay him $34
million for that year.

Lucky for the Cowboys, the contract disputes remain on the offensive
side of the ball. Cowboys fans are witnessing a position battle on the other
side of the ball this offseason, and they’ve got a problem every NFL team wants:
too many good players. The defensive line is stacked with talent, so much so
that they’re going to end up letting good players go simply because they don’t
have room for them. The Bucs benefitted from the Browns’ abundance of talent
when they acquired Carl Nassib on waivers prior to the 2018 season.

According to Jess Haynie of Inside the Star, locks to make
the roster include: DE DeMarcus Lawrence, who just signed a huge contact this
offseason; DT Maliek Collins and DT Antwaun Woods, who both played well last
year and based on their utilization this preseason are safe; and DE Trysten
Hill, the Cowboys first pick in the 2019 draft (2nd round).

The next tier are probably making the roster, but this
is the NFL and you never really know. DE Kerry Hyder was a free agent acquisition
this offseason and has been the best performer since his arrival. DE Dorance
Armstrong was the Cowboys’ 2018 4th round pick who specializes in
pass rush and has been a standout this preseason. He may be the stand-in for
Robert Quinn while Quinn serves his two-game suspension for testing positive
for a masking agent. DT Christian Covington was another free agent acquisition
who offers the team versatility.

After these guys, it gets dicey. DT Tyrone Crawford might be
safe but for his $7 million cap hit that becomes guaranteed at Week 1. He’s on
the last year of his contact with the team. The plethora of depth at the position
does not work in his favor. DE Taco Charlton was the team’s 2017 1st
round pick who has underperformed and wasn’t expected to survive final cuts
until his improved performance this preseason. DE Joe Jackson, 5th
round pick, offers a motor and power.

Defensive ends Daniel Ross, Daniel Wise and Ricky Walker and
defensive tackle Jalen Jelks will likely not survive roster cuts.

We don’t expect to see the roster locks in Thursday’s
matchup. Our backup offensive line will get a taste for how deep this Cowboys
defensive line depth runs.

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