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Should Cowboys be Looking at Veteran Free Agents for Backup TE?

Just before the draft, declared that the Cowboys aren't done with . If Dallas is looking to add more talent before , is one spot that could have a need and has some experienced veterans available to fill it.

will be back on the and perhaps longer if everyone can agree on a long-term deal. But TE depth took a hit when was released in March, mostly because the team feared he may not be able to play at all in 2022 after surgery for an unusual hip condition.

That left prospect and veteran blocker as the only backup candidates for next season. The Cowboys did spend a 4th-round pick on Wisconsin' last Saturday, but even then there's still reasonable doubt about the reserves behind Schultz.

If Dallas looks to the market they'll find some experienced veterans who've had their moments in the NFL. Leading the pack is , the former 10th-overall pick in 2014 who's still just 29 years old. Some other options include Jesse James, Kyle Rudolph, and Tyler Kroft.

You're right to ask, “So why haven't these guys been signed yet?” That's a good question any time you get to May and players remain available. And this group certainly has legitimate causes for concern.

Free agent TEs Eric Ebron, Jesse James, & Tyler Kroft

Ebron finished the year on after a knee ended his 2021 campaign in Pittsburgh. Even before the injury the veteran had lost his primary role to rookie Pat Freiermuth, causing him to enter this year with declining production on top of the injury.

Still, Ebron claims to be fully healthy and ready to help an this season. He has the most upside of the available options and should be affordable at this later point in the .

Another former Steeler, but more recently a Lion and Bear, Jesse James has seen his production go down in backup roles. But even with plenty of experience and on competitive teams during his Pittsburgh days, James is still just 28 and could be an excellent TE2 in the right offense.

Tyler Kroft has never been a standout but he's an experienced backup and still just 29. He got significant playing time in 2017 due to 's injury woes, starting all 16 games and posting 404 yards and seven touchdowns in the TE1 role.

Kyle Rudolph spent a quiet year with the Giants after his long tenure in Minnesota. Turning 33 in November, the former Pro Bowler is slowing down but could still help in a reduced role and be a great mentor for the younger guys, including Dalton Schultz, in Dallas' TE room.

Some may view any veterans like these as potential “progress stoppers” for McKeon or Ferguson, and that's certainly something to consider. But if something happened to Schultz this season, how much would the current lack of TE depth stunt the Cowboys' offense?

Given that Blake Jarwin was an undrafted player himself, Dallas may be fine allowing McKeon, Ferguson, and Sprinkle it battle it out and form the rest of the . But if the Cowboys are still looking to get stronger through free agency, tight end is a spot where they may find some significant help at a bargain.

Jess Haynie
Jess Haynie
Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

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VAM

Appreciate the article, but don’t think it will happen. If they didn’t draft Ferguson, then maybe, but now they have enough. They also signed an UDFA TE.

“If something happened to Schultz…” well they now have four potential backups.

IMO, they have a bigger problem at the QB position. That’s where they should be contemplating a veteran backup. ONE injury away from having CR as your QB1?

Dave SC58

I think the Cowboys are in good shape at the TE position. Sean McKeon is an up and coming player. Jeremy Sprinkle has enough experience to know what to do in any situation. Jake ferguson has a chance to make the team and get valuable experience this year, while Ian Bunting (on the practice squad last year) is also available. Their new UDFA Peyton Hendershot is not a familiar name to most people but he was Third team All-American, Second team All Big-10, and Big-10 Receiver of the Year in 2020, so he has some skins.

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