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Geno Atkins headlines three defensive tackles Cowboys should consider in Neville Gallimore’s absence

Potential free agent DTs Cowboys should consider after Neville Gallimore’s injury.

Cincinnati Bengals v Miami Dolphins Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

Avoiding a potential season-ending injury to his elbow is great news for both Neville Gallimore and the Dallas Cowboys. The bad news though is he’s expected to miss four to six weeks, or six to eight weeks, according to who you want to believe. Depending on how quickly he heals, he’s likely to miss the first part of the 2021 season.

This is the life of the NFL. Injuries are bound to happen and how teams cover themselves for such situations can weigh heavily on how much success or failure they have in any given game. With Neville Gallimore sidelined between a month or two, the Dallas Cowboys need to weigh all of their options carefully, both internally and externally.

By now, with two preseason games under their belt, the Cowboys should have a pretty good idea of what they have personnel wise right now at the defensive tackle position, with and without Gallimore. The unit as a whole has shown promise thus far at training camp and in preseason, however, there are still a few available DTs who could be considered upgrades.

Before we get started, it’s important you know all three of the defensive tackles listed below could be considered in the same boat as Gerald McCoy, who recently signed a one-year, $1.25 million contract with the Las Vegas Raiders this year. They are all roughly the same age and also carry similar injury concerns. That’s good news for the Dallas Cowboys.

Geno Atkins

Baltimore Ravens v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Bryan Woolston/Getty Images

Atkins has turned himself into a household name over his ten-year career with the Cincinnati Bengals. He’s an eight-time Pro Bowler and two-time First-team All-Pro, and at 33 years old he still has more than enough left in the tank to be considered an upgrade for the Dallas Cowboys defensive front. The only reason he is still available on the open market right now is probably because he’s weighing his options after having offseason shoulder surgery.

His age and recent surgically repaired shoulder is a little bit of a red flag, but one that hopefully lowers his price tag enough for the Cowboys to swoop in and add him to the roster. He would be an excellent fill-in for Neville Gallimore while he recuperates from his hyperextended elbow and would add some much-needed veteran experience along the defensive front. He’s exactly the kind of penetrating/disruptive DT Dallas needs.


Jurrell Casey

Tennessee Titans v Denver Broncos Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

Casey isn’t quite the household name like Geno Atkins is, but he is someone who has established himself as one of the better defensive tackles in the league over the past decade. He’s a five-time Pro Bowler (2015-2019) and was a huge part of the Tennessee Titans defensive success over the years before getting traded to the Denver Broncos last year for a seventh-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Sadly, an early torn biceps prevented him from making much of an impact in Denver and pretty much ended his 2020 season before it really gained any footing. But, he’s another defensive tackle the Dallas Cowboys should seriously consider adding in Neville Gallimore’s absence. He may be coming off a season-ending injury, but he still just 31 years old and isn’t too far removed from being a dominant force from the interior of the defensive line.


Kawann Short

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And the trend continues. Like Geno Atkins and Jurrell Casey before him, Kawann Short is another free agent defensive tackle on the wrong side of 30 (32) with some red flags due to shoulder problems over the last two years. Despite being a two-time Pro Bowler, Short hasn’t been able to accomplish much on the field the past two seasons due to a partially torn rotator cuff in 2019 and season-ending shoulder surgery in 2020.

Of the three DTs listed, Short would be the biggest gamble for the Cowboys because he hasn’t played much since 2018. Because of that he could also be the more cost-effective option, which plays right into Dallas’ bargain-bin spending philosophy on free agents. If he can pick up where he left off in 2018 before his shoulder issues, and remain healthy, he could definitely help the Cowboys upgrade their defensive front.