Cowboys Go Defense in 2017 NFL Draft; Take Michigan DE Taco Charlton

The Cowboys drafted for defense as expected Thursday, taking Michigan defensive end Taco Charlton with the 28th overall pick in the NFL Draft.

Charlton, who led the Wolverines with 9 1/2 sacks in 2016, is the first defensive end taken in the first round by the Cowboys in 10 years. Pass-rushing is the biggest need for Dallas, which was the top seed in the NFC last season but struggled to pressure the quarterback.

It’s the third time in four years that the Cowboys have taken a defensive end in the first two rounds, but DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory have fallen short of expectations.

Though he was a full-time starter just one season, Charlton was a first-team All-Big Ten selection after collecting 9 1/2 sacks and 13 tackles for loss. At 6-6, 277, Charlton has superior length with 34-inch arms and can wreak havoc up front. He has to be more consistent, so the challenge for the Cowboys defensive staff is to help him develop into an every-down starter.

“He’s got length, he’s got power, he’s got athletic ability. He doesn’t have the twitch,” NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said of Charlton. “What you see on tape is what I saw at the combine where he doesn’t quite have the twitch of an elite edge rusher, so I think he’s more of a base 3-4 end. And there is nothing wrong with that. You can be a good football player that plays eight to ten years in the league.”

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CBS Sports Network analyst London Fletcher joins Adam Schein to discuss the top prospects heading into the NFL Draft.

A Look at the 2017 Cowboys Schedule with a Glance at the Good and the Bad

The 2017 NFL Schedule is out as well as the 2017 Dallas Cowboys Schedule, and here’s a look at the slate for the upcoming season, with the home games in bold:

Sep. 10 New York Giants 7:30 PM

Sep. 17 at Denver Broncos 3:25 PM

Sep. 25 at Arizona Cardinals (Mon) 7:30 PM

Oct. 1 Los Angeles Rams 12:00 PM

Oct. 8 Green Bay Packers 3:25 PM

Oct. 15 BYE

Oct. 22 at San Francisco 49ers 3:05 PM

Oct. 29 at Washington Redskins 3:25 PM

Nov. 5 Kansas City Chiefs 3:25 PM

Nov. 12 at Atlanta Falcons 3:25 PM

Nov. 19 Philadelphia Eagles * 7:30 PM

Nov. 23 Los Angeles Chargers (Thu) 3:30 PM

Nov. 30 Washington Redskins (Thu) 7:25 PM

Dec. 10 at New York Giants 3:25 PM

Dec. 17 at Oakland Raiders * 7:30 PM

Dec. 24 Seattle Seahawks 3:25 PM

Dec. 31 at Philadelphia Eagles 12:00 PM

What’s Good about this Schedule: The Cowboys have an interesting stretch as they have their annual home Thanksgiving game and then another home game the following Thursday at home against the Redskins. Before these two games, they host the Eagles, meaning it’s a three-game home stretch.

What’s Bad about this Schedule: Three of the last four on the road and it won’t be easy, with the Giants, Raiders and Eagles being the three road games, with the Seahawks another tough team in the mix as their only home game on Christmas Eve.

Cowboys QB Tony Romo Decides to Retire; Will Go After Broadcasting Career

The NFL world is in shock today, as Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo has decided his health is more important than moving on and playing for another team, deciding to walk away from the NFL.

Adam Schefter of ESPN is reporting that Romo’s time on the sideline was enough for him to think long and hard about playing again, and it was enough for him to decide to retire.

ESPN is reporting that the Cowboys will release Romo today.

Romo has received interest from CBS, Fox and NBC, and can choose to be a color commentator where he wants. That move could come as early as Tuesday, sources said.

But the decision to leave football already has been made. His run as the Cowboys’ quarterback — and an NFL player — officially ends Tuesday.

Romo already has informed Cowboys owner Jerry Jones of his decision to step away from the game for now, sources said. The networks courting him also are aware.

