Cowboys Could Add 3-Pro Bowl DE in Potential Free Agency Signing: ‘Nightmare Fuel’ - Sport News

Cowboys Could Add 3-Pro Bowl DE in Potential Free Agency Signing: ‘Nightmare Fuel’

The Dallas Cowboys aren’t far from the free agency window opening and are already being linked to a Cleveland Browns edge rusher. Of course, Dallas has two fantastic pass rushers in Micah Parsons and DeMarcus Lawrence but that’s an area that you can never have enough.

Cleveland Browns defensive end Za'Darius Smith

Which is why DallasCowboys.com writer Patrik Walker thinks the team should consider Za’Darius Smith. Noting that Cowboys DEs Dorance Armstrong and Dante Fowler Jr. are both set to become free agents, Walker lists the Browns DE as an option to consider.

“I was completely in on the possibility of the Cowboys trading for Smith in 2022, but it was instead the Browns that made that deal (though Smith did say he also had interest in Dallas, hint hint),” Smith wrote on February 21. “He’s still cooking at 31 years old, and imagining him with Parsons and Lawrence under Mike Zimmer — his former NFC North foe — is nightmare fuel for opposing quarterbacks (but he won’t come cheap).”

In terms of going “all in,” this move makes sense. Smith and Lawrence are both past their primes, but both are highly effective. The Cowboys doubling up with that duo would give both the chance to be fresh every snap. Meanwhile, Parsons can hold down the weak side and still play just as much.

Za’Darius Smith Entering Year 10 After Browns Stint

Coming into the NFL, Smith was far from a household name. He took the JUCO route in college before finishing at Kentucky. He never blew up box scores, but his 6’4″ 275-pound frame meant he had traits that NFL scouts look for.

After being drafted in the fifth round of the 2015 NFL draft by the Baltimore Ravens, Smith quickly made his presence known. According to PFR, he totaled 5.5 sacks as a rookie despite not making a single start.

His time in Baltimore had ups and downs, but he finished there with a 8.5 sack season in 2018. Smith went on to test free agency, and the Green Bay Packers snatched him up. His stint in Green Bay, which featured 26 sacks in 33 appearances, established Smith as a top-level edge rusher.

However, a back injury that eliminated his 2021 season led to him leaving again. He signed with the Minnesota Vikings before the 2022 season, and totaled 10 sacks that year. But once again, he was on the outs as Minnesota traded him to Cleveland.

His one year with the Browns was fine, but not great. Smith totaled 5.5 sacks and three passes defended in 16 starts.

What Smith Would Cost the Cowboys

Smith’s in an interesting situation financially. He has been paid $10+ million over the past every year since 2019. But after a drop in production and approaching his 32nd birthday, he may have to settle for far less in 2024.

That being said, Spotrac projects his next deal to be worth $12.4 million a year. If that’s the case, then the Cowboys are probably priced out. They’re already tight on funds and need to pay players like WR CeeDee Lamb.

Smith makes a ton of sense as an offseason addition. But Dallas likely can’t afford to pay that kind of money to a player who would, more than likely, have to split time with DeMarcus Lawrence.

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