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ESPN Picks One Free Agent Pass Rusher The Cowboys Must Sign

Chandler Jones? Jason Pierre-Paul? Melvin Ingram? Nope, it's somebody else.

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Late last week, ESPN teamed up with Pro Football Focus on an article in which they picked one free agent every team should sign this offseason. For the Cowboys, that position had to be a pass rusher, of course, but which one?

Edge rushers are always in high demand (particularly in the AFC North, according to ESPN), and here's where ESPN and PFF saw some of them going:

Jason-Pierre Paul (NYG): Cincinnati Bengals
Chandler Jones (ARI): Cleveland Browns
Jabaal Sheard (NE): Baltimore Ravens
Melvin Ingram (LAC): San Francisco 49ers
Mario Addison (CAR): New York Jets

The choice for the Cowboys was defensive Green Bay's Nick Perry. Here’s what they had to say about him.

There's a clear need along the defensive line for the Cowboys, and the position needs to be addressed in the draft or in free agency. Perry has continued to improve as a pass-rusher for the Packers, and he's coming off his best year as a pro, with 12 sacks, six QB hits and 33 hurries on 460 rushes, including the playoffs. Dallas had the second-lowest pressure rate in the NFL last season, and Perry is an immediate upgrade off the edge in the passing game. Perry is not a one-dimensional player, as he ranked 10th among edge defenders with an 84.1 grade, so he can provide an every-down option for the Cowboys.

A double-digit sack guy would do wonders for the Cowboys' pass rush, and with Perry listed on the Packers site as 6-3, 265, he could be the war daddy Jerry Jones is looking for.

Perry, a first-round pick in 2012, had an uneven start in the NFL, recording just 12.5 sacks in his first four years in the league. After his rookie deal was up last year, the Packers signed him to a 1 year, $5 million contract, and Perry responded with an outstanding performance. Perry played OLB in the Packers' 3-4 defense, but he might be better suited for a DE role in a 4-3.

The question for the Cowboys and for any other team interested in his services is whether they are buying the 2016 version of Perry or the 2012-2015 version. In any case, the soon-to-be 27-year old Perry will be looking for a big contract in free agency. Spotrac has his value pegged at $8.5 million annually, with a 5-year contract worth $43 million. Considering some of the contract the other pass rushers are expected to sign, Perry could be a real value - if Spotrac is anything to go by. Here are their annual value estimates for some of the other pass rushers in this year's free agency class:

Melvin Ingram $17.2 million
Chandler Jones: $16.2 million
Jason Pierre Paul: $14.6 million
Jabaal Sheard: $8.8 million
Nick Perry: $8.5 million
Mario Addison: $7.1 million

The Cowboys can of course continue rebuilding their front seven through the draft, but they have shown repeatedly that they are not averse to try and jump-start the process with free agent acquisitions like Henry Melton, Greg Hardy, and even Cedric Thornton last year. And given their lack of success from the edge, coupled with some very real concerns about DeMarcus Lawrence and how his back issues could affect his NFL future, perhaps this is the time to go to the free agent well once again.

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