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Cowboys centers roster review: Tyler Biadasz’s free agency is an underrated issue

Do not forget that Tyler Biadasz is set to hit free agency.

NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Green Bay Packers v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

The Cowboys have enjoyed four years of cheap labor out of center Tyler Biadasz, who’s started nearly every game from 2021-2023 and has gone to a Pro Bowl along the way. With his rookie contract expiring, Biadasz is one of the bigger names among Dallas’ free agents in 2024 and presents a significant issue for the team’s offseason.

Despite being just a fourth-round pick in 2020, the Wisconsin product came to Dallas with high expectations. The last Badgers center that Dallas drafted, Travis Frederick, was an immediate star and saw his career tragically end due to a neurological disorder. Almost unfairly, Biadasz was tagged as the guy to fill those big shoes.

Dallas didn’t throw Biadasz to the wolves, giving him a year to develop behind veteran Joe Looney, He did start four games as a rookie when Looney had a knee injury, and Biadasz was handed the job the following offseason. He hasn’t looked back since, being named to the Pro Bowl in 2022 and providing solid overall work during his run. While never the dominant force that Frederick was, Biadasz has provided outstanding value for where he was drafted.

But now, getting those same services is going to get more expensive. Biadasz should be able to get over $10 million a year, still just 26 years old and with a good résumé. That’s a huge jump from the $2.87 million he counted against the salary cap in 2023.

There isn’t exactly a “next man up” option here, either. The only other listed center on the roster is Brock Hoffman, a third-year undrafted prospect who’s seen some playing time due to injuries but is hardly a proven commodity. It’s hard to imagine Dallas will just hand the job to Hoffman given their lofty goals for next season.

It’s entirely possible that Dallas will work out a multi-year deal with Biadasz, which would give them the flexibility to convert salary into bonus money and keep the cap hit low. But again, Biadasz isn’t an All-Pro talent. The Cowboys could get better at center, especially with pass protection, and may not want to tie make a long-term commitment to Biadasz.

Franchising Biadasz is completely off the table. Offensive linemen are grouped together according to the CBA, so that means the averages pull in numbers from offensive tackles making $20 million or more per year. Even Jason Kelce only made $14 million last year, so no way would Dallas entertain this option for a lesser center.

At the very least, whoever players center in Dallas next year gets to enjoy life between Tyler Smith and Zack Martin on the offensive line. That does create less anxiety for the Cowboys, perhaps allowing them to let Biadasz walk and find a bargain signing or using a mid-round pick to give Brock Hoffman some competition for the job.

On the other hand, with Tyron Smith also a free agent and making left tackle a question mark, Dallas might want to shore up center quickly by just getting Biadasz signed. Even if he’s no Frederick, he’s a solid starter and getting security and cap flexibility through a new contract could be worth it to the front office. It would come down to how much of a lowball the Cowboys throw at him and how badly Biadasz values staying in Dallas.

No, you’re not going to hear as much about Tyler Biadasz this offseason as Tyron Smith, Tony Pollard, Stephon Gilmore, or other free agents. But he’s been a fixture on the offensive line for the last three years and presents the team with one of their tougher choices. Do the Cowboys risk trying to find an upgrade with limited resources, or do they take the safe route and pay Biadasz to stay?

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