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5 realistic defensive free agents Cowboys could sign before the 2022 NFL Draft

Cost-effective free agents who could fill holes on the defense for the Cowboys.

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Free agency is nearly upon us. Starting March 16 the Dallas Cowboys and the rest of the NFL can start building their 2022 rosters by signing current free agents. For the Cowboys, it means we will finally get a chance to see how they plan on constructing the roster this year and how it may impact their approach to the upcoming NFL Draft in April.

As we know, the Dallas Cowboys are “bargain bin” shoppers in free agency, meaning we likely won’t see them be very active signing players early on. They prefer to fill roster needs with more cost-effective players, which we will attempt to do today by identifying several options they could sign pre-draft on the defensive side of the ball.

S Ronnie Harrison

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With Jayron Kearse, Damontae Kazee, and Malik Hooker all set to possibly leave via free agency, the Dallas Cowboys could find themselves extremely thin at the safety position. While they’d like to probably have them all back, each one of them may have played well enough in 2021 to put them out of Dallas’ price range, especially as it pertains to Jayron Kearse, who just had a career year.

If the Cowboys want to replace Jayron Kearse with a younger, perhaps even more talented player, Ronnie Harrison fits the bill. He’s a talented safety defending against both the run and pass and he’s just 25 years old. At 6’3”, 214-pounds, he has the size and skill set to play the role Kearse played last year for the Cowboys. He’ll likely be looking for a “prove it” deal since he’s only ever really been a rotational player and never a full-time starter.

DE Ogbonnia Okoronkwo

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Washington Football Team Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Ogbonnia Okoronkwo has only played in 33 games over the last four years with the Los Angeles Rams, but he showed enough flashes during that time span to be viewed as a potential starter for someone. Unfortunately for him, his inability to stay healthy will likely keep him in a rotational role until he’s able to prove he’s capable of handling the job of an every down player.

With the Cowboys, he could fill the void left by Dorance Armstrong. Armstrong’s ability to play as a spot starter over the years was probably undervalued and underappreciated. Finding someone to fill that void this year would be a good idea and Okoronkwo is talented enough to do just that. And considering his past injury history, he shouldn’t be too pricey to sign to a free agent contract.

DE Trey Flowers

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Re-signing Randy Gregory sounds as if it’s going to be one of the Cowboys top priorities, however, he could end up being out of their price range. If that’s the case, finding another experienced option at a more reasonable price is a must and Trey Flowers is a player who makes sense after three disappointing seasons with the Detroit Lions because of injuries.

After signing a five-year, $90 million contract in 2019, Trey Flowers had a run of bad luck. The last two seasons he’s only managed to play in seven games each year and only accumulated 2.5 QB sacks. He could be looking for a “prove it” deal in 2022 so that he can cash in after proving himself once again. That could be a win-win for Dallas. They’d be getting a talented starter if healthy and a potential 2023 compensatory pick if he plays well.

DT Shy Tuttle

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The Cowboys need to bolster the interior of their defensive line to improve their run defense for the upcoming 2022 season and what better way to do it then to add someone who helped do just that the past three years with New Orleans Saints. Shy Tuttle isn’t a household name by any means, but he is a stout run defender who has helped anchor the interior of the Saints DL since joining them as an undrafted free agent.

Since the Cowboys love to rotate their defensive lineman to keep them as fresh as possible, uttle would be an excellent addition as a rotational player, and one who would help upgrade the unit. While he doesn’t offer much as a pass rusher, he is an excellent run defender. Getting better against the run should be a priority for the Cowboys defense this offseason and Tuttle could be an inexpensive player who helps in that area.

LB Alec Ogletree

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Unless the Cowboys somehow go against their typical free agency spending habits by opening up their pockets for Bobby Wagner, then they’ll be forced to choose from this year’s rather uninspiring group of available linebackers for a potential starter or for depth purposes. A veteran like Alec Ogletree, who is familiar with the NFC East division after playing with the Giants not long ago, could fit the criteria they’re looking for.

Ogletree’s versatility to play inside or out LB makes him an attractive name on the open market. At worst, he’d be a solid veteran addition who would add some much-needed depth, however, he’s also a serviceable starter when healthy. As an added bonus, he will likely fit into the Cowboys price range considering he signed a one-year contract worth a little over $1 million last year with the Chicago Bears.

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