Connor McGovern (Penn St.)

NFL Restructures: Saints, Ward, McGovern

With the league’s recent release of the new salary cap numbers and the rapid approach of free agency and the draft, NFL teams are working to clear up cap space to help add significant talent to their rosters for the 2024 NFL season. The Saints made a number of moves recently to reflect this pattern.

New Orleans agreed to a restructured deal with defensive end Carl Granderson, per Tom Pelissero of NFL Network. The team converted a $9MM roster bonus that Granderson was due into a signing bonus spread over a five-year period. The move reduced his cap hit in 2024 from $12.45MM to $5.25MM, freeing up $7.2MM of cap space.

The team applied the same tactic to interior offensive lineman Cesar Ruiz‘s contract, per Pelissero, converting his $8MM roster bonus into a signing bonus and adding a void year to the end of his deal. The result saw Ruiz’s cap number drop from $10.85MM to $4.45MM, freeing up $6.4MM more of cap space.

One more time, the Saints got another player to sign a restructured deal this week. This time, star pass rusher Cameron Jordan agreed to convert $11.79MM of his 2024 base salary into a signing bonus, according to Nick Underhill of NewOrleans.Football. Jordan’s base salary was reduced to $1.21MM, and the team cleared $9.43MM of cap space as a result.

Granderson, Ruiz, and Jordan join quarterback Derek Carr, defensive tackle Nathan Shepherd, and center Erik McCoy as Saints who have signed restructured deals to help clear cap space recently.

Here are a couple of other restructured deals from around the league:

  • The Browns got in on the party, agreeing to a restructured deal with cornerback Denzel Ward, per Pelissero. Cleveland converted $14.2MM of Ward’s base salary into a signing bonus and added a void year to the end of his contract. Ward’s 2024 salary is now $1.13MM as a result, and the move cleared $11.36MM of cap space for the upcoming league year.
  • Finally, the Bills were the other team this week to work towards more cap space. Offensive guard Connor McGovern agreed to a reworked deal that would convert $4.68MM of his 2024 base salary into a signing bonus and add two void years to the end of his contract, according to Pelissero. The restructure clears up $3.74MM of cap space for Buffalo.

Latest On Bills’ Offensive Line

Dion Dawkins, Spencer Brown and Mitch Morse are locked into Week 1 starting roles for the Bills, but uncertainty clouds the guard spots. And recent developments have Buffalo’s swing tackle role in flux.

If healthy, Connor McGovern is in place as the Bills’ starting left guard. The Bills gave the former Cowboys starter a three-year, $22.35MM deal early in free agency. The fifth-year blocker, however, suffered a knee injury this week. No return timetable has emerged for the team’s top guard investment,’s Alaina Getzenberg notes. Considering the team has already held a long-running right guard battle, McGovern’s availability adds to the confusion here. For what it’s worth, McGovern does not believe this is a serious injury, per the Buffalo News’ Ryan O’Halloran.

Ryan Bates and second-round rookie O’Cyrus Torrence have competed for the RG role. Although the Bills matched a Bears RFA offer sheet (four years, $17MM) for Bates last year, Torrence may be close to overtaking him for the starting gig. The Bills have given Torrence two preseason starts and used him throughout Josh Allen‘s cameo in the second exhibition game. This usage points to a starting assignment coming soon, The Athletic’s Joe Buscaglia writes (subscription required).

Pro Football Focus graded Bates as a mid-pack guard last season, ranking him 41st at the position. The team chose Torrence 59th overall — the earliest O-line investment for the Bills since the Cody Ford pick (39th) in 2019 — and ESPN’s Scouts Inc. graded the Florida product as the draft’s best pure guard prospect. Torrence made 34 straight starts to close his college career, and Buscaglia adds the Bills have been pleased with his development.

McGovern being unavailable for Week 1 would open the door to Bates (19 career starts) keeping a starting role, though the team also has UFA addition David Edwards as an option. A three-year Rams starter, Edwards signed a low-end Bills deal (one year, $1.77MM) this offseason. A concussion limited Edwards to four starts last season, but the former Super Bowl starter has made 45 first-string appearances. Edwards’ arrival also complicates matters for longtime Bills blocker Ike Boettger, who worked with the third-team O-line during the first two preseason tilts. Boettger (17 career starts) sticking around for a sixth Bills season may hinge on his performance against the Bears tonight, Buscaglia adds.

