We’re still months away from the Dallas Cowboys forming their 53-man roster and beginning the 2021 season. But as the team acquires new talent in free agency and the upcoming draft, they’re also evaluating how existing players fit into their plans. After three years as a developmental prospect at defensive end, how does Dorance Armstrong factor in?
Armstrong was one of two 4th-round selections for the Cowboys in 2018, taken 21 slots before Tight End Dalton Schultz. But while Schultz and even WR Cedrick Wilson (6th Round) have made names for themselves on offense, Armstrong has yet to put together much of a resume since joining the team.
Much of that is due to opportunities. Thought he’s been active for all but two games over the last three seasons, Dorance has only appeared on 24-33% of the defensive snaps in his backup role. This has partially led to his having just 2.5 career sacks.
It’s not all about playing time, though. Armstrong has mostly appeared on passing downs so could have reasonably done more as a pass rusher. Randy Gregory has 10.5 sacks with only about a hundred more snaps in his career.
That begs the question of Dorance Armstrong’s true value to the club going forward. Should the team invest more playing time in him in 2021 or is it time to let Bradlee Anae, Ron’Dell Carter, and fresher prospects have their day?
We mentioned Schultz and Wilson earlier; fellow players from the 2018 draft class who’ve already established themselves. Michael Gallup’s already a star at his position and, though they have some question marks on them, Leighton Vander Esch and Connor Williams are both clear starters heading into next season.
Of the players still on the team from the 2018 Draft, Dorance is the farthest behind in building an NFL career. He’s entering the final the year of his rookie with no real case to be made for getting a second contract.
It’s even possible that Armstrong might not get to finish out that rookie deal. Dallas could save $920k in salary cap space by releasing Dorance, which starts to sound enticing if they feel good about Anae, Carter, and other depth options.
Having already added Tarell Basham in free agency to DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory, it could be tough for Armstrong to make the 2021 roster as it is. And if the Cowboys add another pass rusher in the upcoming draft, that goal will become much harder to reach.
Dorance Armstrong should be back to at least compete in training camp and the preseason. But if everyone stays healthy, and especially if anyone new joins the DE position this offseason, Armstrong will probably need a tremendous July and August to remain with the Cowboys this season.