The NFL free agency negotiation period kicked off today. While that does not mean players will immediately pack their bags to their new homes, teams can now get started inking new pieces for 2023. The first day already saw the Dallas Cowboys lose a player who was an unrestricted free agent, offensive guard Connor McGovern. The Buffalo Bills and McGovern agreed to a three-year, $23 million deal according to NFL Network reporter Mike Garafolo.
McGovern was obviously not a player at the the top of the Cowboys’ list of free agents they would want back. $23 million is far too much out of Dallas’ price range for a backup guard. However, losing him deals a heavy blow to the offensive line depth.
Due to constant shuffling on the offensive line last season, McGovern started a career-high 15 games at left guard.
While he did split time during the season with veteran Jason Peters, McGovern made the most of his opportunity. He helped pave the way for a 1,000-yard rushing season for Tony Pollard and improved in pass blocking for Dak Prescott and Cooper Rush.
Cowboys Free Agency: Connor McGovern signs with Bills
The Cowboys have dealt with numerous injuries up front for the past few seasons. Former All-Pro Tyron Smith has only played in 17 games the past three seasons due to neck and ankle injuries as well as a torn hamstring he suffered in training camp last season. Fellow tackle Terence Steele had arguably his best season last year but tore his ACL against the Houston Texans, ending his season.
Jerry and Stephen Jones began addressing these issues in the draft last year by drafting Tyler Smith. The move paid off as Smith was named to the Pro Football Writers of America all-rookie team. He started a left guard, but shifted to tackle due to Tyron’s injury. While the younger Smith still has a lot to learn, a solid rookie season gives reason for optimism in 2023.
The same cannot be said for Josh Ball and Matt Farniok, however.
Both were late-round picks in 2021 and have yet to develop. Aviante Collins and Isaac Alarcon are two other names to consider for depth but have hardly played outside of preseason games. With McGovern’s departure, guard now seems to be a position of need in the upcoming draft.
As of right now, the projected offensive line depth chart looks similar to last season with Tyron Smith at left tackle, Tyler Smith at left guard, Tyler Biadasz at center, Zack Martin at right guard and Terence Steele at right tackle.
The Cowboys should not consider that lineup a final by any stretch when the regular season begins. Tyron is on his last legs, and it would not be surprising for him to miss more games in 2023. Steele also suffered his ACL injury late in the season meaning he will need more time to heal during the offseason and possibly training camp.
Dallas should now be fully expected to draft at least two offensive lineman in the draft. While one can make the argument receiver or tight end is a bigger need, it should not surprise anyone if the Cowboys draft a lineman early.
The best teams every year always have depth, and the loss of McGovern creates a hole Dallas has to fill this offseason.