The Bills have run into hurdles to fill the swing post behind Dawkins and Brown. Brandon Shell retired midway through training camp, and Tommy Doyle suffered a season-ending injury. David Quessenberry, a former Titans starter who filled this role last year, has not impressed this summer, and Buscaglia notes rookie UDFA Ryan Van Demark is battling the veteran for the job. Quessenberry, who turned 33 this week, has 26 career starts.

It would be interesting to see if the Bills will look outside to address this swing issue. Jason Peters, who began his career with the team, said recently he is looking to play a 19th season. Peters, 41, may be a name to watch, per Buscaglia. Peters caught on late with the Cowboys last year, signing on Sept. 5, and played both tackle and guard as the team dealt with injuries.

Latest On Bills’ Offensive Line Plans

Competition should take place along the Bills’ offensive front in training camp, but the three-time reigning AFC East champions might not be planning many changes to this unit.

Free agent guards Connor McGovern and David Edwards committed to Buffalo, and O’Cyrus Torrence arrived in Western New York as the No. 59 overall pick. Going into training camp, McGovern is the only outside hire who projects as a surefire starter, per the Buffalo News’ Ryan O’Halloran, who notes four of the five Bills starting blockers from last year should be considered likely to reprise their roles.

The Bills have not re-signed Rodger Saffold, who stopped through in his 13th season. The former Rams and Titans guard remains a free agent. A part-time Cowboys starter until taking over as a regular last year, McGovern signed a three-year, $22.35MM deal early in free agency. He is on track to replace Saffold at left guard. Despite being a three-plus-year Rams starter who lined up at left guard throughout the team’s Super Bowl LVI-winning season, Edwards only scored a one-year, $1.77MM commitment in late March. Edwards may represent a dark-horse starter candidate, but at worst, the fifth-year veteran — who is coming off a season marred by a concussion — should bring better depth for the Bills.

It would seem Torrence has the best case for upward mobility. The Florida alum closed his college career with 34 straight starts at right guard, helping the likes of Kyle Pitts and Anthony Richardson become top-five picks. ESPN’s Scouts Inc. graded Torrence as this class’ top pure guard, slotting him as the No. 42 overall prospect. Torrence’s presence figures to turn up the heat on incumbent right guard Ryan Bates, who worked as a full-season starter for the first time in 2022. Pro Football Focus graded Bates as a mid-pack guard, ranking him 41st at the position. The Bills matched a Bears RFA offer sheet for Bates last year; that four-year, $17MM contract runs through 2025.

On the whole, PFF slotted the Bills as last season’s 23rd-ranked O-line. The Bengals established firm trench control on both sides in the teams’ one-sided playoff matchup, leading to an offseason emphasis for the Bills, who signed inside runners Damien Harris and Latavius Murray. That said, the team did not proceed aggressively at tackle. Spencer Brown is ticketed to stick at right tackle opposite mainstay Dion Dawkins, and the Bills hope the former third-round pick’s return to full strength will make a difference after a down sophomore slate.

Brown underwent back surgery last year, leading to his missing the team’s offseason program and several training camp workouts. As Brown eased into the season, he suffered an ankle injury in Week 6. PFF ended up grading the Northern Iowa alum as a bottom-10 tackle last year. While the ankle issue caused Brown to miss two games, he said he did not feel recovered from the back ailment until near the end of the season.

I never really got comfortable with anything, then back surgery was – I mean, I’ve had some surgeries, but that was top of the list, by far the worst one,” Brown said, via O’Halloran. “… I had maybe eight practices in training camp. The first time I actually hit the ground was in L.A., the third play of the game. … I’d be pulling some plays and I’d be like, ‘Please just hold up on me.'”

The Bills did not draft a tackle, though the team does have insurance options in the recently re-signed David Quessenberry and post-draft addition Brandon Shell. The latter spent last season as the Dolphins’ primary right tackle, filling in for Austin Jackson, and has 72 career starts during his time in with the Jets, Seahawks and Dolphins. The Bills will bet on Brown faring better in his third season, but veteran backups are in place across the line.

Bills To Sign G Connor McGovern

Expected to make an effort to upgrade their offensive line this offseason, the Bills are signing Connor McGovern. This is the former Cowboys guard, the younger of the NFL’s two Connor McGoverns, Mike Garafolo of tweets.

It is a three-year deal worth $23MM, Garafolo adds. McGovern, who spent his contract year primarily working as Dallas’ left guard, will be expected to commandeer a Buffalo starting spot inside.

