If DeMarcus Ware doesn’t return, the Dallas Cowboys could swipe a low cost, quality pass rusher from Tampa Bay.
Countless articles on ways to improve the Dallas Cowboys pass rush will persist until the team finally solves the destructive problem.
Ever since DeMarcus Ware traded in the star back in 2014, pass rush has topped the Cowboys’ annual off-season wish list.
While Ware’s return as a situational pass rusher is possible and welcome, it’s nothing more than wishful thinking at the moment.
The Cowboys plan to add a pass rusher in the early rounds of the upcoming draft. Even so, signing a quality veteran will remain a necessary.
Management will avoid spending big bucks on a hotly pursued free agent rusher.
Yet I fully expect a bargain priced veteran to join the roster. A player along the lines of 2016’s signing of Benson Mayowa is the trend.
If Ware doesn’t return, there’s another intriguing defensive end in Tampa Bay who’ll likely have a reasonable price tag.
JACQUIES SMITH (6’2, 260)
Smith is a 26 year old, Dallas native who played at South Oak Cliff High School.
He entered the NFL with little fanfare due to low sack numbers in college. The four-year defensive end recorded only 9.5 sacks in 31 games at Missouri.
Smith went undrafted in 2012 before landing with the Dolphins. He was released by three NFL teams prior to signing with Tampa Bay in 2014.
The interesting aspect is previous Bucs’ head coach Lovie Smith acquired him to play end in his ‘Tampa-2’ 4-3 defense. The same defense Dallas plays.
Smith was productive in the role unseating William Gholston as the starter in 2014.
In two seasons he racked up 13.5 sacks over 18 starts. 2016 was wiped out by a Week 1 knee injury leading to season-ending injured reserve.
Walter Football rates Smith as the 8th best available end, two spots above Ware.
IF THE PRICE IS RIGHT
Smith is now a restricted free agent and it shouldn’t take much to poach him.
The Bucs will likely re-sign Gholston to remain their starting left end like 2016.
George Johnson remains under contract and should return to back up the position after missing 2016 with a hip injury.
With three quality ends under contract and Gholston likely re-signing, Tampa should extend the lowest RFA tender ($1.323 mil) to retain Smith.
After all his last three base salaries were only $510k, $420k, and $600k.
Since he went undrafted in 2012, Dallas could submit a higher offer (2 years / $2 mil per) and wouldn’t lose a draft pick if the Bucs failed to match it.
For a player who had 6.5 sacks in 2014 and 7 sacks in 2015 in the same exact defense, $2 million per season is worth the cost.
If Tampa offers a higher, second round tender ($2.023 mil), any interest would cease.
Not only would Dallas have to beat the offer, they’d also have to surrender a second round draft pick which squashes the idea.
Time will tell if the Bucs refuse to offer Smith or extend the lowest RFA tender. If either happen, the Cowboys should pounce on the low cost pass rush upgrade.