Offensive line play in the NFL can make as much of a difference to efficient and effective offensive production as the performance of the quarterback or the running back does. When offensive line play is average or bad it disrupts everything on offense. The Cowboys witnessed this reality during the 2020 season and the world saw Patrick Mahomes literally running for his life in the Chiefs Super Bowl loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
How 2020 started for the Cowboys and how the season ended for the Chiefs are the prime examples of why you continue to invest in your offensive line. It’s why you can never have too many good offensive linemen.
By all reports, the Cowboys should be getting back Tyron Smith and La’el Collins to a reasonable level of health in 2021. However, Tyron Smith hasn’t played a full season since 2015 and Collins didn’t play snap-in 2020. The Cowboys were forced to rely on their depth at tackle, even sliding Zack Martin over before he was injured.
The Cowboys have Brandon Knight and Terence Steele under contract for 2021, but they should also bring back Cam Erving as well.
Erving is a versatile offensive lineman that can compete at guard and play both tackle spots. Though he struggled with injuries of his own, he was solid in his one season with Dallas. In five games played, Erving allowed just one sack and eight total pressure per Pro Football Focus. To put that into perspective, he allowed a pressure on just 5% of his pass-blocking snaps. Brandon Knight allowed a pressure on 7.1% of his snaps. All-Pro Guard Zack Martin allowed a pressure on 7.7% of his snaps.
Now, this isn’t to say that Cam Erving is better than Zack Martin or even Brandon Knight, but he certainly showed a capability that the Cowboys could use more of. His versatility allows him to play both guard and tackle and with some questions as to who might be the left guard in 2021, Erving is a name the Cowboys could consider thrusting into that competition as well.
He might not be the most coveted of the Cowboys free agents, but he’s a player that Jerry Jones, Stephen Jones, and Will McClay should bring back on another one-year deal. It’s certainly possible that Erving finds a job starting somewhere in 2021, but unless he finds that starter opportunity and money, the Cowboys should take a run at him for their 2021 roster.
Again, you can never have too much offensive line depth and Erving provides really nice depth for when the Cowboys need a fill-in for one of their starters at tackle or guard.