Former respected Cowboys coach just screwed Dallas beyond measure

Washington Commanders v Dallas Cowboys
Washington Commanders v Dallas Cowboys / Brandon Sloter/GettyImages

At this point, Dallas Cowboys are numb to the team's lack of spending in free agency. However, allowing a mass exodus of free agents while doing the bare minimum (nothing) to replace them hovers on franchise malpractice.

As of this writing, the offensive and defensive lines have holes everywhere. While Micah Parsons, Zack Martin, DeMarcus Lawrence and Tyler Smith will be back, the Cowboys currently don't have a left tackle, a center and a true nose tackle, and their pass rush depth has taken a major hit.

Forget signing a clearcut starter. One would think that Dallas would sign one free agent for competition during training camp. The assumption is that the team will use the draft to address left tackle and center, but signing a veteran interior defender felt like a no-brainer.

While that still could happen, the Cowboys might officially be screwed at defensive tackle after former DL coach Aden Durde, now the Seahawks defensive coordinator, signed Dallas' starting nose tackle Johnathan Hankins.

Aden Durde screws Cowboys by signing Johnathan Hankins

Hankins isn't an elite NT at this age of his career, but he's markedly better than the Cowboys' alternative options -- namely, 2023 first-round pick Mazi Smith. In light of this news, the pressure on Smith to produce in year two has been cranked up ten fold.

Behind Smith, Dallas doesn't have a true nose tackle. Osa Odighizuwa is ascending pass-rusher at defensive tackle, but at 280 pounds his size isn't conducive to blowing up running plays and eating space in the trenches. Odighizuwa would also greatly benefit from the addition of a disruptive nose tackle.

The Cowboys re-signed vet Carl Davis, who spent the back-half of last season on the practice squad as a midseason signing. Ideally, Davis would serve as an emergency practice squad elevation during an injury crisis. He offered almost nothing in three appearances in 2023 and isn't even a lock to make the 53-man roster.

Is it possible Dallas is confident that a second-year of Smith playing at a bigger weight will represent an upgrade over Hankins? Sure. Hankins is clearly on the decline having posted three straight seasons with a PFF run-defense grade of 52.0 or worse.

Again, though, even a 31-year-old Hankins is better than the current version of Smith. Even if he deserves to have his role reduced, what would have been the harm in re-signing Hankins as a depth piece? The Cowboys will be hard-pressed to find an upgrade given what's left in free agency.

Because of their lack of spending to fill roster holes, Dallas doesn't have the luxury to use another high draft pick on a nose tackle. Offensive tackle feels like a lock at No. 24 overall, and they also have pressing needs at running back and center. Another linebacker, receiver and cornerback wouldn't hurt, either.

Credit to Durde for plucking Hankins off the market this early into free agency. He may have royally screwed the Cowboys, but that's their own fault. With Hankins off to Seattle, we honestly have no idea where Dallas goes from here as far as bolstering the interior of their defensive line.

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