With OTAs starting this week for the Dallas Cowboys, there may be an answer as to who will be playing left guard for the 2023 season. The front office has talked about getting their best five players on the field in whatever combination is best for the offense. At guard, that can mean Tyler Smith, Chuma Edoga, Josh Ball, Matt Farniok, Asim Richard, or even Terence Steele, as owner Jerry Jones has alluded to.
There certainly won’t be a lack of competition between now and training camp to figure it out. Dallas should probably narrow down the list of names to two or three. However, let’s throw one more veteran offensive lineman into the mix that’s still available in free agency and would check the box of “versatility” the Cowboys love to have.
The Cowboys should sign center/guard Ben Jones
With a name like Ben Jones, it doesn’t strike fear into the hearts of defensive linemen, but don’t let that fool you. Jones has been one of the most dominant centers in the NFL during his 11 seasons.
Now entering year 12, Jones is a free agent after he was released from the Tennessee Titans as a cap casualty this offseason. It couldn’t have been because his play on the field was diminishing. Jones was selected to his first Pro Bowl as an alternate in 2022.
As mentioned above, choices for depth along the Cowboys’ offensive line aren't lacking, which doesn’t even include the list of undrafted free agents they signed. However, the one thing none of them have that Jones possesses is immense NFL experience. Over his career, the former Titan lived up to the name, playing in 172 games. Until this past season, Jones missed just one game in his career.
However, injuries caught up to him, and he missed five games for the first time as a pro. With time to recover from his offseason shoulder and elbow surgery, Jones is driven to continue playing in the right situation.
“I’m trying to find the best fit for me and my family, and I wanna win a championship. Wherever I feel that’s where I can do it, that’s when I’m gonna join on.”
Where does he fit on the 2023 Cowboys?
This is a player a team just wants to have in the locker room, regardless of where he plays. The Cowboys did a similar thing with Jason Peters last season, where he didn’t get the chance to play like a starter, but his presence on the team was beneficial to someone like Tyler Smith.
Jones has a toughness and attitude that would fit well with Dallas’ mix of veterans and young talent to develop. The Cowboys have made moves this offseason to build a championship roster at other positions, but their one blind spot has been the offensive line.
Where could he line up? It’s possible he could compete and win the starting job at guard, but his experience at center is most important. Jones has played center nine of his 11 seasons in the league but has spent two at left guard and right guard. Specifically, in 2014, he started 16 games on the left side in Houston.
Let me ask you this—who’s the backup center right now? Mat Farniok? Alec Lindstrom?
Tyler Biadasz has been great for Dallas and has developed into a Pro Bowl player, but who would come in if he got injured? It used to be Connor McGovern or Connor Williams, but they are no longer on the team. Matt Farniok could take snaps there, but Jones would be an immediate upgrade over him.
Even if Jones never got to play in a game or win the competition at left guard, he would be a valued mentor on a team looking to follow the path toward the Lombardi Trophy.