Chat with Todd Archer
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday, ESPN NFL Nation Dallas Cowboys reporter Todd Archer drops by to chat and answer all of your Cowboys questions.
Archer joined ESPNDallas.com in November 2010. He's covered the NFL since 1997 and the Cowboys since 2003. He covered the Bengals and Dolphins before arriving in Dallas. A Massachusetts native, Archer lives in the Dallas area with his wife and two children.
Send your questions now and join Archer Wednesday at noon ET!
Todd Archer (12:02 PM)
Sorry for the delay. Let's go ...
Stephen [via mobile]
I don't know how Sean lee contract is constructed but will the cowboys save money with him not being able to play this year?
Todd Archer (12:04 PM)
Let's start with Sean Lee and I'm sure we'll have more Lee questions. No, they save no money this year. Lee will not be able to add $1.5 million to his 2015 base salary had he played in 80% of the snaps this year, so that can be viewed as a savings next year.
Mo (Las Colinas)
Why, why, why, why, why was Sean Lee, the best MLB in the game, that has had an injury proned career was he participating in full speed practice in May?! the guy does not need practice. he's a workaholic and knows the game and scheme inside and out. he just needs to be well conditioned, participate in walk throughs and play on sundays. I blame the coaches for his injury. Romo wasn't out there. Claiborne wasn't out there. INEXCUSABLE! season is done before it even remotely started. okay, I'm done...
Todd Archer (12:06 PM)
Claiborne and Romo are coming off surgeries. Lee wasn't and was cleared from his neck injury in March. To use your logic, why practice at all? Why is Jason Witten practicing? DeMarco Murray? Dez Bryant? They don't need it, right? These practices have been going on for years. Players get hurt. It happens every year with every team. Some injuries are more severe. You can't blame the coaches. You can't blame Zack Martin. You can blame luck.
Austin (Camden, NC)
How much will Lee's injury hurt the efficiency of the Cowboy's defense this season?
Todd Archer (12:07 PM)
How would any team respond to losing its best defensive player? It's going to be a major loss, but it doesn't mean the season is over. The Cowboys have time to figure this thing out, which is good. They can look in-house for help right now and if they need to they can look outside later. With Lee, the Cowboys are better. Without him, they're not. But it doesn't mean they're doomed to a 5-11 season.
Brian indianapolis [via mobile]
Hey Todd. If the offense can reproduce last years numbers and with all the defensive additions to this years team thru the draft/ free agency do u think they can make the playoffs? Say Kelley and the eagles have bit of a sophomore slump with Foles and the loss of Jackson as a playmaker, Washington is still rebuilding with a new coaching staff and who knows about RG3 (although he does have a nice new motivated reciver in Jackson) , and NY seems to be stuck in mediocracy. I think this is the year we get back on top the division. I still think it will come down to week 15 or 17 though.
Todd Archer (12:10 PM)
That's how the Cowboys viewed this deal. They figured they went 8-8 with the worst defense in franchise history. If it is just a little bit better, they can get to 9-10 wins. Now, they always seem to gloss over injuries and the Lee one will hurt a ton. If the Cowboys are going to win - whether Lee played or not - it would be mostly because the offense played really well. I don't think anybody expected this defense to be great overnight.
Might sound cruel, but at what point are we going to part ways with Lee? He is obviously injury prone and is simply taking up a valuable roster spot at this point. He mysteriously incurs way too many "fluke" injuries.
Todd Archer (12:11 PM)
I'm not sure they can do it even next year. He is still owed some guaranteed money on the extension he signed last summer. If there's a guy who can come back from this, it is Lee. But I do think the Cowboys need to cover themselves better at the spot than just hope.
Tyrone (Stephenville TX) [via mobile]
The year that Sean Lee went down and Bruce Carter had to take over for him at mike, Bruce played really well before he got hurt. This was before the switch to the 4-3. Why dont they try Bruce back out at mike now that Sean is possibly gone for the season? I know they drafted Hitchens but it wouldn't hurt to see if Bruce could rejuvenate his career by excelling at mike.
Todd Archer (12:12 PM)
Different scheme, different responsibilities. I wouldn't rule it out, but I think it's doubtful. They didn't use Carter there last year in this scheme when Lee went out, so that should tell you what the team believes of Carter to play the Mike in a 4-3.
Michael (tx) [via mobile]
Will the cowboys move Bruce or hollaman to seans spot or will they get a vet?
Todd Archer (12:13 PM)
I think they will look in-house for the time being with Hitchens, Holloman and even Justin Durant. I've seen some names thrown out, like Brian Urlacher. I just can't see that one. The guys available now all have warts, like Vilma, whose knees are said to be in rough shape. First, however, I think they look in-house for the replacement.
Daniel (on lunch) [via mobile]
Draft question: why didn't Dallas have more interest in CJ Mosley who was a beast in college and why they more aggressive in getting ahead of Pittsburg to get shazier
Todd Archer (12:16 PM)
If people didn't like Lee's injury history, they wouldn't have liked Mosley's injuries either. His body is pretty beat up, from what scouts across the league have told me. As for Shazier, you're using the Lee injury now as a sign of poor management to not move up. They liked Shazier and he would've been the pick, but they didn't like him enough to give up a pick to move a spot or two. They're happy with Martin and will be happy to have him for the next decade. IMO, Shazier was something of a risk. He can fly but he sure seemed to get blocked a lot.
