Perhaps the Dallas Cowboys still feel that Connor McGovern is a viable candidate to take over the left guard spot. They tried to make that happen in 2021, but his failure to grasp the starting role when presented to him made the Cowboys go back to Connor Williams to finish the season. Williams left the team in free agency for the Miami Dolphins, meaning it’s either McGovern or some other player we don’t know of yet who will play left guard for Dallas in 2022.
We bring this up because the Cowboys are doing something unusual, they are heading into the 2022 draft with a huge hole unless they still believe in McGovern. The Cowboys generally use free agency to fill as many holes as they can so when the draft comes along they can choose whoever they want in the first round. Their strategy has always been to sign bargain players from the outside who can at least be used if no other option in the draft presents itself. As of now, they haven't done that for guard. And McGovern seems to be their best in-house candidate which is a shaky strategy.
They could still go out and sign a guard who could either start or be a depth player if they strike gold at the position in the draft. They probably won’t do it, but if they wanted to have a totally open draft, here are four candidates in free agency they could sign.
Flowers spent a year with the Jaguars, but joined the Redskins in 2019 on a one-year, $3.25m contract in an effort to salvage his career. Washington moved Flowers from tackle to guard, and the player thrived.
Flowers has a ton of starting experience and versatility. Just the kind of thing Dallas looks for in free agency. But what’s his price? Washington released him because of his $10 million cap hit.
Spain spent the past two seasons with the Bengals and the team was wise to re-sign him a year ago, as he ended up winning the starting left guard job and performed well at the position. He finished the 2021 season with a PFF grade of 72.3 and for the most part, gave the Bengals a solid left guard during their AFC championship season.
The Bengals signed Cowboys castoff La’el Collins, so maybe the symmetry is right for the Cowboys to sign Spain. He would be a very cheap signing based on his last contract.
Turner’s career trajectory was once headed upward. He’s had some struggles since. Last season he started for the Steelers but they have chosen not to re-sign him. The good news about Turner is he would come cheap as he played last year on a one-year, $3 million deal. He’s a reclamation project for sure and may never gain his previous form, but he once had a high ceiling.
The Bills released Williams this offseason after moving him to guard last year. Our friends at Buffalo Rumblings explain:
There are two reasons why Williams wasn’t a fit for the Bills anymore. The first was the structure of his contract: After a $6.1 million cap hit in 2021, Williams would cost almost $10 million against the cap in 2022. Releasing him saves the team $6.3 million that they otherwise would have spent. The second reason was the emergence of rookie right tackle Spencer Brown, which pushed Williams to guard. A $9.9 million cap hit ranks 25th among NFL tackles, but sixth among guards. His contract didn’t accurately represent the value to the team after the position switch.
Williams could easily contend for the guard job while also serving as a swing tackle.
It’s probably not in the cards for the Cowboys to make a move before the draft. They seem to want to inject some youth into their offensive line and start their inevitable re-build of that position group. Maybe one of these names will be signed for insurance after the draft.
But if they wanted to, they could fix their biggest hole somewhat before the draft, leaving them free to truly look at BPA among a larger group of positions.