The Dallas Cowboys are hoping that getting All-Pros back from injury will solve most of their offensive line problems from 2020. But if health concerns continue among the starters, did offseason movement give Dallas better or worse depth for the upcoming season?
You know, painfully well, how bad it got for the Cowboys last year. La’el Collins missed the whole year, Tyron Smith all but two games, and Zack Martin was out for six games and parts of others. There was also turnover at center and even the newly-signed swing tackle, veteran Cam Erving, wasn’t around at times to help.
Dallas appears locked with their starting five now: Martin, Collins, Smith, Connor Wiliams, and Tyler Biadasz. Barring some surprise during camp or preseason, you can expect these to be your first-team offensive line for Week One.
That alone will be an improvement from last year given how much time the starters missed or played hurt. Plus you should have Biadasz growing in his second season and Williams giving max effort in a contract year.
But what if the returns of Collins, Martin, and Smith aren’t as glorious as we hope? We’ve heard this “healthier than ever” talk before when it comes to Tyron; what if 2021 is another sign of his slow decline? And what if something bad happens elsewhere on the line?
2021 Offseason Movement at OL
The Cowboys (and 31 other teams) have allowed a valuable depth piece in Joe Looney to remain unsigned in free agency. He’s not a star but Looney’s proven he can step in and perform. such as in 2018 when he played all year in Travis Frederick’s absence.
We expect 3rd-year prospect Connor McGovern to step into the Looney role as primary backup at guard and center. He did so last year and wasn’t awful, though it was hard to look good with the chaos throughout the line and offense as a whole.
At offensive tackle, Dallas let Cam Erving walk after one season as the backup. The replacement may be another veteran in 35-year-old Ty Nsekhe, but he will be competing with Brandon Knight, Terence Steele, and rookie Josh Ball for spots on the OT depth chart.
Dallas released versatile G/C Adam Redmond shortly after the draft and likely because they’d added rookie Matt Farniok in the 7th round. He also has position flexibility and could fight his way onto the roster with that attribute.
Looney, Erving, and Redmond were hardly great players but all were experienced and serviceable. While Nsekhe or perhaps even Ball can make up for Erving’s loss and Farniok can probably give us whatever Redmond did, losing “Jumbo Joe” hurts. The line was much stronger with both him and McGovern as depth options.
Yes, the overall play of the line will improve tremendously with our big-three starters all returning healthy. But this is about offseason movement; those players were already here last year. This a question of players lost versus players added, and right now I can’t see that we added anyone who currently presents the same value as Joe Looney.
Hopefully, everyone stays healthy this year and it doesn’t matter.