The goal of the offseason for teams around the NFL is to put together the most competitive roster possible for the upcoming season. NFL organizations like the Dallas Cowboys spend nearly every waking moment trying to accomplish this goal and how they choose to navigate the NFL Draft and free agency typically determines their success or failure.
The Cowboys know this all too well. From top to bottom their roster was tested in 2020 due to unforeseen and unavoidable injuries. Those injuries ultimately led to the 6-10 finish. With that in the back of their mind, the Cowboys are likely doing everything they can to make sure such a thing doesn’t happen once again.
There are things that will be out of their control once again in 2021, however, that shouldn’t stop them from trying to prepare for any given situation. One such situation they should prepare for is the possibility their offensive line once again succumbs to the injury bug and it’s not clear they’ve done enough to improve the depth across the OL.
The Cowboys have a lot riding on the health of their offensive line this year. They should have their starting five all but settled with Tyron Smith and La’el Collins expected to reclaim their starting jobs after sustaining season-ending injuries last year. However, having adequate depth behind their starters is something Dallas may want to take a closer look at.
So far, the Cowboys depth at OT and OG looks to be pretty solid after the free agent signing of OT Ty Nsekhe and additions of OT Josh Bell and IOL Matt Farniok via the NFL Draft. Add them with OTs Brandon Knight and Terence Steele and OG Connor McGovern that leaves someone to back up second-year C Tyler Biadasz as the biggest concern.
Enter OG/C Joe Looney.
Joe Looney has primarily been a backup the last five years he’s spent with the Dallas Cowboys, but has also jumped in when needed starting 32 games at both center and guard during that time span as well. He’s a proven veteran with starting experience and that’s something Dallas doesn’t have much of right now behind their starters.
What if Tyler Biadasz struggles or has to miss any amount of time in 2021? Who would the Dallas Cowboys turn to? Connor McGovern? He’s the most logical solution currently on the roster. He filled in nicely as Zack Martin’s injury of placement last year at right guard, but has never played the center position in the NFL and only sparingly in college. They are also looking at Farniok at the position, but that’s a lot to ask from a seventh-round rookie.
That brings us back to Joe Looney. He’s still currently available on the open market and at 30 years old would be a relatively cost-effective, but probably invaluable, signing. He already knows the system and can step in immediately if/when needed. Sounds like a no-brainer.
Joe Looney as the Cowboys swing OG/C is a better option than any of the other choices currently on the roster. For now, it doesn’t look as if Looney is in Dallas’ plans for 2021, but he should be re-signed as soon as possible before he gets snatched up by someone else.
While 30-year-old interior lineman Joe Looney would be more of a budget option, bringing him in would make a ton of sense for the Giants. Though a longtime backup, Looney started 32 games with the Dallas Cowboys over five seasons.
Looney has experience at both guard and center, plus a long history with Giants offensive coordinator Jason Garrett.
According to Zack Rosenblatt of NJ.com, New York was interested in signing Looney last year before he decided to return to Dallas.
Would Looney be a high-end replacement for Zeitler at guard? No, but he could be a valuable depth piece at a cap-friendly price. Line depth will be important with the NFL moving to a 17-game regular season, so Looney is definitely a player worth considering.
Everything Kristopher Knox says is true as it pertains to the New York Giants and it rings just as true for the Cowboys as well. Because of that, and the NFL moving to a 17-game regular season, Jerry Jones and Company shouldn’t hesitate in bringing back Joe Looney.