Cowboys would be foolish to pursue cap casualty who injured Dak Prescott

Jan 16, 2023; Tampa, Florida, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) runs with the ball
Jan 16, 2023; Tampa, Florida, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) runs with the ball / Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

All Dallas Cowboys fans are eager to learn how the team will address the linebacker position this offseason. The more draft analysts evaluate 2024 prospects, the more it becomes apparent that the Cowboys should take to free agency to upgrade at linebacker.

Signing a stud linebacker would move mountains for the defense. The Cowboys had Markquese Bell convert from safety to cover for Leighton Vander Esch, who was lost for the season with a neck injury and might be forced into early retirement.

Bell performed well given the circumstances, but his lack of size got exposed near the end of the season. To make matters worse, Damone Clark didn't progress as fans hoped he would after a promising rookie year in 2022.

The Cowboys will have myriad options to choose from in March, and another established vet entered the fold this week as part of the cap casualty frenzy. On Tuesday, the Buccaneers released two-time Pro Bowler Shaq Barrett.

Though an accomplished player, Dallas shouldn't pursue Barrett.

The Cowboys shouldn't sign Shaq Barrett after Buccaneers release

Cowboys fans might remember Barrett as the player who delivered the hit on Dak Prescott in the 2022 season opener that fractured the QB's thumb. Prescott underwent surgery and missed five games.

Cutting Barrett was a seemingly easy call for the Bucs. The 31-year-old was due a $15.04 million option bonus in March and the team has several important contract decisions looming, including with Mike Evans, Baker Mayfield, Lavonte David, Devin White and Antoine Winfield Jr.

The truth of the matter is Barrett wouldn't fix the Cowboys' linebacker problem. While Pro Football Reference lists him as a OLB, he's almost exclusively a pass rusher. Of Barrett's 651 snaps played this past season, he played 622 snaps on the defensive line compared to just 24 in the box, per Pro Football Focus.

Barrett would make for a fun addition to Dallas' edge room, but he managed just 4.5 sacks, 49 pressures and seven QB hits in 16 starts coming off 2022 Achilles surgery. Sam Williams posted just as many sacks in 164 fewer pass-rush snaps.

With Dorance Armstrong and Dante Fowler hitting free agency, the Cowboys could use another defensive end. But signing a potentially expensive player in Barrett who's on the decline wouldn't be good business, especially when Dallas is on the cusp of thrusting Williams into a prominent role.

Barrett is a pro's pro and a tremendous locker room presence. He has all the intangibles a team could want in a player. Unless he comes at a significant discount, though, the Cowboys could make better use of their cap space.

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