May has turned to June, and the offseason has turned to offseason training activities as the Dallas Cowboys, and the rest of the NFL sets their sites on the 2021 NFL Season. Teams are working with rosters and continuing to evaluate the talent on their team. While the Cowboys will likely take this current roster to training camp, it’s unlikely that the 53-man roster will come from these 90 players. The Dallas Cowboys will make adjustments to the roster as other teams make cuts, and even before those cuts are made, several veterans make sense for the Dallas Cowboys.
At this point in free agency, there are still some veterans that could provide nice insurance. Richard Sherman at cornerback could help if Kelvin Joseph wasn’t ready to take on the position full-time in week one. There are edge rushers like Melvin Ingram, Justin Houston, or Olivier Vernon that could come in and provide pass rush help behind DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory.
At edge rusher, the Cowboys lack players that have much pass rush productivity at the NFL level. Dorance Armstrong would likely be the third edge rusher but has only 2.5 sacks to his name during his three-year career. Tarell Basham is coming off a career-high 3.5 sacks when he played as an outside linebacker for the New York Jets and has 7.5 sacks in his career. Bradlee Anae showed a proclivity for getting to the passer in college but only received six snaps on the defensive side of the football in 2020. Chauncey Golston and Osa Odighizuwa offer some potential. Still, like Bradlee Anae, we need to see them do something on the field before feeling comfortable with them as backups to the Cowboys starters at defensive end.
It isn’t a foregone conclusion that Kelvin Joseph is the day-one starter at cornerback, though that’s what the Dallas Cowboys would like to see happen. The reality is that adjusting to the NFL level can be difficult for rookie defenders, especially at cornerback. If the Cowboys got into training camp and felt like they needed a veteran to provide steady play opposite Trevon Diggs, then Sherman or Breshaud Breeland could be interesting names to add to compete with Joseph on the outside.
Along with Joseph, you have Reggie Robinson, who is switching back from safety to cornerback. Robinson, like Anae, didn’t get much playing time under Mike Nolan last year. While I still have high hopes that Robinson can turn into a starter in the NFL, the reality is he hasn’t had a chance to show what he can do on the field yet. Then there’s Nahshon Wright, who the Dallas Cowboys selected in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft. With such a high selection, the Cowboys showed they’re high on the player, but can he get on the field and be effective in year one.
The Cowboys will continue to do their diligence at backup quarterback as well. Garrett Gilbert proved to be worth evaluating in training camp. He’ll get the first opportunity to seize the job. Gilbert proved to be competent in his lone start against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but it’s a position that requires ongoing evaluation. Ben DiNucci and Cooper Rush are still in the building. DiNucci is a project that was wildly inconsistent in his start against the Philadelphia Eagles. Cooper Rush has been in the league a while now but hasn’t been asked to play much in his time in the NFL. If Gilbert doesn’t show he’s capable of handling the backup duties, then the Cowboys will likely circle back to Brett Hundley, who was in for a workout a couple of weeks ago.
In training camp, more than these OTA and minicamp practices, it will be worth keeping an eye on how Kelvin Joseph, in particular, is performing against the Cowboys starting wide receiver trio. If he’s able to win some of those one-on-one battles, the Cowboys will likely feel confident enough in the player to roll with him into the regular season.
At cornerback, more than edge rusher, there is some interesting and unproven depth. Players you’d like to see compete in OTAs, minicamp, and training camp before deciding on your depth chart. Much like with Everson Griffen last year, the Cowboys likely wouldn’t add a veteran to the roster until later in training camp or the preseason. They want to give these young players as many snaps as possible in these practices, and adding a veteran would cut into those opportunities to develop.