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.
#Jets DEs under contract:
Carl Lawson, J Franklin-Myers, Jermaine Johnson
Michael Clemons, Bradley Anae, Marquiss Spencer
Free agents: Vinny Curry, Bryce Huff (R)
💰Clear $15.4M by cutting Lawson. Factors: Can they replace 51 pressures, 7 sacks? JJ + MC ready for big roles?
— Rich Cimini (@RichCimini) February 9, 2023
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.
If NYJ cuts Carl Lawson, I'm going to tweet that DAL should sign him at least 27x per day.
Longtime followers know. https://t.co/Zq8Elghqut
— John Owning (@JohnOwning) February 9, 2023
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.
3 free agent tight ends Cowboys can sign if Dalton Schultz leaves
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
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.