Former Cowboys starter suffers devastating injury right before free agency

Tennessee Titans v Miami Dolphins
Tennessee Titans v Miami Dolphins / Megan Briggs/GettyImages

Multiple former Dallas Cowboys are flourishing with their new teams, including Ezekiel Elliott, who's assumed the lead role in New England's backfield after starter Rhamondre Stevenson's ankle injury and was a catalyst in the Patriots' victory over the Steelers last Thursday with 140 scrimmage yards and a touchdown.

Elsewhere, Dalton Schultz and Noah Brown have developed nice chemistry with C.J. Stroud in Houston, while Amari Cooper (wipes tear from eye) continues to ball for the Browns, and Connor McGovern has quietly put together a nice season as the Bills' starting left guard.

McGovern is just the latest former Cowboys offensive linemen to find a starting job with another team. Before he left as a free agent this past offseason, Connor Williams left in 2022 in the form of a two-year, $14.035 million contract with the Dolphins to become their full-time center.

Unfortunately, Williams was injured in Miami's loss to the Titans on Monday night and head coach Mike McDaniel announced on Tuesday that Williams suffered a torn ACL and is out for the season.

Former Cowboys OL Connor Williams out for season with torn ACL

We're gutted for Williams, who was putting together another strong season and was set to command a handsome contract in free agency. ACL injuries aren't as career-altering as they were some 10 years ago, but you have to wonder how the injury will impact Williams' market this offseason.

Depending on when Williams undergoes surgery, though, teams could have a good idea of his recovery timeframe by the time the legal tampering period opens in mid-March. Some athletes prefer to have surgery immediately after injuries to get an early start on the rehab process, while others -- like Michael Gallup -- prefer to wait for swelling to completely dissipate.

Regardless, this is devastating for Williams.

Among centers who have played 350 snaps this season, the former Cowboy has allowed the second-fewest pressures (four) and QB hits (one), per Pro Football Focus (subscription required). His four hurries are tied for the fewest, while his 90.5 run-blocking grade is second at the position and his 71.7 pass-blocking grade ranks in the top 10.

A four-year starter at left guard with the Cowboys, Williams has morphed into one of the game's premier centers. With the above numbers in mind, it stands to reason he'll still have a sizable market come free agency.

That said, you have to think the injury will cost Williams in some fashion, whether it be length of contract, guaranteed money, or annual average value.

The Cowboys play the Dolphins in Miami two weeks, so this news benefits Dallas, but there's no sugarcoating it: this sucks for Williams.

Hopefully he can bounce back and still get a bag in free agency.

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