The Dallas Cowboys could still be looking at edge rusher. Missing out on Randy Gregory was an unfortunate circumstance, and while the team retained Dorance Armstrong and brought in veteran Dante Fowler on a one-year deal that will hopefully pay dividends a la Robert Quinn, they could still use help.
Tuesday brought news that one of the team’s targets (depending on how much stock you really put into it) in Za’Darius Smith wound up with the Minnesota Vikings. Von Miller signed with the Buffalo Bills and Chandler Jones with the Las Vegas Raiders, so needless to say options are starting to run rather thing.
The 2022 NFL Draft will present options with a deep edge rusher class, but what about help in the here and now? Dallas has been linked to one other veteran name lately and it seems like that might not be going away.
The Dallas Cowboys are reportedly still interested in Jason Pierre-Paul
Sunday saw rumors start to swirl that the Cowboys had interest in veteran pass rusher Jason Pierre-Paul.
JPP was taken nine spots before Dallas selected Dez Bryant (incidentally the last time that the Cowboys had the 24th overall pick like they do this year) during the 2010 NFL Draft and has put together quite the career since, having won Super Bowls with both the New York Giants and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Pierre-Paul played through a torn rotator cuff last season which obviously hindered his ability to have success, but prior to that seemed rather reliable for the Bucs.
In many ways JPP would be the type of Cowboys signing that we have come to expect. He is someone with legitimate experience in the NFL, has been there and done that, and will theoretically come at a lower price than most. ESPN linked him to Dallas yet again on Wednesday:
Dallas is still looking for pass-rush help. One option on its radar is Jason Pierre-Paul, who is still a candidate to re-sign with the Bucs but will have options. Pair Pierre-Paul with newly acquired Dante Fowler Jr. and there’s your Plan B to signing Randy Gregory.
The Cowboys had big plans for Gregory, who was displeased with the default language in the Cowboys’ contract and bolted to Denver. But credit to the Cowboys for pivoting to their young defensive players at the midtier level, retaining pass-rusher Dorance Armstrong and safeties Jayron Kearse and Malik Hooker for less than a combined $16 million per year. Some around the league believe Armstrong has untapped potential as a talented, powerful rusher.
As free agency has unfolded the Cowboys have indeed placed the majority of their focus on retaining their own. At the time of this writing they only have two external free agents who have signed with them in James Washington and the aforementioned Dante Fowler.
If you are looking for any sort of red flags surrounding JPP, it is worth considering that Tampa Bay has been as focused as they can be on retaining their core players over the last two years. Assuming they don’t move heaven and earth to retain JPP, then they obviously do not view him as a difference-maker of that variety.
But different teams view different players in different ways. Perhaps Dan Quinn feels like there is something notable that JPP can bring to the Cowboys fold. A pass rush group of Pierre-Paul, the returning DeMarcus Lawrence and Dorance Armstrong, Tarrell Basham, Chauncey Golston, Dante Fowler, and Micah Parsons would not be the worst thing in the world.