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Veteran Free Agent’s Who Could Bolster the Cowboys’ Pass Rush

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Veteran Free Agent's Who Could Bolster Cowboys Pass Rush

With OTAs approaching, the Dallas Cowboys will work on starting the 2017 NFL season in the best position possible. There are still a few big-name free agents who have yet to land with a team. Some may fit what the Cowboys are looking for. Others, however, whether it's due to age or scheme fit, may not be in the Cowboys' plans.

When we take a look at the positions, the team could still use an upgrade or a veteran presence at the defensive end position. The only issue with the team adding another defensive lineman is they already have a very crowded DE group.

The Defensive Ends

  • DeMarcus Lawrence - DeMarcus Lawrence is coming off multiple back surgeries and hasn't lived up to his hefty expectations after the team traded up to draft him in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft.
  • Taco Charlton - Taco Charlton, after being drafted with the 28th overall pick in this year's NFL Draft, will be forced to play early and often for the Dallas Cowboys. Dallas drafted Charlton to come in and compete for a starting job immediately.
  • Benson Mayowa - Benson Mayowa, the team's sack leader in 2016, will look to regain the same form early in 2017 that he finished with in 2016. After starting out the season very slow, Mayowa turned it on in the last month of the season, finishing the season with four sacks in the final five games.
  • David Irving - We saw David Irving's ability to absolutely take over a game last year in Green Bay, and then against Tampa Bay. If Irving can learn to play at that level consistently, he may just earn himself a starting job.
  • Tyrone Crawford - Tyrone Crawford is looked at to be the veteran along the defensive line, and maybe even on the whole defense. What Crawford lacks is the skill set to really take this defense over the top.Crawford has found himself bouncing all around the line, playing both defensive end and defense tackle. With the emergence of second year player Maliek Collins and the addition of Stephen Paea and Joey Ivie, the Cowboys may make Crawford a primary left defensive end.
  • Charles Tapper - The one real question mark in the room comes with second year player, Charles Tapper. Tapper was supposed to be a big addition to the Cowboys defense last year before spending his whole season rehabbing from a back injury that has followed Tapper his whole life.Tapper has a lot of potential coming off the edge. Questions still remain with his health and if he can translate his college success to the NFL.
  • Damontre Moore - Damontre Moore was signed this offseason as a free agent after spending time with the Seahawks, Giants, and Dolphins. Moore showed flashes of why some teams viewed him as a first round pick while with the Seahawks last year. Moore by no means has a reserved spot on the team, due to his contract size, off the field issues, and his lack of consistency.

Free Agent Options

  • Dwight Freeney - Even at 37-years-old, Dwight Freeney was a valuable piece to the Atlanta Falcons' Super Bowl run last year. Freeney was healthy for all but one game in 2016 and finished the regular season with three sacks while playing in very limited snaps.Freeney was more than just a player for the Falcons. He was a mentor for all the young talents along that Atlanta defensive line. That's exactly what the Cowboys need in their defensive meeting rooms.
  • Devin Taylor - I am a bit surprised Devin Taylor is still available this deep into the offseason. At just 27-years-old, Taylor should still have plenty of gas left in the tank and he would be relatively cheap. Taylor racked up 4.5 sacks in 2016 as a starter on the Detroit Lions defense. Taylor is a player who has had success in the league and could be an important role-player coming off the bench.
  • Elvis Dumervil - Dumervil is just two years removed from his 17-sack season with the Baltimore Ravens, but is now searching for a job. You don't hear that very often.Dumervil missed about half the season last year dealing with a foot injury that kept him out eight of the team's sixteen games. Dumervil  -- when healthy -- is still a very dangerous pass rusher coming off the edge.Dallas would be smart to offer Dumervil an incentive based "prove it" deal.

As you can see, the options are very limited this deep into the offseason, but one thing is for sure: injuries are going to happen and there is no such thing as too many pass rushers.

All three of the free agents listed above have had success in the league and would bring a veteran presence to a locker room full of young guys. The average age of the Cowboys' defensive ends is 24. While youth benefits your defense, having a veteran or two in the locker room to mentor and teach the young bloods a thing or two can take an average defense over the top.

That is something the Dallas Cowboys need desperately to reach an NFC Championship.



Born in 1995, loved Football but more importantly the Dallas Cowboys since day one. Living in Redskins Country flying the Blue and Silver flag as high as possible. Covering the Dallas Cowboys for InsideTheStar.com and CowboysNation.com. Catch me on twitter @ConnorNFLDraft!

