Would the Cowboys look at another Steelers receiver to further help their passing game?
Cowboys Get: WR Diontae Johnson
Steelers Get: 2023 second-round pick
Like the Bears, the Pittsburgh Steelers are entering a rebuild in 2022. Ben Roethlisberger retired this offseason, and Pittsburgh will start either Mitchell Trubisky, Mason Rudolph or rookie first-round pick Kenny Pickett in Week 1.
While wideout Diontae Johnson would help the Steelers’ next quarterback tremendously—he had 1,161 yards and eight touchdowns this past season—his Pittsburgh future is uncertain. While he hasn’t requested a trade as Deebo Samuel has, Johnson is entering the final year of his rookie contract.
“At the end of the day, I can only move forward and just control what I can control. I want to be here. I’m patient. I’m just going to keep working,” Johnson said, per ESPN’s Brooke Pryor. “My agent is going to do what he do in that situation, and I’m not going to focus on that.”
Johnson was great last season but has only one 1,000-yard campaign on his resume. The Steelers may not be willing to give him, say, Terry McLaurin money (three years, $70 million) based on one strong season—especially after adding rookies George Pickens and Calvin Austin III to the receiver room this offseason.
If the Steelers aren’t willing to lock up Johnson, they could trade him out of the conference and to the Dallas Cowboys, who lost both Amari Cooper (traded) and Cedrick Wilson Jr. in the offseason.
Dallas is talented enough to make a Super Bowl push in the NFC but could use another veteran receiver to remain in the upper echelon. Dallas has CeeDee Lamb, drafted Jalen Tolbert and signed Johnson’s former teammate, James Washington, but presumed No. 2 receiver Michael Gallup is coming off a torn ACL.
Adding Johnson would help ensure that Dallas’ top-ranked offense keeps rolling. The Steelers, meanwhile, would get more in return than they would by losing Johnson for a compensatory pick in 2023 free agency.
The Cowboys could use another receiving threat behind Dalton Schultz.
This year we’ve got all the drama. At the top the TE depth chart, Schultz got the franchise tag and is reportedly frustrated with his contract talks. At this point, with the deadline to reach a long-term deal just 11 days away, this story could now drag on into the next offseason.
Last year’s backup, Blake Jarwin, is still a free agent as he deals with a career-threatening hip injury. Dallas released him in March for some cap relief, but mainly because there were significant doubts that Jarwin would be able to play at all in 2022.
Last year TE2 became a non-factor once Jarwin went out in the middle of the season. His exit coincided with Michael Gallup’s return to the offense from an ankle injury, giving Dallas it’s three-headed monster again at WR and limiting opportunities for any TE other than Schultz.
This year should be different. Amari Cooper’s in Cleveland, Cedrick Wilson’s in Miami, and Gallup may miss the early part of the year as finishes recovery from a torn ACL. The opportunity for TE2 to play a larger offensive role, especially in September, is much greater.
Dallas is counting on these players to help fill holes created in free agency.
3) Dorance Armstrong, defensive end
With the departure of defensive end Randy Gregory in free agency, a “war daddy” is required across from Demarcus Lawrence. Armstrong has shown in flashes that he might have the ability to be just that for Dallas.
He posted five sacks last season in just a rotational role for Dallas, and Bleacher Report identified him as Dallas’s best kept secret earlier this offseason (and he’s thought of as a “best-kept secret’’ by some. Armstrong was also second on the entire team in pressures and hurries last season, only behind Parsons.
Rookie Sam Williams is in play here. So is newcomer vet Dante Fowler. But with an expanded snap count and increased opportunities, Armstrong has the ability to be a legitimate contributor on the defense.
Neville Gallimore and second-year defensive tackle Osa Odighizuwa give the Cowboys a strong interior pass rush.
After being selected 82nd in the 2020 NFL Draft, Gallimore has had an up and down career. Flashing star qualities one play and fading into the background the next, it’s been difficult to gauge who the real Neville Gallimore is.
Neville Gallimore is primed to take a next step in his development and should make a big impact on the Dallas Cowboys defense.
Defensive tackle is a notoriously slow developing position in the NFL. Players typically take time to develop the weight, strength, and technique needed to survive, let alone thrive, at the professional level. So to see a 25-year-old third rounder like Gallimore struggle to find consistency, isn’t all that surprising. Especially since he’s only played 19 games in his two-year career.
Last season, Gallimore hit training camp on a mission, but injuries knee-capped his season and Gallimore was only able to contribute snaps in five games. The snaps he played were impressive, even if the rust was evident. Gallimore was able to show his speed, strength, and athleticism and how they can create havoc from the middle of the line.
The Dallas Cowboys haven’t had a dominating presence inside for quite some time. While the rookie Osa Odighizuwa showed some elite ability early, he faded down the stretch. His rookie wall was real, and Gallimore’s absence certainly didn’t help. When Gallimore made it back, we got a sneak-peak of what to expect with the two side by side.
The Cowboys are one injury away at linebacker from having a serious need here.
Adding a veteran linebacker could really provide us with the depth we need at the position. I know everyone is excited about Jabril Cox, but why not consider bringing in Anthony Hitchens or Anthony Barr to solidify the group (especially considering Leighton Vander Esch’s history with injuries) if the price is right? – KENNETH MUNDY / NAPLES, FL
Kyle: I think this option is still very much so on the table. Think back to last season, when the team was headed to Oxnard, and we were asking the same questions. Why is there so much cap space, and why haven’t they really upgraded the secondary? Then after a few days on the West Coast, Malik Hooker was added to the roster. I think something like that could happen again with the linebackers. It just doesn’t seem likely that they’d go into the regular season with just Parsons, Vander Esch, Cox, and Gifford as their only healthy returners. Adding a veteran to the mix seems like a perfect fix.
Nick: I get the sense Anthony Barr is still on the table, but I see him more as a pass-rusher. And after the offseason we’ve seen from Sam Williams, I think the Cowboys will continue to see what he’s got in training camp. Nothing is off limits right now and linebacker depth is still rather thin. But the last thing they want is to get a progress-stopper and someone that might prevent a young player from developing. I don’t see this as a major issue right now, but something to monitor for sure.
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