Potential Jets cap casualty would give Cowboys’ Dan Quinn another weapon

EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - SEPTEMBER 11: (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT) Carl Lawson #58 of the New York Jets in action against the Baltimore Ravens at MetLife Stadium on September 11, 2022 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Ravens defeated the Jets 24-9. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY – SEPTEMBER 11: (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT) Carl Lawson #58 of the New York Jets in action against the Baltimore Ravens at MetLife Stadium on September 11, 2022 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Ravens defeated the Jets 24-9. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

The Dallas Cowboys defense doesn’t have many major concerns heading into the offseason. Cornerback obviously tops the list with the futures of Anthony Brown and Jourdan Lewis up in the air, but the position isn’t a death knell considering Pro Bowler Trevon Diggs and rookie stud DaRon Bland will be back.

Linebacker is likely next up in terms of lack of clarity since Leighton Vander Esch, the glue of Dallas’ defense, is an impending free agent.

Regardless of the positions that present the most headaches, the Cowboys shouldn’t leave any stone unturned in terms of equipping Dan Quinn with more playmakers. You could never have too many pass rusher’s in today’s pass-centric NFL, and Dallas could certainly use another body to join the rotation.

Wouldn’t you know it, ESPN Jets reporter Rich Cimini pegged edge rusher Carl Lawson as a potential cap casualty this offseason given New York could save a whopping $15.4 million in cap room by cutting him, and they have budding 2022 first-round pick Jermaine Johnson waiting in the wings.

Dallas should absolutely be monitoring Lawson’s status.

The Cowboys should sign edge rusher Carl Lawson if the Jets make him a cap casualty.

After all, Dante Fowler is a free agent and had a nice impact as a rotational pass rusher. He finished tied for third on the team with six sacks, and added seven tackles for loss, nine QB hits, and two forced fumbles.

Further, Dorance Armstrong tailed off in the second half of the season after he compiled eight sacks in the first 11 games. Over the final six contests, Armstrong managed just a half-sack, three QB hits, and three tackles for loss.

For what it’s worth, the Cowboys could save $5.75 million against the cap by releasing Armstrong with a post-June 1 designation. Not saying that should or shouldn’t happen, but it might be under consideration, and if it came down to keeping Armstrong or signing Lawson, we’d side with the latter.

With DeMarcus Lawrence specializing as a run defender — his pass-rushing ability is still underrated in many ways — it couldn’t hurt to add more firepower in the form of Lawson to play behind Micah Parsons and Lawrence.

In 2022, Lawson posted seven sacks, nine TFLs, 24 quarterback hits, and 51 pressures. He’s logged PFF pass-rushing grades above 80.0 in two seasons, and produced a 72.8 grade in that regard this season after he missed all of 2021 recovering from a torn Achilles suffered in training camp.

Lawson’s track record as a pass rusher speaks for itself, and he’s a force against the run. The Jets may have miscalculated paying $15 million annually and $30 million guaranteed two years ago, but he has the talent to be an important member of a championship defense.

Again, you can never have too many pass rushers, and a foursome of Parsons, Lawrence, Lawson, and Sam Williams (Armstrong is axed in this exercise), would give the Cowboys one of the best pass rush rotations in the NFL.

Cowboys, Hayden Hurst. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Cowboys, Hayden Hurst. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

3 free agent tight ends Cowboys can sign if Dalton Schultz leaves

Throughout this past offseason, the Dallas Cowboys and Dalton Schultz discussed an extension but never could come to terms. This led to the starting tight end playing on the franchise tag as the front office again kicked the can down the road when it comes to paying their best players.

Now after watching him score three touchdowns in two postseason games, the Cowboys should be willing to negotiate again but their frugal approach to roster-building might lead to his exit. If so, these three players could be fallback plans.

3 tight ends Cowboys can sign in Dalton Schultz leaves in free agency

Robert Tonyan, Cowboys

Packers, Robert Tonyan. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

3. Robert Tonyan

An undrafted free agent out of Indiana State in 2017, Robert Tonyan originally began his career with the Detroit Lions. He was unable to make their roster as a rookie and then joined one of their rivals, the Green Bay Packers.

He spent that season on the practice squad and played sparingly in 2018 and 2019. Then in 2020, Tonyan broke out with 52 receptions on just 59 targets for 586 yards and 11 touchdowns.

A torn ACL ended his follow-up campaign prematurely but he returned to full health this year and had 53 receptions for 470 yards with two touchdowns.

Now a free agent, Tonyan might not get a major deal since his numbers were down last year. He could also be looking for a new home since the Packers could be moving on from Aaron Rodgers. Should that be the case, Dallas could attempt to bring Tonyan in on a one-year deal as he works with Jake Ferguson and Peyton Hendershot, who could wind up being the long-term answers once they get a little more experience.

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