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3 Comments
  • Randy Martin

    While I believe that Dallas really wants to open camp and evaluate what they have I would love it if they signed Freeney or Dumervil. I love the idea of having these proven sack masters on the roster to specialize in passing downs and bring what they can bring. With Leon Lett as a coach and Charles Haley as a special advisor I know those guys are getting the mentoring but I also like the idea of Freeney on the field on those passing situations. He still has plenty of sacks left. The problem in adding a veteran who are you going to sacrifice. I used to advocate for Devin Taylor but he kind of fell off last year and at this point I’m not sure he is better than some of our current options. As the season gets closer to starting and our current guys need a punch, it wouldn’t surprise me if we are looking at one of these guts ….if they are still available.

  • http://insidethestar.com Tony Smalls

    Unless there is some serious injury or a player just dropping off the map (Moore or Thornton comes to mind) these FA will find work elsewhere. True that a pass rush specialist with experience would be beneficial, but I would think a trade for similar to Haley would be a better investment (Watt, a Seattle DE if they cost too much, Richardson if he realizes his market is not high, or any team that has found a cheaper younger option through draft)

  • John Williams

    Dumervil is really the only name here that I would have interest in. Otherwise, let’s see what we have.

    Can Irving and Mayowa take a step forward? What are Taco and Tapper? Does Lawrence have anything left? A lot of questions to be answered and as guys develop, you don’t want to bring in anyone who might stunt that development.

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Despite Late Push as Rookie, Will Taco Charlton Struggle to See Field in 2018?

Sean Martin

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Despite Late Push in Year One, Will Taco Charlton Struggle to See the Field in 2018? 1
(Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)

It feels like ages ago that the Dallas Cowboys spent the 28th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft on Michigan Defensive End Taco Charlton. Perhaps this is a result of the constant distancing fans have made from this unpopular pick, or the corresponding moves the Cowboys have made at DE since drafting Charlton.

These moves include using the franchise tag on DeMarcus Lawrence after seeing him explode for 14.5 sacks, spending a fourth round pick this year on Kansas' Dorance Armstrong, and seeing Randy Gregory reinstated in time for training camp.

Across the entirety of the Cowboys roster, there will be plenty of "odd men out" that miss the cut down to 53 players. Defensive end remains one of the most cluttered spots on the current 90 man roster however.

Despite Late Push as Rookie, Will Taco Charlton Struggle to See Field in 2018?

Dallas Cowboys DE Taco Charlton, DT Maliek Collins (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News)

Prior to establishing the depth the Cowboys now have up front on defense, they did Taco no favors by starting his career at right defensive end. While Gregory may still be a long way from earning the starting role here, similarly styled players like Armstrong have the edge here over Charlton.

This relegates Charlton to the strong side, where he always projected best out of college. By the time the Cowboys realized this a season ago, they also knew a franchise pass rusher was playing his way into the team's long-term plans.

Lawrence's stellar consistency off the edge reduced Charlton's role in the Cowboys rotation of pass rushers. An ideal spot for the rookie to develop with less pressure on him, Charlton's opportunities to continue playing left end may only be reduced this season.

The first-round pick is capable of kicking inside at defensive tackle, a position the Cowboys could certainly use help at. However, asking Charlton to go through another position shift would only halt the progress that took quite a bit of patience from Dallas to see.

It's far from unheard of for the Cowboys to do this with their young players, but for now Charlton remains a defensive end looking to make his impact. The Cowboys are in much better position now than they were at this time a year ago when it comes to setting expectations for him to do so.

Given everything he showed on tape at Michigan as well as in his pre-draft interviews, Charlton is a player that needs to succeed at the task at hand. When this plan is altered, the 6'6" pass rusher is much less effective -- without even considering any athletic struggles that Charlton has compared to other prototypes at defensive end.

As a unit, the Cowboys defensive line has all the pieces to be very effective this season. Taco Charlton is a piece to this puzzle, a backup left end that must find a way to flourish in this role.

For most former 28th overall picks, doing so would be considered a fall from grace. For the Cowboys, it's simply an example of strong roster building that's forced life to come at Charlton quickly. How he responds with a full season under his belt will make or break the hype this deep Cowboys defensive line has garnered, lead of course by the starter at Charlton's position in DeMarcus Lawrence.

Tell us what you think about "Despite Late Push as Rookie, Will Taco Charlton Struggle to See Field in 2018?" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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Cowboys OT La’el Collins Could Become Major Bargain

Jess Haynie

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La'el Collins

When you talk Cowboys offensive line, you always think of Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, and Zack Martin first. Right Tackle La'el Collins still has to prove he belongs in the same sentence with his elite teammates. If he does that in 2018, Collins could become one of the best bargains on the roster.

