The next in a series of posts looking at each position group on the Dallas Cowboys roster, and determining just how much of a priority it will be this offseason. (The links to the rest of the series at the bottom)
Position Group - Offensive guard
One of the starting guards is as good as it gets, the other starting guard is a free agent. This should actually be getting more attention than it does. The reasoning may be that everyone expects the Cowboys to re-sign Jonathan Cooper, but what if that doesn’t happen? And even if they do re-sign him, is he the answer at left guard?
Zack Martin, Jonathan Cooper, Joe Looney, Kadeem Edwards
Zack Martin - We really don’t need to talk much about Martin. He’s in the conversation as the best offensive guard in the NFL. The Cowboys are looking to get him signed to a long-term deal sometime this offseason, or else he will play 2018 under his fifth-year option. One thing is for sure, the Cowboys are going to keep Martin for a long time.
Jonathan Cooper - This is where it gets tricky. Cooper was inserted into the lineup after Chaz Green was hurt early in the year, and the offensive line started to get better. He never gave up his role as starter, and was a decent left guard for the Cowboys. But is he their long-term answer?
Cooper will be a free agent, so the Cowboys will need to pony up some money to keep him. He injured his knee in the last game of the season but is expected to be okay once offseason activities begin. Dallas needs to decide if they are interested in keeping Cooper as the starter, or do they see him more as a backup. This will drive their offseason priorities for the position.
If they aren’t convinced that Cooper is the answer, then they will need to spend resources in either free agency or the draft to get a player to start at left guard. If you’re going to use the draft, you’ll need to spend a high draft pick to get a quality guard, or else you are taking a real chance that you can hit on someone in the later rounds.
Joe Looney - He’s another free agent that is a solid option as a backup guard and center. The Cowboys even use him as a blocking tight end in some “jumbo” packages. If he can be had for bargain money, the Cowboys will jump at the chance to re-sign him.
Kadeem Edwards - He’s listed as a guard on the roster but never sees action. Unlikely that he has much impact on the field or in the offseason decision-making process.
Offseason Priority - High
As we mentioned above, this is a position that isn’t getting little attention right now, but if they don’t re-sign Jonathan Cooper or they don’t think he is the answer, then it’s a big issue. They don’t have depth that you want to play on a regular basis. Looney makes for a nice reserve piece, but you certainly wouldn’t want him as your starter. And when two of your top three players at a position are free agents, that’s an issue.
There is always the option of moving La’el Collins back to guard and get a right tackle replacement, but good tackles can be harder to find than good guards. But, if that is what the Cowboys are thinking, they could draft a tackle early in the draft, move Collins to guard, and use him as the swing tackle.
What say you BTB? What will the Cowboys do at guard?