The Dallas Cowboys agreeing to sign former first-rounder Cameron Erving falls in line with their more traditional free-agent signings of the past.
For years, the Dallas Cowboys was held as the gold standard of offensive line play. And that’s primarily due to their draft massive investment into that positional group.
From 2011 to 2014, the Cowboys used three of their four first-round selections on offensive linemen. And those picks resulted in perennial Pro Bowlers Tyron Smith at left tackle, Zack Martin at right guard, and Travis Frederick at center.
In recent years, the Cowboys have attempted to keep their strength strong sinking more high-draft picks into their O-line. In 2018, the Cowboys drafted Texas offensive tackle Connor Williams in the second round. The following year, Dallas saw a blinking light with the value of Penn State guard Connor McGovern in the third round.
But this positional group suffered a big blow this offseason with the unexpected retirement of Frederick, who missed the entire 2018 season due to an autoimmune disease. In response, the Cowboys traded back into the fourth round of the 2020 NFL Draft to acquire Wisconsin center Tyler Biadasz.
Biadasz, McGovern, and veteran backup Joe Looney figure to all be candidates to replace Frederick at center this summer. The Cowboys also opted to part ways with swing tackle Cameron Fleming this offseason, leaving a void at a key reserve spot. The Cowboys seemingly filled that need on Wednesday, agreeing to sign former Kansas City Chiefs offensive lineman, Cameron Erving, to a one-year deal.
Erving, a first-round selection out of Florida State back in 2015, represents a more typical free-agent signing that Dallas has traditionally invested in. That being a former high selection who has struggled to play up to his lofty draft status but is also young enough to experience a career resurgence.
As a former first-rounder entering only his sixth NFL season, the 27-year old Erving is the perfect second-chance candidate for the Cowboys at a position of need. The 6-foot-5, 313-pound lineman started eight games for the Super Bowl champion Chiefs last season. And Erving, who can play every position along the offensive line, has a whopping 42 NFL starts under his belt providing some much-needed experience and versatility to the depth chart in Dallas.
But make no mistake, there’s a reason Fleming was on the open market. Pro Football Focus gave him a dismal 44.8 overall grade for last season, and nothing higher than
a grade of 47.1 over his entire career. In 2019, Fleming played 589 offensive snaps in Kansas City, allowed five sacks, and was called for seven penalties.
In fact, this will technically be Erving’s third chance in the NFL as the team that originally drafted him, the Cleveland Browns, gave up on him after only two seasons. The Browns shipped him to the Chiefs for a fifth-round pick right before the 2017 regular season. Earlier this month, Kansas City opted not to exercise Erving’s option for 2020, making him a free agent.
With the Dallas Cowboys, Cameron Erving figures to come in and immediately compete for the swing tackle position vacated by Cameron Fleming. But Erving has the position-flex to compete for a role along the interior of the offensive line as well. He could be a sleeper candidate at center as that’s the position projected to be his best fit coming out of college.