After the NFL Draft, and before the official opening of training camp, you don’t really want to get any news about your favorite team. While it makes the jobs of those who are paid to talk about sports much easier during the football downtime, most June/July football news is bad news. Suspensions, fines, failed drug tests, whatever the case may be you pray that Roger Goodell keeps your team’s name out of his mouth until he’s on the podium in February.
Unfortunately for us Cowboys fans, we have heard a lot of bad news during June/July. The suspensions of DeMarcus Lawrence for four games, and now Randy Gregory for possibly as many as 14 games puts an already weak pass rush in even more jeopardy this season. The Cowboys will have to look to young, inexperienced guys like Benson Mayowa, Charles Tapper, and Ryan Russell to fill the pass rush void and hopefully give them something.
But with all of these young and unproven defensive ends on the roster, the obvious answer seems to be to look towards a veteran free agent such as Dwight Freeney to come in and lead this pass rush. I mean, we all watched All or Nothing on Amazon, he seems awesome, right?
Not only could an addition of a proven veteran like Freeney bolster the quality the Cowboys’ defensive ends as a whole, but it could also help to guide the young pass rushers and possibly steer the guys in the right direction. We all know immaturity seems to be a problem with this team’s defensive ends, so maybe a veteran presence such as Freeney could help fix that.
All of that “morale” stuff sounds good, but we all want a guy who can play and force sacks above anything else. If we cared about leadership and guidance as much as we claim to, Greg Hardy would’ve never been given a spot on the Cowboys roster. But we all know what the deal is, if you can play, you’ll get a shot. If you can’t, then we can make our moral stance. It’s a cruel reality, but it’s the football-world we live in.
The thing is, Dwight Freeney can still play. Just last season Freeney led the Arizona Cardinals in sacks with 8 while seeing most of his time during obvious passing downs only. It is totally conceivable that Freeney could play 15-20 snaps a game for the Cowboys, and give this pass rush the boost that it needs to at the very least not be laughable.
(If you want to take a look at Dwight Freeney’s 2015 snaps, check out this thread put together by Football Outsiders’ Cian Fahey.)
The Cowboys front office doesn’t seem the least bit interested in signing a veteran like Freeney, however. Bryan Broaddus of DallasCowboys.com seems to believe that the lack of interest in Freeney may stem from Freeney’s own lack of interest in well, football. Especially football that doesn’t count.
“Dwight Freeney is a veteran player that doesn’t want to go to training camp and grind for the next five weeks. He is also not going to come for cheap especially if he knows the situation here”- Bryan Broaddus
While this may be the case for a player in the stage of Freeney’s career, this shouldn’t take him off the Cowboys’ minds all together. Dallas can still afford to be patient, and see how these young guys perform during the first few preseason games. If it appears that a spark is there, and a player like Freeney isn’t needed, then the Cowboys can sit put and prove us all wrong.
However, if things start to go sour quickly as many of us expect, the Cowboys can then look for a veteran option in free agency. Then again it is rare to find a free agent during the regular season, or even during these late stages of the offseason, who can come in and make much of a difference for the team.
The Cowboys seem to have made their own bed pass rushing wise for 2016, now they must lay in it.