Cowboys must prioritize this free agent after Dan Quinn steals another player

Feb 27, 2024; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Washington Commanders coach Dan Quinn during the NFL Scouting
Feb 27, 2024; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Washington Commanders coach Dan Quinn during the NFL Scouting / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Dan Quinn has to be trolling at this point, right? In all seriousness, it's no surprise that Quinn has sought out former Dallas Cowboys players in free agency. Quinn did wonders to change the defensive culture in Dallas, even if he left on poor terms after the Cowboys' wild card loss to the Packers.

Less than two days into the legal tampering period, Quinn has now signed three former Cowboys players. First, defensive end Dorance Armstrong and center Tyler Biadasz each inked three-year deals with the rival Commanders.

In one of the most predictable moves of free agency, Dante Fowler became the latest Dallas free agent to follow Quinn to Washington. Quinn has coached Fowler in college at Florida and in the NFL with the Falcons, Cowboys and now the Commanders.

The Quinn-to-Cowboys pipeline might be the lead talking point, but Quinn has gutted Dallas' defensive line in the first wave of free agency. Mike Zimmer needs more edge rushers and the team would be smart to pursue free agent Carl Lawson after losing Armstrong and now Fowler.

Cowboys must target DE Carl Lawson after Dan Quinn signed Dante Fowler

Micah Parsons and DeMarcus Lawrence formed arguably the best DE tandem in the league last season. With nine sacks, 45 pressures and 15 tackles for loss on his resume, 2022 second-round pick Sam Williams offers plenty of upside as a third option. But that still isn't enough to form a complete rotation.

With Armstrong and Fowler, the Cowboys had five capable pass rushers at their disposal. That doesn't even include the versatile Chauncey Golston. While Golston will be back, Dallas needs another quality edge defender.

Enter Lawson, who disappointed as a marquee free-agent signing by the Jets three years ago. Lawson found himself on the outskirts of New York's defensive line rotation this past season, but he was highly productive in 2022, posting 7.0 sacks, 49 pressures, 24 QB hits, nine tackles for loss and a 72.8 pass-rush grade.

A back injury limited Lawson to six games in 2023, but he has a clean bill of health as he considers his options in free agency. The former fourth-round pick will turn 29 in June and is likely seeking a one-year prove-it deal before potentially securing a final lucrative contract next offseason. That fits right into the Cowboys' embarrassingly low budget.

It's hard to think of a better landing spot for Lawson than Dallas. While Parsons seldom takes any plays off, Lawrence typically plays around 60% of the snaps. There are also some 700 snaps to go around now that Armstrong and Fowler are gone, so Lawson could step into a prominent role on Zimmer's defense.

Not to mention, Lawson would be reunited with Paul Guenther, who was his defensive coordinator when he posted 8.5 sacks as a rookie on the Bengals. Guenther is now the Cowboys' defensive run-game coordinator.

The Cowboys have to sign at least one edge rusher in free agency. It might take time for Lawson to develop a market as some of the higher-priced guys come off the board. Regardless, this move is begging to be made in light of Armstrong and Fowler following Quinn to Washington.

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