Deon atl [via mobile]
Aren't OTAs suppose to be noncontact? Did the cowboys violate rules?
Todd Archer (12:18 PM)
Technically yes, but the definition of contact is the gray area. I've covered offseason practices since 1998 in the NFL and they all look the same. Football is a contact sport. You can't eliminate it. Players have to touch each other. It's just like basketball. Injuries happen. The Cowboys didn't violate any rules. And if they are judged to have violated rules, then the offseason programs across the NFL need to stop today.
Jane [via mobile]
Why would dez give the cowboys a hometown discount when he's probably top 3-5 at his position?
Todd Archer (12:19 PM)
If he gives a discount, it will be in structure, not dollars. I wouldn't give a discount. The life of a player is very short. They need to cash in when they can and Bryant is in a great position. He'll do very well on this deal, but I don't see any discount.
Ray (From Southside)
This maybe on the back burner now since the Lee injury, but any rumors about trading for DL help like Brandon Graham and/or Derrick Morgan? I hear they are bad fits for the 3-4 def but great fits for 4-3 def
Todd Archer (12:20 PM)
I think they're done adding to the defensive line. They might look at some linebackers now obviously, but they've got numbers up front now that they didn't have last year.
How much cap space do the Cowboys have and how do you figure they'll make space for Dez's new contract? Is Doug Free a cuttable option for that to happen?
Todd Archer (12:22 PM)
The number is always fluid so hard to judge for sure. I'd put it in the $4 million range and it will grow next week by another $5.5 million when Miles Austin's cut becomes official. But don't get carried away on that space. They still need to sign draft picks. They need money for their practice squad guys too. They need keep space for players they will need to add during the season. So if you see $9 million, cut that back to maybe $2-3 million when all is said and done. And no, cutting Free isn't an option. It's more likely he signs an extension.
After Lee's injury, I have concluded that there are no Football Gods.
Todd Archer (12:23 PM)
There's this, yes.
Kenny garland tx [via mobile]
Do you see cowboys making playoffs w Sean Lee injury?
Todd Archer (12:23 PM)
I didn't have them making the playoffs before Lee got hurt.
Tobie (Dayton, Ohio)
Is Sean Lee definitely out for the entire season?
Todd Archer (12:24 PM)
Almost assuredly but there's always a chance they put him on PUP instead of IR to keep the option alive for a possible return in the playoffs. But it's as likely as me winning a Cy Young at this point.
Do you see the Cowboys going out and signing a veteran like Jonathan Vilma or rolling with what they got in Bruce Carter or the rookie Hutchins ( a player they could have gotten with a 7th rounder ) - but we want talk about that.
Todd Archer (12:26 PM)
Hitchens was going to Seattle at the end of the fourth, from what I've heard, so there's that. Since a ton of you have asked the same question, here goes one more time: I think the Cowboys look from within for help for the time being while keeping an eye on what's available. When the preseason begins, I think they'll look at the spot hard if those in-house options don't look to be panning out.
What would it take for you to trade Dez (to, say, the Browns)?
Todd Archer (12:26 PM)
Two first-round picks at the minimum.
Bryan (Springdale, AR)
I blame Sean Lee. He took on the a lot of responsibility in signing a huge contract, basically stating that he could be relied upon to be the cornerstone of this defense; now he gets to earn $9 million for not playing. Not a bad con game if you ask me.
Todd Archer (12:27 PM)
You think he wants to get hurt? Ridiculous. We have a lot of good back and forths here Bryan but that is wrong on every level.
Any news on Josh Brent? He would make a good 1 tech? any thoughts?
Todd Archer (12:28 PM)
Nothing really knew. He's in jail. He's still retired. The NFL has yet to decide if he faces more punishment from them. With the way the Cowboys added to the line, I think Brent is a backburner option at best.
Are we looking at another season in which the offense will need to carry this team, and score at least high 20's each week just to have a chance to win?
Todd Archer (12:29 PM)
That was the case before Lee got hurt, wasn't it?
Brock Marion (Vegas)
If Morris Claiborne doesn't step his game up in '14, would it be feasible for the team to release him after this season?
Todd Archer (12:30 PM)
Brock, what's up man? Covered you with the Dolphins. Had a Pro Bowl year too. Claiborne's contract is guaranteed, so I don't think they'd cut him. And I don't think you could trade him either. What I think would happen is there's no way they would pick up the fifth-year option. For the sixth pick in the draft, that's just an awful scenario. You simply can't miss on those picks.
Kenny(Garland tx) [via mobile]
who will have a big season?
Todd Archer (12:30 PM)
Dez Bryant, DeMarco Murray, Jason Witten.
Did the Cowboys make a mistake not drafting defense in the 1st round?
Todd Archer (12:31 PM)
Nope. Who did you want them to pick? They made the best decision they could in the first round, IMO. Of course, maybe I'm saying that because I had Martin in the ESPN mock draft coming to the Cowboys.