Making the move from left guard to right tackle last year, Collins improved with time and was playing his best football at the end of the year. This was despite ongoing back issues that had him on the injury report most weeks.

La'el started all 16 games at right tackle and did enough that the Cowboys committed to keeping him there in 2018, even despite a big hole back at left guard. They are hoping consistency and stability will allow Collins to really blossom this season, building on the strong progress shown last year.

For 2018, Collins has a $5.76 million cap hit. According to Spotrac, that makes him the 13th-most expensive right tackle in the NFL this year.

That middle-of-the-pack expense is consistent with where La'el currently rates among NFL right tackles. Bleacher Report ranked Collins as the 16th-best RT in football last year.

But that ranking was based on the season as a whole. If La'el plays all of 2018 the way he was playing towards the end of last year, he will have emerged as one of the better right tackles in the game.

La'el Collins' Position Flex Could Come in Handy for Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys OT La'el Collins

If Collins develops as we hope, that salary suddenly becomes a major bargain. The most expensive right tackles in the NFL are making $7-$9 million this season.

But this can go a couple of ways. With his 2019 cap hit rising to $7.9 million, La'el needs to next step forward.

If Collins were to struggle this year, it could make him a potential cap casualty next offseason. Dallas can save $6.5 million in cap space if Collins is released or traded in 2019.

Dallas could elect to give Connor Williams, their second-round pick this year, a look at right tackle next season. It's the position he played in college.

They could also consider veteran backup Cameron Fleming, who will still be just 26-year-old. Fleming has two Super Bowl rings and several starts, including in the postseason, from his time with the Patriots.

While we think of La'el Collins as a first-round talent, it's important to remember that he was ultimately an undrafted free agent. Dallas did not have to invest anything to acquire him, and ultimately that makes it easier to let him go.

Naturally, we prefer the other side of this coin. If Collins builds on 2017, he will join the upper echelon of right tackles in the league. And if the Cowboys' offensive line isn't already the best in the NFL, that would only cement them as the best unit in football.

If La'el makes the leap, it could mean huge things for the Cowboys' offense and team success this year.



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Dallas Cowboys

How Cowboys Could Benefit From Randy Gregory’s Suspension

Brian Martin

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Cowboys Headlines - Randy Gregory Withdraws Suspension Appeal, Cannot Return Until Week 15

Randy Gregory is back! His suspension is officially over and he will be able to join the Dallas Cowboys in Oxnard, California when training camp gets underway less than a week from now.

Speculation has already started as to what this could mean for the Dallas Cowboys defense this season, and shockingly expectations are rather high for a player who hasn't stepped foot on the field in over a year. But, that's not what I want to talk about today. Today I want to focus on Gregory's mess of a contract, because it is rather interesting.

Randy Gregory was signed to a four-year contract after being drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the second-round of the 2015 NFL Draft. Gregory's rookie deal was set to expire at the conclusion of the 2018 season, but his multiple suspensions have now changed that expiration date.

You see, Gregory has only played in a total of 14 games in his career, 12 as a rookie and two in Year 2. His third year in the NFL was completely wiped out due to his year-long suspension. If you were to add that all up, it equates to just one accured season in the NFL. Remember that, because it could have a huge impact on his contract down the road.

Randy Gregory

Dallas Cowboys DE Randy Gregory

What all of this means is that the Cowboys can pretty much stretch out Gregory's contract now that they are three years in on the deal and have only gotten one accured season out of the agreement. That basically means they can push his contract back a year, meaning his 2017 salary ($731,813) gets pushed back to 2018, his 2018 salary ($955,217) gets pushed to 2019. That would essentially make him a Restricted Free Agent (RFA) in 2020.

Or does it?

Depending on how the Dallas Cowboys handled paying Randy Gregory during his suspension could actually make him an Exclusive Rights Free Agent (EFA). This is a similar situation in which David Irving found himself in after the 2017 season. The Cowboys placed a second-round tender on him in order to secure his services for another season, albeit at a $2.91 million price tag.

As you can see, the Dallas Cowboys pretty much hold all the cards when it comes to Randy Gregory's contract situation. It's all a little confusing, but that's what makes it such a unique and interesting situation.

Of course, the Cowboys could decide to extend Gregory early if he completely dominates upon his return this season. It's highly doubtful though considering his past suspensions, but still technically a possibility. If it does happen, you can go ahead and ignore everything I've written previously.



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