The Dallas Cowboys’ roster is a tremendous spot after the first week of free agency. They re-signed multiple key free agents, and struck all-in trades for Stephon Gilmore and Brandin Cooks to solidify the cornerback and receiver rooms.
Another huge win from the initial wave was that the free agent departures weren’t overwhelming. Connor McGovern, Noah Brown, and Luke Gifford were important players last season, and Dallas will need to replace them, but nobody is losing sleep over them finding new homes.
The most notable absence of that group is McGovern, who started 15 games at left guard in 2022, and had really made strides in his development over his three years since he was taken in the third round of the 2019 draft.
It never felt like the Cowboys would re-sign McGovern, who was always going to have a big market in a thin OL free agency class. The money would’ve had to be perfect, and he ultimately got $22.35 million over three years, including $9.9 million guaranteed, to become the Bills new left guard.
What stings the most about McGovern’s departure is not the void he leaves behind on the offensive line, but the fact he seemingly made up his mind about leaving Dallas (for Buffalo) before the 2022 season even started.
The #Bills have agreed to terms with G Connor McGovern on a three-year, $23 million deal, source says. Former third-round pick of the #Cowboys heading to Buffalo.
This means 50% of the Connor McGoverns available in free agency have agreed to deals.
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) March 13, 2023
Connor McGovern had his mind set on joining the Bills while he was still a member of the Cowboys.
“I’ve always thought that like last year, if there would be a dream team like where I can go, Buffalo was always at the top of that,” McGovern said, via Grace Heidinger of Bills.com “Just to get back up north and I just texted Ryan [Bates] and I was like ‘What’s Buffalo like?’ And he couldn’t have had enough good things to say about it.”
Per Heidinger, McGovern texted Bills guard Ryan Bates while he was vacationing in Hawaii last week. Former teammates in college at Penn State, McGovern and Bates communicated often since they entered the NFL. A lot of there dialogue involved McGovern reaching out to Bates asking about life in Buffalo.
Look, McGovern surely isn’t the only player who’s envisioned potential free agent destinations before a contract year. And he won’t be the last.
McGovern’s agent likely communicated the unlikelihood of the Cowboys re-signing him at his desired price tag given Donovan Wilson and Leighton Vander Esch were always going to be prioritized in the first wave. The guard position was in high-demand this offseason, and it’s no surprise McGovern was scooped up within the first few days of the frenzy.
Our new guys are going to fit riiiiight in. 🤣#GoBills | #BillsMafia pic.twitter.com/za8b3GksXn
— Buffalo Bills (@BuffaloBills) March 18, 2023
At the end of the day, McGovern’s eventual free agency didn’t impact his on-field performance. He put together the best season of his career in 2022, and is fully deserving of his life-changing $22 million deal.
That’s what Cowboys fans should remember about McGovern, even if these comments felt like a subtle dig at his former team.
Best of luck to McGovern in Buffalo.