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Free agent focus 2018: Why not swing for Cameron Fleming?

The Cowboys have to find someone who can play swing tackle in 2018.

NFL: New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

One of the biggest disappointments of the season was how handicapped the team became by Tyron Smith’s injuries. Neither Chaz Green or Byron Bell made a great impression as the swing tackle in Dallas. Though it would be surprising to give them another shot, why not look outside for a better option?

[In this series, come along as we peruse the long list of free agents and focus on players that could be of interest for the Cowboys. Some of these players may, of course, price themselves out of range. However, any time you feel like your team is close like Dallas most definitely does, why not be a little aggressive in the acquisitions department?]

OT Cameron Fleming (6’6, 320 lbs, 25 years-old) - New England Patriots

2017 stats: Played 12 games, started six games at right tackle

Fleming attended Stanford University where he red-shirted his freshman year, the following year he was named a freshman All-American. He was an All-PAC-12 honorable mention in his sophomore season and made the All-PAC-12 second-team as a junior. He decided to forgo his senior year and enter the 2014 NFL Draft, where he was selected by the Patriots at pick 140 in the fourth round.

He appeared in nine games his rookie season including the playoffs as the Patriots won Super Bowl XLIX. Fleming was a surprise cut following the 2015 preseason and was signed to New England’s practice squad. He would soon be elevated to the main roster after left tackle Nate Solder tore his biceps and was placed in IR for the remainder of the 2015 season.

He played in all 16 games of 2016 mainly as a backup/reserve tackle when needed and extra blocker. The Patriots earned the top seed in the AFC and cruised to another Super Bowl appearance, where they shocked the Falcons in an improbable comeback win 34-28. He is currently listed as the starting right tackle for the Patriots after Marcus Cannon suffered a season-ending injury in week eight.

New England will have decisions to make as Nate Solder, LaAdrian Waddle, and Fleming are scheduled to hit free agency. Fleming has been a reliable blocker but he’s never earned the starting job outright in the offseason program. If he were to make it to the market, he would be about as solid a swing tackle option as the Cowboys could get.

The Cowboys should really consider putting a premium on the swing tackle position when you consider the health status of their All-Pro tackle, Tyron Smith. They will already be saving money at the left guard position but when Tyron went out, the left side of their line was completely compromised.

For Fleming, his best traits are his abilities as a pass blocker as he stays square with his pad level and shows great balance. Fleming is very good at mirroring the pass rusher and has the technique to get an inside position and finish his opponent. He’s okay in the running game though he’s not extremely athletic like the Cowboys’ starting bookends.

Fleming has been a solid player though he’s not ever going to be a perennial Pro Bowler, he’s played in 47 games and started in 20 of them. He’s a perfectly reliable candidate for a Cowboys’ team that needs to upgrade their offensive tackle depth chart.

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