DALLAS — In a move that was designated a post-June 1st cut, the Dallas Cowboys made the decision earlier this offseason to release starting right tackle La’el Collins. Although it meant Collins was no longer on the team, and the Cowboys secured salary savings in return, they couldn’t utilize the $10 million in cap relief until the calendar turned to June.
That time has arrived, and the Cowboys now have more money to spend before the season starts. What the organization plans to do with their windfall is always a question, but there are still good players available to help Dallas for the upcoming season if they’re willing to meet the price.
With the depth chart looking a little thin at some positions, the Cowboys now have the extra space to address their needs if they’re feeling opportunistic.
Here are five veterans who have yet to sign that would make sense for the Cowboys:
Anthony Barr, LB
Despite having the Defensive Rookie of the Year at the position, the Cowboys could still use another linebacker as it remains among the thinnest positions on the roster. Barr would bring a little bit of everything to a defense, as he had 72 tackles, six quarterback hits, five passes defensed, three interceptions, and 2.5 sacks in just 11 games with the Minnesota Vikings last year. Injuries and age have caught up with Barr in recent seasons, but he’s still a solid player who would make an excellent addition in Dallas.
Barr’s familiarity with defensive assistant George Edwards is a strong connection and the Cowboys could use another veteran leader on defense. Dallas’ scouting department liked Barr coming out of college and it feels like a good fit at this point in the offseason.
Emmanuel Sanders, WR
Wide receiver is another place where the Cowboys could use some depth. There is talent at WR in Dallas, but with Michael Gallup’s availability for the first half of the season in doubt, and with third-rounder Jalen Tolbert expected to experience the rookie learning curve, there is an opening for a veteran receiver to play alongside new No. 1 WR CeeDee Lamb and free agent addition James Washington.
Sanders would fit in well as a quick twitch option in the passing game. A Texas native and former SMU standout, Sanders could play in his home state and give Dallas more pass catching options. Sanders is 35-years old but he did catch 42 balls for 626 yards and four scores last year as a third option with the Buffalo Bills.
If there is still some gas left in Sanders’ tank, he makes sense for the Cowboys and shouldn’t cost much. That is music to Stephen Jones’ ears.
Bryan Bulaga, OT
The Cowboys drafted two offensive linemen, including Tyler Smith in the first round, but they could still be in the market for a swing tackle. Their current starters are Tyron Smith at LT, who has missed time the last few seasons, and Terence Steele, who has improved, but is still something of a question mark at RT.
If Smith is absent some weeks this year, or if Steele can’t get the job done, the Cowboys will look foolish if they don’t add a veteran to help. Word is the organization is high on second-year tackle Josh Ball, but he didn’t take a single snap last season.
Bulaga would make sense as an option and someone who Mike McCarthy and Joe Philbin are familiar with from their time with the Green Bay Packers. Injuries have limited Bulaga’s last few seasons, and it’s tough to tell how much tread is left on his tires, but when he’s healthy, Bulaga’s a quality tackle who shouldn’t be a costly signing.
Justin Houston, Edge
The Cowboys couldn’t retain defensive end Randy Gregory, but did sign veteran pass rusher Dante Fowler, re-signed Dorance Armstrong, and selected Sam Williams in the second round of the draft to mitigate Gregory’s loss. The defense also has last year’s third-round pick Chauncey Golston as an option, but Dallas still has a need for a pass rusher.
Houston would be a smart signing as the veteran edge rusher doesn’t need a lot of snaps to make an impact and can be used as a designated quarterback hunter. The 4-time Pro Bowl performer has made a career of picking up sacks and, even at 33-years of age, Houston is still productive.
In limited playing time last season Houston had 4.5 sacks with the Baltimore Ravens and could help mentor the young pass rushers in Dallas this season. The Cowboys need all the pressure players that they can get as the young players develop and a one-year deal for Houston could be a great fit.
Kevin King, CB
The Cowboys don’t have a glaring weakness at cornerback, but with the uncertainty of Kelvin Joseph after offseason legal issues, the defense could use another CB. Veteran corners Anthony Brown and Jourdan Lewis are solid players, but having another option to cover themselves against a possible Joseph suspension would be a wise move.
King is just 27-years old and is a few seasons removed from picking off five passes and connecting for 15 pass breakups in 2019. The veteran CB also fits what the Cowboys look for in their corners, size and length. King stands at 6’-3” inches, and is another player who has familiarity with McCarthy from their days with the Packers.
King has been hit or miss for much of his career but his ability to fill out the depth chart could be a boon for Dallas.
Do you think the Cowboys should look to sign some veterans ahead of training camp? Share your thoughts with Ben on Twitter @BenGrimaldi.