Why does it always seem that we offer huge contracts to players who are unproven when it comes to staying healthy and then when we are in a bad way with the cap, we are completely shocked that we have nothing to show for it?
Todd Archer (12:33 PM)
Let me think off the top of my head: Lee, Miles Austin ... Who else has this happened to? Witten hasn't missed a game. Ware missed three in his career. Ratliff wasn't injury prone necessarily.
Since you don't have the Cowboys making the playoffs, who wins the division?
Todd Archer (12:33 PM)
Eagles. But I don't see them running away with it.
Ol Ball Coach (Vancouver, BC)
The Lee injury is a problem, but so is Dez Bryant claiming he should be among the richest wide receivers. This is exactly the wrong time for Dez to develop a full blown case of what Pat Riley termed "The Disease of Me". What do you see as a bigger issue than the Lee injury?
Todd Archer (12:35 PM)
I think you're making way too much of his comments. He is going into the final year of his deal. He's played well. If at you're job you were faced with the same situation, wouldn't you feel you deserved a new deal? Look, he's not holding out. He's at the OTAs. He's working out doing everything he can to get better.
Ian (ATL, GA) [via mobile]
Considering non contact injuries like Lee's and Crawford's, do you think the players and league got it wrong in new CBA by reducing on field time in offseason? Seems like less on field practices have led to more injuries, especially of the non-contact variety.
Todd Archer (12:36 PM)
Not really. Players got hurt before the new CBA too. I think what the new CBA does is limit the conditioning work of players and that has led to nagging injuries. I'm not sure the stats back me up or maybe it just seems anecdotal.
Big Bernie [via mobile]
The defense was a real strength last year. Sean Lee being out shouldn't effect this unit since we just had an excellent defensive draft. Shouldn't we focus on the real weakness like lack of depth at tight end?
Todd Archer (12:37 PM)
So the starting middle linebacker being gone for the year is not more important than the guys playing behind Witten? What world does that make sense?
charles (new jersey)
Do you think there is a chance the Cowboys revisit the option to possibly sign Brian Urlacher as a replacement for Lee this season? Do they even have enough money under the cap to bring him in for say the leauge minimum?
Todd Archer (12:38 PM)
You say revisit like they considered this before. They didn't. I don't think they go this route. And the Brian Urlacher at the end of his time in Chicago wasn't the Urlacher we all remember.
Scott (Westminster, CO)
Were you around the team to judge their reaction/state of mind after the Lee injury?
Todd Archer (12:38 PM)
I noticed the tempo and energy drop.
Todd Archer (12:39 PM)
And now that I see more questions Big Bernie I realize he's trolling. My bad people.
Zachary (work) [via mobile]
U hear about contracts all the time but why hasn't a guy like witten never held out for more money when he's always played at a top level
Todd Archer (12:40 PM)
He's signed three contracts with the team. He has made a ton of money and been compensated as one of the best tight ends. His bonus money from his first extension might have been the most for a tight end at the time. His second extension came with two years left on his deal. He's got nothing to complain about.
Jess (Roanoke, VA)
Zack Martin pick looks even better now after Lee injury, giving Dallas more ability to ball control on offense keep the weaker defense off the field. In that light, could you see them being more motivated to go with a true fullback? Despite flaws, Clutts's arrival did seem to improve Murray's performance level last year.
Todd Archer (12:41 PM)
I wouldn't expect the fullback to be a feature part of this team. Sorry. I think you'll see more 12 personnel with Escobar mostly being a receiver.
As stated the offense is the way this team wins,but does the offense become more ball control trying to establish long drives with short passing game to help keep the defense off the field or do they just say heck with it and try to score 40 a game?
Todd Archer (12:42 PM)
I understand the thinking, but if you try to ball control your way through games you won't score points and that keeps other teams within a score of hitting a big play to change things. I think you have to attack early in games to get a lead and then you control it late with the running game.
Jim (Orlando, FL)
I know the OTA didn't give a lot to go on, but what was your impression of Demarcus Lawrence? Think he will be a player?
Todd Archer (12:43 PM)
Honestly, I was watching Romo most of the practice before the team stuff started and then Lee got hurt. I didn't notice Lee get taken to the woodshed, which is good. But I didn't see him get to the QB either. I do think he will be a good player.
Big Bernie's mother (State of Embarrassment)
I'm sorry, world.
Is there any truth to the rumor that Sean Lee tore his MCL, ACL and meniscus? In other words, has Sean Lee himself, or anyone within the Dallas Cowboys organization came forward with such news, or has it all just been speculation?
Todd Archer (12:44 PM)
I was told just an ACL tear with a slight meniscus tear. No MCL.
Jess (Roanoke, VA)
Any early impressions from the safeties? Matt Johnson have any PTSD after Lee went down?
Todd Archer (12:46 PM)
Nope. He was good to go. I'll have a post on him soon on the blog.
Todd Archer (12:47 PM)
Have to cut it a little short today folks. Thanks for all of the questions. If you have more, send me them on Twitter (@toddarcher) and I'll put them up on posts scheduled for Friday and Saturday.