For a long time, the Dallas Cowboys have been looking for a quality defensive line to rush the passer and defend the run. In the last few years, defensive end has been among the team's top needs season after season. This year though, it won't be about being able to find a new face in March or April.
This time, the Cowboys have two guys that can be the foundation of a very good defensive line. In fact, one of the NFL's finest.
DeMarcus Lawrence and David Irving both have what it takes to destroy opposing offenses and win in the trenches. There's no questioning their talent and their ability to be disruptive. Unfortunately, one can question this team's ability to retain both players.
With limited cap room, the Cowboys will need to get to work if they want to keep them. A few weeks ago, I wrote about DeMarcus Lawrence and how he could be franchise tagged by the team. Even if they decide to tag Tank, their cap space will be reduced to a couple millions.
We know that the Cowboys want Lawrence to stay in Dallas, and he probably will be an offseason priority. At least he should be. However, we're not so sure about what the front office wants to do with David Irving.
Stephen Jones has even said that “It'd be real difficult to figure out something long-term with David.” It may not be easy, but they should definitely try to keep the guy. Being a restricted free agent, the Cowboys will be able to place a tender on him (if you haven't read it, this restricted free agency explanation by Jess Haynie is a must-read).
If they place a second round tender on Irving (which is projected to be around $3M), Dallas would get a second round pick from the team who matches their offer.
“The odds of finding a day-one starter who will perform better than Irving did in 2017 (when healthy and available) with a day two pick are not great. They would likely take a step back at the 3-technique position in the now, while hoping the improvement would come over time.” Staff Writer Kevin Brady on David Irving and the Cowboys.
Finding someone like Irving won't be as easy as it may seem. He's not one of the best-known names in the league, but he's played like one of the best players in the NFL.
For the Dallas Cowboys, this offseason will determine the future of the franchise. With a young and talented secondary, they have the chance to keep two guys who'll turn this defensive line into a very scary one.
Moves will have to be made, but Dallas could go into the 2018 season with a very solid defense. In a year in which playoffs have featured amazing defensive units, that's a reason to be optimistic. It's time for this front office to make tough decisions. Let's hope they do a good job and hopefully, we get a dominant defense.