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2021 Cowboys free agency: Dallas agrees to terms with defensive lineman Carlos Watkins

The Cowboys are beefing up the interior of the defensive line.

Tennessee Titans v Houston Texans Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Thursday marked the fourth day of free agency in the National Football League, if you include the tampering period, and so far the Dallas Cowboys have been relatively quiet. Dallas spent the first three days mostly taking care of their own, but given that they had one of the worst defenses in the league for most of last season, fans have wanted to see them address that side of the ball.

The Cowboys re-signed cornerback Jourdan Lewis and tendered defensive tackle Antwaun Woods, but that has been it for defense. C.J. Goodwin was brought back, but he is considered a special teams guy. They have brought in two new players in Jake McQuaide and Ty Nsekhe, but those are special teams and offensive additions.

The Cowboys are now officially on the board for defensive free agent additions from outside the team.

The Dallas Cowboys have agreed to terms with defensive lineman Carlos Watkins

Defensive tackle is one of the bigger needs on the Cowboys roster at the moment and it appears that they think they have found some help for the position. On Thursday morning, the mothership announced that the team has agreed to terms with defensive lineman Carlos Watkins.

Watkins, a 2017 fourth-round pick out of Clemson, became an unrestricted free agent after finishing out his rookie contract with the Texans. He has appeared in 42 games, posting 69 tackles and 4 sacks. In 2020, Watkins started a career-high 11 games, playing just under 50% of the snaps, and posted a career-high 2 sacks.

Watkins (6-3, 297) was listed as a defensive end in the Texans’ base 3-4 scheme but played inside on passing downs in a four-man front. He could be a better fit at tackle in new Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn’s 4-3 system.

It appears that the Cowboys see Watkins as someone who can play along the interior. With the team having tendered Antwaun Woods, they have now technically made two moves there and one in the secondary (their other point of weakness, although they are weak just about everywhere on defense) in bringing Lewis back.

Obviously this isn’t a move that is going to grab headlines. Watkins is helpful in that he is a body on the roster, but there isn’t a lot to get pumped over at the moment.

Consider that PFF gave Watkins a defensive grade of 46.6 this past season. That is lower than all of the defensive tackles that played for Dallas in 2020, including Dontari Poe.

Perhaps there is something to Carlos Watkins’ game that new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn likes. Let’s all hope so.


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