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Cowboys news: La’el Collins visiting Bengals, Dorance Armstrong back on a 2-year deal

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NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Dallas Cowboys Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Dorance Armstrong Returns; Signs 2-Year Deal - Nick Eatman, Dallascowboys.com

The young defensive end will be back in Dallas for two more seasons.

FRISCO, Texas – There’s two types of “March Madness” going on right now with free agency and basketball. But in both cases, you’re going to hear the word “pivot.”

And for the Cowboys, that’s exactly what they did in bringing back defensive end Dorance Armstrong, who officially signed a two-year deal on Thursday at The Star.

Armstrong was one of the players that seemingly would get away from the Cowboys in free agency, especially if Randy Gregory re-signed. And while that was the plan and was all but executed before Gregory surprised the Cowboys and the NFL world with a last-second change to join Denver, it left the Cowboys with potential depth issues at the position.

The Cowboys also inquired about the likes of other big-named rushers like Von Miller, Chandler Jones and Za’Darius Smith, but all three agreed on new deals with other teams, headlined by Millers’ six-year, $120 million contract with Buffalo.

After round of pivoting, the Cowboys made sure to keep Armstrong in the fold in a move that will likely make him one of the two starting defensive ends along with DeMarcus Lawrence, if not a key rusher in the rotation. The Cowboys also have Tarell Basham and Chauncey Golston at defensive end and we can never forget about Micah Parsons, who is listed as a linebacker but will probably get his share of pass-rushing reps.

Armstrong is another member of a rock-solid 2018 draft class that all hit free agency together this spring, as he was drafted 35 spots after Michael Gallup and 21 spots before Dalton Schultz.

La’el Collins released by Cowboys: Starting offensive lineman to hit free agency with lots of interest - Patrik Walker, CBS Sports

A move we all knew was on the horizon became official Thursday.

Another offensive starter has been set free by the Dallas Cowboys, but this time it’s not by way of trade. One of the biggest headlines of the team’s offseason was their decision to trade four-time Pro Bowler Amari Cooper to the Cleveland Browns — saving $20 million toward the 2022 salary cap with the move — but there was still a looming decision to be made on La’el Collins. The 28-year-old found himself on the outs with the organization in 2021 and, as such, was given permission to seek a trade this offseason as the club itself fielded calls with the hopes of getting assets in return for the divorce.

Having spoken with several teams, and despite Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots emerging a strong candidate to trade for Collins if they could get past the compensation part of the potential deal, the Cowboys instead opted to release Collins outright on Thursday — sources tell CBS Sports — designating him as a post-June 1 cut that will gain them $10 million in savings toward this year’s salary cap.

He’ll be immediately available to sign with any team who makes him the best offer, and it’s expected the Patriots will run up against stiff competition in the offensive-line hungry Cincinnati Bengals and Miami Dolphins, amongst others.

It’s the latest decision by the Cowboys front office that’s caused a stir, both outside of and inside of the locker room, with All-Pro linebacker and rookie phenom Micah Parsons presumably weighing in on the news of Collins’ release via Twitter; the decision to cut Collins coming only two days after the bombshell contractual implosion that caused defensive end Randy Gregory to pivot from his agreed upon deal with the team to signing with the Denver Broncos instead.

La’el Collins visiting Bengals - Charean Williams, PFT

The Bengals may be looking to scoop up Collins before he can go elsewhere.

The Cowboys waived offensive lineman La’el Collins with a post-June 1 designation, saving them $10 million in cap space. It doesn’t appear it will take Collins long to find a new home.

Collins is flying to Cincinnati tonight for a visit with the Bengals on Friday, a source tells PFT. He played for Bengals offensive line coach Frank Pollack for three seasons in Dallas.

The Bengals are seeking to upgrade their offensive line this offseason and already have signed Alex Cappa and Ted Karras.

The Cowboys signed Collins as an undrafted free agent in 2015, getting a steal in a player projected as a first-round choice. He played left guard his first season before switching to right tackle.

Cowboys Source: Renewed ‘Interest’ in Signing Pass-Rusher Za’Darius Smith, Who Spurns Ravens - Mike Fisher, Sports Illustrated

Free agency has been wild to say the least. Could this latest twist be to the Cowboys favor?

So, all of this means the Cowboys have a gaping hole at pass rusher.

The good news, such as it is? Thanks to the DeMarcus Lawrence re-do, the Cowboys put themselves in a position to give Gregory as much as $14 million a year.

What will they do with that money now?

Za’Darius Smith is coming off an awful year with the Green Bay Packers, a season in which due to a training camp back injury he played just two games and had just one sack. But at 29, the 6-4, 272-pound defensive end and two-time Pro Bowler has a recent history of performing at a level, statistically, even higher than Gregory.

In 2018, he has 8.5 sacks for the Ravens, and then got a Packers contract - from a team coached by Mike McCarthy, now in charge in Dallas - that was supposed to be four years for $66 million.

What Dak Prescott told WR Michael Gallup after Cowboys extension - Jori Epstein, Yahoo Sports

QB1 was proud to see his teammate and friend be able to stick around.

Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott found Michael Gallup in the team’s training room after the news broke.

The quarterback gave his receiver, who’s rehabilitating after surgery on a torn ACL, a hug.

Then?

“The first words he told me were, ‘Get that thing (knee) right so we can get to work,” Gallup said Thursday by phone. “I ain’t going to lie to you: Dak knew I was going to be here for the long haul since I got here. That man’s had faith in me since Day 1.

“He wanted me to be here and I’m so glad he did.”

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Gallup (13) celebrates scoring a touchdown in the third quarter with quarterback Dak Prescott (4) against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at AT&T Stadium.

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Gallup (13) celebrates scoring a touchdown in the third quarter with quarterback Dak Prescott (4) against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at AT&T Stadium.

Monday, the Cowboys signed Gallup to a five-year extension worth $62.5 million with $27 million guaranteed including a $10 million signing bonus, a person with knowledge of the deal confirmed to USA TODAY Sports. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly disclose the terms.

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