The Dallas Cowboys are reportedly bringing in some free agent offensive tackles for a look. Activity!
As far as the potential purpose they would serve, well that’s unclear at the moment. Do the Cowboys think they need a swing tackle to replace their own (Chaz Green)? Or are the Cowboys looking for a legitimate option at right tackle?
If it’s the latter, that’d be a bit perplexing given that the team’s right tackle of the future is supposed to be La’el Collins. What if he’s not their right tackle of the future, though?
A year ago when Doug Free retired, the Cowboys did what they told us that they would never do and kicked La’el out to right tackle. It’s a big request to ask of any offensive lineman. FanRag Sports’ John Owning detailed how big in a great write-up, but the Cowboys appropriately compensated La’el for it with a two-year $15.4M extension.
Collins didn’t turn in the greatest season ever for a tackle, but he wasn’t what Chaz Green was either. For his first year at the position, many would say he fared well, others would say he struggled. You know how it is.
The reports of Dallas bringing in veteran tackles for looks under the hood have now led to two points of speculation from big-time insiders that the Cowboys “could” be looking to move La’el back to guard.
The Cowboys are scheduled to meet with free-agent right tackle Cameron Fleming, according to sources. Fleming started 27 of 40 games for New England, including Super Bowl XLII. If he signs, the Cowboys could consider moving La'el Collins back to left... https://t.co/4wliXzNyDD— Todd Archer (@toddarcher) March 18, 2018
With the #Cowboys looking at offensive tackles in free agency, it’s clear they are strongly considering moving RT La’El Collins back inside to guard. That might benefit the entire unit.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 19, 2018
Let’s be clear. These points seem speculative at best, and Todd Archer even followed his up emphasizing that he did use the word could. But let’s try our best to read the tea leaves here, the fact that there are now two reports from reputable sources could indicate some discussions inside The Star that this is indeed going to happen. (There are other mentions, too, but they may be just following up on Archer’s initial tweet).
Where this hypothetical move differs from what the Cowboys asked of Chaz Green a year ago lies in the fact that La’el Collins has played guard in the NFL before. He subbed in as a starter for Ronald Leary during his rookie year and started off the season as the starter in 2016 before getting hurt in Week 3 against the Chicago Bears.
Loaded guard class, weak tackle class, dried up OT FA market. Sure, let’s move Collins to OG. Unless they can land McGlinchey for RT, why do this? https://t.co/DF1SRo3uqf— Brandon Thorn (@VeteranScout) March 19, 2018
Where this hypothetical move is concerning lies in the fact that the Cowboys are seemingly obsessed with position flexibility. Where is Tyrone Crawford going to line up? Is Byron Jones a safety or a cornerback? La’el Collins will never play tackle, then he’s moved to tackle, and now he’s maybe being moved back to guard?
The explanation for a potential Collins-to-guard move would be that, upon a would-be free agent signing, it’s the best way to get your best five offensive linemen on the field simultaneously. Wasn’t that the logic behind moving Chaz Green to left guard too, though? That didn’t exactly work out.
There is one difference though, both Cameron Fleming and LaAdrian Waddle have started many games in the NFL. Fleming has 20 starts and Waddle has 28 starts in their NFL careers according to Pro Football Reference.
For now these talks are all a bit premature, but it is worth pointing out that the talks continue to grow. How would you feel if La’el is moved back to guard? Happy, sad, or indifferent?