Much like their offensive line brothers at offensive tackle, the Dallas Cowboys’ guards have good stability up front but some questions about depth. With some key backups headed into free agency, Dallas may have to make a few moves this offseason to give themselves security in 2020.
We couldn’t ask for better than Zack Martin at right guard. He’s an elite player and signed up for years to come. Fellow starter Connor Williams is still developing and will hopefully make a big leap in his third season.
With those first-team guard positions covered the Cowboys will be focused on depth in the coming months. Here’s what they’re looking at with the current talent:
2020 Guard Contract Statuses
- Zack Martin
- Connor Williams
- Connor McGovern
- Cody Wichmann
- Free Agents
- Xavier Su’a-Filo (UFA)
UFA = Unrestricted
Su’a-Filo has started 12 games over the last two seasons. And while we’re going to talk about Joe Looney more when we cover the center position, he has also had to step in and play some guard at times.
Clearly, the backup position can’t be taken lightly. As Zack Martin gets older and Connor Williams has yet to play a full 16-game season, Dallas needs someone ready to step in and provide solid play in relief.
Both Looney and Su’a-Filo are free agents this offseason. Dallas will likely have a hard time keeping Looney after his full season of starting in 2018; someone in the NFL is going to offer him a chance to compete and more money than the Cowboys will.
Keeping Xavier should be easier but isn’t a lock. He has done enough in the NFL between Dallas and Houston that someone might have him on their radar to at least compete for a starting role, or if nothing else to be a primary backup. The Cowboys certainly aren’t going to get in a bidding war over him.
Knowing when these reserve players’ contracts were due to expire may be why the Cowboys invested a 3rd-round pick in 2019 on Connor McGovern. After spending his rookie year rehabbing a pectoral injury from training camp, could McGovern take over as the primary interior OL backup?
Like Joe Looney, McGovern has versatility to play guard or center. He even has has some potential to play tackle but is better suited for the inside roles.
The Cowboys would love to replace Looney with their young prospect, owing Connor very little money on his rookie deal. It would also cover multiple roles with a single roster spot; a huge bonus they’ve enjoyed with Looney and would hate to lose.
If the money is right, the ideal scenario would be to retain Looney on a one-year deal and then let McGovern grow and learn more in 2020. Dallas may be able to pull this off if they let Joe test free agency and go unsigned, hopefully prompting him to return to the Cowboys on a bargain.
If Looney is lost to free agency then Dallas will likely give McGovern a chance to earn the job. Hopefully, if he struggles during the summer, they can then pursue a veteran during final cuts to provide additional support.
Xavier Su’a-Filo could also return, being the backup guard while McGovern is seen as the backup center. It just all depends on where the Cowboys value these players now, and especially if the new coaching staff likes how they fit into what they’re looking to do on offense.
So no, there are no big worries with Zack Martin and Connor Williams locked up for the next few seasons. But all it takes is one injury for the backup job to become a hot topic, and the Dallas Cowboys have seen how quickly things can implode with reliable depth on the offensive line.
It’s not a top priority for the 2020 offseason, but it’s definitely on the to-do list.