Labor Day got off to a good start for the Dallas Cowboys and their fans.
The Cowboys have agreed to a deal with Jason Peters that will have the veteran offensive tackle on the practice squad, according to source. This allows Peters, 40, to ease into work after not going to a training camp.— Todd Archer (@toddarcher) September 5, 2022
Since word that Jason Peters was coming to The Star to discuss joining the team first broke last Wednesday, many of us have been holding our breath waiting to find out if this was actually going to happen. The team was thrust into a sudden crisis when starting left tackle Tyron Smith went down with a leg injury that will have him on IR until at least the latter part of the season. With limited options, Dallas may have found about the best one in Peters. He is not the Hall of Fame caliber player he was at the height of his career with our beloved rivals the Philadelphia Eagles, but last season with the Chicago Bears showed he is still more than capable of holding down left tackle in the NFL. The gloom is lifted from our hearts because the season is now saved.
With all due respect to David Howman’s take linked above, Peters is still a future solution to just one of the many problems the Cowboys face going into the season, and that is if he is what we think he is. Don’t change your expectations just yet.
The offensive line was always the biggest issue for the Cowboys coming into this season, but hardly the only one. Defensively, the roster looks very good. On the other side of the ball, there are some depth issues at just about every offensive position, and the team is riding with a kicker they once dumped in-season for his dismal performance. Nothing outside the offensive line is as concerning as the wide receiver group, however. Not to belabor a point you have probably seen more times than you want, but they have one healthy proven receiver, another still working his way back from a serious injury, a backup with an extremely limited résumé, and a bunch of guys who have yet to catch a single pass in a regular season NFL game. The coaching staff seems to have high hopes about this bunch, but hope is not a plan. Now the only option is ride this out. Michael Gallup should provide a boost, but even once he comes back, Dak Prescott is still going to have to work with a bunch of NFL neophytes.
The ownership has already started its annual whining about how that big QB contract forces them to lean on Prescott to elevate the receivers, the running game, the line, the defense, special teams, concession sales, the cheerleaders, and Rowdy on game day. Those offensive line issues just add one more thing to his plate as he will likely have to move around more than he would like just to avoid sacks. You would think that if your quarterback represents such a huge investment for the team, you would do everything you could to protect and assist him. Other teams seem to find ways to do this despite big QB contracts, but as we have learned, not everything in Texas is bigger. This is most obvious in the case of the pie Stephen Jones has to cut up when allocating cap resources. At least we can take comfort in all the carryover cap space the team will have next year. There are more contracts coming up, and that cap is needed to overpay someone because the market got reset while Jones flexed his negotiating muscles.
Forgive the bitterness spilling over. It is just unfathomable why two problems that faced the team in February are still the biggest ones going into the first game of the season. And don’t forget that Peters is being signed to the practice squad while he ramps up for the regular season. It’s understandable with a veteran like him wanting to wait until the last moment to sign a deal so he avoids camp, but the result is that we will initially see a starting offensive line featuring Tyler Smith at LT and Connor McGovern at LG.
Once you roll that out, the team has to decide if it is better to keep Peters in a backup role when he is ready to play, or move Smith back inside to guard where he got all his work before, and put Peters at left tackle. On paper, that looks like the strongest line, but asking the rookie to keep moving between positions is far from ideal. Hopefully injuries will not force their hand, but at least Peters offers a better option than Josh Ball or Matt Waletzko. Once he is ready to go, of course.
On the first day of the first week of the regular season, Peters was arguably the best signing the team could make to bandage up the wound they suffered when Tyron went down. But it was strictly reactionary. Had Tyron made it to this Sunday to start against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, all indications was that the ownership was content to roll with Ball and Waletzko as their tackle depth.
Just like with wide receiver, the team made their bed with personnel decisions regarding Amari Cooper and La’el Collins, both of whom are in starting roles with other teams. And then they took the cheap way out by relying on a journeyman, rookies, inexperienced second-year players, and UDFAs. Other teams use free agency to address glaring needs, but all we get in Dallas is talk about how much space that QB eats up, dry power, and pie, pie, pie. The team had months to try and find real cures, but instead are just trying to patch things up before they bleed out. Peters is a solid, and even possibly great, addition who will pay immediate dividends just adding veteran experience and mentoring for the young’uns. But he is not the cure for the ills that reside in the owners’ suite.