As a whole, no handling of a single position group has faced more scrutiny in Dallas than that of the defensive line. Whether it’s their inability to sign a “War Daddy” in free agency through the years, or the selection of Michigan Defensive End Taco Charlton in round one last year, Cowboys Nation hasn’t agreed with most of the front office’s decisions on the defensive line.
And yet, the defensive line was downright dominant through most of the first 10-12 weeks of the 2017 season. DeMarcus Lawrence finished second in the league in sacks with 14.5, Maliek Collins continued to develop on the interior, Charlton showed some signs of improvement throughout the season, and David Irving was nearly unblockable when healthy and available.
When healthy and available.
For the Cowboys, it’s that caveat with Irving which seems to be holding them back from a long-term commitment.
David Irving enters the offseason as a restricted free agent, but how the Cowboys’ plan to handle his free agency are not clear. This week, Stephen Jones expressed the team’s concerns with signing Irving to a lengthy contract.
Cowboys VP Stephen Jones on plan to re-sign restricted free agent DL David Irving: “He needs to put together a full season and consistency & all of that. Obviously played outstanding when he was healthy. I think it’d be real difficult to figure out something long-term with David.
Jones is clearly concerned with two things in terms of Irving:
- Past suspension
Whether or not these concerns are valid, however, is up for debate.
Much of Cowboys Nation is hoping they place a first-round tender on David Irving, meaning that if a team were to outbid them, the Cowboys would be compensated with that team’s first-round pick. Considering the concerns Dallas has for Irving, it’d be hard to imagine a team giving up a first-round pick for him.
Even if they placed a second-round tender, they may be okay. Of course the risk of losing Irving would be greater, but the Cowboys might be comfortable losing out on him with the second-round tender in order to gain an extra early pick.
Should they be comfortable with that? Well, that’s a totally different question. 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.
Someone like Michigan 3-technique Maurice Hurst would be a solid replacement for David Irving, but would require a first-round selection. Also, as much as I love Hurst, I don’t see him being as good or better than Irving his rookie season. Maybe over time, but probably not immediately.
Things are getting complicated as we near free agency, but it seems pretty clear that the fans feel keeping Irving around is much more important than the organization does.