The Dallas Cowboys look to be in excellent shape for 2020. In both free agency and the NFL Draft, they addressed significant issues on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball.
In the secondary, the Dallas Cowboys added Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix, Maurice Canady, and Darryl Worley in free agency and re-signed Anthony Brown and C.J. Goodwin. They drafted Trevon Diggs and Reggie Robinson. While there may not be a guy who is a number one cornerback, in the wake of Byron Jones’ departure for Miami, they have a good group of players they can use to make it work. There’s enough talent there.
Though they lost Maliek Collins at defensive tackle, they signed Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe and drafted Neville Gallimore. What looked like weakness when free agency started now seems pretty solid and has some upside.
In the draft, they added CeeDee Lamb and Tyler Biadasz to positions that needed to be addressed and re-signed Amari Cooper. While tight end may not inspire fear in many teams around the league, there’s a lot of optimism about what Blake Jarwin could do given a starter’s portion of the snaps in 2020.
Even the quarterback depth chart saw got an upgrade when the team signed former Cincinnati Bengals starting quarterback Andy Dalton to a one-year deal to be the backup. His experience will provide a boost to the entire offense. As a player, he’ll allow the coaching staff to get a good look at the down roster players. He could even serve as a mentor to seventh-round draft pick Ben DiNucci, allowing Dak Prescott to focus solely on game preparation.
The one area that still seems unresolved is what happens at edge rusher opposite DeMarcus Lawrence.
Yes, there’s a possibility that Randy Gregory or Aldon Smith are reinstated and make a significant impact on the team. However, until that happens, it’s best not to count on either guy. Knowing what we know about the way the Commissioner of the NFL wields his hammer of justice, there’s no telling exactly how he’ll rule when it comes time to give a verdict on Gregory and Smith.
Even if they are reinstated, there’s no telling what kind of players they’ll be after being gone for so long.
Gregory hasn’t played a down of football since the end of 2018. Aldon Smith has been out of the league since 2015. Those long layoffs will cast doubt on their ability to provide meaningful snaps at the other edge rusher spot.
Dorance Armstrong has shown flashes as a rotational player, but they’ve been just that; flashes. He’s yet to put together a string of games that would lead one to believe that a breakout is near. He could step up and fill the void at the other defensive end position, but at this point, we don’t know if he can.
Fifth-round pick Bradlee Anae is the guy that is the most intriguing. His elite production at the University of Utah, combined with his skill set, make him an option to step in and start early in his career. That said, his athleticism could hold him back from making an impact early on.
Aside from DeMarcus Lawrence, there isn’t an edge rusher to feel great about on the Dallas Cowboys defensive line. There are guys we hope will work out and guys with promise. But, as the saying goes, “hope isn’t a plan.”
As they’ve shown all offseason, they’ll be aggressive in patching a hole. There are still some very intriguing names available in free agency for them to pursue.
Jadeveon Clowney, Everson Griffen, and Markus Golden are still available. And now that signed free agents won’t count against next year’s compensatory pick formula, nothing is holding the Dallas Cowboys back from making a move to address edge rusher.
They want to be an aggressive team this year on both sides of the ball. On defense, that means they’ll blitz more. Even though they’ll send an extra rusher more frequently, it’s still not the best plan to go into a season with Dorance Armstrong, Tyrone Crawford, or Bradlee Anae as your other defensive end.
As they’ve done all offseason, the Cowboys need to make a move to fill the considerable hole vacated by Robert Quinn. They’ve got the options and the money to make it happen. All it takes is the will to do so.