Connor McGovern (Penn St.)

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 ESPN.com’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 ESPN.com 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 ESPN.com’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 DallasNews.com). “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.

Latest On Cowboys G Connor McGovern; Cowboys Receiving OL, DL Trade Interest

The Cowboys selected offensive lineman Connor McGovern in the third round of this year’s draft with the expectation that he could compete for the team’s starting left guard job. However, Todd Archer of ESPN.com says that McGovern, who sustained a partially torn pectoral muscle during the offseason program and who participated in just two training camp practices, has suffered a setback.

It’s presently unclear if McGovern will need surgery or if he can simply rehab the injury. According to David Moore of the Dallas Morning News, McGovern is dealing with a smaller strain of his pectoral muscle separate from the earlier tear (Twitter link). Both Moore and Archer suggest that the Cowboys could include McGovern on the initial 53-man roster, which would then allow them to put him on IR with the possibility of bringing him back later in the season, but a source tells Calvin Watkins of the Dallas Morning News that the team is considering keeping McGovern on the shelf for his entire rookie season (Twitter link).

After all, Dallas does have the offensive line depth to withstand a redshirt season from its Day 2 draft choice. Even with McGovern’s uncertain status, Charean Williams of Pro Football Talk writes that the Cowboys are open to trading players from either its O-line or D-line (or perhaps both).

“We do get calls on both offensive and defensive lines,” executive vice president Stephen Jones said yesterday. “We’ve made that a priority over the years, and it’s a strength of ours, and some teams are interested in it. Yeah, I think there’s a possibility for sure that we could move somebody.”

It seems that Dallas will go into the season with Connor Williams as the starting LG. If the Cowboys do swing a trade, Williams suggests that they would want a draft pick, not a player, in return.

Cowboys Sign Connor McGovern

The Cowboys have signed third-round pick Connor McGovern, according to David Moore of the Dallas Morning News (on Twitter). With that, the Cowboys have inked every draft pick in their 2019 class. 

McGovern isn’t practicing with the team during its mandatory minicamp due to a pectoral strain. However, once he’s healthy, he says he’ll try to crack the team’s starting lineup.

Even if McGovern isn’t a starter this year, he could provide quality support behind Connor Williams and Zack Martin at the guard spots. Eventually, Williams may be shifted to tackle and current right tackle La’el Collins may depart after this year, his final season under contract, so there’s a clear path for McGovern to start at some point. In theory, strong camps from Williams and McGovern could give Dallas enough confidence to move Collins in a trade and add some draft picks for 2020.

Here’s the full rundown of the Cowboys’ class, via PFR’s tracker: