The Dallas Cowboys have started to make some moves on the defensive side of the ball in free agency. They added Carlos Watkins, Brent Urban, and Tarell Basham on Thursday to give them much-needed depth on the defensive line.
None of these moves will be viewed as splash signings but it gives the Cowboys a decent starting point. With help on the defensive interior still at the top of the Cowboys priority list, there's a name that's still on the open market that could make them much better against the run in 2021 (ranked 31st last season), and that's Defensive Tackle, Sheldon Rankins.
Rankins is a former first-round pick of the New Orleans Saints in 2016 out of Louisville. His rookie season was derailed by a broken fibula during practice. He played in nine games and recorded four sacks. Rankins started all 32 games over the next two seasons and registered a total of 10 sacks (eight in 2018) but suffered a torn Achilles against the Philadelphia Eagles in the divisional round of the playoffs in January of 2019.
So yes, the injury history of Rankins is a bit concerning, but when he's healthy he can cause some havoc inside and give the Cowboys another rotational presence along with Neville Gallimore, Trysten Hill, Antwaun Woods, and the aforementioned Watkins.
Rankins best season was in 2018 when he nearly achieved double-digit sacks. Last month in an interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio, he talked about how that version of himself is what his next team will get if he doesn't re-sign with the Saints.
“I have that bounce in my step that I know I used to have. Going into free agency that’s why it’s exciting for me. No matter where I end up, you can cut that 2018 tape on and see that’s the guy they are getting.” Rankins said.
"Going into free agency no matter where I end up, you can cut that 2018 tape on and see that's the guy they're getting"
Saints DT @RankinsSheldon updates us on his health heading into free agency.
— SiriusXM NFL Radio (@SiriusXMNFL) February 22, 2021
Rankins was apart of history during his time with the Saints. From 2017 to December of 2020, the Saints defense didn't allow a 100-yard rusher for 55 consecutive games which was the longest streak in the Super Bowl era.
Only time will tell if the Cowboys throw their name in the Rankins sweepstakes but he could be a very solid add. Also, with his injury history, the Cowboys could get him on a one-year prove-it type deal which wouldn't hurt them against the cap in 2021.