The front office of the Dallas Cowboys absolutely loves their guys. The faith they have in their own players warms the heart, but at the same time it can speed up the blood flow when things don’t work according to plan. One area where this is most prevalent is the offensive tackle position.
After having a plethora of depth in each of the past two seasons, the team suddenly finds themselves relying on a veteran who has struggled to stay healthy and a handful of young guys. Tyron Smith and Terence Steele are the team’s starters with the unproven Josh Ball and Matt Waletzko fighting for the swing tackle position. And with the recent news that the rookie Waletzko suffered a shoulder injury on Thursday, he is expected to miss some time, so the team’s shaky backup tackle situation just got shakier.
Rabblerousr and I discussed the Cowboys' uncertainty at right tackle as well as other camp storylines in the latest episode of The Star Seminar.
The fear is growing among Cowboys Nation as we can’t help wondering when the team is going to make a move in free agency to shore up the swing tackle position. With the second-year Ball never playing an NFL snap combined with the rookie Tyler Smith who they wanted to ease in at left guard, the team appears to be playing with fire, yet the front office doesn’t appear to have a worry in the world.
It may be puzzling, but the Cowboys have a plan. To begin with, they know there are plenty of experienced veteran tackles still out there. Just look at the list of some of the more notable names.
- Nate Solder (New York Giants, age 34)
- Dwayne Brown (Seattle Seahawks, age 36)
- Bryan Bulaga (Green Bay Packers, age 33)
- Eric Fisher (Indianapolis Colts, age 30)
- Jason Peters (Chicago Bears, age 40)
- Brandon Shell (Seattle Seahawks, age 30)
The Cowboys aren’t looking for a starter, they are looking for a swing tackle. Additionally, they are adamant about giving their young players as many opportunities as they can in training camp. While they may not be the final answer by the start of the new season, there is no reason to bring a veteran in right now. They know what these veterans have to offer, so why not give the reps to the younger guys so they can develop and evaluate. As the season grows closer, don’t be surprised if the Cowboys finally add some experience to their depth chart. And when that happens, who is most likely to be their targets? Here are three options, each with their own level of urgency depending on how the coaching staff views their tackle situation.
Daryl Williams (Buffalo Bills, age 30)
If the Cowboys wanted to calm the waters of potential depth problems at the tackle position, the best way to do so would be to acquire the services of Daryl Williams. An All-Pro during the 2017 season with Carolina, he has played in every game over the past three seasons. The Bills initially signed him to a three-year deal but made him a cap casualty this past offseason. Williams is a starting caliber player who isn’t exceptional by any means, which is why he remains unsigned, but the floor on this guy is incredibly high. Not only would he be a comforting swing tackle option who can play either side, but he also has position flex to move inside.
A move to acquire a player like Williams would signal the Cowboys have some legitimate depth concerns behind Smith and Steele, meaning relying solely on Ball would be a risky endeavor. Williams’ ability to be a starter at guard also brings valuable depth inside should injuries or questions show up.
Projected contract: One year, $5 million deal fully guaranteed
Mike Remmers (Kansas City Chiefs, age 33)
This well-traveled lineman is exactly the type of player the Cowboys look for. He has a lot of experience playing in 96 games across nine seasons where he as started in 90 of them. Playing for five different NFL teams, he has proven that he can show up and make an immediate contribution. He can play either tackle position and even slide in at guard if you need him to. Over his career he has had a season where he’s started all 16 games at LT, RT, and RG, so his position flex is invaluable.
Remmers may be remembered for starting at left tackle for Kansas City in the Super Bowl the year before last, and it wasn’t his best day as Tampa Bay feasted on the Chiefs' entire offensive line. KC then went through an OL overhaul the following year, but Remmers was retained for backup duties. Unfortunately, a knee injury ended his season after just four games last year, but that shouldn’t worry us as he has started in double-digit games in each of the six seasons prior.
Remmers comes with pass blocking concerns as any non-starting offensive lineman will, but he has a good track record as a run blocker. His last three contracts have each been cheap one-year deals. And while he's never going to be an elite performer who commands a nice paycheck, teams keep calling for him as this former Oregon State Beaver has proven to be a reliable player on the offensive line.
Projected contract: One year, $2.5 million, $1 million guaranteed
Sam Tevi (Los Angeles Chargers, age 27)
The Cowboys have already given us a clue as to the type of offensive lineman they are interested in as they had former Charger Sam Tevi in for a visit back in April. After playing out his rookie deal with the Chargers, Levi signed a one-year, $2.5 million deal with the Indianapolis Colts. Unfortunately, he never saw the field as he suffered a torn ACL in the preseason finale last year.
While it’s unclear how his visit went with Dallas as it likely was largely focused on his medicals, but if that checked out, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him brought in as a last-minute addition. Tevi is an athletic player who can handle either tackle position. While he hasn’t been a quality starter for the Chargers during his career, he’s a good enough player to be called upon off the bench. A signing like Tevi is very unsexy and would likely tell us that the coaching staff is very comfortable with what Ball (or any of their younger guys) gives them at the swing.
Projected contract: One year, $1.5 million, $500K total guaranteed