They don’t call them priority free agents for nothing.
The Dallas Cowboys hustled to sign a number of undrafted players (13, as of this writing) following Saturday night’s conclusion to the 2020 NFL Draft. And if money talks, one player has proven to be the cream of their UDFA crop.
Per NFL Network’s Jane Slater, defensive end Ron’Dell Carter’s rookie contract with the Cowboys includes $145,000 in total guarantees — $125,000 of guaranteed base salary, and a $20,000 signing bonus.
Carter played collegiately at James Madison University, where he was teammates with quarterback Ben DiNucci, whom the Cowboys drafted in the seventh round. The 6-foot-3, 269-pound pass-rusher was a three-year contributor for the Dukes, delivering 69 solo tackles, 48 tackles-for-loss, 23.5 sacks and four pass breakups across 44 games.
He set career highs as a redshirt senior in 2019 by making 27 TFLs and 12 sacks, sharpening his skills as a quarterback-harasser en route to consensus first-team All-American honors.
“I can do a lot of different things and line up in a lot of different places,” Carter said in a pre-draft interview with USA Today’s The Draft Wire. “I can line up both inside and outside. That gives me a little bit of flexibility to go up against centers, guards and tackles. I try to vary my moves depending on the position I’m going up against. I have certain moves that I prepare for certain positions. It really just depends on where I’m lining up. Having that versatility is always a good thing. I was able to play all over the defensive line all throughout my career. It helped me a lot as a pass rusher.”
Carter isn’t the biggest nor fastest edge defender — the reason he went undrafted — but his deal suggests Dallas has legitimate, perhaps long-term plans for him — especially since the club added three similar undrafted DEs but didn’t hand out similar guarantees.
The Cowboys were on the prowl for edge help after losing their 2019 sack leader to the Chicago Bears in free agency. They’re hoping suspended DEs Aldon Smith and Randy Gregory are granted NFL reinstatement, but the brain trust smartly didn’t lump all their eggs in those baskets.
In addition to reportedly signing Carter and fellow UDFAs Ladarius Hamilton, Garrett Marino and Azur Kamara, Dallas spent a fifth-round choice on former Utah DE Bradlee Anae.
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