Pro Football Focus ranked the Bills’ offensive line 23rd last season, one that ended with an ugly home divisional-round loss to the Bengals. The team has Rodger Saffold unsigned from last year’s starting lineup. The ex-Rams and Titans blocker stepped in as a Bills guard starter in 2022. Buffalo also has Ryan Bates under contract, after matching a Bears RFA offer sheet last year. But McGovern is tied to starter-level money. It should be expected he will work as a first-stringer up front to help the AFC East champions.

McGovern, 25, started 29 games for the Cowboys from 2020-22. An injury kept the former third-round pick off the field as a rookie, and he did not secure a Week 1 starting gig until last season. But McGovern was viewed as having the lead on Tyler Smith for Dallas’ left guard spot — prior to Tyron Smith‘s avulsion fracture that changed the team’s O-line plans — in training camp. McGovern also held off Jason Peters for the Cowboys’ left guard gig, starting 15 games.

PFF did not view McGovern as especially sound in his contract campaign, slotting him outside the top 60 at guard. But the Bills were sold on the Penn State product — on a midlevel deal, at least. McGovern joins Bates, Mitch Morse and Dion Dawkins as veteran-contract players on Buffalo’s front, though none of these blockers is tied to top-five money at their respective position.

The Cowboys will lose an interior starter for the second straight year, with McGovern following Connor Williams to the AFC East. Dallas has higher priorities, however, and has Zack Martin signed to an upper-echelon guard deal. The team is still planning to keep both Tyron Smith and Terence Steele alongside Tyler Smith. It will be interesting to see if Dallas moves one of these blockers to guard to ensure each starts in 2023.

Latest On Cowboys’ Offensive Line

The Cowboys are set to revisit their unfortunate lineup adjustment of 2020, when Dak Prescott missed much of the season. That year also involved both Dallas’ top tackles being out of the mix. With Prescott expected to be sidelined for several weeks and Tyron Smith out for months, the Cowboys’ 2022 situation is starting to look eerily similar to their 2020 setup — on offense, anyway.

But the team has higher-ceiling options up front this time around. First-round pick Tyler Smith made his debut at left tackle, and Pro Football Focus rated him just outside the top 40 at the position during his 69-snap debut. Smith still figures to move back to the guard spot at which he was initially pegged to begin the season. Jason Petersramp-up period might not last much longer.

[RELATED: Cowboys Won’t Place Prescott On IR]

It depends on his evolving with his conditioning. He didn’t have camp, but, boy, am I glad we got him,” Jerry Jones said of Peters, during an appearance on 105.3 The Fan’s Shan and RJ Show (via the Dallas Morning News). “We’ll have a spot for him. There’s no question that we’re going to be using him, before we’re out and maybe sooner rather than later.”

This puts to rest any concerns about Peters’ age (40) shutting down his viability as a Cowboys O-line option, and with Connor McGovern having suffered an injury in Week 1, the Cowboys need Peters ready ASAP. Peters remains on the team’s practice squad. That said, the Cowboys look to remain patient with Peters. His acclimation period is likely to continue into next week, Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News tweets. Peters has yet to go through team drills since joining the Cowboys.

As for McGovern, he suffered a high ankle sprain, according to’s Todd Archer (on Twitter). The Cowboys have declared McGovern, who played just seven snaps in Week 1, out for their Week 2 game against the Bengals.

Dallas added Peters not long after Tyron Smith‘s avulsion fracture. The longtime Eagles blocker is expected to replace Smith at left tackle, but Jones said Peters would also be an option on the right side. Terence Steele is viewed as a potential long-term starter at right tackle, where he has taken over for La’el Collins, who is now with Cincinnati. An O-line featuring Peters, Tyler Smith, center Tyler Biadasz, All-Pro right guard Zack Martin and Steele appears to be Dallas’ best bet for now, though it will be interesting how the team plays it when McGovern returns.

There’s a compatibility in play in staying at one spot, no matter how good a player you are. It lends itself to a better offensive line. But still I think we’ve done pretty good by having Peters come in there,” Jones said. “McGovern shouldn’t be long. He shouldn’t be out long, and we had a good job done by Smith, young Smith, and we got help on the way.”

This is McGovern’s contract year. He has bounced in and out of the Cowboys’ lineup since 2020, making 15 starts after missing his rookie year due to injury. The Cowboys could use McGovern as a swing player behind a Martin-Biadasz-Tyler Smith interior trio. Although the Penn State product was competing with Smith at left guard during training camp, it would be difficult to envision the Cowboys benching their first-round pick after already starting him. Peters’ form might dictate how the Cowboys proceed here as well. For now, the 19th-year veteran is tracking toward becoming a starter on a fourth NFL team.

