Knowing how the Dallas Cowboys operate, it’s fair to say their roster for the 2022 season is mostly set in stone. While teams around the NFL are busy shopping for free-agent bargains, the Cowboys are typically done spending once the draft rolls round.
In fact, the last non-draft related move came all the way back on March 20, when they re-signed Jayron Kearse. In 2021, their final move in March was .. the signing of Kearse, while their only post-draft additions came in the form of Malik Hooker, Simi Fehoko and a handful of other practice squad mainstays.
Long story short, it’d be shocking if Dallas makes further additions, which makes for an interesting conversation given there’s a number of positions/roles on the team that have serious question marks before OTAs.
The offensive line, for instance, has multiple roles that need settling. What will the linebacker rotation look like? Who will start at edge rusher opposite DeMarcus Lawrence, Dorance Armstrong or newcomer Dante Fowler?
Another overlooked question? Will CeeDee Lamb continue returning punts now that he’s expected to be the No. 1 receiver?
Will CeeDee Lamb be the Cowboys’ lead punt returner in 2022?
Anyone else getting Dez Bryant flashbacks? For the first three years of his career, the former three-time Pro Bowler returned punts for Dallas, averaging 9.2 yards per return and totaling two touchdowns over 42 reps. From 2013 on, though, Bryant never returned another kick. That was the time Dez’s career took off, as he was one of the league’s most dominant receivers spanning 2012-2014.
Having Bryant return punts was more of a luxury than a necessity, but can the Cowboys afford to take Lamb off return duties following the departure of Cedrick Wilson, who fielded 11 punts last year, albeit at an inefficient rate?
On the flip side, would it really be smart to expose their top receiver to injury by having him dodge out-of-control defenders on special teams? Absolutely not. If Lamb gets hurt, the WR room is suddenly bereft of depth.
Trevon Diggs returned punts at Alabama, but the injury argument can be applied to him as the team’s top cornerback. Could the Cowboys consider Tony Pollard for the role? Though he’s never returned a punt, he has vast experience as a kickoff returner and has lined up as a punt returner in practice.
Could one of Jalen Tolbert or James Washington step up in this regard? What about Fehoko? Surely there’s some wiggle in Fehoko’s 6-foot-4, 220-pound frame, no? Could Dallas look to revive Jourdan Lewis’ days as a returner?
If none of these options inspire confidence, we wouldn’t be opposed to Dallas browsing the free agent market for a cost-effective specialist. The Commanders just did that with Alex Erickson, so there should be options out there.
It’s really anyone’s guess what happens. The important thing is there’s plenty of time for Mike McCarthy, John Fassel and the front office to figure it out. We just don’t need to see Lamb putting himself in harm’s way more than he already is as a receiver, so we hope these conversations have already started.