It’s hard not to be pleased with most of the work the Dallas Cowboys have done this offseason. They were able to retain players, including some that were considered as good as gone at the start of free agency, while being able to acquire talent to address problem areas on the roster. All in all, a good approach to the offseason so far.
However, there is one need the Cowboys need to take care of protect themselves just in case. That’s a backup 1-technique defensive tackle. The Dallas run defense improved last year after trading for Jonathan Hankins from the Las Vegas Raiders. Unfortunately, Hankins was placed on injured reserve with a pectoral injury and the run defense declined sharply as a result. A terrific defense then had a glaring Achilles heel.
Luckily, Dallas was able to re-sign Hankins to a new deal earlier this off-season. Third-year defensive tackle Quinton Bohanna is still on the roster, but the team needs to further assurance at the position if Hankins should miss any time this season.
The Cowboys are unlikely to do anything pre-draft, but if they don’t acquire a player then, they may look at the veteran free agent market. Here are a few names that could fill the role if needed.
Suh is probably at the top of the list of available names who can play the position and why not? He’s a decorated veteran with an established track record of producing at a high level. In recent years, he has declined but is still a worthwhile addition if the Cowboys can come to an agreement with the former All-Pro. Suh’s interests are simple. He wants to play for a contender.
His last few stops include time with the Los Angeles Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Philadelphia Eagles. Suh and the Cowboys coming to an agreement shouldn’t be complicated. If they can convince Suh that they are serious about building a champion, that should be enough to persuade Suh to sign with the team. He shouldn’t demand a lot of money, playing for a salary of 2M last season. Plus, he’s thought about it before.
Al Woods is a player who has the grit and grind spirit you want on your roster. Taken in the fourth round by the New Orleans Saints in 2010, and subsequently released that same year, Woods has been battling ever since. Finally, latching on to a more regular role with the Pittsburgh Steelers in his second stint, Woods has rounded out into a steady player in the trenches. Playing for the Seattle Seahawks, Woods’ best year also came in in 2021, with a career-high 50 tackles and three passed defended.
NFL vet DT Al Woods will be meeting with the #Browns this week— Mac (@tha_buffalo) April 4, 2023
-Never had a PFF run D grade lower than 65 in the past 5 years
-52 run stops and 9 TFLs the past 2 seasons
To put it simply: resetting the line of scrimmage is Al’s specialty
Looking to reduce salary cap costs, Seattle released Al Woods last month. Woods would be possibly one of the best values at interior line play. Woods also led the Seahawks’ interior linemen in tackles with 39 tackles to go along with two sacks. The 6’3”, 330 lb. interior plug would secure the position and give Dallas two excellent 1-tech run stoppers in the middle of their defense.
As Stephen Jones likes to say, “We like our guys”. It was rumored that Michael Brockers was one of the Cowboys’ guys dating all the way back to 2012 in the lead-up to the NFL draft. The Cowboys were thought to be interested in the former LSU Tiger prospect. Brockers, a Houston native, was released by the Detroit Lions following the 2022 season, and as reported by Sports Illustrated, the Cowboys and Brockers are a fit for one another.
Among the players listed here, Brockers would provide the most pass rush upside at this stage in their respective careers, with 29 career sacks. There has been news of Brockers perhaps mulling retirement, but as he told the Detroit Free Press:
“I know I can still play in this league physically. … So mentally, it’s a thing that I’m kind of thinking about, but other than that, not really. I’m just finishing this year out strong and get into the offseason and see what happens after that.”
Brockers has earned nearly 70M in his career, so it is unclear where money stands in his list of football priorities. Still, if the two sides can come together, it would be a great addition to the Cowboys’ depth.