The Dallas Cowboys should prioritize developing Connor Williams

Connor Williams, Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Connor Williams, Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /

Crank up the good ol’ Dallas Cowboys rumor mill once again, there’s a new free agent on the streets and you know what that means. The Pittsburgh Steelers recently released Pro Bowl guard David DeCastro and speculation is running rampant about where he might end up.

Naturally as is the case with nearly any big-name free agent, fans online have floated the belief that the Cowboys should be interested in DeCastro. It’s a fun idea, but one that Dallas should resist in order to further develop some of the young talent already on their roster.

DeCastro turned 31 in January and has made the Pro Bowl each of the previous six seasons. He’s been a First-Team All-Pro selection twice and has been consistently lauded as one of the top guards in the league. So why shouldn’t the Cowboys sign him?

Well, to start, DeCastro is currently dealing with a serious ankle injury. It’s apparently so severe that the injury could ultimately force him to retire rather than sign with another team. That alone should scare off the Cowboys.

Even if DeCastro was fully healthy, logistically the team’s cap situation could present another issue. According to Over The Cap, the Cowboys are currently among the bottom 10 teams in the league in cap space. With linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, guard Connor Williams, and wide receiver Michael Gallup headlining Dallas’s next crop of free agents, the team should be looking at ways to retain the players already on their roster.

When healthy DeCastro is a great player, but the Cowboys just shouldn’t chase him. The injury alone is cause for major concern, and the team should remain responsible with their limited cap space. Plus, they already have a young and competent guard opposite All-Pro Zack Martin who is already on their roster.

The Dallas Cowboys need to keep developing Connor Williams

It’s possible that no presumed starter on the Dallas Cowboys has flown more under the radar this offseason than Connor Williams. 2021 will mark Williams’ fourth season in the league and he’s looking to build on 2020 which ended up as easily the best year of his young career.

The Cowboys’ offensive line issues were heavily documented last season. They lost their three best linemen to injuries at various points of the season and saw a rookie ascend to the starting center spot. The team was forced to try and patch together a usable offensive line, but they never gelled.

Connor Williams ended up being the only real source of stability up front all season, starting all 16 games for the first time in his career and playing every snap of the season at left guard. He was noticeably improved in nearly every aspect of his game and looked as if he was starting to finally adjust to the speed of the NFL.

With Tyron Smith, La’el Collins, and Zack Martin all coming back healthy in addition to Tyler Biadasz entering his sophomore season as the presumptive starter at center, the Dallas Cowboys offensive line should be much improved if for no other than reason than health and experience. However, if Williams can continue to improve on his solid year last season, the unit as a whole could rebound in a big way.

After being drafted out of Texas in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft, Williams quickly made the transition from college tackle to NFL guard and has started 37 games in his career. He also just turned 24 this past May. While he hasn’t quite turned into a perennial Pro Bowler like Martin or Smith, he is already a very solid player.

Williams ended up finishing the year with the highest Pro Football Focus grade of his career, a solid 70.8 (for what it’s worth DeCastro graded out at 64.1). Williams was even recently included in PFF’s pre-season positional rankings as the 21st best guard in football.

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Injuries and cap space aside, the allure of signing David DeCastro is real and obvious. He’s an established Pro Bowler and consistently been one of the best at his position for years. However, with Connor Williams still very young and showing visible signs of growth, the Dallas Cowboys would be better off focusing their attention on developing their young players.