Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys DE David Irving showing commitment now in hopes of cashing in big later

Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman David Irving had a stretch of seven sacks in eight games last season. He missed the first four games because of suspension and the last four games with the effects of a concussion.
Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman David Irving had a stretch of seven sacks in eight games last season. He missed the first four games because of suspension and the last four games with the effects of a concussion. rmallison@star-telegram.com

Dallas Cowboys defensive end David Irving signed his restricted free-agent tender of $2.91 million.

But for those concerned about his focus and commitment, Irving was at the team headquarters at The Star in Frisco on Monday for the start of the off-season program.

This is a good sign for a team that still has questions about the talented, but mercurial, Irving.

He had seven sacks in eight games last season but also missed the first four games because of an NFL suspension for taking a banned substance and the last four games dealing with a concussion.

There was some debate early in the off-season about whether the Cowboys would place a first- or second-round tender on Irving. A first-round tender would have guaranteed him a one-year deal for $4.19 million. The second rounder was $2.91 million but left him open to possibly be poached by another team.

That the Cowboys were willing to take that risk spoke volumes about their concerns about Irving's preparation, commitment and maturity.

Even if they would have secured a second-round pick in return if Irving had been signed to an offer sheet by another team, any potential rookie wouldn't have been able to match Irving's production and dominance, certainly not in 2018.

Ultimately, no one came after Irving and he should be back in 2018 in what will be a motivating year for him to prove to the Cowboys and the rest of the league he is worth a big-money contract. The $2.91 million second-round tender is a huge jump from the $615,000 he made in 2017.

A big year in 2018 heading into free agency could increase that precipitously. The franchise tag for a defensive tackle in 2018 is $13.4 million. The current top-10 paid defensive tackles have signed multiyear deals from $48 million to $102 million.

If Irving finished with double-digit sacks in 2018, let alone repeats his crazy per-game sack performance from 2017, he could be the best defensive tackle on the market in 2019.

That's enough to motivate Irving to show up with some commitment and show up, which would be beneficial to him and the Cowboys.

The Dallas Cowboys have the 19th pick in the 2018 NFL Draft on April 26-28. These are the 15 guys most likely to end up in Dallas, according to draft experts.

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