The Dallas Cowboys have covered nearly all of their bases within the first two weeks of free agency. Imagine saying that when the season ended?
Despite the flurry of moves, defensive tackle remains a huge need, which would explain why they’re next objective is to re-sign Johnathan Hankins.
Hankins transformed the Cowboys run defense after he was acquired from the Raiders mid-season, and Dallas lacks another interior defender who thrives against the run.
Osa Odighizuwa seems to be headed for a second contract with the club, but his calling card is getting after the quarterback, as evidenced by his four sacks, 11 QB hits, 31 pressures and 20 hurries last season.
Hankins is a great fit alongside Odighizuwa, but the veteran lineman purportedly isn’t looking to sign anywhere right now. Ideally, Dallas adds another interior defender before the draft so they can take the best player available, and Hankins’ reluctance to sign throws a wrench into those plans.
With that in mind, allow us to introduce to you Al Woods, whom the Seahawks released this week in a cap-crunching maneuver.
Cowboys should sign DT Al Woods with Johnathan Hankins enjoying free agency.
A former fourth-round pick of the Saints in 2010, Woods is still one of the league’s more reliable space-eaters in his mid-30s. He turned 36 on Saturday, but put together another impactful season in 2022.
According to Pro Football Focus, Woods’ .13 WAR rating ranked 10th among interior defenders last year. He also posted a plus grade on 24% of his run snaps and a 10% run-stop rate. He added 21 defensive stops, two sacks, and five tackles for loss. The year prior, Woods compiled a 80.3 run defense grade. He totaled 31 defensive stops to go with four tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, and 18 total pressures.
Despite playing just 39% of the snaps, Woods is producing at a level similar, if not higher, to the younger interior DL on the market.
Woods is exactly what Dan Quinn’s defense needs, and with Hankins seemingly taking a load off to start free agency, Dallas should give him a call.
While the Cowboys are loaded on the edge, the interior is a different story and could be the downfall of what has become a stacked defense following the Stephon Gilmore trade and returns of Donovan Wilson and Leighton Vander Esch.
The front office will undoubtedly add to the position during the draft — perhaps as high as the first round — but the unit needs a veteran to bring some experience, tenacity, and leadership.
Woods checks all of those boxes. Quinton Bohanna and Neville Gallimore are trending down after 2022 (both were healthy scratches in the Wild Card win vs the Bucs), and neither player should be guaranteed a spot on the 2023 roster.
Assuming Hankins is content on waiting to sign, the Cowboys shouldn’t waste any time pivoting to the newly-released Woods.