They may have gotten off to a slow start, but the Dallas Cowboys have been rapidly signing free agents this week, or getting close to deals. The latest is one of their own free agents, as the team is reportedly close to bringing back Joe Looney, who served last season as a backup for all three interior offensive line positions. Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News had this:
The club wants Joe Looney to return and could sign the veteran backup as early as Monday, a source said. The Cowboys are also close to finalizing deals with Cameron Fleming and Marcus Martin.
The goal is to have all three contracts completed by Monday.
Looney didn’t start a game for the Cowboys last season but he’s a veteran presence in the offensive line who can step in at all three interior line positions. He’s part of the team’s Jumbo Package when it replaces a tight end with an extra lineman.
While both Fleming and Martin have been mentioned as possible competitors for starting jobs, Looney looks positioned primarily to continue in his backup role. Given the limited number of offensive linemen that the Cowboys normally carry on their regular season roster (usually eight or nine), his position flex is probably his most valuable asset.
Despite the speculation about how these players fit into Dallas’s plans, the most likely role for all is depth. They certainly don’t prevent the team from taking a guard in the draft, possibly in the first couple of days. This year is seen as a strong one at the position, and that may be the place the Cowboys look for their starter this year. However, having Marcus Martin and Looney both in the fold means that the team has a backup in place even if one of the two should wind up winning the starting job. At the very least, Dallas has options to work with as they head into the draft.