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Cowboys 2017 Free Agency: Could Terrell McClain Sign With An NFC East Rival?

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Reports are that three teams are interested in the Cowboys veteran defensive tackle, with one of them being a familiar foe.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

A few years ago the Washington Redskins signed Jason Hatcher away from the Dallas Cowboys in free agency. He was coming off a Pro Bowl season where he led the Cowboys with 11 sacks. But he was 32 years of age entering the 2014 season so the front office let him walk in free agency and the Redskins scooped him up. Washington would give him a healthy four-year, $27 million deal to help strengthen their interior line.

Well, the Skins could be at it again as they are one of the three teams that are said to be interested in Cowboys defensive tackle, Terrell McClain.

Not only is Washington interested in McClain, but there are a couple of NFC division winners who also could be vying for his services - the Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks.

It’s bad enough losing a player, but when a good player goes to a strong playoff team or division rival, that’s not a good feeling. Of course, the knock on McClain is his inability to stay healthy. In his three years in Dallas, he never played a full season and missed a grand total of 18 regular season games. Granted, he managed to stay on the field for 15 games last season, but that seems to be more of an anomaly in an otherwise injury filled career. He’ll be 29 entering the 2017 season, so it’s not going to be getting any easier for him to stay healthy.

It’s a bit of a let down to lose a good contributor to a divisional foe, but keep in mind that his new team is likely going to overpay for him. And if the Jason Hatcher deal serves as any indication, it might not hurt the Cowboys as much as one might think. Hatcher only played in two seasons of his four-year deal and only had two sacks during that second year. He left the Redskins with a $4.5 million dead money hit last year.

Cowboys insider, David Moore feels the Cowboys wouldn’t be so easily inclined to let McClain get away, especially to a division rival.

"He's carved out a starting role in the Cowboys' defensive front," Moore said. "He's physical and showed he can stay healthy for an entire season. McClain is a very good player but not one dominant enough to command big money on the open market. He forms a solid rotation with [Cedric] Thornton and needs to return so the Cowboys can concentrate on upgrading the end positions."

McClain led all Cowboys defensive linemen in tackles and made a habit of getting in the backfield of his opponent. He had three tackles for a loss and two forced fumbles, including one of the biggest momentum-changing plays of the season.

But with Thornton on the roster and the great rookie season of Maliek Collins, the Cowboys have pieces on the interior line. And that’s not even counting the idea that Tyrone Crawford or David Irving (or both) could see more time inside once the Cowboys get some help on the edge.

McClain had some great snaps for the Cowboys, but if other teams want to reward him for one good season, let them have at it. Dallas can find a better use for those types of funds. The worst part of losing him will be trying to find someone to replace these tight dance moves.