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NFL free agency: With Terrell McClain gone, here are four options at DT for Cowboys

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The Cowboys still have options on the defensive tackle market.

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

The Cowboys were really hoping to bring Terrell McClain back into the fold but he left Dallas unsigned for a one-year, $4 million deal with the Falcons that wasn’t likely to get matched. Such is life in the NFL but it was certainly a small disappointment for this front office:

“We wanted him here,’’ head coach Jason Garrett said Saturday afternoon during the team’s rookie orientation session. “Different factors played into it for him and he decided to go to Atlanta.

”We wish him nothing but the best.’’

Despite not landing the “Dancing Bear”, the Cowboys still have work to do at defensive tackle. Currently, their projected starting 1-tech Maliek Collins, will be out the next three months with a broken left foot. Jason Garrett addressed the need at defensive tackle and said that the Cowboys will continue to pursue ways to improve the position.

“We’re always trying to make our team better,’’ Garrett said. “If not him (McClain), we’ll try to find other ways to help that defensive line.’’

Currently, the Cowboys depth chart of healthy defensive tackles consists of David Irving, Jihad Ward, Datone Jones, Richard Ash and Brian Price. They really like Price and he will be given first dibs on winning the position. Still, had they signed McClain, all bets were that he would be a sure-fire starter. Though Price will have a leg up, they definitely would like to add competition.

We’ve gathered that the Cowboys are pretty particular about the type of defensive tackles they want on their roster. They value athleticism over space-eaters, which is why most of their guys that play at the nose still have some pass rushing traits to them.

When it comes to the open market, let’s evaluate who the Cowboys could be looking at to fill a roster spot. Keep in mind, for reasons stated above, you will not see Johnathan Hankins on this list as the Cowboys have already put up the “not interested” sign. Things may change at a later date but for now, he’s not at the top of their list. Seeing as Hankins is really the last sure starting candidate available, here is a peek at the best players on the market that can compete.

Jay Bromley, 25, New York Giants

We mentioned him earlier in the week in our best of what’s left post. He fits a lot of criteria that the Cowboys like including high draft status. Bromley was a third-round pick that has played in 55 games. He never really broke the depth chart ahead of him with only four career starts but to be fair, Bromley was caught in the middle of a rebuild on defense. Bromley has been productive in a reserve role with 76 tackles, 47 solo tackles, and two sacks.

Though he is a better fit as a run-stuffer, he does have the nice get off to penetrate the pocket and shows some creativity as a pass rusher. At 25, Bromley still has plenty to offer and could compete for a role in the rotation.

Quinton Dial, 27, Green Bay Packers

Dial would fall into the category of a more established player who most recently played in 13 games for the Packers last season. Dial was a former fifth-round selection by the 49ers out of Alabama in 2013. For a three-year run from 2014-2016, Dial was integral part of San Fran’s front seven. He started 32 games, recorded 125 tackles, and 4.5 sacks in that time. Dial dealt with various minor injuries, though the 49ers extended him, he was released one year into that extension. He played in 13 games last season, starting two for Green Bay and collected 19 tackles.

Dial tips the scale at 318 lbs but it fits well on his 6’5 body frame. If Dial can avoid the scrapes of attrition, he would a be a solid addition to a defense in need of quality depth.

Billy Winn, 29, Denver Broncos

Winn was a second-round projection that fell to the Browns three rounds later at 205th overall. He spent three seasons there, playing in 40 games with 18 starts. From 2012-2014, Winn amassed 78 tackles, five batted passes, three sacks, two picks, and two forced fumbles.

The Browns traded Winn to the Colts just ahead of the 2015 season opener. Winn spent one season there, playing 12 games but injuries robbed him of potential success as he ended up on IR. He signed a one-year deal with the Broncos in 2016, played all 16 games, starting two of them, he produced 19 tackles as a reserve. He re-signed with the Broncos in 2017 but tore his ACL in the first preseason game. Winn’s injury history is a concern but so was Terrell McClain’s for the his first six seasons in the league.

Winn is a big, athletic player with a well-rounded skill set. The former Boise State Bronco has a solid league reputation as a high motor, high effort player. He’s not outstanding in any one category but is reminiscent of a bulkier version of Jack Crawford.

Tyrunn Walker, 28, Los Angeles Rams

This UDFA pickup for the Saints spent three seasons in NOLA, playing in 23 games with only one start. In limited time, he found ways to be productive with 28 tackles, 3.5 sacks, two batted passes, and a forced fumble. He signed a one-year deal with the Lions in 2015 but broke his fibula after week four. The Lions re-signed him in 2016, he played in all but one game, started eight games, recorded 26 tackles. Last season, Walker signed a one-year deal with the Rams, started four of 16 games played, recorded 22 tackles, four batted passes, a sack, and a forced fumble.

Walker weighs in at 310 pounds; he’s just about the size the Cowboys like in a 1-tech and he’s not a stiff player by any means. He still shows bursts of agility off the snap and has some decent length with solid athleticism.