Why restricted free agent David Irving expects to be back with the Cowboys in 2018

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The Dallas Cowboys on Wednesday placed a second-round tender on restricted free agent defensive lineman David Irving. Any team competing for Irving’s services would have to give up a second-round pick for the three-year veteran in this year’s April draft. The Cowboys also have the right to match any other team’s offer.

But because the Cowboys chose the second-round tender ($2.9 million) over a first-round tender ($4.1 million), some fans are predicting Irving won’t be playing for the Cowboys in 2018. And since Irving had seven sacks, 19 quarterback pressures and six deflected passes in just eight games last season, one could reason a team rich in picks and salary cap room could be tempted to snag Irving and give up the draft pick.

And perhaps a couple teams will indeed try.

But there are several other factors in play, pointed out by Irving’s Dallas-based agent Louis Bing, that suggest it’s likely Irving will be back for his fourth season in Dallas.

While Irving and his agent would of course listen to overtures made by other teams between now and the April 20 deadline to execute an offer sheet, the offer would need to be rich indeed. Why? If Irving puts together another solid or great season, he will be able to demand a major deal next offseason as an unrestricted free agent.

"It would have to make sense for him to play out this year and not get to free agency," Bing said.

If some theorize the Cowboys could be dangling Irving, hoping to gain an additional second-round pick, they also have to consider that Irving has to agree to the deal.

Bing said he and the Cowboys have been in communication since the end of the season and are on the same page.

It makes sense for the Cowboys to place a second-round tender instead of a first-round tender on Irving if they believe it will get the same job done for less. NFL franchises value their draft picks, and it’s very rare to see a second-round pick given up for a restricted free agent.

How confident is Irving that he will be back with the Cowboys? Bing said the 6-7 mismatch has already signed a one-year lease on a new residence. He’s outfitting the garage with a gym and sauna, part of preparing for the upcoming season. Irving is expected to take part in voluntary workouts starting here next week.

Irving is particularly motivated because of how last season ended, Bing said. After missing the first four games to a suspension for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy, he missed the last four because of lingering concussion symptoms. He made his presence felt in between.

But Irving still has some things to prove. His commitment to football has been questioned at times because of colorful off-field interests that include acting and nipple rings. He was an undrafted free agent in part because he got kicked off Iowa State’s football team before his senior season. The suspension to start 2017 hurt. Then came the injury just when he was really getting going.

The Cowboys have said they want to see a full year of consistent production from Irving before they offer him a long-term deal.

Irving, Bing said, is also motivated to show what he can do in a full 2018 season — likely for the Cowboys.

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