Cowboys would be foolish not to pursue forgotten DE with ties to new coach

Oakland Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther, who formerly coached the same unit for the
Oakland Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther, who formerly coached the same unit for the / Kareem Elgazzar

A pivotal offseason awaits the Dallas Cowboys following their crushing loss in the wild card round. We all like to think the Cowboys have the requisite pieces in place to contend for a Super Bowl, but last season proved that wasn't the case.

While they're knocking on the door, shortcomings at linebacker and defensive tackle proved fatal against the Packers. It'd be silly to expect Dallas to hand out blank checks after Jerry Jones' all-in promise (the owner was likely posturing more than anything), but the team should be active as far as adding talent.

Just because the Cowboys probably won't sign an expensive free agent doesn't mean they can't find value in the second and third waves, however. The cap casualty market presents a golden opportunity to capitalize on other teams' financial struggles.

Even with an expected truncated budget, there's a no-brainer free agent the Cowboys should pursue this offseason.

Cowboys would be silly not to pursue DE Carl Lawson in free agency

Lawson's contract with the Jets voided on Monday along with several other free agents around the league. The 28-year-old Lawson is free to sign with any team once the legal tampering period gets underway in mid-March.

The Cowboys would be foolish not to give Lawson a look. Dorance Armstrong and Dante Fowler are both free agents and it's unclear if Dallas will match any offers they receive. Both Armstrong and Fowler should have decent markets after they combined for 26 sacks and 29 tackles for loss over the last two seasons.

Lawson's tenure with the Jets was an abject disaster, though he's not totally to blame for that. Signing with the Cowboys would reunite him with Paul Guenther, who was his defensive coordinator when he was a rookie in 2017. Guenther was recently hired to be Dallas' defensive run-game coordinator under Mike Zimmer.

Believe it or not, Lawson's rookie year was arguably his best as a pro. He posted 8.5 sacks, eight tackles for loss and 21 QB hits. He's yet to surpass 8.5 sacks in five seasons since, but he was productive in 2022 with the Jets, notching 7.0 sacks, 24 QB hits, 49 pressures and a 72.8 pass-rush grade.

It was an impressive rebound year after Lawson missed all of 2021 with an Achilles tear after he signed a three-year, $45 million contract with New York.

In 2023, Lawson found himself on the periphery of a loaded Jets' defensive line headlined by Quinnen Williams, Jermaine Johnson, Bryce Huff, John Franklin-Myers, Solomon Thomas and Michael Clemons.

Still just 28 years old, Lawson is now three years removed from Achilles surgery and he's surely hungry to prove the Jets wrong for his shrunken role this season. The Cowboys need pass rushers and Lawson needs a fresh start.

A reunion with Guenther could be just what he needs to get his career back on track.

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