Cowboys LT Tyron Smith Tears Hamstring

9:15am: NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweets that Smith’s injury is an avulsion fracture of the knee, similar to the one which ended Jets tackle Mekhi Becton‘s year. The required surgery will keep him out until at least December, though it remains in doubt if Smith plays at all in 2022.

1:03am: The Cowboys will be without their All-Pro left tackle for a lengthy stretch. Tyron Smith suffered a torn hamstring during the team’s Wednesday practice, Todd Archer and Adam Schefter of report.

Smith’s latest injury could sideline him for months. This will mark the second severe Smith injury in three seasons; he missed 14 games in 2020 due to a neck injury. This latest Smith health-related development is a massive blow to the Cowboys’ offense, which was already set to begin the season without key personnel. More tests are on tap Thursday.

Going into his 12th season as Dallas’ left tackle, Smith is on the back nine of what could well be a Hall of Fame career. The former first-round pick landed on the 2010s’ All-Decade team and has eight Pro Bowls and two first-team All-Pro nods on his resume. Following the 2020 neck injury, Smith returned to the Pro Bowl last season. But injuries have steadily dogged the veteran blocker. He has missed 32 games over the past six seasons, including six last year.

Dallas has Smith tied to the same contract he signed way back in 2014 — the oldest active NFL deal — but began preparing for the future this year. The team drafted Tulsa tackle Tyler Smith in Round 1. The younger Smith was expected to line up alongside the 31-year-old vet, competing for left guard duty. But a future move to left tackle — his college position — is in the cards. That future could begin early. Two seasons remain on Tyron Smith‘s 10-year deal.

Tyler Smith was not a lock to beat out veteran guard Connor McGovern for the left guard job, with Mike McCarthy indicating Wednesday that McGovern would win that job if the season started today. But Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News notes the rookie made a strong case for the gig during Dallas’ second preseason game. Tyler Smith has also missed recent practice time with an ankle malady.

Eric Fisher resides as a tackle who could generate interest as a stopgap, if the Cowboys do not want to turn to their first-round rookie just yet. Fisher is a nine-year starter who spent 2021 as the Colts’ first-stringer. Jason Peters and Nate Solder are also unsigned. The former, despite turning 40 this year, said during the offseason he hoped to play this season.

The Cowboys are turning to 2020 starter Terence Steele at right tackle, where he will replace longtime starter La’el Collins. The team used a fifth-round pick on tackle Matt Waletzko and has second-year tackle Josh Ball in the picture as well. They also will begin the season without wideouts Michael Gallup and James Washington.

Teams Interested In Trading For Connor McGovern; Cowboys Not Planning Deal

With the younger of the NFL’s two Connor McGoverns not locked into a starting role, the Cowboys offensive lineman has generated trade interest. While a market exists, the Cowboys do not sound eager to move him.

The third-year guard is competing with Connor Williams for Dallas’ starting left guard spot, but’s Todd Archer tweets teams are eyeing the Penn State product in trade scenarios. Cowboys executive VP Stephen Jones attempted to throw cold water on the prospect of McGovern moving, citing the franchise’s desire for O-line depth. Jones said during an appearance on 105.3 The Fan (via The Athletic’s Jon Machota, on Twitter) McGovern is still “competing his ass off” to win the Cowboys’ left guard job.

Considering what happened to the Cowboys’ offensive front last year, Jones’ stance makes sense. The team lost tackles Tyron Smith and La’el Collins early, with the latter missing the entire season, and played without stalwart right guard Zack Martin for a stretch. Martin’s injury gave McGovern playing time. After McGovern missed his entire rookie season, the former third-round pick stepped in and started eight games during Dallas’ disastrous 2020 season. Pro Football Focus graded McGovern just inside the top 50 at guard, but Mike McCarthy said the young lineman showed improvement down the stretch.

Williams is going into a contract year. He has started 37 games over the past three seasons, including 16 at left guard in 2020. PFF graded Williams as a top-20 guard last season. The Cowboys have Martin, Smith and Collins tied to big-ticket extensions. Williams playing well this season may make his second contract too expensive for the Cowboys. The team is not planning to negotiate with any of its current 2022 free agents until the season is over.

McGovern would naturally make sense as the successor to Williams at left guard next season. That is, if he does not win that job this year. The NFL moving to a 17-game season will only further drive teams to prioritize O-line depth, and it is quite possible the loser of the Cowboys’ left guard competition makes some starts this year.

Cowboys Not Targeting Centers?

Don’t expect the Cowboys to find their replacement for Travis Frederick in the draft. Coach Mike McCarthy told reporters that he’s optimistic about his current options at center, including Joe LooneyConnor McGovern, and Connor Williams.

