One of the big mysteries on the Dallas Cowboys roster right now is offensive lineman Chaz Green. Is he a guard? Is he a tackle? Does he have any shot at being a significant player this season?
A third-round pick in last year’s draft, Green was essentially “redshirted” in 2015 with a known hip issue that required surgery. He had that done after the draft and missed all of training camp and preseason. Green was on the Physically Unable to Perform list for as long as is allowed, then was kept inactive the rest of the season.
During those late-season practices, reports had Green getting some work at guard due to struggling at tackle. However, coming into this year, those same sources have Green back to primarily playing at offensive tackle. It makes sense given the Cowboys’ situation there compared to the interior line.
Dallas is set for this year and probably most of the next decade at most of their starting offensive line positions. Tyron Smith, La’el Collins, Travis Frederick, and Zack Martin aren’t expected to be leaving anytime soon. What’s more, Dallas has two veteran interior line reserves in Ronald Leary and newly-signed Joe Looney.
It’s right tackle, and the swing tackle role behind it, that give Chaz Green the best opportunity to have a role now and in the future. According to Cowboys insider Bryan Broaddus, however, there won’t be any competition for the starting job this season:
“Chaz Green will not beat Doug Free out for his job at right tackle – it just will not happen. Where Green needs to focus is trying to beat Charles Brown out for that job as the swing tackle.”
This shouldn’t be a surprise or even a disappointment. Green is essentially still a rookie with all of the missed time last year. For whatever flaws he has, Free has experience and chemistry on his side. Free’s also a very strong run blocker and that increases his value with Dallas’ focus on the rushing attack.
So what about that backup job? After trying several different guys during the 2015 camp and preseason, Dallas eventually signed veteran Charles Brown before Week One. He never had to play much, thankfully, but the Cowboys must have seen enough in practice to want to re-sign him this past March. Brown is playing for the veteran minimum of $760k this season with no guaranteed money.
The Cowboys would love for Green to supplant Brown as the swing tackle this year. Ideally they would only keep three backup linemen; one tackle to go with Leary and Looney as the interior reserves. It frees up a valuable roster spot for some other position.
If Green can’t handle the job then Dallas will have a tough decision to make. You’d hate to give up on a third-round pick this soon, especially one who didn’t have much of a rookie season. Dallas would have to still think enough of Green’s potential to want to carry him all season, likely never putting him on the active gameday roster.
Of course, they could cut Green and try to put him on the practice squad. They may not be worried about him getting poached a year removed from his draft class. Also, frankly, they may not care too much if his value has fallen to the point of being released.
For a few years the third round of the NFL Draft was becoming a good friend to the Dallas Cowboys. From 2011-2013 it yielded DeMarco Murray, Tyrone Crawford, and Terrance Williams. After not having a pick in 2014, Dallas took Green last year and just selected defensive tackle Maliek Collins in this past April’s draft.
Both Green and Collins have had tough starts. Collins broke his foot a few weeks ago and could miss all of training camp and most of the preseason. However, third-round picks don’t often hit the ground running. Murray and Crawford, and even Jason Hatcher a few years earlier, had slow beginnings before eventually becoming big names. Even if these early years aren’t noteworthy for Green, it doesn’t mean he won’t have a career.
However, there’s also plenty of room for Green to be a failed pick. Between Hatcher and the Murray-Crawford-Williams drafts, Dallas drafted offensive linemen James Marten and Robert Brewster in the third round. Both were out of the league within a few years.
So, the mystery around Green is still just that and may linger for another season or two. He’s become easily forgotten because of La’el Collins being picked up as a free agent in that same draft class. However, with right tackle still the weak spot of the offensive line and the closest to needing a fresh face, Green is still very relevant to the Cowboys current and future goals.