Dak Prescott stepped in for an injured Romo last season, and led the Cowboys to the number one seed in the NFC before they lost to the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Divisional Playoff Game.

Podcast: Talking All Things Cowboys Free Agency

Cowboys Now Looking to Deal QB Tony Romo as Opposed to Just Releasing Him

Tony Romo put out an emotional video on Thursday saying ‘goodbye’ to the fans of Dallas, a team he was never able to lead to the promised land of the Super Bowl.

It was reported that the Cowboys would release Romo on Thursday, but now there’s been a 180 on that, and it looks like the team is going to hang on to the QB in an effort to trade him to a team that needs a quarterback – the Broncos and Texans.

Those are the two teams rumored to have the most interest in Romo. As part of the report, Chris Mortensen said the Broncos’ potential trade could involve Denver’s 2016 starting quarterback Trevor Siemian going to the New York Jets, but Mortensen later said there was “some backpedal” on that part of the report. The part about Romo being traded was “still alive,” he said.

Presumably, the Cowboys hadn’t gotten much trade interest in Romo, so the plan as of Wednesday was to cut him. But the Broncos and Texans probably don’t want a bidding war over free-agent Romo, so maybe they started thinking twice about getting Romo in a trade. They’d be trading for Romo’s massive contract, but a restructure seems likely as part of a deal.

Nothing ever happens quietly with the Cowboys. Just when it seemed like the Romo saga might end with a release and no big fireworks, suddenly that story has taken a U-turn at the last minute.

Romo still holds value, and it’s in the Cowboys best interest to try and see if they can make a deal happen. At this point – they have nothing to lose with the veteran QB.

QB DeShaun Watson Tells Cowboys to Trade Prescott and Romo to Browns and Draft Him

DeShaun Watson took a page out of Myles Garrett’s playbook Monday while accepting the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award in Fort Worth, Texas, Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal reports.

Except Watson pitched his fantasy trade between the Browns and Cowboys in front of a crowd, which included Cowboys coach Jason Garrett.

Watson playfully urged Garrett to trade quarterbacks Dak Prescott and Tony Romo to the Browns so the Cowboys could pick him.

“The Browns do need a quarterback,” Watson said, drawing laughter from the crowd. “You can trade both of them [Prescott and Romo]. I’m sitting right there. They [the Browns] need two [quarterbacks]. They need two.”

“I told coach Garrett if I’m back here [at the awards ceremony], you have to draft me,” Watson said. “So I know there’s a lot of Dallas Cowboys fans. Tony Romo is healthy. Dak, I’m a huge fan. … You fell in love with him. But, hey, I did my part. You have to do your part.”

Then Watson quipped he would talk to Garrett more about his proposal next week at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis and pointed out the Browns’ need for not one, but two QBs.

Cowboys Restructure the Deals for LT Tyron Smith and Center Travis Frederick

On Monday he Cowboys restructured the contracts of All-Pro left tackle Tyron Smith and All-Pro center Travis Frederick, freeing up $17.3 million, moving them under a proposed salary-cap of $168 million for 2017, Todd Archer of ESPN Dallas reports.

In a simple accounting move, the Cowboys lowered Smith’s $10 million base salary and Frederick’s $14.221 million base salary and turned the difference into signing bonus. Instead of counting $15.8 million (Smith) and $14.871 million (Frederick) against the cap in 2017, they will count $8.82 million and $4.531 million, respectively.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Cowboys were slightly more than $13 million over a cap of $170 million before the restructures.

The Cowboys can create more room by restructuring the contracts of linebacker Sean Lee, receiver Dez Bryant and defensive tackle Tyrone Crawford, as well as working on an extension for tight end Jason Witten.

A release of Tony Romo can create either $5.1 million in salary-cap room or $14 million if he is designated a post-June 1 cap casualty, however, they would not gain the credit until June 2.

The Cowboys had planned all along to rework the deals of Smith and Frederick. This is the third straight year they have restructured Smith’s contract. The Cowboys signed Frederick to an eight-year deal last August with the expressed desire for it to be restructured.