“I think Travis is a player that’s had a great career,” McCarthy said (via Michael Gehlken of “Obviously, he’s to be commended on that. But when we look at our current depth with the offensive line, you start off with Joe Looney and the two Connors. I think we’ve got great competition, great depth. We’ve got Marcus Henry there, also Adam Redmond.

“We have some really good flexibility, some really good numbers. So the fact that we’re able to get started and just start going through the language and how we’re going to call things, I think the fact that we have that much experience with the veteran group that we have here, I feel very good about moving forward.”

That probably takes the Cowboys out of the running for Michigan’s Cesar Ruiz, although the team could shift their focus to LSU’s Lloyd Cushenberry, Wisconsin’s Tyler Biadasz and Temple’s Matt Hennessy. After the 17th-overall selection, the Cowboys won’t be picking again until No. 51.

After seven years with the organization, Frederick announced his retirement last month.

NFC East Notes: Cowboys, Eagles, Williams

While the Cowboys have imported two of the 2019 Panthers’ three defensive line starters — in Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe — they are not looking to move on from Tyrone Crawford. The Cowboys have asked Crawford to yo-yo between defensive end and tackle in his career, and with the two high-profile veterans coming to Dallas, it is reasonable to wonder about their longtime lineman’s role. But as of now, it should be expected Crawford will be Dallas’ starting D-end opposite DeMarcus Lawrence, David Moore of the Dallas Morning News notes. Despite Crawford only playing in four games last season, the Cowboys are also not expected to ask the 30-year-old lineman to take a pay cut from the $8MM salary he is due in 2020, Moore adds. Crawford, whose contract is up after 2020, would be taking the place of Robert Quinn opposite Lawrence. Quinn signed a mega-deal with the Bears.

Here is the latest from the NFC East:

  • The Eagles entered the DeAndre Hopkins sweepstakes, but the Cardinals’ offer of David Johnson and a second-round pick surprisingly won out. Howie Roseman said Thursday the deal the Texans offered him was different than what the Cardinals ended up agreeing to, per Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Inquirer (on Twitter). It is not known what the Eagles offered, but this marks the most recent instance of them entering the pursuit of a high-profile AFC South player and not winning out. Roseman bowed out of the Jalen Ramsey sweepstakes last year. The lofty Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson cap numbers would have made a Hopkins extension interesting for Philly to navigate.
  • Despite the Cowboys signing both McCoy and Poe to help on their interior defensive line, they are not likely to look outside the organization to help on their interior O-line. Travis Frederick‘s successor will probably be an in-house move, Jon Machota of The Athletic notes (subscription required). Considering the Cowboys drafted Connor McGovern in the 2019 third round and re-signed Joe Looney — their 2018 replacement for Frederick — it should not surprise they will look internally at center. The Cowboys placed a second-round grade on McGovern last year, and even though he missed all of last season, the Penn State product should have a good shot at succeeding Frederick.
  • Although nearly half the league used a franchise or a transition tag this year, the GiantsLeonard Williams tag may have been the most interesting decision. New York’s Williams tag will cost at least $16.1MM (the defensive tackle price) and could run as much as $17.8MM (for defensive ends), but Paul Schwartz of the New York Post writes the Giants are not likely to sign the former Jets first-rounder to a deal that averages $16MM per year. If that is the case, Williams should be expected to play 2020 on the tag.
  • The Cowboys gave Kai Forbath a one-year, $1.18MM deal, according to the Houston Chronicle’s Aaron Wilson (on Twitter). The veteran kicker, who succeeded Brett Maher last year, will receive a $137K signing bonus.
  • The Giants‘ deal for ex-Patriots special-teamer Nate Ebner is a one-year, $2MM pact, per ESPN’s Field Yates (on Twitter). Ebner will receive a $950K roster bonus and a $1.05MM base salary.

Cowboys Add RB To Roster

The Cowboys are adding reinforcements as the Ezekiel Elliott saga drags. On Monday, they promoted running back Jordan Chunn to the 53-man roster. His roster spot will be freed up by placing Connor McGovern on injured reserve.

If Elliott doesn’t show for the season opener, Chunn would serve as the Cowboys’ No. 3 running back behind Tony Pollard and Alfred Morris. Dallas will also have fullback Jamize Olawale on hand to clear the way.

McGovern, a third-round pick, suffered a setback in August that will require some extra time to heal. If his torn pectoral muscle cooperates, he could still be eligible to return for the second half of the season, per league rules.