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Cowboys news: Dallas won’t be signing tryout players; QBs still available in free agency

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Dallas Cowboys v Chicago Bears Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Cowboys Won’t Sign J.T. Barrett, Brady Davis - Andrew Ortenberg, ProFootballRumors

The Cowboys brought some players in but they won’t be sticking around.

The Cowboys brought in a pair of young free agent quarterbacks for tryouts this past week, but it doesn’t sound like either will be getting a contract.

Dallas is not planning on signing either J.T. Barrett or Brady Davis as of right now, veteran beat writer Clarence Hill Jr. tweets. Hill writes they had “less than stellar showings” at the team’s rookie minicamp. Barrett, of course, is well known to college football fans for his long tenure under center at Ohio State. He set many records for the Buckeyes, and was a three-time first-team All-Big Ten honoree.

He’s bounced around practice squads and offseason rosters since going undrafted in 2018. The Cowboys currently don’t have much behind Dak Prescott on the depth chart after Andy Dalton left in free agency, so they may continue kicking the tires on veteran backup options.

As of right now, former AAF star Garrett Gilbert would seem to be the favorite to hold Prescott’s clipboard. Davis is a 2020 UDFA from Illinois State.

Dallas Cowboys: 3 Backup quarterback options who could be signed - Randy Gurzi, NFL Spinzone

The Cowboys could still shop for a veteran backup QB on the free agent market.

1. Brian Hoyer

One of the more accomplished quarterbacks still out there without a contract is a veteran journeyman by the name of Brian Hoyer. Originally undrafted out of Michigan State in 2009, Hoyer spent the three seasons of his career with the New England Patriots.

He also just spent the 2020 season with them, which was his third stint with the club after spending 2017 and 2018 with them.

In between those New England years, Hoyer has played for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Arizona Cardinals, Cleveland Browns, Houston Texans, Chicago Bears, San Francisco 49ers, and Indianapolis Colts.

He’s been the opening-day starter, an unknown third-string, and a trusted No. 2. Simply put — Hoyer has done everything you could think of for an NFL team — and if you want to know how impressive he can be, he had a record of 10-6 under the Browns during the height of their disfunction.

Hoyer also was 5-4 while starting for the Texans, but his latest stint as a starter didn’t go so well as he was 0-6 to start the 2017 campaign with the 49ers before being let go and re-joining the Pats.

Right now, Hoyer is the most experienced option and he’s simply a solid game manager. He has 10,404 career passing yards with 52 touchdowns and 35 picks.

Which Players are Locks to Make the 53-Man Roster for the Dallas Cowboys? - John Williams, Inside The Star

There will be competition all over the roster to make the final 53.

The Cowboys don’t have a clear answer at backup quarterback at the moment. It could be Garrett Gilbert, but they could sign a veteran as well. Gilbert showed well in his lone start against the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2020 and should be the favorite to win the job. However, if he gets into these practices and training camp and doesn’t look competent, the Cowboys will look elsewhere.

There are several options for the Dallas Cowboys at third running back, but I wouldn’t rule out them bringing in a veteran down the road. With an extra game on the schedule and the wear and tear that Ezekiel Elliott has already endured, the Cowboys would be wise to have some insurance behind Elliott and Tony Pollard. The Cowboys may not carry a fullback. It’s a position that generally gets only 5-10 offensive snaps a game, so is it a position that is worth the roster spot? That’s the question that every NFL team is answering these days.

Noah Brown and Cedrick Wilson are the favorites to win the fourth and fifth wide receiver jobs but aren’t guaranteed. The Cowboys could save a little more than $2 million by waving him after June 1st. They can save $850,000 on Brown’s contract. Simi Fehoko is the favorite for the sixth spot at the wide receiver position, but if he can prove to be an asset on special teams, he could push one of the veterans off the roster as well.

Dallas Cowboys: Big reshuffling of the offensive line? - Reid Hanson, Dallas Fort Worth Sports

The offensive line seems stable, but maybe there will be some surprises.

Connor Williams, the Dallas Cowboys starting left guard, could be in the mix for swing tackle in 2021.

