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Cowboys 2021 free agency: Gerald McCoy is still waiting for a deal and absolutely wants to play this season

Maybe the defensive tackle is still in the Cowboys plans.

Atlanta Hawks v Orlando Magic Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

Last year, the Dallas Cowboys were determined to fix their issues at defensive tackle. As a result, they went out and signed veterans Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe. In hindsight, it didn’t really work out. Poe made it through part of the season before the Cowboys finally realized that he was not getting the job done and released him. McCoy, on the other hand, didn’t even make it through the first day of padded practice in training camp.

McCoy tore his quad and that put him out for the season. The Cowboys never really got to see what the long-time veteran was able to do. They had singed him to a pretty big deal by Cowboys’ standards in free agency, three years for $18.3 million. But the contract had an injury clause and the Cowboys released McCoy after his injury to take advantage of that and save some money. Still, it was clear that the 2020 Cowboys were hoping McCoy would be playing for them for a few years.

Fast forward to today, and McCoy is still without an NFL contract. Would the Cowboys still be interested? We know that McCoy stayed in touch with defensive tackle Neville Gallimore last season and continued to mentor him. There was also this curious statement by Stephen Jones after the season was over that almost made it seem like McCoy was coming back.

To this point, though, the Cowboys haven’t worked out any kind of deal with McCoy to return. McCoy is making it clear he wants to play in 2021, and that he doesn’t necessarily have to be a starter.

“For me, I just love this game so much, it’s still fun to me,” McCoy said Monday by telephone after working out with trainer Todd Durkin. “I love competing. I just know what my mindset was going into last season and I don’t want an injury or what the NFL deems ‘age’ to be a derailment and finish like that. I know I can still be an asset to a team, whether it’s sparingly, as a starter, in the locker room, whatever it is. In training camp, a mentor to the young kids.

“I just know I have so much more to give this game, even if for a short period of time.”

McCoy is basically saying he would take any role to get back on a team. As such, you would have to guess he is also willing to take a very low-dollar contract to make that happen. There is also the fact that playing in Dallas put him very close to his family. That was important to him last year and one would guess would still be a factor in where he wants to play.

“I was feeling better than I had felt in a long time [last year] and real motivated and excited to be where my family was close,” McCoy said.

The problem in Dallas for McCoy is that the Cowboys have already made some moves along their defensive line. In addition to the return of Trysten Hill and Neville Gallimore, the Cowboys are bringing back RFA Antwaun Woods, and they signed Brent Urban and Carlos Watkins in free agency. And that’s before the draft has happened, where it’s been widely speculated the Cowboys could add another player at the position.

McCoy and his agent have noted that some teams have reached out, but they don’t expect anything to happen until after the draft.

“We’ve had a couple inquiries about his health and wanting to play,” [his agent] said. “He’s most likely post-draft (before he gets an offer), but sometimes he’s emotional and wears it on his sleeve.”

Last year’s defensive regime in Dallas, led by Mike Nolan and Jim Tomsula, wanted McCoy. But neither of those guys are here now. The question now would be if Dan Quinn has any interest.

If the Cowboys can get McCoy on a veteran minimum-type deal, and count on him as a rotational guy that can mentor their young defensive tackles, it could make some sense.

Would you pursue that type of deal?