The position that hurt the Dallas Cowboys the most last year was offensive tackle. Both sides. Tyron Smith was lost for 14 games and La’el Collins missed all 16. To make matters worse, Dallas’ veteran swing tackle Cameron Erving, was injured most of the season as well. Erving found himself on injured reserve through Week 6 and sadly by then the Dallas Cowboys season was certifiably over (see also Dak’s ankle).

All NFL teams understand the importance of having a reliable swing tackle on hand in case the unthinkable happens. The Dallas Cowboys especially so. That’s why they’re not just working on Plan B, but also subsequent contingency plans.

Veteran tackle, Ty Nsekhe, was brought in this offseason to be a reserve tackle on the roster. He’s long in the tooth but perfectly competent. He’s arguably the best swing tackle Dallas has employed for a few years. But now we’re hearing he may not even be the primary swing tackle in 2021.

When the question was posed to Cowboys media member and former scout Brian Broaddus he surprised folks with who he thinks will be the 2021 swing tackle. The top names he threw out ignored the seemingly obvious answer (Nsekhe) and went with a pair of other options first: Josh Ball and Connor Williams

Ball, the Cowboys controversial fourth round pick from Marshall, has all the tools to be starting left tackle in the NFL. The only question (besides character concerns) is whether or not he’s technically sound enough to play as a rookie.

Cowboys outlook 2021: Dallas’ defensive mainframe quickly taking shape under determined Dan Quinn - Patrik Walker, CBS Sports

Bigger, faster, stronger upfront for the ‘Boys.

With the bulk of free agency and the entirety of the 2021 NFL Draft now in the rearview and with things going swimmingly on the offensive front with the multi-year deal and ahead-of-schedule progress of two-time Pro Bowl quarterback Dak Prescott, Quinn’s plan to rebuild and rewire the Cowboys defense is quickly forming. In a span of only four months, the team has already shed some longstanding views on two key fronts: the lack of value placed both on the interior defensive front and at the safety position (at least in some part). The addition of Brent Urban, Carlos Watkins and rookie sixth-round pick Quinton Bohanna led to a jettison of starting nose tackle Antwaun Woods — who had recently signed his restricted free agency tender only to be given his walking papers by Quinn — and the signing of Damontae Kazee hopes to add potency alongside breakout safety Donovan Wilson and rookie sixth-round pick Israel Mukuamu.

That’s just the beginning of what Quinn is working to mold in Dallas, and having now seen just how short Jones’ rope is in the Hall of Famer’s old age, the former Legion of Boom leader knows he has to hit the ground running in North Texas. In some ways, he already has, both on the field and in how he’s constructed his defensive staff.

But while some solutions have already shown themselves, others are more elusive.

Who Will Handle KR/PR Duties for the Cowboys in 2021? - Jess Haynie, Inside The Star

They really need a specialist to return kicks instead of Tony Pollard.

It’s been a while since Dallas had a true fixture in the KR/PR roles. Dwayne Harris was the last guy to do them at a high level; a true special teams ace from 2011-2014 for the Cowboys. Nobody has touched his proficiency in the return game since.

Since Harris we’ve seen a variety of efforts. Some seasons there’s been a designated return specialist like Lucky Whitehead or Ryan Switzer, while other years the Cowboys have taken a committee approach. Various players like Cole Beasley, Lance Dunbar, Tavon Austin, Jourdan Lewis, and others have moved in and out of these duties depending on health and performance.

In Beasley’s case, Dallas was essentially waving a white flag on any hope of a punt return and just trusting him to make the fair catches. It was a bit discouraging.

Last season we saw more of the committee approach. RB Tony Pollard handled the majority of kickoffs and WR CeeDee Lamb took most of the punts, but RB Rico Dowdle and WR Cedrick Wilson got some opportunities as well. All of these players are back with the Cowboys in 2021.

Nobody stood out as being exceptionally gifted with return ability. The one touchdown was a fluke; Lamb was in on the “hands team” for an onside kick against the 49ers and had an easy lane open up for him. But nobody is coming into this season as a clear favorite.

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